Emma's hands felt a chill as her fingers slithered around the can of fizzy drink she had just taken from the fridge in her kitchen. The snow was still falling outside having continued unabaited since the early afternoon. She pulled out one of the pine chairs from under the table that stood in the middle of the room before sitting down to watch the snow fall down passed her window it being illuminated by the light from her kitchen. The big hand of the clock above the door was now reaching the number one indicating that it was almost five minutes past eleven. She could feel her eyes getting heavier and as she took a drink from her can she began to wish she hadn't opened it feeling like she was now left with it even though her thirst seemed quenched already.

The kitchen seemed unusually large tonight like it was a big empty space even though it was quite cluttered with the table being too big for the size of the room. She had not yet got used to the solitude of living alone. She had recently seperated from Jim, her partner of nine years, whom she had lived with since moving out of her parent's home at aged seventeen. At that age she thought she knew it all and was of course madly in love with Jim. Back then it felt like it was a love that would last forever but ended abruptly with the discovery of his affair. That was a month ago. The house in general had seemed a lot bigger since that day.

She rubbed the back of her neck with her spare left hand as if it would offer some poor substitue for human contact. She had refused an offer to stay with her parents when the snow was forecast. Emma lived in a rather rural area of Gloucestershire in a house that was one of several dotted along a country lane. Traffic along the road was always light and so when the snow started to come down it gathered quickly on the tarmac. Emma had recently done her weekly shop and so she was ok for food even if they were cut off for a day or two.

Thud!

Emma's head shot in the direction of the window. She had heard a sound distinctly. It was one single heavy thudding sound against the snow. Her logical mind quickly took over. Some snow had probably come loose from the roof and landed outside. Nothing more. Why then did she remain so unnerved? She released her grip from the can and began to stand up to get a clearer look into the garden. The falling snow made it difficult to see more than a few feet from the window.

She sat back down and tried to brush it off but because she had been inclined to look in the first place her mind was now suitably unsettled. She had to find out what it was or at least some eveidence of what it could have been or she would be in for a night of uneasy sleep. There was nothing else for it. She was going to have to go outside. She stood up from the chair and walked towards the backdoor that lead from her kitchen straight into the back garden. Before pushing down on the door handle she switched on the outside light that sent a beam of light into the immediate vicinty around her door. Although she was hardly dressed for the occasion wearing a red sweater, blue denim jeans and a pair of pink slippers she opened the door and stepped outside.

The snow crunched beneath her slippers as she took her first steps ou of the door. The falling snow flakes were quite large and even though she had been outside for only a few minutes her hair and clothes were already becoming white. She looked around the ground near her feet for any indication of what might have caused such a large thud. The ground was covered by smooth virgin snow that was slowly increasing in depth but with no indication of what might have caused the sound she had heard.

This was not the result she was hoping for. She had hoped to find evidence of some large cat that had knocked over a few bins or something to that extent but there was nothing. She decided to step a few paces further outside and soon she found herself at the edge of the light cast from the house. She was faced with an apparent abyss of darkness where her courage was now beginning to desert her. She was about to turn back when she noticed something on the ground ahead of her.

A footprint!

The print was made from a right foot being pressed against the snow and was facing the house. Studying the print she noticed a second one from a left foot just a few inches behind it. With no further prints between here and the house and with no apparent change in direction to them it was as if they had stopped and the person who had made them had simply disappeared. The shock of seeing them had left her momentarily ignorant of one fact which she took a few moments to realize; the person who made them wasn't wearing any shoes or socks. They were barefoot.

A smashing sound signalled the end of the outside light which plunged her into darkness as its debris fell to the ground. She swung around looking back at the house her heat beating like a hammer on the inside of her rib cage. She fought to catch her breath which was now running away from her. She wanted to run but the fact that the light behind her had been smashed left her with the feeling that there was something between her and the house and it was keeping her feet still.

A small patch of snow fell off the roof landing just in front of the door. She dared to look up to see what had caused it to fall. Through the snowflakes she saw to her amazement and increasing confusion that the footprints that stopped half way through her garden where she was standing now seemed to continue on the roof of her home, some three floors high? Her eyes followed them all the way to the top of the roof and it was there she could see their source.

The black silhouette of a man stood on the top of her roof apparently looking down at her although in the low light she couldn't see any of his features. She stood frozen on the spot her mouth open aghast. She tried to speak but the words wouldn't form. She became overwhelmed with a sense of dread. It was completely consuming her. She just stood there examining it and likewise felt as though she was being examined by it. As her eyes adjusted to the low light she could see that it was breathing. It's breath was hovering around its head appearing in plumes from where its mouth would be. She soon noticed that its arms were longer than normal with the fingers appearing to reach just above the knees.

Without warning and in one swift movement the figure leaped from the roof. Emma screamed as she saw the black figure swoop down on top of her. She fell onto the snow covered ground, her head in a frightened daze. She felt long rough fingers gripping around her wrists as it held her down on the ground. She could feel warm gushes of air, it's breath, against her face as her attacker leaned in close to her. The breath became hotter and hotter and it felt as though her skin was about to melt.

Suddenly the pressure was gone. Her attacker had released its grip on her. She looked back just in time to see it leap back up the side of her house and back onto the roof. It paused briefly to look back at her before it leapt off on the other side of the house and was gone leaving her shivering as she was slowly buried by the still falling snow.