I froze. Straining my ears over the sound of my heart racing as if it was trying to run away and my breathing (which sounded so loud to me that I was terrified that something would hear it), I listened out for any more noise.
Nothing. Perhaps it would go away, I thought, calming down a little. But this was not to be as suddenly a door (which hadn't been there before) flung open in the wall in front of me. I wanted to scream but no sound came out and I realised I was finally facing the first fear.
The man standing in the doorway had a commanding presence. He was tall: towering above me even though he was a few feet away from me. His figure was sturdy: he had thick arms and legs, broad shoulders and a hard-looking chest. His face looked as though it had been carved from stone: a strong looking jawbone, clearly defined cheekbones and a smooth, wide forehead which was framed by matted black hair. His eyes were the colour of amethyst and his gaze seemed to bore into mine. I shrank back from him, terrified. Yet I was also awed. Intimidated though I was, I couldn't help but notice the man was very handsome. He looked, at most, a decade older than me and that sort of age gap failed to deter me. Perhaps I was wrong: maybe this man was here to help me. He sort of emanated ... trustworthiness, like a tangible feeling in the air.
"H-hi," I stammered.
"Hi," he said in a deep voice like that of Sir Patrick Stewart. I was reminded of Star Trek and Captain Jean Luc Picard. What a ridiculous thing to think about at this sort of time. I hoped I wasn't getting hysterical: I needed to stay calm so I could think properly. But wasn't thinking about Star Trek and TV irrational? I was already putting myself in a bad position.
"Wh-what's your name?" I asked. Oh dear, I definitely was not thinking clearly.
"Richard," he replied. "What are you doing in my house, you strange little girl?"
The word 'little' was definitely said condescendingly, but I didn't care. Richard had suddenly seemed like the most wonderful name in the universe to me.
"This is your house?" I asked. "I had no idea. I was transported here by a moondial."
The man's brow furrowed. "Don't you mean sundial?"
"Oh no, this one shows the phases of the moon."
"Right," the man said, clearly not believing me. "And this moondial transported you, did it?"
I nodded, hoping he believed me. "Yes. I'm awfully sorry for trespassing. If, perhaps, you could show me the exit..."
The man put up a hand in a gesture for me to stop talking.
My mouth closed.
"Well, you're here now. You might as well stay. After all, it's very dark outside. Wouldn't want you to get hurt."
The man smiled to himself as if this was ironic in some way.
I was sure I had to get out of this house to succeed at this level. "Oh, it's quite all right," I said cheerfully. "I'll find my own way home."
"But I insist..."
"I couldn't intrude upon you like that," I interrupted. And I can't trust a total stranger, I thought to myself, thinking how much of an idiot I had been to consider that this man might be friendly.
"Won't you at least stay for some dinner?"
"I've already eaten and like you said, it's getting late."
"All the more reason to stay."
"I really should go," I said, feeling a chill starting to creep up my spine. Something about this guy made me feel I couldn't trust him after all. He was almost too polite and definitely too insistent.
"Stay," Richard said, in a completely different tone; his voice was compelling and had an undercurrent of smoothness that reminded me of velvet. I stood still, transfixed by it. His face turned cold and his eyes darkened.
"What are you?" I whispered.
"A combination of the supernatural creatures girls your age seem to like so much these days. Do you know how lucky you would be if they didn't exist? No one seems to realise that they're dangerous. Forget about alluring and attractive: these things can kill you."
I gulped. "They're real?!" I shouldn't have been surprised. Look at Kieran. But somehow hearing it spoken made it actually real. As if I hadn't trusted my eyes. Idiot, I thought; you have to trust all of your senses.
"Wh-what are you going to do to me?"
"Hm... drain you of all your blood, steal all of your psychic energy (which incidentally keeps you sane and fuels your ability to feel emotion and pain) and eat all of your internal organs. But I won't be kind and kill you first, I'll do a bit of each of those things one at a time until you're screaming to die. The perfect form of torture."
Like a vampire, a werewolf and some unnatural demon, I thought.
"Why?" I asked, terrified by this evil creature and horrified that my legs couldn't move.
"Because I'm hungry."
"Wouldn't, oh I don't know, roast chicken do the job?"
Richard threw his head back and laughed. Then he looked at me and smiled cruelly.
"It's in a lamia demon's nature."
So this was the confrontation. I had had no idea that my subconscious could have conjured up this frightening creature, although I did know I was scared of death and experiencing unimaginable pain.
Fear #1: Supernatural beings and Torture, I thought grimly.