Something caused the chandelier to flicker. The light bulb, and then the glass pieces moved delicately, making the sound of a chiming lullaby, which Zoe found horribly eerie.
“FRANK!” she yelled. She ran upstairs but stopped halfway, certain she saw a shadow move up there, as quick as a cat but as large as a wolf. The alarm was upstairs. The only alarm she had to alert Frank of an emergency. The creature was upstairs also. Zoe slowly stepped backwards, too fearful to turn her back to it. When she retreated several steps behind her, she turned around and walked towards the ticking grandfather clock. As the ticking became louder the closer she came, the large black door became more and more intimidating. Was she really going to do this? She was sure something was in the house with her, but if somehow she was wrong, Frank would be furious with her. And Frank was the only person she had in the world, she hated letting him down. She was always given everything she wanted, even if she asked for something that seemed impossible. Her only rule really was that she was never to open the door, never to go outside. “The creature will kill you if you go outside Zoe,” said Frank’s voice in her head. Yes, thought Zoe, but the creature is in here with me. And why wouldn’t it kill you? Zoe wondered rebelliously. Frank had explained to her over the years that it had a thirst for her blood type, and a thirst for children generally. Still she often questioned what about her blood was particularly delicious.
She placed her hand on the brass door knob. It felt cool and smooth, like an antique that had been forgotten. But she dared not take another step. She hovered in her uncertainty, too afraid to take her hand off the knob, too scared to turn it open either. It felt like an hour had past. She willed Frank to come home. She knew he couldn’t be long now. The grandfather clock struck 5pm. At that moment, the creature howled from upstairs. It wasn’t like a wolf’s howl, it was a shriek-like disturbing howl. The sound of a beast Zoe could not identify, not in her memory of watching all the David Attenborough documentaries. But immediately after the howl was the footsteps of a large beast, which thundered in the landing until Zoe distinctly saw a dark figure on the stairs above. It was the last straw. If she was to die from this beast today, let her at least be killed in the open air, one final glimpse of the world she had been deprived of. She turned the knob and pulled the door open, aware that footsteps were rushing towards her, and ran.
There were trees. White pillowy clouds. But Zoe did not get far into the outside world she had dreamed about for so long. The air on her face was cold and bracing. She had never before felt this breeze. The sunlight hit her immensely, causing her eyes to squint the way they used to when Frank would wake her up early for her studies by switching on her lamp.
Zoe was not prepared for the team of people who gathered around when they saw her. They were all dressed in expensive looking suits or glamorous dresses, all had hair and makeup done flawlessly. One of these people was a woman with short black hair who was holding a microphone and grinning at Zoe from ear to ear.
“Its Zoe Eshop in second place everybody!” beamed the woman. To add to Zoe’s surprise, a crowd of people began cheering. She couldn’t see the crowd, but she could hear them. It sounded like a thunderous amount of people. Perhaps thousands.
“Zoe how are you feeling, being outside for the first time ever in your life?” she asked very enthusiastically.
Zoe squinted and glanced around at her surroundings. Across the road was another huge house almost identical to Zoe’s. To the left was another, and to her right was another. The houses were facing each other. Outside each of the other houses was a small crowd of people too. She could see a child across from her, who looked about the same age as Zoe, and he was in his pyjamas, looking dazed and confused. He was holding what looked like a glass trophy, with a number 3 on it.
The short black haired woman turned with her microphone to a camera lens. “She’s just lost for words!” And the audience, wherever they were, laughed. She turned back to Zoe, “Go on darling, give us a few words at least!”
Zoe put her lips over the microphone and spoke softly, worried incase the microphone was too sensitive. “I’m looking for my dad. His name-“
“FRANK!” She interrupted, and the audience cheered hysterically. “Oh they love your Frank. He’s waiting for you in the revelation pod. Are you ready?”