(The opening sentence for this story was suggested by Noelle of Sayling Away. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future opening sentence for these stories, please leave your suggestion in the comments – only one suggestion per person!)
The sky outside the open window was dark with the portent of a storm. Philomena went over to close it. Several times in the past she had left the window open and a squall had come and blown rain on the furniture. Not much mind you. There was no substantial damage, although she kept a doily on top of the sideboard to hide a small water stain.
The window was on the ground floor. The television news had recently announced the escape of a dangerous murderer from the local prison. “Do not approach”, they had announced. “Things like that never happen to me,” thought Philomena, “but I had better err on the side of caution.”
It would be easy for a lithe man to climb in through the window. She didn’t know if the murderer was fat, thin, or somewhere in the middle. Usually in prison the inmates are fit from spending too much time in the gym with nothing better to do. The television news had not shown a photograph, so she didn’t know if the murderer was handsome, ugly, or somewhere in between. Suddenly a great rumble came from the black cloud. There was going to be a downpour.
Philomena shivered. There seemed more to it than bad weather. She had goose bumps on her arms. She almost felt a presence. “How silly,” she thought. “It must be the combination of a black sky and the news of the murderer.” A blast of lightning forked. She began to count. Thunder came five seconds later so the storm was only five miles away. At least that was the method she had learned as a girl; count the seconds, count the miles. Another lightning flash! She shut the window tight.
“Rain! Rain! Go away! Come again another day,” chanted Philomena. She turned back into the room. There was an ugly stranger standing behind her.