That night Max dreamt he was searching the warehouse for Becky, hearing her voice calling him but never seeing her, always being interrupted by the ringing of the warehouse phone. He woke up, and his phone was ringing. It was Becky’s brother asking when he could collect the rest of her clothes.
Max mumbled something about getting back to him later. He couldn’t concentrate on anything like that, he was too busy trying to work out what had happened yesterday. It couldn’t have been a trick, Max knew there was no way anyone could have faked something like that. But he kept hoping that it was, that it had to be.
He kept trying to work it out all through the day. He couldn’t forget the terrifying feeling of Diane’s unseen body beneath his hand, no matter how hard he tried. When Sharon brought round the office post in the morning, he dreaded the thought of another love letter so much that he wanted to leave the room before she came to his desk. During the early lunch shift, he wouldn’t answer the phone in case it was Diane.
However, there were no letters or phone calls for Max. In the afternoon he had almost begun to relax, when Dan came over to his desk, his face showing the stern features of a supervisor not a friend. He threw a printout onto the desk.
Max looked at the manifest. “Is something wrong?”
“Yes, take a good look at it.”
“One oval extending table and six Christminster dining chairs with blue cushions. I entered it this morning. What’s odd about that? All the goods are in stock.”
“The address,” replied Dan. “It’s supposed to be going to Inverness, but you’ve entered ‘Invisible’.”
“Scheisse,” muttered Max,
under his breath.
“And here’s another one. You’ve entered ‘Uncsi…’,” Dan stumbled over the unfamiliar word, “‘Unsichtbare‘ instead of ‘Underhill’.”
Max mumbled an apology, and said he wouldn’t let it happen again.
“Look, I know you’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Take rest of the afternoon off, go home, relax, and maybe you’ll feel better in the morning.”
“There’s no need…” Max started to protest, but he knew there was no point. He had been under stress, more than Dan could imagine. “Alright, maybe that will help.”
Twenty minutes later Max was boarding the train, heading back home. Not that he really wanted to go home, but he didn’t want to go anywhere else either. He slumped down into an vacant seat – it was amazing how empty the train was outside rush hour – and ignored the “No Smoking” signs by reaching into his coat pocket for a fag.
Instead, his hand found a crumpled piece of paper, which he pulled out. It was the one he’d been given the night before, with Diane’s address on it. He’d already made up his mind not to go. It would be playing right into the hands of Diane, or whoever was responsible for what was happening.
A thought slowly drifted across his mind. The people behind all this were expecting him to arrive after he finished work that evening. If he went there earlier, he might catch them out – see them preparing their tricks.
He took another look at the address. It wasn’t too far from his house, just a couple of stops before it on the train. Perhaps this afternoon off would be just what he needed after all…
Max looked up at the tall Victorian terraced house. There was nothing to distinguish it from its neighbours on either side. According to the address on the paper, the house must have been converted into flats. He was supposed to go to flat 2. But how to get in without alerting whoever was in there?
Watching the house from a nearby bus stop – luckily no buses came along while he was there – he eventually saw his chance. An old lady turned off the pavement and started walking up the garden path. Hoping that she was from one of the other flats, he sprinted across the road and followed her towards the front door.
He gave a friendly smile and a “Nice weather today” as she unlocked the door, and then he followed her in. As they entered the hall, she turned to him.
“You should’ve seen the weather we had last week. It was like we had when I was younger…”
Max sighed, and started to move towards the stairs. But the old woman was going that way too. She was behind him as he climbed up to the narrow first floor landing, where he paused outside the door to flat 2.
“…and still got all his own toes. Oh, are you going in there? Are you a friend of hers?”
“No, not exactly.”
“Good. She’s a funny one. Keeps herself to herself a bit too much, if you know what I mean. I’ve never seen her myself, but people say all sorts of things… ”
Just as Max started to get interested in what she was saying, she had to stop to let a young boy past on his way down from the top floor. Once he’d gone, the woman had lost track of what was saying, and Max didn’t think that outside this door was the best place to ask her for more information.
Once she’d finally finished saying her goodbyes, and begun making her way further up the stairs, Max turned back towards flat 2. The door was locked, so he’d just have to knock and hope that whoever was inside thought it was one of the neighbours. After all, he still wasn’t expected for another couple of hours.
At first, he thought no-one had heard his knock. Then the door opened slightly, on a chain. Max cursed silently. He should have known the occupant wouldn’t let just anyone in, what had that lady said about Diane keeping to herself?
He leaned round, trying to get a look at whoever was on the other side, but the door quickly closed again before he could see anything. He was about to give up when he heard the chain being unfastened, and the door flew open.
When he saw who was on the other side, Max couldn’t believe his eyes.
Standing in front of him was a woman who wasn’t there. High-heel shoes, tight fitting black trousers, a shiny black top and a short, pale blue leather jacket, were wrapped around thin air, yet somehow making the shape of a gorgeous woman’s figure.
“Oh, Max!” It was Diane’s coming voice from the figure. “You’re early. You must really care.”
She leaned forward and Max felt an unseen hand on his wrist pulling him in. Still keeping hold of him, she closed the door with her other hand.
“You are… You really are an invisible woman!”
“Of course, silly. How else could I do this?” She pulled him close, and he felt an invisible face kiss him. He was too surprised to resist as her tongue made its way into his mouth.
Continue to chapter four