Cold meeting: a short story

I can get away tonight. 8pm. Robinson’s, Boundary Lane. You know it?

You shiver at the text, read it three times. Part of you wants to reply Robinson’s! Are you sure? but instead you send Yes. Yes and he replies Good girl. Can’t wait x

Everyone knows the old house as Robinson’s even though it’s been abandoned for decades. You worry that local kids might be hanging out there, but you also know that few dare after dark because the place has a reputation. And so does he, but it’s been so long and you are already flushed at the thought of seeing him again.

A little before 8 you announce, brightly, that you’re going for a night walk for some fresh air, knowing no one will join you. They barely look up as you step out and make your way past the edge of the village, a just-waning February moon and a sharp peppering of stars throwing a blue glow past the shadows of the hedges. The worn red brick of the house comes into view, flat and lifeless in the moonlight, ivy rampant across the frontage. There’s no sign of his car: he’ll have parked somewhere a safe distance away.

You approach the peeling, partially-open front door with knots in your stomach, wondering whether you should step in, when out of nowhere a hand covers your mouth and pulls you backwards. Hello, he growls in your ear, and the momentary terror transforms into a thud of arousal in your belly. He spins you round to face him. Jesus, you gasp as his hand frees your mouth, of all the places! He just grins, and says I know you like to be scared. Just warming you up. Now to business.

He pulls you into the house with a firm grip on your wrist, flicking on a tiny LED light for a moment to pick a way carefully around the debris and clutter, the few meagre pieces of decaying furniture that remain. He leads you to the wall by an old fireplace, furthest away from the corner of the room where the hole in the ceiling lets in a thin stream of moonlight and a trail of dark, slimy mould betrays where the rain comes in. He kills the light again and you shudder, thinking it’s no wonder there are rumours about this place, it feels so dead.

But you forget that as his mouth meets yours and he is all over you, pinning you to the wall, ravenous. Put your hands behind your head, close your eyes and don’t say a word, he hisses, and when you do as you’re told he says good girl in the way he knows will send you to that hazy place where you can barely focus on anything but the sensations, the feel of him. How you’ve missed this, how good it feels.

As your mind drifts, eyes closed, you are dimly aware of what sounds like him reaching to unbuckle his belt, and then hands on you again, your body, your face, fingers in your mouth: but they feel so cool – no, cold, they feel cold. A cold that begins to nudge at your consciousness, pulling you back from the warm stupor of excitement, making you wonder why his fingers taste somehow different on your tongue, and before you know it you find that your mind clicks back into place and you feel suddenly uneasy.

You open your eyes. He told you not to, but you snap them open instinctively and in front of you is only dense blackness. It isn’t the darkness of the room, because in the corner the thin moonlight is still pooling. It’s blacker – dense, thick space, cold and heavy – and whatever it is it’s this that’s in your mouth, because he is gone, nowhere to be seen, disappeared.

You try to cry out but the cold, dark matter in your mouth muffles the sound and you dare not move. What feels like an eternity passes in a few seconds, until there is a low voice, unmistakably not his, in your ear, dank breath against your neck. You should not be here. Leave now. Good girl. Your mouth is suddenly empty, hanging open.

Good girl.

Gasping, you find yourself propelled towards the door, limbs suddenly and violently kinetic in your scrabble to get out, wracking your lungs for air. You stumble through the door into the moonlight and on towards the glowing windows at the far end of the lane, not looking back.

There are dark mutterings in the neighbouring village a few days later, when they find his car parked by the gate half a mile from Robinson’s. Probably ran off with some woman or other. Would be like him to just up and vanish.

They don’t seem to notice how pale you are when you read about his disappearance in the local paper, or that you have lost all enthusiasm for your night walks: at least, if they do, they put it down to the cold.