Soft golden sunlight stretched across the bed from the window falling across the sleeping man's eyes. Alfred awoke with a jolt. Nearly collapsing out of bed he grabbed the first jeans and shirt he found on the floor and pulled them on. Looking at the watch on his wrist he noticed that it was already past 10.
Running in full force he shot down the stairs of the flat, not missing a beat he shoved his feet into a scruffy pair of trainers and exited the house.
His feet crunched against the gravel on the pavement as he ran to the bus stop. The number 42 bus was already leaving. Knowing he couldn't make it he still ran, waiving his small plastic Oyster card.
The orange digital display showed the next bus wouldn't be for another 15 minutes. He sank down onto the little bench and looked at his watch. It had been a gift from his brother when he moved, it has a large face displaying the local UK time, with a smaller clock nestled inside. Mattie had set it to the the Washington time zone, "This way you won't end up calling me in the middle of the night, eh?"
The watch did have one other neat feature, a small display of the date. Today it was the 11th of January… a Saturday.
The American sighed as he got up and walked back to his house. Was this really the second time?
He was just nervous, it had only been a few weeks since Alfred had relocated to the UK. It was just being overly cautious. Not every 23 year old gets offered a job at their companies new overseas headquarters straight off the bat from their summer internship. The stress it brought him was another thing however.
He paused to rub his arms. The bitter January chill was getting to him now his burst of adrenaline waned.
Looking along the street of brick houses, most of which had been converted to upstairs and downstairs flats, he saw something deeply bizarre.
A hulking man, even taller than his own 6" self, with a fiery mane of curly hair wearing a skirt. He appeared to be yelling at Alfred's house in some unintelligible language.
"Artie! Cae oot here ya wee bugger. Wur surely no still gaan tae dee thus?"
As Alfred got closer he could see the door to the lower flat slightly ajar.
"Fuck off you prick" came the reply, Alfred just cause a flash of something dazzlingly green before the door slammed shut.
The giant then pulled out a phone, "he'll no listen tae me Frannie, hids up tae yoo noo"
Before Alfred reached the wall outside the building the man had already crammed himself into a car that seemed much too small and driven away.
Still in a dazed state he ascended the stairs up to his flat. He sat for a while trying to comprehend the situation. The downstairs flat he had always presumed to be unoccupied. Even if you peered through the dirty windows you would only be able to see piles and piles of books, newspapers and other rubbish. He'd never even heard movements coming from down there.
He was just fixing a cup of coffee for himself when he heard the door click. Perhaps his flat mate Kiku would know something about the downstairs neighbour. The short, lean Asian man came upstairs. He was looking rather cute in his work out clothes, Alfred thought.
"Good Morning, Alfred-san" He said wiping his sweat with a towel.
"Morning Kiku!" He grinned back "Don't suppose you know anything about the guy living downstairs?"
Kiku's expression shifted slightly to surprise, though he never let much to show on his face. He quickly retrieved the lease from one of the neatly organised kitchen draws.
"It says here that the downstairs apartment is still in use of the landlord, I think we have the spare key in here as well." Gesturing to the draw where all the household documents were kept.
"The landlord?" He wondered, surely that couldn't be the owner? Although he'd never actually met them. The whole process had been taken through the estate agents, and he'd let Kiku do most of the work.
"Hmm, yeah? What's up,"
"I will be going for a shower now. I have a meeting soon and won't be back tonight"
He made a small bow and left Alfred alone in the kitchen. He chuckled at the man's formal attitude.