Jane froze at the sight of the balloon, marooned on her gate. Tentatively she stepped towards it, brows furrowed, pulling her jacket around her closely.
She reached the gate and looked towards both sides of her street. Nothing. The guy had followed her home, that much was true but she didn't understand what his objective was. He could have just been a creep trying to freak her out but in this age, he could be dangerous or at least intending on doing something malicious.
She strode over to her door, opened it as quickly as her shaking hands would allow and threw her bags into the hallway, slamming the door behind her. Picking up her handbag, she emptied it on the floor and her phone crashed to the ground. She slid her finger across the screen and watched as it dialled Lisa's number.
"Hey there sugarbum" Lisa joked, waiting for the purpose of the call to be announced.
"Where are you guys, that guy from earlier followed me home. I don't want to be alone" Jane whispered, not really knowing why.
"We've just paid... Are you sure?" came the reply.
"I'm sure Lisa, hurry home" Jane said, ending the call and gathering her bags.
She sat in the kitchen, waiting impatiently for her friends to return home so she could either take her mind off the guy or at least feel safer. After what felt like an eternity, she heard a key being inserted into the front door and the friendly faces of Lisa and Laura greeted her from the hallway. "This was randomly tied to the gate" shrugged Lisa, dragging the ominous blue balloon behind her.
"That's what I'm talking about, the guy who was following us earlier, he was carrying that balloon" Jane shot back, not understanding why they weren't taking this as seriously as she was.
"What guy Jane? Are you ok?" frowned Laura.
"Yes I'm fine, except for the fact that this huge guy was following us around all afternoon holding THAT balloon and when I get home THAT balloon is tied to my gate" she retorted, all patience lost.
"Ok, so we'll call the police if we see him again but we didn't see the guy Jane" Lisa hugged her, trying to calm her down. "Let's have a drink and then we'll take all the stuff upstairs" she continued, turning to Laura with a puzzled look on her face.
They sat down whilst Laura found an open bottle of white wine sitting in the fridge, emptying it into three glasses for them to take the edge off the situation. They sat and enjoyed the wine, the balloon floating slowly across the floor. One bottle turned into two and soon enough, the tall man had been forgotten, replaced with an impromptu fashion show starring the three tipsy ladies.
Jane, having been handed a little more wine than the other two, had pulled on her new glitzy gold dress and slipped on Laura's stilettos. She began to strut across the kitchen floor, pouting every few seconds to make her friends laugh. The shoes were a little too high for her however and as her feet found the string from the balloon, she felt herself slip and she crashed to the floor.
"Oh jeez, Jane are you ok?" worried Laura, with Lisa laughing in the background. She rushed to her side, pulling her up.
"I'm fine" Jane laughed, standing herself up and kicking off her friend's shoes. "Help me carry this stuff to my room" she motioned to them both.
They each picked up a few bags and chuckled their way to the stairs. Lisa led the way, turning on the light to the hallway as night had drawn in. "It's cold up here, we should put the heating on" she noted, turning to Jane and Laura. "It is on" Jane replied, still laughing with Laura.
They reached Jane's door but all three of them stopped. The air was freezing and none of them wanted to open the door. They looked at each other, confused as to what it was holding them back. The tipsy giggles left Jane and the events of the day came rushing back to the forefront of her memory, filling her with dread.
"Guys, stay there" she said, giving them her bags.
Placing her hand on the door handle, she took in a breath and pushed the door open swiftly. Nothing. They all laughed in unison, "Damn Jane, you have us all paranoid" Lisa joked. Jane turned to to push her friend but missed as Lisa had moved and flipped on the light to her room.
As the light flooded the area, Jane went to grab the bags from her friend's hands when she realised they were just standing open mouthed staring at her. Frowning she asked "What?". Their reply was to continue staring at her, faces seemingly white. She realised that they were not staring at her, but behind her and it dawned on her. He was here.
She slowly turned to face her fate and was relieved to find noone behind her. Her relief was quickly replaced with fear as she saw what had grabbed her friends' attention.
Her eyes scanned the letter 'D' painted across her wall in red paint. At least, she had hoped it was red paint.