Alice didn't always pay attention at the best of times, but now she wasn't even trying to hide the fact that she wasn't listening to a word her mother was saying.
Andrea sighed in a what-can-you-do kind of way, drumming her fingertips on the steering wheel as she turned down the the drive to her father's small estate. The gravel crunched under the tyres as it rolled to a halt within walking distance of the red-painted front door. Alice had been staring out of the window, neck craned, trying to glimpse the tops of the high trees that bordered the drive as they flashed by. Now she gave herself a little shake and unbuckled her seatbelt, jumping out as her mother shook her head at her tendency to daydream.
They were being watched from above. They may have been glasses, but they didn't always need eyes to see. Through their lenses the world was darker, and they could see the girl and woman as they disappeared into the house, then hear them as the front door was closed and they called out. They sensed that the person had arrived at last who would bring their evil back to life. The glasses were awake again.
Alice bestowed the perfunctory hug and kiss upon her wheelchair-bound grandfather and left her mother to fuss over him. She was terribly sad about his fall, of course, but at his age, there wasn't much anyone could have done. Her mother had decided to bring Alice along in her routine daily check up to cheer the old man up. He had seemed happy to see her, but just seeing Alice wouldn't be enough to put the light back in his eyes. It had gone since he lost most of his independence.
She skipped up the stairs. She enjoyed exploring, because she could imagine she was in any number of interesting situations, and what she found sometimes gave her fuel for ideas. Nobody had been upstairs since the time of the accident; as her grandfather's house was large, there was plenty of room for him on the ground floor and there was no need to renovate for wheelchair access.
Alice scouted out the first and second floors with enthusiasm, which had worn down by the time she reached the stepladder for the attic. She hadn't been to the house for a few years, and to her disappointment nothing had changed. She had never been in the attic, though - her grandmother had always forbidden her when she used to stay there at weekends. Yet, her grandmother had passed away a year and a half ago. Alice felt guilty at disobeying her rules, even though she wasn't there anymore to enforce them. She squashed down her conscience and began to climb the ladder, pushing through the trapdoor into a small dark room full of dust and neglected ancient furniture.
Once inside properly, she ran her fingertips lightly over every clear surface, tracing patterns in the thick dust. Towards the back, she discovered a desk scattered with random artefacts: an empty carved jewellery box, a falling-apart stack of manuscripts, a tin flask holding an assortment of paintbrushes and a penknife and a pair of scissors.
And a pair of glasses?
Alice picked them up to hold them into theshaft of light from the tiny circular window, and almost dropped them as a pulse of shock seemed to shoot out of them down her arms. In that second she also thought she saw a picture flash before her eyes, but it had gone too fast for her to register what it depicted. She stared at the nondescript eyewear in her hands. scrutinising them from every angle.
These were no ordinary pair of glasses.