Lola touched her tongue to the back of her teeth and ran the top along the ridges. She flicked her fingers at the flies as she walked down the curved driveway towards the house. The tree trunks that lined the laneway were thick with underbrush. Lola thought it looked like the trees were wearing socks. She would tell Milan but he would think she was stupid. Lola didn’t care. The trees stood indifferently as she walked past.
The windows of the house were dark. She had expected Ripley to leave at least one light on. The stonework was covered with old vines that ran wild over the windows. The fountain in the front garden had been drained for the winter. The rest of the garden was well kept. Lola walked to the side door and knocked. She could hear each knock echo inside the house.
“Fuck” she said. Lola cupped her hands around her eyes and peered in. The furniture was covered with white drop cloths. In the half light of dusk, they looked like ghosts. Lola frowned. She walked towards the back of the house hoping to find Ripley there, waiting for her. Her watch said it was nearly 7. He had told her to be there then. She went to the back door and slammed her fist down loudly on the wood.
Lola looked around. More vines spilled over the cement block walls that skirted one side of the garden and dripped through the arbour. Past the gap in the wall, she could see the forest stretch out behind. It was almost dark. Lola was ready to give up when she heard the crunch of gravel at the side of the house.
“Ripley?” she called out. She hurried to the corner and peered around it through the gloom. Lola could see someone moving toward her. The glow of their cigarette floated like a beacon before her eyes. Lola called his name again. The man was closer than Lola realized, and she yelped when he suddenly reached out and held her by the arm. He leaned in close and spoke into her ear.
“No, love, I’m not Ripley. You will see him soon.” He said. Lola did not have time to struggle against his grip. The sting of the needle slipping into her neck made her body go rigid. The man caught her around the waist as she slumped towards the ground. Lola heard him chuckling in the blackness. There wasn’t time to be afraid.