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Clark’s brother Alex met them at the train station. Jill sat in the back of Alex's car while Clark sat up front. Alex kept staring at Jill in his rear view mirror. She’d look away, something about him gave her the creeps. Clark and Alex talked awkwardly. They’d recently fallen out, Clark had dropped it but Alex still seemed upset. Clark was happy to be home but if Jill had known then, what lay ahead, she never would have agreed to relocate there.

The first two weeks were wonderful. Clark’s parents, Bobby and Scarlett were away on vacation and they had their house to themselves. When Clark’s parents came home, they made Jill feel so welcome, she took an instant liking to them. The next day there was a noticeable change in Bobby and Scarlett. 

“Are your parents okay?” Jill asked Clark.

“I think they're just tired from their trip,” replied Clark.

They ate meals separately. Clark and Jill ate alone while Bobby and Scarlett dined in front of the television. Scarlett did all the cooking. Jill, allergic to garlic all her life, swore Scarlett was cooking all her meals with it. Clark repeatedly told his mother about Jill’s allergies but she still suffered painful stomach cramps everyday. Clark and Jill both found work, moved into a rented house and Jill’s stomach cramps stopped.

Soon afterwards Alex picked a fight with Clark. Apparently Scarlett had complained to Alex about Jill who took it upon himself to interfere. That was when it became scary.

Clark was working nights and Jill was working days. She used to hear tap, tap, tap on the windows when she was home alone, as if someone was tapping on the glass quickly with their finger. Everytime she looked to see if anyone was there, no one was. She felt she was losing her mind. She would see Alex driving past their house. When she was downtown she would see Alex in his car. He seemed to always be nearby.

Scarlett wrote letters to Clark, questioning Jill’s sanity. She began to wonder if she was to blame. She felt so guilty, Clark was so sad, he couldn’t believe his family was behaving this way. Jill was worried Clark was going to leave her. 

One night Clark cooked them dinner. As they sat down to eat, Clark surprised Jill by telling her he wanted to go home.

“I’ve had enough.” Clark said. “Nothing has gone right since we came here and my family are not the people I used to know.”

A few days later, early in the morning they snuck away and went back to where they’d lived before, they felt like they’d never left. They reconnected with friends and both found jobs. They were working similar hours and reconnected too. 

Jill happily looked out of their apartment window, watching Clark and their new puppy Roger. Everything was so much better between them, they were so happy now. Jill knew if they could survive his family and everything they’d been through they could survive anything. She had nothing to be scared of anymore. That awful episode of her life was over.

A few weeks later, Clark was out, catching up with old friends. Jill stayed in and watched a movie. Fall had come and the weather was chilly. A firelog burned in the grate, warming Jill and Roger who were snuggled under a blanket. Jill had always loved horror movies and was pulling the blanket to just below eye level, anticipating a scary moment when there was a tap, tap, tap on the window.

Jill froze. 


Jason Smith writes out of the Pacific Northwest. He's married and the father of a special needs boy. Originally from England he has lived near Seattle WA since 2009. He has been published on The Yard Crime Blog and on Mystery Tribune. 


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