Aayleen opened her eyes and looked around the room. For a minute or two, she had no idea where she was. The walls were the wrong colour and the furniture was oak and not maple as she preferred. Even the bed was wrong; it was a big wrought iron thing and seemed so out of place.
"Where am I?" she whispered. On the heels of this question came a small voice in the back of her mind, a hissing voice.
"You're at home. Don't you recognize your own home?" Aayleen smiled and pushed her fears aside. She just had a nightmare that was all. A nice cup of cocoa would send her right back to sleep. Aayleen swung her legs over the edge of the bed and padded across the room, she was about to open the door when a sound from downstairs made her stop in her tracks. The front door had just opened! Someone was in her house and they had a key! Aayleen stepped out onto the landing and edged over to the bannister.
"You're making holes in my floor, Carly!" Aayleen froze at the sound of the voice. They weren't even trying to be quiet and what the Hell was she on about? Her floor? Aayleen dropped to her hands and knees and peered down into the hallway where a tall blonde was taking off a pair of pink stilettos.
"You've ruined my floor" hissed Aayleen. Suddenly, the hallway changed. Instead of wooden floors and mint green walls, there was a beige carpet on the floor and the walls were a warm shade of nutmeg. Again, that nagging doubt was crushed by the hissing voice.
"They are in your house. You have to get rid of them." Aayleen nodded, she crawled back to the bedroom and used her mobile to call the police. She told the operator that there were two women in her house and that they had broken in.
"What's your address, madam?" Aayleen opened her mouth but she didn't know her address. How could she not know her own address? And why did everything seem so different here? The hissing voice interrupted these thoughts before they could go too far.
"Get them out of your house. Now!" Aayleen threw the phone onto the bed and dashed across the room. The two girls had just reached the head of the stairs, the blonde, Carly, was carrying her stilettos and the other girl was a tall, brunette. They stared at Aayleen for a moment before the brunette spoke.
"Who the Hell are you?" Aayleen gave a small whimper and slammed the door closed; she turned the key in the lock and backed away from it, wringing her hands. They began to pound on the woodwork.
"Hey! Open this door! Who the Hell are you? How did you get in here?"
"The window" muttered Aayleen. Her hands froze as she spoke the words. Why would she say that? This was her house, why should she come in through the window? A blue light flashed across the walls and Aayleen ran to the open window to call out to the police but her voice failed when she saw the ladder still resting against the side of the house. What the Hell was happening? She lifted her head just in time to see the two girls dash from the house and over to the approaching officers.
"Go downstairs, now. You have to tell them the truth! You must protect the children!" The voice hissed louder than ever before. Aayleen ran downstairs but instead of going out the front door, she hurried on to the kitchen and pulled the carving knife from the block on the centre island. Feeling safer now, she turned and ran from the house, raising the knife as she ran.
Later that evening, Carly and her friend Dee were still at the police station. They had no idea themselves what had happened but one of the officers said this was a regular occurrence. Aayleen, as she now called herself, was a voluntary patient at the local asylum. Once a month, almost like clockwork, she would go out for a walk and not come back until the police dragged her in later on in the evening. Aayleen was trying to find her home where her children were; she thought they were waiting for her.
"Where are her children?" asked Carly, clinging to Dee. The policeman shook his head, sadly.
"They were killed by an intruder. She felt so guilty that she hadn't protected them she just refused to believe they were dead; she suffered a complete break from reality. The asylum is having her kept there permanently now." He turned and headed off back to his desk. Dee and Carly sighed.
"Poor thing" said Dee. Carly nodded as they stood up and left the station to go home.