Hot water ran down Sophia's head. She tilted it back and forth to get the hot water massaging her tight shoulders. Normally, she wouldn't shower so late, but tonight she felt dirty from the gossip and intrigues at the office.
SWISH – YODEL - SWUSH
Sophie's head shot up. What was that? She poked her head out of the shower and listened.
A high pitched sound, a bit like a TV on the wrong frequency and a pump on its last thrust. She tilted her head to listen. Which of her gadgets would make such a sound?
She shrugged; it was probably just the air conditioner exchange on the roof. Ever since she moved in it rattled and huffed at odd times. She pulled back behind the shower curtain, grabbed the shampoo and massaged it vigorously into her hair.
Sophie froze. That was not a fridge sound – definitely not!
Water rushed down, flooding shampoo into her eyes. Quickly, she rinsed her hair and blindly felt for the faucets. Turning them off, she wiped her eyes with a towel, trying to decipher the noises. Her bathroom was windowless and she had left the hallway lights off, for she loved the darkness. How she wished she hadn't now!
Glass clanked against glass. That was her balcony door and the blue chimes she had attached to it. She relaxed. Must be a draft, for she lived on the third floor and it was inaccessible enough for anybody to climb onto. Her hand reached for the faucets to turn the water on again, when the chimes banged hard against the glass. Somebody was coming in from the outside!
Sophie grabbed the wall for support thinking this was impossible! She always locked that door.
She took a deep breath and pulled the shower curtain aside, stepped out of the bathtub and listened at the bathroom door.
That was her wood chair being shoved into the metal leg of her dining table.
"Why is it so dark in here?" she heard a male voice ask.
"Maybe she is saving energy. How should I know?" a female voice hissed. "Hold it up a bit higher so I can see too, will ya?"
"Somebody could really get hurt in this darkness," the man said, concerned. "Look, I could have smashed this lamp accidentally, if I hadn't had the screwdriver. Irresponsible – totally irresponsible! And how do you know it's a woman living here, anyway?" The last part was asked with real interest.
"It's obvious. Just look around," the woman replied dryly.
"I don't see anything unusual," the man stated. "In this darkness."
The woman sighed. "Books, cross–stitched pictures on the wall, candles – do I need to say more?"
"And a man can't have these?" her partner argued.
Silence. Sophie wished she could see through her wall.
"Anyway," the man drawled out, "can we continue now?"
"Keep it down," the woman shushed.
The man seemed not too concerned as he continued at the same volume. "The scanner indicated a lifeform in the shower. She won't hear us."
"Not hear us?" the woman asked with sarcasm dripping out of every word. "The water is not running, genius!"
"Oh," the man uttered.
"Oh yeah! She already heard us!"
"Well, we're just passing," he still didn't sound too troubled.
"How about we are introducing ourselves since we are standing in her living room?" the woman suggested.
"Or we could just walk through," the man offered.
Sophie grabbed her clothes and pulled them on quickly, not bothering that she was still dripping wet.
What the heck was going on? Who were these two? And WHAT were they doing in HER apartment?
She grabbed the handle and quietly locked it. Better safe than sorry. Could they see her shadow moving as the bathroom light flooded under the door into the hallway? Well, they knew where she was anyway. She looked around for possible weapons. Toilet brush? Disgusting, but not very effective unless the intruder was afraid of germs. She could smash the mirror to get a sharp object, but that would bring seven years of bad luck and she didn't want to risk that. She rummaged through her cupboard and produced a nail file and clippers. Great, she would have to be up front and personal with the intruders – just what she needed. She jumped at the sound of the door handle being turned down.
"You can't just go in there," the woman exclaimed.
"Why not?" The male sounded surprised.
The handle popped up again.
"It is a BATHROOM." She spelled it out for him.
"Exactly! And SHE was taking a shower."
Sophie could nearly picture the woman shaking her head, exasperated.
"Well then, you go in," he suggested, an electrical swishing sound rattling the door. "Lock is open."
Sophie could hear a loud smack followed by a muffled 'ouch' from the male.
"Excuse me?" the woman called through the door.
Sophie shrank back as far as the bathroom permitted, which was about 30 cm and she hit the sink.
"Excuse me," the woman repeated a bit louder. "We don't want to scare you, but our ship crashed on your balcony."
"Just a rough landing," the male defended them and earned another smack.
"Ship?" Sophie bit her lips. She had two lunatics in her living room!
"We're just wondering if we could leave it there—"
"We have to. It's not moving," interrupted the man and it sounded like he quickly jumped to the side.
"We're just getting a few parts, we'll come back later to repair it and be out of your way. Okay with you?"
Heavy silence followed as Sophie's thoughts raced through her head.
"Are you okay in there?" the woman interrupted her ponderings. "I know it's a bit odd and—," she paused for any reaction, "Listen, you don't even have to come out. As long as you let us in later."
"She doesn't have to. We have this—" the man said smugly.
"It would be politer to ask her to let us in," the woman chastised him.
"How would she know it's us?" the man pointed out.
"Well, I don't know," the woman countered, "maybe she could open the door and take a peek," she added unsure. "Or I could come in?"
"NO!" Sophie found her voice again.
"That's quite okay," the woman hastened to say.
"I want you out of my apartment," Sophie shouted, her fingers cramping around the scissors.
"Let's go, Donna. We're wasting time," the man said and Sophie could hear him moving down the hallway.
"Listen, I'm really sorry about this." Donna knocked gently at the door. "But don't worry, we won't hurt you."
"And I should trust you why?" Sophie said in shakily voice.
"It was just an accident – really a crash landing. We were on our way to," the man called her again, "oh, and don't mind the blue box on your balcony," Donna added hastily. "See you later."
"Hope not," Sophie replied, sinking down on the rim of her bathtub as she heard Donna's footsteps leave.
Her heart beat in her ears.
"Were they gone? She didn't hear the door. What if they were lurking in the hallway?
Her alarm clock counted seconds slowly as minutes while Sophie remained frozen. Her wet clothes clung uncomfortably to her skin and she was really getting cold.
Gathering up her courage Sophie got up slowly and lifted her weapon high above her head, ready to strike as she opened the door.
All was silent. Feeling with her hand for the light switch, she hit it fast and raised her hand. She squinted out from under it as the lights flooded her living room. All remained quiet. She crept to the kitchen counter and exchanged her nail scissors for a big bread knife. Now she felt better and peeked around the corner to the entrance. All was locked and normal. She poked her knife into the open cupboard, feeling slightly silly as she cautiously moved her winter coats. Nobody there.
Only one room left - the bedroom. Sophie took a deep breath and switched on the lights. She swung around to her open wardrobe and stuck her knife in. Nothing. Reluctantly, she sank to her knees to look under the bed. Nothing. Relieved, she jumped up and let herself fall onto her bed. She laughed. What a vivid imagination she had! The encounter was probably just her, daydreaming a new exciting storyline for her rather boring uneventful life. Did she doze off in the shower?
Shaking with giggles and from the cold, she peeled out of her wet clothes and put her sweats on. A silly grin plastered on her face, she walked into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Humming softly, she put the kettle on and returned the stupid knife with gusto to its drawer. While the water was starting to boil, her glance wandered to the balcony door and her heart stopped.
Right behind the glass a blue box was sitting fitting neatly into the small space of her balcony.