Tom's new start
Tom sat on the bottom step of the new house as mum, dad and Jess scurried in and out carrying boxes and an air of excitement that Tom refused to share. He stared at the floor and didn’t look up, even when mum’s shadow loomed over him.
“Tom, it’s not that bad. Have you seen your room?’
He didn’t answer. Mum shifted the weight of the box onto her other hip and sighed.
“Well if you’re not going to be useful you can take that face somewhere else.”
Tom got up without looking at her and stalked away through the kitchen and out the back door. The garden was immense and overgrown. A small, dark garage squatted a way back with a door that opened onto the garden. Tom pushed it open and went inside.
It was filthy. Unsteady towers of old boxes teetered like the remains of buildings in a ruined city, and brutal metallic tools hung rusting on the walls. Tom wove his way carefully between them, stirring clouds of dust as he went. The old owners had not been in this place for a long time. The corners were thick with cobwebs and scurrying, many-legged things and lower down was too dark to see.
With a stab of pain Tom thought for the millionth time of the band. This place would have been perfect for rehearsing.They could have made as much noise as they wanted without worrying about Jess’ bedtime or his mum interrupting with glasses of squash. But it would have been hard to make band practice every week from 300 miles away.
Tom sat on an upturned crate and tried not to breathe too deeply. It really was quiet in here. He couldn’t even hear his dad’s stupid radio, just the sound of his feet scuffing the concrete floor.
And then a different noise. Something almost impossibly quiet, but in the stillness Tom picked it out. It was coming from the back, low down, behind a stack of mouldering cardboard. He strained his eyes, but couldn’t see anything. He stared into the darkness and listened hard. It was like a low whining sound and a frantic scrabbling. Tom stood up; could a puppy have sneaked inside here and gotten stuck?
Tom edged past the box towers, still peering into the darkness. The sound was louder here.
“Hey, I won’t hurt you. Come here boy.” His words fell thickly, dampened, as if he were talking inside a padded cell.
The noise stopped for a second and then began again, louder now, more desperate as Tom neared the corner. He leaned down to peer between the piles of junk.
And there in the darkness Tom saw the red glint of two red eyes leering at him and knew in that second why the garage had been abandoned. He tried to back up, to get himself out, but it was too late; he toppled back, box towers crashing down, clouds of dust and filth billowing into the air and then he couldn’t see the door anymore.
When Tom didn’t appear for dinner that night his mum finally decided to look for him, but even when she peered into the old garage there was no sign of him. She never noticed the spot where the dust had been kicked up from the floor or the long, dragging finger marks in it leading all the way back into the darkest corner of the room...