We moved to this village despite the warnings that the locals would never accept us. We moved because I fell in love with my house, with its thatched roof, small orchard and a river running through the grounds.
The neighbours are set far apart from one another. You could murder someone without being heard. But I’m not worried about murder.
I’m worried about getting home.
Tonight I had one too many drinks at the local pub, in a stupid attempt to fit in and perhaps it worked because most of those drinks were bought for me. Everyone was surprisingly generous.
But the problem now is that I can’t find my house. It’s as if it’s been stolen from the earth and I am doomed to spend the rest of my days searching country lanes, desperately looking for it.
I’ve left my phone at the pub – or it’s been stolen – so there’s no point calling anyone for help. I plod onwards.
Then I run.
Where the hell has it gone?
I find it at the edge of town, between a bridge I’ve never seen before and a huge oak tree that I don’t remember. But it is the building I know and love.
I know, because we replaced the door numbers when we moved in: 74. The flat bronze digits are shiny and new and exactly as I placed them.
But my key doesn’t fit in the door.
There’s no spare key under the mat, even though I put one there two weeks ago and have not moved it since.
I knock on the windows but my husband is in London on a work do and won’t be back until the early hours.
Nevertheless, a light goes on upstairs and I’m happy because someone is home! David must’ve come back early.
All the rest of the lights pop on like a firework show. Yes! I think, before realising it’s not possible for one man to switch them on so quickly.
Many footsteps dash down the stairs, but no one answers the door.
I run around to the side of the house and press my face against the window to the utility room.
Oh. Oh! There are tiny people in there, no bigger than knee-high, each holding even smaller knives.
I shout: “Get out of my house! I’ll call the police!”
The funny thing is, we’ve got double glazing, but I can hear the little things sharpening those knives. One of them looks a bit like Mr Avery from the pub, only smaller.
And is that Karen, the bartender? They’re all grinning with jagged teeth that look like they would be good for pulling meat apart.
I want to run but when I turn around the landscape has changed again. There are no roads at all.
I’m tired. I must be seeing things.
I look back through the window. Some of the things that I’m seeing… they see me.
They laugh. They hold up their knives. And the windows shatter.
Helen French is a writer, book hoarder, TV-soaker-upper, digital project executive and biased parent who grew up in Merseyside and now lives in Hertfordshire, UK. Her short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four and Flash Fiction Online. You can find her on Twitter at @helenfrench.