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I Know No One

I know no one

Estimated reading time — 18 minutes

Night One

Hello, I am Sally, or Sal for short. I have a story for you that happened about a year ago. I need to tell someone because it is a tale that has been gnawing away at my mind. It is a story that still haunts my nightmares today and has instilled within me a new fear: monophobia – the fear of being alone. Are you prepared to hear my story? Yes? Then I will begin.

As I cautiously approached the door of my new flat in Manchester, every creak of the floorboards echoed the pounding of my heart. This was my first night in this flat; I knew nobody. The area was considered a rough neighbourhood. Crime rifles in this area with teenagers causing antisocial behavior and random burglaries have been reported in the last few weeks. But I needed a place to live and I was attracted to the cheap rent prices.
Knock – Knock – Knock. The rattling knocks continued. I was standing in just my T-shirt and underwear. The bruises on my face were still fresh from a few nights before. My boyfriend, Mark, back in Stockport, who admittedly is a bit of a drug addict, had laid a few hands on me in a high scuffle. Had he followed me here?

As the drizzle rattled against my window, I shuffled over to them, peering out into the night. Beyond the glass, the dimly lit street and the almost deserted car park stretched out. My gaze darted from car to car, searching for any sign of him. But there was the problem – his car blended seamlessly into the mundane lineup of generic white vehicles parked below, leaving me grappling with uncertainty.

Knock – Knock – Knock. The second round of knocks made me jump. I finally gave in and gave a whimpering call.
“Who is it?” I walked a little closer, my ear clogged towards the door. There was no answer. The door didn’t have a peephole to allow me to look through; it did instead have a chained lock. But the thing is, I know Mark would be more than capable of kicking down that door once it was opened, and the sense I get from the neighbourhood is that people don’t come to your help if you are in trouble; they just mind their own business and stay in their own lane.
Knock – Knock – Knock. The relentless rhythm of knocks echoed through the stillness of the flat. I scoffed inwardly, dismissing my apprehension as irrational. Surely, it was just a well-meaning neighbour, eager to extend a greeting to the new tenant. Yet, despite my attempts to rationalize, an unsettling sense of dread gnawed at the edges of my mind. Why did every rap upon the door feel like an ominous warning?
A knot tightened in my stomach, urging me to remain silent. My instincts screamed at me to stay hidden, to wait until the unwelcome visitor retreated into the night. Surely, they would leave if I simply held my breath and prayed for their departure.
“Oh, why did I speak out? I could have pretended that I was asleep.” That was one of those good ideas that always come after you have done the stupid thing. I walked closer to the door. I placed my hand onto the handlebar, feeling its coolness. As I go to twist it, the person on the other end knocks again.

Knock – Knock – Knock. I jumped out of my skin and walked backwards, feeling my pounding heart against my ribcage.

Whoever it is on the other side already knows I am awake, I thought.
“Who is it?”I called out again, but just like before, they didn’t answer.
“I hope you know, I am not going to be opening this door until you state your name,” this time demanding for an answer.
Knock – knock – knock
“Oh for heaven’s sake, who is it? Tell me,” I was getting frustrated; the person on the other end refused to give me an answer. I walked over towards the kitchen and picked up the rolling pin that was sitting on the countertop. I hadn’t unpacked all my stuff yet; the kitchen knives were still in one of the boxes, but my unorganized self forgot to label where anything was. Anyway, I thought that having a knife made me feel like the situation was a more life and death moment; for all I knew, the person on the other side might be hard of hearing. I know that there are some older people living in this block. I double-checked to see if the chain was locked on; it was.

Gripping the handle tightly, I turned it slowly, the creak of the door splitting the silence like a blade. Peering through the slender gap, I braced myself for the sight beyond. Would it be a harmless neighbour, or perhaps Mark, his bloodshot eyes a haunting reminder of the chaos I’d left behind? But as the door swung open, revealing the empty corridor bathed in dim light, a chill crept down my spine.
The door to number 9 was in view; whoever occupied flat 9 had their television set blaring close to full volume, some game show played on the other side of their door. I twisted my head slightly into the gap, looked left and right, but the corridor remained empty.

I shut the door with trembling hands, the sound of the lock clicking into place providing scant comfort. The flat now seemed suffocatingly silent, the only sound the thudding of my heartbeat against the backdrop of the distant TV noise. As I turned away from the door, the nagging feeling of unease lingered on my mind.
Nothing happened for the rest of that night. I walked over to the fridge, where I had saved a ready-made sandwich from the supermarket a few hours ago—a turkey and stuffing sandwich from Tesco. I laid on the patchy sofa and listened to the now-downpour happening outside.
The distant rumble of an engine caught my attention, sending a jolt of fear coursing through my veins. Dropping to my knees, I peered out the window.One of the cars, identical to Mark’s, had vanished from the car park below. Was it him, closing in on me with each passing moment? Or was it someone more sinister, lurking in the empty corridors of the block?

Night Two

The day had been utterly boring. I went down to the job center to sign on to get money from the government. But, I’m not one to lay about. I came to Manchester to start a new life, to find a job. I’m ready to work anywhere; even a burger flipper at McDonald’s would do for me. The rain held off for most of the day, leaving a threatening cloud over the city. I couldn’t wait to just get back into my PJs and catch up on some binge-watching on Netflix. I wouldn’t be able to do this when I’m working.
The night soon came around fast. I must have fallen asleep watching some reality TV about really attractive, half brained people being shipped off to a desert island somewhere, where they all flirted with each other. I was awoken by more knocking at the door.

Knock – knock – knock

This time, they were slower and more forced. I jumped up, tipping the bowl of cheesy crisps I had sitting on my stomach. I turned towards the door. It stayed silent. Quietly placing the bowl of crisps onto the coffee table, I looked out of the window back down at the car park. The car that looked like Mark’s was outside again, this time parked right under a streetlight, making it obvious to see.
I walked back to the kitchen, grabbing hold of the chopping knife I had unpacked earlier that day.
“Who is it?” I called out again, and just like the night before, they remained silent.I stared at that door, frustrated with whoever was on the other side. Knock – Knock – Knock.
“Like I told you last night, I am not opening the door until you tell me who you are. Mark, is that you?” I shouted, gripping the handle of the knife tightly in my hand. Knock – Knock – BANG!

I jumped so hard that I dropped the knife; the sharp tip of it almost landed on my toe, rattling against the tiled kitchen floor. I quickly picked it up again, composing myself, holding the knife out in front of me.
“I have a knife!” I shouted out, but it fell on deaf ears as the person on the other side of the door continued to bang.

I noticed that the chain was not on its lock; the door was now violently vibrating. Whoever it was, they were going to kick the door off its hinges.
“I am calling the police!” I screamed, now holding the handle with both hands. The banging became more violent.

“Stop!” I shouted until my throat began to scratch. The banging immediately halted. Tears started running from my eyes, blinding me. I listened carefully; heavy, raspy breathing rolled out on the other side of the door.
My hands twisted on the knife’s handle as I edged forward towards the door, my arm raised, quickly grabbing hold of the chain and putting it in its place. I took a step back, once again pointing the knife towards the door, waiting for the banging to resume. The raspy breathing continued, sending chills down my spine.

Suddenly, slow footsteps of heavy boots started walking away, heading for the lift at the other end of the corridor. I tiptoed towards the door, my bare feet making it easier to remain silent. I pressed my ear against the door and listened. I could hear the ding from the lift, then the doors sliding open. I couldn’t hear any footsteps; the lift was too far for me to hear the heavy thuds of its footsteps. The doors slid closed, and then the mechanical sound of the lift humming rang out down the corridor. I took a step back from the door, collapsing onto the floor. The knife skidded away from me. I couldn’t hold back my fear, my face wet with tears, brushing my fingers through my hair as choking cries sat heavily in my throat. I laid down on the floor and cried some more.

After about five minutes, I slowly wobbled to my feet, walking over to my mobile phone on the coffee table in the living room. I dialed 999, the emergency number. I spoke to a lady with a soft, calming tone. I told her everything that had happened, and she promised they would send a car around shortly; they had officers in the area. Hanging up the phone, I collapsed back onto the sofa, crying into my hands. I had never been so scared in all my life. The thought came to me as I looked out of the window at the car that looked like Mark’s. It was gone. Was that Mark? Had he found me?

Night Three

The police asked if I had anywhere else to go. I told them I didn’t; my parents were spending their anniversary in Barcelona, and their home was on the edges of Southampton—a journey I wasn’t willing to take. However, I decided that if things got too bad, I would head back there. I knew where my parents kept the spare key: hidden away in the gas box at the side of the house, behind their large wooden gate. The police also informed me that they had spoken to the building manager. They wanted to check the surveillance, but the eye-catching camera that sits in the corner of the corridor was broken. Funny enough, the camera’s screen had turned black the day before I moved in. The horrid question dawned on me, ‘Was this deliberately aimed at me?’ Of course, I had no way of finding out the answer to that question. The manager promised he would send someone out as soon as possible to fix the camera or install a new one.

I was able to fall asleep last night, but it took some time. I listened closely for those heavy footsteps once again. Every time a car drove into the car park, I would shoot up and look out of the window, slightly opening the curtains just enough to see through. Come daytime, not much happened. I spent most of the day looking for jobs. The drizzly weather of northern England would normally have made me want to stay home and do all my applying online. But I was feeling rather glad to get out of that place. In fact, I noticed I was finding any excuse not to go home. I even walked the longer route back, taking a detour through the local park where they had a small duck pond. I didn’t mind the drizzle so much then, though I was still on edge. Every hooded man who had a similar frame to Mark that walked past made me tense up, feeling a rush of heat through my body. It was never him, though. “Come on, get a hold of yourself, Sal. Mark’s in Stockport. He doesn’t even know you are here,” I mumbled to myself, trying to give myself some encouragement.

The evening came fast; the low clouds brought the dark earlier than it should have been. I had bought myself some groceries with the money I had saved, well, more like hidden from Mark. He would have only used it on drugs. The pot was brewing with the tomato sauce that I was going to use with my spaghetti bolognese. I waited and listened out for the footsteps, but they never came. So, I carried on with my night. I turned on the television, keeping the volume low as I listened to the presenter of some reality TV show that I liked. But, again, I could hear no other noise. Fear had brought a bland taste to my food as I ate it; I couldn’t concentrate on just being in the moment. Around nine o’clock, a car rumbled into the car park. I shot up and looked out. It was a blue car. I looked across the car park for the car that looked similarly like Mark’s car, but I could not see it. I drew the curtains shut. Around ten o’clock, I was warming myself in the shower, the trickle of water drowned out any other sound, though the scream of a child did catch my attention. It must have come from next door. I know they have a newborn, only about a week old. Still, there were no other sounds.

I curled myself up into bed. I kept the hallway light on, but it didn’t help me sleep. I decided to go and turn it off instead. I slept a lot better that night. I think the lack of sleep from the two previous nights was enough for my brain to force me to sleep. My eyes felt heavy with tiredness. I went into a deep slumber. Around half past two in the morning, an alarm from a car woke me up. Its ear-piercing blare made some of the neighbourhood dogs bark out loud. I huffed, trying to push my pillows up to my ears. It was no use. “Can somebody turn that bloody alarm off!” I shouted out of frustration. It felt good to just shout sometimes. I pushed myself up in the bed, rubbed my eyes, and went to drink my glass of water. I noticed that it was empty, so I got myself up to get some more. It was an old habit of mine to have a drink next to the bed. I shuffled my feet across the small bedroom and down the narrow hallway towards the kitchen. That’s when I noticed something wasn’t quite right at all. My front door was wide open, the light of the corridor seeped in, illuminating a little of my home. “What the actual fuck!” I said, almost dropping the glass onto the floor. I caught it mid-air before I had to clear the shards of shattered glass near my feet. ‘I could have sworn that I locked it,’ I worryingly thought, rushing over to slam the door shut, the chain was immediately placed into its lock. In the darkness, I could see something was pinned to the door. I flicked the switch next to me, turning on the light to the hall. It was a yellow note. On it, in terrible handwriting, it read:

I looK foRwarD to MeeTinG yOu!!!

It looked exactly like Mark’s handwriting, but it was still hard to tell.Slamming the door shut, I turned to go and get my mobile phone, which was on charge in the bedroom. Then, something dawned on me. What if this person was somewhere in the flat? Hiding.

All of a sudden, I didn’t feel safe in my own home.

The kitchen was close by. I went to grab hold of the same chopping knife as the night before, but the knife wasn’t in its place.

“Shit, where is it?” My mind scrambled for the thought. I had, of course, forgotten that I had placed it in the sink, ready to be washed in the morning. I yanked open the drawer and pulled out a more useless butter knife instead.

“I have a knife!” I screamed out, but the only sounds that could be heard were the usual ones of the home: the hum of the fridge, the distant neighbours, and the rumble of a car’s engine outside.

I went about the place, turning on each light that I had passed. Before long, every light glowed, covering all spots where darkness once sat. I went to the bedroom and shut the door, keeping the butter knife close by. My bedroom had a lock on the door. I quickly turned the little nozzle, hearing the satisfying click.
I dialed 999 once again. The calm-spoken lady on the other end reassured me that they would send a car around shortly. In the meantime, I was to find somewhere safe. I told her that I was in my bedroom with the door locked and a knife at hand. She instructed me not to leave until she heard the police giving her the order.

“They are five minutes out, Sally. They are coming as fast as they can,” the lady on the phone calmly said.

“Okay, okay,” I replied, sitting in the corner of the bedroom.

“Can you hear any noises?

“No, I can’t hear nothing. There might be no one here, but I am just, ugh”

“It’s okay, you have done the right thing. Just keep talking to me, okay? The police are around about four minutes away.”

I listened out for any thudding footsteps. All was silent.

“The police are three minutes away, okay, Sally.”

“Okay,” I replied between gasps of tears.

The noise from a distant siren was getting closer. ‘That must be them,’ I thought, a sickening feeling in my stomach when I realised that I would have to leave my bedroom door to let them in.

“I have to unlock the door.” I said to the operator.

“Okay, do that when the police are outside, just sit tight and wait for a moment, okay, Sally.

“Okay,” I replied once again.

All for a sudden there was an almighty bang at the bedroom door.


I screamed, causing the operator to let off a little yelp.

“What’s going on, Sally? Talk to me.”

“He’s banging the bedroom door.”

“Okay, okay, is there anywhere you can hide? Anywhere at all?”

“No, there is no where.”
The thumps sounded like he was using his shoulder to bust open the door. There would have been enough room to get a little run-up for more force.


That time, the door had nearly broken through.

I kept on screaming, almost forgetting about the knife. I quickly picked it up off the floor that was next to me. My arms shaking, I struggled to hold the knife steady, almost dropping it again with every thud.

“Go away!” I screamed.

“Sally, the police are one minute out. Okay, darling. They are one minute away,” the operator loudly said, doing her best to stay calm.

I could hear her talking to the officers in pursuit, telling them to drive faster if possible.


All of a sudden, the door smashed open. The wood splinters sprayed across the room.

“He is in here!” I screamed at the operator. She was obviously lost for words.

Though the police were only one minute out, it was still going to take them a further two or three minutes to get up here, four if the lift wasn’t already on the ground floor.

The figure who stood at the door was tall, similar in height to Mark, but he kept his face hidden with a low-hanging hood that shadowed his face. A knife was held in his hand, glistening in the light. The figure’s huge stomps walked over towards me. I ran, jumping over the bed as he lunged at me with the blade. I hopped over the bed, slipping on the quilt as I tried to exit the room. My bare foot stepped on the splinter, its sharp point digging into the bottom of my foot, causing me to fall to the floor.

“The police are coming up now, Sally,” I could hear the operator on the phone, but her voice was only a muffle. I had dropped the phone, accidentally turning it onto loudspeaker in the process.

I limped towards the door, it felt a lot farther away than it did before. I could hear the man’s footsteps coming closer to me, his raspy breathing getting louder.

I managed to take the chain off and I opened the door. As soon as I did, I swung my body around the frame and jolted for the lift, frantically pushing the down button. The looming figure now stood at the entrance of my flat, he had seemed to grow in size since the bedroom. He bent his head under the top frame and looked towards me. His bulkiness almost taking up the whole of the corridor, he was dressed head to toe in blackness.

I kept pressing the button, I could see the little red numbers slowly climbing towards my floor.

“Come on!” I shouted, gritting my teeth.

He started to walk towards me, all of a sudden, the ding of the lift soon arrived and the doors slid open. In the lift, there were three officers, two men and one woman, their eyes wide when they saw me, screaming and crying, pointing my hand in the direction of the giant of a man. The two male officers left the lift, their hands already at their belts, the man had already run back into my flat, they just caught a glimpse of his leg as he turned to run.

They took chase.

“Come here!” One of the officers shouted.

“Come here, darling, come here,” the female officer comforted me, wrapping her arm around me and nudging me behind her. She grabbed her taser, and slowly stepped forward, looking around the door frame to see if her colleagues needed any assistance. She looked confused, looking back at me with a facial expression as if she had just seen a ghost.

One of the male officers came out, his face paler than it was when he went in.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said, his voice a little lost for words.

I didn’t answer him, my arms crossed, trying to cover my nipples peering through my thin pajama top.

“There is nobody in there,” he said in a confused manner, though he did think that he saw someone running in.

I slowly walked in through the door, feeling a little braver with the three officers around. As we went deeper in, I made my way into the bedroom. The door had obviously been knocked in from the outside. My little frame wouldn’t have been able to do such damage. The second male officer was standing in my room, dumbfounded. His hands rested on his hips as he turned around. He pointed to the floor, not saying a word, most likely because he didn’t know what to say.

In the corner of the room, a heap of clothes that did not belong to me sat. It was the black hoodie, trousers, and boots, even the knife was found among the clothes. They put it aside, being careful not to contaminate any fingerprints on the handle. Though the man was wearing winter gloves, so there might not be anything on there.

“What the heck,” I whispered. I could feel my eyes also widening at the scene. The female officer didn’t see anything, but the male officers, they just couldn’t get their heads around it. They had already concluded something strange was going on here, something way above their pay grade.

“Do you have anywhere else to stay tonight?” The female officer asked.

“I could catch the last train down south to my parents’ home in Southampton. I could reach there by morning,” I replied.

“Hmm, we kind of need you to stay in the city for a bit, just for questioning and filling in reports. We can put you up in a hotel tonight. It wouldn’t be anything fancy, but at least you will be safe,” the male officer said, who had taken off his hat and was now contemplating what is real and what is not.

“You can catch the train south in the morning. How does that sound?”

“I suppose I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

“I am afraid not.”

The officers stayed with me until I packed some clothes into a bag. They were going to escort me to a Travelodge near the centre of the city. As I packed my bags, I could hear the three of them mumbling in the hallway. Their radios blared other officers elsewhere, some were dealing with other crimes. But with a possible dangerous (naked) man on the run, who tried to murder me, they made me their priority.


“What I don’t understand is where did he go? It’s not like he could just jump out of the window. We are six floors up,” one of the male officers said.

“Hey, how are you feeling?” the female officer asked. This was the first time I got a proper look at her. She was about my height, petite, with a face that you would associate with something in a more relaxing career. But her shoulders were a little butch; she looked like someone who most likely played rugby or something.

After a few minutes, I was ready to go. They escorted me out of my flat, closing and locking the door for me. The lift felt a lot slower going down. The lift on the inside started to flicker, and the three of them looked at each other, feeling a little unease. The door finally opened on the ground floor. The dingy entrance with its shattered glass and graffiti-riddled wall felt more welcoming than daunting. It was freedom; the outside world was in reaching distance. I could already feel the coolness seeping through the crack of the door.

The drizzle had started again. I pulled my head up as I rolled my suitcase to the police car. The male officer helped me place my case in the boot of the car. We slowly drove away from the building block. I looked up at my darkened flat. It sent a shiver through me. Under the streetlight, there was the car that looked like Mark’s, but a man stepped out, not Mark. A disgruntled, slightly overweight man, the dad bod type, stepped out instead. On his jacket, the white lettering of SECURITY was displayed. He must have just come off his shift.

The Travelodge illuminated in the early hour streets of Manchester. It felt warm. I couldn’t wait to get into bed and just sleep away the rest of the night. The woman behind reception was a little confused. It is not every day three officers and a woman come walking in to book a room, I suppose.

The officers agreed to see me in the morning; their station was only a few minutes’ walk away.

When I was alone, the room felt like it was closing in on me. I sat on the edge of the bed, looking at the rain as it decorated the window. “What a strange night,” I thought as I rested my head on the hotel’s slightly hard pillows.

The next morning, after I had spoken to the officers, I made my way down to Southampton. The train was long, but there was nothing more that I wanted than to go home. I had already messaged my dad; I didn’t tell him everything, but he was more than happy for me to live there while they were on their holiday.

As I arrived in Southampton, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out; it was Mark’s brother. I hesitated at first but I answered the call. As I raised the phone to my ear, a seagull called out its gawking screech.
“What’s up Kyle,” I said, not in the mood for any of Mark’s shenanigans at this moment.

“Hey, Sal. Where are you?”

“I am down south, why?”

“Have you not heard about Mark?”

“I don’t want nothing to do with Mark, I want a clean break.”

There was a moment of silence on his end of the line.

Then he said, “He’s dead, Sal. Mark is dead.”

The silence was now on my side.

I watched the gulls fighting over a piece of squashed pasty on the floor.

“How, when?” I didn’t know which one to ask first.

“About three days ago, he had an overdose and died in his cesspit of a home.”

“Three days ago?” I was now more in shock.

“Yeah, that’s what the results show. Forensics said that by looking at him, he would have passed about three days back.”

I was lost for words.

If it wasn’t Mark in my flat, who on earth was it that was trying to kill me and why?

I guess I would never know.

From this point on, I still never found out who it was. There were no fingerprints on the handle, and there was no surveillance of the man entering or exiting the building. It was strange actually. When they were looking over the cameras, they kept going off one by one, as if whoever it was, was not meant to be seen. I have no answers to any of the questions that I had whizzing around on my mind. The reason why I am telling this story is because today, jumbled up in the letters of my morning mail, under the brown envelopes of bills and the white envelopes of god knows what. There was a yellow note. It read:
I looK foRwarD to MeeTinG yOu!!!

Credit: Marcus Woolley


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