Stumbling up Hailey's stairs, I let out another groan. Why oh why had I drunk so much last night, I was going to be dead at work! I threw open the door to her en-suite and made the water as cold as possible in an attempt to wake me up a little and to soothe the splitting pain that had taken up residence in my head.
I let the water run in little rivulets across my skin and tilted my face upwards, closing my eyes. The guy from earlier flashed through my mind and I cringed inwardly at how I might have acted, briefly wondering how "sleazy" I had gotten. I was so not like that. It was all that damn alcohol.
'Hailey?' I could hear Miss Samuels shout from downstairs and I listened in, curious as to how much trouble we may both be in. 'What happened? This place is a mess!'
'Relax,' I heard my friend reply. 'I just had a little get together, nothing too serious.'
'Then why do you look so rough? Did you get drunk?!'
'No mum, I just stayed up late.'
I laughed at Hailey's pathetic excuse, and instantly regretted it as another bolt of pain shot through my head.
Shutting off the water, I wrapped myself in a towel and quickly brushed my teeth, then heading to Hailey's room where I had left my bag from last night.
I dressed in the familiar work uniform, a simple white shirt and black trousers and pulled my hair into a ponytail. Lining my eyes with black kohl and a dash of eyeshadow, I was ready.
'Hey Miss Samuels,' I greeted Hailey's mum as I entered the living room. Hailey was picking up empty cups with a disgruntled expression. Her mother was standing over her with her arms folded. She turned round at my greeting and smiled warmly.
'Mia dear, it's lovely to see you. Things didn't get too wild last night did they?'
Hailey's expression behind her mother was a picture. She was silently pleading: her normally large dark eyes were even wider and she was shaking her head, her wavy black hair flying about her shoulders.
'No,' I kept my face solemn. 'Not at all. I wouldn't do that to your house.'
This seemed to satisfy her as she smiled again.
'Thank you love, hope you have fun at work!'
'Oh I will,' I replied and headed out the door. I would need to text Hailey later to find out how much trouble she had gotten into exactly. The walk to work was normally a brief one, but it was refreshing. I let the cool wind revive and soothe my pounding head. Birds were twittering in the distance and children were laughing in someone's garden. It looked like a perfect day.
I had rounded the corner from Hailey's street, when the most unnerving feeling crept up on me. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I got the distinct impression I wasn't alone.
I whirled round, to find no one there. It was probably just me being paranoid. But things did look a little... quiet. It was as though everything had fallen silent. The birds, the children, even the wind. Houses lining the street all stared at me, daunting and dark and I shivered involuntarily.
'Get a grip,' I muttered to myself, quickening my pace ever so slightly. It wasn't far to the restaurant now.
But no matter how much I told myself I wasn't being watched, the feeling never left me. I was on edge the whole way there. It was a relief to finally reach work and I instantly felt better once I stepped inside.
However, I stopped short at the sight in front of me.
It was empty.
There was literally no one here. Even the bar staff had vanished. It was completely and utterly eerie. I took tentative footsteps up to the front and peered through the door leading to the staff room.
No one there.
Where on Earth was everyone?
'Hello?' I called out, suddenly feeling incredibly stupid. 'Ernie? Miranda? Anybody?'
There was no reply, only sinister silence. It was so quiet, I could hear my own frantic heartbeat, pounding against my chest, threatening to explode. I decided to check the staff room once more, convinced there would be people inside.
The corridor leading to the room was long, seeming to stretch on for miles and I began to half run - half walk. Once I was about halfway down, the light above me flickered once. Flickered twice.
Then total darkness.
I screamed automatically.
'Oh no,' I groaned. 'Why me?'
What an appropriate time to have a power cut; when I was alone by myself at work, the place that had suddenly taken up an unbelievably ghostlike, spine-tingling atmosphere that sent rolls of panic along my spine.
I was reaching in my bag, searching for my phone when a noise behind me caused me to freeze.
They were the unmistakable sound of a heel against the hard ground.
They were getting faster. And nearer.
I tried not to let the panic consume me whole, rooting desperately through my bag. Where was that stupid phone?
Come ON! Where was it?!
Clack. Oh God, they were literally feet away.
Almost crying with relief when my fingers found the hard object, I brought it up in front of me, pressing the button to make it illuminate.
And screamed at what I saw.