Dolly Smith watched from her living room window, along with most of her neighbours on the street, as the removal van emptied its contents across the street. An hour later, a young couple pulled up in a flashy car. They paid the removal men and waved them off. The man was tall and heavily muscled with light hair spiked up like little daggers. The woman was also tall but willowy, her blonde hair was so light it was almost white and hung down her back to her waist. The man swept her off her feet and carried her into the house, the door swung shut behind them.
"Anyone good?" Dolly turned and smiled at Robin Merrin, he was leaning against the doorjamb to the kitchen.
"Newly weds from the look of it. He just carried her over the threshold." Robin chuckled.
"That's romantic. Stupid but romantic. A guy could pull something doing crap like that." Robin glanced over his shoulder at the microwave buzzing away before darting across the room and sweeping Dolly off her feet. She laughed as he twirled her around; they only stopped when a muffled explosion, followed by a loud splay issued from the kitchen.
"Crap" sighed Robin as the microwave beeped.
The day was bright and the blue sky stretched for miles overhead. Dolly spread a blanket on the grass and pulled off her top and jeans to reveal a shiny gold bikini. She lay down and settled a glass of lemonade into a little tuft of grass and opened the latest Stephen King novel.
"You alright there, my lovely?" Dolly sighed and put the book aside, she moved into a sitting position and looked at the pair of eyes smiling at her from over the fence.
"I'm good. Why?" she asked. A tall brunette walked around the fence and sat down next to Dolly. Brandy Lomax picked up the book and examined the cover; she raised an eyebrow before tossing it back onto the grass.
"No reason. Just checking and, you know, making conversation. I figured I'd watch for the newlyweds and ask them out for a drink with the boyf and me tomorrow." Dolly smiled and looked across the street where all the curtains were drawn and the blinds were down.
"Might be waiting a while. Don't we get an invite?" she asked, pouting and fluttering her eyelashes. Brandy laughed.
"I thought you were both working tomorrow night?"
"Smart arse" said Dolly, she lay back down on the towel and closed her eyes. Brandy could take a hint; she got up and jogged across the street to introduce herself to the new neighbours.
Robin put the last of the clean glasses on the shelf and headed across the bar to empty the ashtrays. He was tired and wanted to go home, bar work wasn't exactly stimulating but his debts weren't going to clear themselves. Robin sighed, he could have asked Dolly for a loan but he just couldn't bring himself to do it.
Brandy was sitting in the corner with her boyfriend, Marlon and the new neighbours. She raised her hand and nodded at him, Robin too the ashtrays back to the bar ad began pouring a Tia Maria and orange juice. He took it over to the table where Brandy was smiling sweetly at him, she held out a five pound note.
"Do I get a discount because we are all lovely neighbours?" she said, her words were heavily slurred. Robin put the glass on the table and snatched the note from Brandy.
"Nope" he said, turning on his heel. He put the sale through and pocketed the change; it wasn't like she'd notice. He rang the bell and breathed a sigh of relief as people began downing their drinks and heading for the door. Robin peered through the throng and noticed that Brandy and the others were gone. Well, at least that was one problem solved.
Brandy and Marlon were staggering around the side of the bar. The new neighbours, Alice and Carl, didn't seem to be drunk at all.
"We'll give you guys a ride home. Our cars parked down this alley" said Carl. He gripped Brandy's upper arm in a vice grip and almost dragged her around the corner and down the alley, but there was no car. Brandy blinked and tried to focus but all she could see was a dead end.
"Where's your car?" said Brandy. A cloth was suddenly placed over her mouth; acrid fumes burned her throat as she slipped to the ground.
It was cold, so very cold. Brandy opened her eyes and shivered, she sat up and fought against the rising terror as she realised she was sitting in a bathtub full of ice.
"No fucking way" she whispered. Brandy gently reached around her body and found the big ugly scar that she'd been praying wasn't there. She slowly stood up, grinding her teeth against the scream that wanted to rip through her. The bathroom door suddenly swung open and Alice walked in.
"Hey there, sleepyhead" she said, giggling a little. Brandy pushed herself against the wall, tears streaming down her face.
"He's already gone, I'm afraid. I just came through to get you because you have to go too."
"I don't wanna die" sobbed Brandy. Alice smiled a small and very sad smile.
"Nobody does. But you're just a payment on a larger debt." Brandy slipped down the wall and tried to hide in the ice as Alice walked towards her.