THERE'S A KILLER IN THE HOUSE

Paige just couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched, it clung to

her like a bad hairdo. The day had been a long one, peppered with a wide variety of problems and she was quite exhausted.

Jerry Fizzeral, the creepy guy who was stationed in the cubicle next to hers, had been fired that morning for using his computer to research how to make pipe bombs of all things. The management staff zeroed in on it pretty quickly and when he was confronted he merely stated that it was a hobby that he was interested in.

A hobby? Pipe bombs? Who did he think he was kidding?

In any event he was let go immediately and received a stern warning not to come back onto the property, even to get his last check. They told him they would mail it to him.

To say she was relieved he was gone was a vast understatement. Just the thought that she wouldn't have to see those beady little eyes or that crooked smile again was cause for celebration.

And that was just one of the 'interesting' things that had happened during her day.

On her way home she had stopped to get her dry cleaning and who of all people did she run into…her beloved ex-boyfriend Sam. He strolled into the store

and sauntered right up next to her. He had claimed that he was just picking up his clothes but she knew the real story. He had stalked her before. Fortunately for her he didn't follow her when she quickly departed the store.

And then there was the weirdo who had followed her car practically to her own driveway. He had tailgated her in his big, black truck while sporting a grin that sent chills down her spine. She contemplated calling the police but he hadn't actually done anything, at least not yet.

When she walked in her front door she felt like she was going to collapse. All she wanted to do was flop in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of tea.

There's a killer in the house.

The unsettling phrase crept into her mind, refusing to relinquish its hold on her imagination.

Was she being watched?

She didn't think so, but one could never be sure. She lifted her cup of Lemon-Ginseng tea out of the microwave and settled down in front of the fireplace. The flames crackled and popped, radiating their warmth into the room.

There's a killer in the house.

It was no use. No matter how hard she tried to relax she couldn't ignore the feeling she was having. The best thing to do would be to make sure there was no one in the house with her. She set her cup of tea down on the coffee table and pushed the afghan off of her lap.

And then she hesitated.

She had neglected to turn on any lights before she had sat down and now the house was brimming with shadows, even though it was still fairly early.

The irrationality of being so frightened in her own home weighed heavy on her mind. She was a grown woman, independent and intelligent. She owned her own house, a new car and had a moderately sized investment portfolio. There was no reason to be afraid, none whatsoever.

There's a killer in the house.

Except for that.

That and the movement she thought she detected in the guest bathroom at the end of the hallway.

It was difficult to steady her nerves, much less face her fears but she had to do it, what other choice did she have?

Was it that creep Fizzeral? Did he find out that she had been the one who had told on him at work? Maybe he had gotten her address from the computers before he left and was waiting for her to get home. Who knows what terrible things he had planned for her. She could just picture those beady eyes and that crooked smile sneering at her in the shadows.

She picked up the fireplace poker and held it out in front like a sword.

"Who's there?" she called out. "I'm armed and able to defend myself."

But there was no reply.

Without thinking she rushed straight to the bathroom and flicked on the light.

It was only a towel that was hanging in the path of the heat register. When the furnace kicked on it blew air right on it, obviously causing the movement she had seen.

The relief she felt was like a tidal wave. It washed over her completely, cleansing her of her paranoia. She settled back down to her cup of tea being sure to leave some lights on this time.

The scratching noise jarred her from her relaxation. It sounded as if someone was outside the kitchen window trying to get in. She bolted to her feet, again wielding the poker in front of her.

Could it be Sam? She'd caught him outside her house twice before after they'd broken up. He had said both times that he only wanted to make sure she was all right and that he still cared for her. She didn't buy any of it though. He was a louse, and a jealous, stalking one at that.

Moonlight filtered into the kitchen, casting an eerie glow on the granite countertop and stainless steel appliances. She was afraid to go near the window, fearing that Sam was lurking beyond the glass with a knife or gun. His jealousy only served to enhance his temper, as she had found out many times in the past. When she noticed the small bird pecking at the glass near the bottom of the window the relief she felt nearly caused her to collapse. A sudden tap on the windowpane quickly removed the pest from her sight and her mind.

Again she settled back to her cup of tea, which was now starting to cool. She let her mind stray, delving into fond, distant memories of her childhood.

There's a killer in the house.

The phrase corrupted her peace and quiet, firmly implanting itself in her mind, refusing to fade away. She couldn't ignore it, it was incessant, and addressing it seemed liked a childish and fruitless endeavor. When she had sensed things in the past she was usually right about them, so she was hesitant to ignore these particular words.

The doorbell caused her heart to skip a beat. She jumped up out of her seat and scurried to the front door. Cautiously, she peered out of the small window at the top of the door, being sure not to be seen.

Nobody was there.

And then she noticed the black truck parked across the street.

An ice-cold shiver ran down her spine.

Was that weird guy who followed her home stalking her? Was he playing mind games with her? She locked the deadbolt and gripped the poker tightly.

After she had taken three steps towards the phone the doorbell shattered the silence again. She paced back to the door, this time fully prepared to defend herself.

The back truck was still there, although she knew it wasn't the cause of her worry. As she watched in relief, the big man who had driving it earlier emerged from her neighbor's house carrying a large television set. Her neighbor, a woman she'd seen countless times before but had never actually gotten to know very well, followed behind him carrying a VCR machine. They then proceeded to load the pieces into the back of the truck. The man then gave her neighbor some cash and they shook hands before he drove off.

A rustling in her nearby bushes alerted her to the cause of the doorbell ringing. Two small boys ran off when they noticed the victim of their practical joke had spotted them.

She let a soft chuckle escape when she realized just how ridiculous she had been. There was no killer in the house. She was all alone.

There's a killer in the house.

The ominous words attempted to take control of her mind as they had done before. But this time she wasn't going to listen to them. There was nobody in the house besides her. She had checked it thoroughly. This time she was going to listen to her common sense.

She removed the coffee cup from the microwave and dipped her finger in the water. Satisfied that it was hot enough she put a new tea bag into the cup and sat back down to relax.

There's a killer in the house.

Forget it. Sorry. Not this time. This time she was going to enjoy the rest of her night. Her favorite show was due to come on shortly and she fully intended to watch it. She set her cup of tea down on the end table and reached for the remote control, not noticing the Black Widow spider crouched next to it ready to strike.