SHADOW

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CHAPTER 36

SAMANTHA GOT HOME that afternoon with the thoughts about what had happened to Jonathan still predominant in her mind.

She thought about it considerably, feeling the chill all over her body every time she remembered his words as he described what he’d seen in the dark, just the way she saw this strange figure as well! The thought threatened to drive her crazy.

She looked thoroughly worried and disconcerted by the narrative of Jonathan’s dream, if indeed she could call it that. Then his living room being taken apart by ’ghosts’; that was bizarre and it really got her unsettled.

A lot of drama had gone on lately, affecting her sleep and peace of mind, making her fidgety, absentminded most of the time and forgetful of small details.

Like the house keys.

Where were the damned keys? she thought impatiently, frowning as she rummaged in her small handbag. She searched quickly at first, running through with her fingers. Then she did it one last time, slower this time, before finally emptying out the content of the bag onto the floor in front of her door.

No keys.

Or could she have gone out without locking the door? It was possible; people sometimes leave home in a hurry and forget to lock the doors. With a faint glimmer of anxious hope, she reached out and turned the door knob, thinking that it would be clumsy of her to have left the door unlocked. There was a soft click, but the door held fast.

Samantha stopped, perplexed. The door was locked all right.

She took a moment to think hard about where she might have left the keys to her apartment. Had she misplaced it? Perhaps she left it in the car? Hurrying back to the parked car outside the building, she confirmed to her dismay that the missing keys were not there.

Where else could she think of that the keys might possibly be? At the hospital? But then, she couldn’t recall that she’d at any time fiddled in her bag all the while she was there with Jonathan, and the bag didn’t have a leak to suggest that the keys might have slipped through.

Samantha frowned in silent frustration at the apparent fact that she’d lost her house keys. She presently gave up trying to find the keys and decided on the obvious; the door had to be forced open. So feeling upset about her apparent carelessness, she went to get the janitor working the block to knock the door down, or do whatever he had to do to get it open.

The young man came by with a screwdriver and a crowbar, and Samantha stepped aside nervously to let him do his thing.

However, 90 per cent of the time, the first thing anyone attempting to pick a lock or knock down a door would do was to try out the lock. Even burglars followed the pattern, tending to try the handle or door knob before actually using force. It was a small, instinctive step that preceded the tedious exercise of breaking a door.

So when the janitor got in front of the door, he took the handle and turned it rather casually. There was a soft click as before when Samantha’d tried it.

Except that this time, the door opened.

The man stopped, somewhat confused, and turned to Samantha with a funny look in his eyes. She stared, surprised as well, and speechless too, not sure what to say immediately.

“It’s open,” said the man, pushing the door further in as though to make her see that the supposedly locked door was actually open all the while.

But it had been locked; Samantha was sure of that as hell, because she’d tried it severally while combing in her bag for the keys.

Not sure what to say, she apologized for disturbing the man needlessly and thanked him profusely for his time with, an uneasy smile. Although she didn’t stop to peep over her shoulder at the janitor as he walked away, she felt certain that he must be staring at her weirdly from behind. She felt embarrassed about the incident, and shut the door behind her.

Samantha stared around at the apartment, musing quietly over the complicated case of the missing keys and unlocked doorway, which then must sound to her mind like the title for a bestselling fantasy novel.

It was possible as she knew, to forget locking the door. Most people have been guilty of it one time or another. But in Samantha’s case, she was thinking now, if she had left the house without locking the door after her, why had it been locked a moment ago before the janitor came by?

Samantha was pretty sure she’d tried opening it before, even applying a measure of force to push it open, yet it didn’t budge.

Was she going out of her mind?

Well, maybe she was mistaken, had to be that, or…

Samantha sighed softly and stepped further into her home, a bit nervous as though half expecting that someone was going to jump her from behind. There were no strangers with a knife lurking in the quiet house, fortunately. But at the moment when she eased up a little bit, took a deep breath and proceeded towards her room, she kicked something on the floor that clanked like metal. She looked down at what it was.

It was the house keys she’d been looking for!

Samantha gasped, staring around the quiet apartment in sheer perplexity.

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