It’s the cheapest flat in the building: a basement-level studio apartment constantly infested by mildew, mould and small creatures which thrive in the darkness. You’ve hated it since you moved in, the way the floorboards shift under your feet, the gentle scraping noises from the wall behind your bed, the slow spread of damp across the ceiling, a hideous taupe against the white paint. It’s the damp which kills the light. You’re at your desk, rammed between wardrobe and wall, your back to the room, when the bulb blows.
Instinctively, you push away from the desk, almost tripping in shock at the sudden, invasive darkness. For several long, tense moments, you can’t tell the difference between closing and opening your eyes until you grow aware, slowly, of a blinking light in the sliver of window high above your head. A passing car throws through just enough light to guide you to the scented candle you keep in your kitchenette. You mentally curse your landlord as you navigate back to your desk, guided by flickering candlelight.
There’s no point continuing with the book you’d been reading, so you gear up your laptop instead. You’ve needed an upgrade for about a year, and it shows as your laptop takes almost a full minute to load, and another to successfully open a browser. It automatically reloads the last page you visited, a cheesy horror site in which alleged murderers post photos of their next ‘victims’. Most of it’s silly and a little sad, pictures of pretty girls and people’s weedy bosses accompanied with graphic captions. Nothing you’re likely to take seriously. Until, that is, you see the latest post, captioned only ‘tonight’.
The shot is dark and indistinct, so blurry you can barely make it out. As your eyes adjust to the picture, however, you can pick out familiar furniture, a tiny kitchen and your own face, lit only by candlelight.
Behind you, the door opens.