Prologue

An impossibly thin figure stands on one of the stone bridges that reach over the Carrowbeg. He is so unnaturally still as he stares at the rushing water that anyone who might be observing him would begin to wonder if what they were watching was merely an oddly placed statue, but then he turns sharply and walks back to his waiting car. An unusually acute onlooker could claim that they had seen his shoulders slump and his hatted head shake slightly before he left the bridge; whatever he found in the murky depths of the river, it could not have been pleasant.


Braham Court is crouching behind a lively looking pub and can only be accessed through the use of a narrow, graffiti covered alley. Hiding, hoping no-one will notice this ugly, writhing underbelly.

He moves as quiet as death. He is part of the night.


The entire square has an air of neglect skulking around it, including the laughable attempt at a communal garden in the centre, but the building in the far corner is easily the worst.

It is made of the same dull, red brick as the rest of the court, but there is something about the way the moonlight falls on it, the way the bitter wind that rips through everything else in the town avoids rattling its gate, that is all too eerie.

Peeling paint surrounds the windows that glare out onto the world. No-one knows if there is anyone living within Number Nine's angry shell; like the majority of the houses on Braham Court, it is difficult to tell.

The air is thick and tense. Expectant.

A sharply dressed man strides silently from the gloomy depths of an alleyway. He has an intimidating presence that asserts itself as soon as he appears. His ink-black suit and hat make it hard to discern exactly where he is as he heads for Number Nine, and he manages to avoid the dim pools of light cast by the flickering street lamps. He is a wraith.

When he is more than halfway across the square, his purposeful march falters for the first time. It is easy to see that he is unwilling to approach the house, as so many others are, but his reluctance does not stem from fear. More difficult to discern is the reason for his hesitancy. He drops his head and takes his hat off to rub the back of his scarf-covered neck, revealing for a moment a glaringly white head that stands out severely against his shadowy surroundings. The hat is replaced and the man stands rigid.

After a minute, perhaps used by the man to collect his thoughts, or his courage, he sets off again. This time, he disregards subtlety completely and the sounds of his well tailored shoes stepping smartly along the damp cobbled ground are only just audible.

He slips through the gate that is hanging off its rusty hinges and picks his way through the various items of discarded rubbish to the front door. Raising his hand to the door handle, his determination wavers again for a fraction of a second, so small a pause that it would be missed with the blink of an eye, before he pushes down the handle with the tiniest of creaks and enters the house.

How did it ever come to this?


A/N - This story will probably only be a few chapters long, kind of a one-shot split into sections really, but all future chapters will be longer than this one. This is just an introduction. Anyway, thanks for reading! Let me know what you think :)