As Kara drove into the driveway, another boring day at the office behind her, she gave a friendly smile to her next door neighbor, who waved back. In the garage she stepped out of the car, grabbing her purse and her small satchel and heading for the house. The open gate swinging softly in the wind didn't stop her, though she had closed it on her way out that morning.

She went inside the house, dropped off her things, and headed for the bathroom. When she came back, she thought she saw a face in the window just outside the kitchen, and it gave her quite a start, but there wasn't anything there when she looked again.

She picked up the mail from the front door slot, sorted through it, and looked in particular at one piece of mail. She walked to her desk and grabbed the letter opener, tearing into the envelope she had received. She read it with concern sitting on the couch, the slight creak of a door upstairs not fazing her at all.

She began preparing a light dinner for her, clucking to herself about not having a date on this Friday night. Was she going to be alone forever? She finally threw the casserole in the oven and headed back to the bathroom to wash her hands. When she came back, she didn't even notice the letter opener had gone missing.

She put on her favorite TV show and sat down on the couch with her small plate, eating slowly while engrossed by the screen. She was startled when the air conditioner kicked in (cursing herself for her active imagination), but when a shadow flickered not once, but twice across the set, she paid it no mind.

At eight, she got a phone call from her mother, asking about her day and her plans for the weekend. She never liked talking to her mom - there was a lot of passive aggression between every line - but it was good to have another person around, even if it was just their voice. As she walked around the first floor, the glint of slick steel in the large mirror adoring the dining room never caught her eye.

Finally, she hung up, telling her mom she was going to watch a movie and go to sleep early. She went back to the living room, pulled a weepy romantic comedy from her stacks, and threw it in the VCR. The sun had just finished setting, and Kara was asleep before the two main characters had even met. When she came to, the house was completely dark - except for the stairwell. She didn't remember turning it on, but she was pretty forgetful ...

She went upstairs (never once bothering to take a look over her shoulder) and into her bedroom, where she undressed and got into her nightgown. When she came out, she noticed it was awfully chilly. She walked downstairs to the thermostat - 62 degrees! Practically snowing in July. She moved it back up to 70, where she always kept it. It was still pretty cold, so she grabbed an extra coat from the hall closet, picking up the one that had fallen to the floor from the last time she had been in there (February? March?)

As she went upstairs, she paused. The stairwell light was out now. Had she turned it out on the way down? The darkness at the top of the stairs was looming. She frowned, and flicked on the switch. Much better!

She made her way to her room, plopping down on the bed and grabbing her latest tableside page-turner, a Thomas Harris novel. Finally, she felt her eyelids drooping once again, and she laid the book down on the dresser. As she flicked off the switch, she thought she heard the faintest chuckle from just below her. She quickly flipped the switch back on and sat up. She waited for nearly five minutes, wondering if she should look, waiting for another sound. Finally, she told herself to look just to prove herself silly. She grabbed hold of the table, bent under ...

Then Kara learned that you're never alone.

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