The sound of a steady, rhythmic drip echoed through the concrete infrastructure. The reverberations made their way around the scattered vehicles bouncing off surfaces and bending around corners before finally making their way to Summer's eardrums. The faint, repetitive noise was unnerving, but it was nothing new. Her work often saw her finishing later than most people, so she had become accustomed to walking through a borderline empty carpark building before heading home. At first it had really bothered her that, even on days like today which had seen no rain for the best part of a week, enough water could still be found to supply a source for the dripping sound. But she was smart enough to realise that she probably only had an issue with it because of the horror films she had seen in her youth.
It had been a good day. An excellent day even. Her research had finally yielded some palpable results. The kind of results which could really make a difference to people. So her spirits were high. She wasn't going to let an unnecessarily uneasy walk through a carpark bother her.
But her confidence was quickly shaken by a loud crash which abruptly drowned out any trace of the otherwise incessant dripping. Stopping dead in her tracks, her ears pricked up and her heart skipped a beat as she turned her eyes instantly to the direction of the sound. Though she didn't know exactly what the cause was, her instincts told her it was the sound of metal forcefully colliding with concrete. There was nothing to see in the spot where she perceived the sound to originate. Not necessarily because there was nothing there, but because the area was obfuscated by a large vehicle, an SUV. It was a spot to her left. There were no lights situated behind, meaning the area was enshrouded in darkness anyway.
The uneasiness returned.
Fortunately, her car was to her right, but to get to it she would have to make her way past the SUV.
Casting a wide berth, she made her way around the vehicle, keeping her eyes fixed firmly on the area behind it as it came into direct line of sight. There was still nothing to see. The lack of light allowed no view of what might have caused the racket. There was no comfort to be found there.
Picking up her pace, she made her way briskly to her car, pulling her keys out as she walked. Keeping her attention fixed over her shoulder, she found her way to the door of her car, and, she presumed, a safe haven.
But it wasn't to be. As she turned her attention to the door of her own car, she came face to face with a mask. The image lasted barely a second as a needle found its way into her neck.
Her assailant, and the world around him, faded quickly from view.
Writers: Ray Stone (CY), Sameer Nagyrajan (Sri Lanka), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Priya Rajvansh (Ind), Hemali Ajmera (Ind), Donna McTavish (NZ), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Anna Zhigareva (Scot)