Her deep sleep was suddenly disturbed. She couldn’t remember what it was that had awoken her. In fact she wasn’t entirely sure she was awake. As she looked around her room tentatively, her mind found it hard to take in what she saw. It took some time for the fog to start clearing, for her to realize she was in what seemed to be her own study. But somehow it was not. There was no antique vase by the window. The blue curtains with pretty flowery designs had somehow transformed to a pale green with a pattern so worn-out that one couldn’t find out what the intention of the designer had originally been. The computer by the side of her bed was not a laptop, but a Dell PC. As she got up from her bed, the first thing she did was to look at the old grandfather clock in the room. It showed 7.55. Was it morning or evening? She’d have to find out. She went to the window and pulled open with a heave, the large curtains capable of preventing even a hint of sunlight from entering the room. Daylight. It took a few more moments for her vision to get adjusted to the sudden light, and a further few more moments to realize that this was indeed her study, and that the vase, the new curtains and the laptop were all part of the story she had been writing.
Once she had regained her senses, she went into the bathroom and stared at her forlorn face unsympathetically. She had cared not for the past few months about anything but the plot for her first attempt at writing a novel. It had materialized rather well, she thought. Seeing as this was her first original story, due to her lack of experience, the characters, places etc. were all loosely based on people and places she knew.
The plot was a classic serial killing case, where murder story authors would get murdered the exact same way as in their book- only there would be no chance of it having been the same killer. The killers though, would be quite known to the readers all along, as the last thing each of the murdered author heard- and the end of each such chapter- would be what she thought was a catchy four knocks on the door followed by a “Tea, Madam?” The well-off authors’ butlers with external help from a common source would have carried out these perfect murders. This in itself had been built on the butlers’ outrage in London where some five cases had come on the news within that year of butlers having taken to looting their employers’ houses when they were away; and the unexpected ‘suicides’ of a couple of unsuccessful authors in London.
She took her time in the bath, thinking now of how she would reveal the mastermind behind the killings, and how exactly each one would have been carried out. She knew that the plot was quite weak, not very likely to succeed. She had kept in mind all along that she would have to rely on her language to carry the story forward with some pace. Some sort of an idea was starting to form in her mind as the clock in the room outside chimed eight. She got out of the bath, dried herself and dressed up for breakfast, which would be ready downstairs at eight thirty every day. She decided she needed a break today- somehow she still couldn’t get out of her story, some things in the room still seemed amiss or odd. She knew she ought to get out of the isolated room her supportive brother had given her in his London mansion. (As per her request, she had not for once ever been disturbed by anyone in the house in all the weeks that she had taken to come this far in writing the story) Perhaps a stroll in the park nearby ought to refresh her mind and body.
She sat down in front of her computer, looking at her latest draft. Something was wrong. As she sat trying to figure out what it was, the eerie silence of the room was suddenly disturbed by a sound. She heard four knocks on the door- which she now realized had remained unlocked while she was asleep.