The Woman in the Window (excerpt) by Mark Towse

The following is an excerpt of the short story: The Woman in the Window by Mark Towse, which you can find in the anthology The Hawthorne Project. Inside you’ll find ten dark and creepy stories written by him and other amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet. Oh, and click any of the links below to buy.

The roar from what seemed to be the loudest lawnmower in the world escalated the intensity of the blood pounding in Chris’s ears. Morning light seeped through the threadbare curtains, spilling across his eyes like acid. Quickly, he turned away, a burst of pain exploding across his forehead as he connected with the wooden leg of the couch. His stomach churned then, accompanied by a bolt of fiery reflux that eventually exploded in his throat, providing an unholy concoction of tobacco and garlic. Fuck this! Chris stayed completely still, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the world to stop. In the background, in a well-practiced morose tone, the reporter on the television spoke of a neighborhood dispute, resulting in one man getting a crossbow bolt lodged in his neck.

It was all too much for him. “Fuck suburbia,” he said under his breath as he finally began pushing himself up, unwittingly slipping his fingers into the soft gooey leftovers of last night’s pizza.

Carnage surrounded him; empty beer bottles, greasy pizza boxes, ashtrays spilling over like volcanoes, and on the coffee table next to him, a plastic bag containing four mushrooms. The dampness of his right leg brought the night flooding back, and at that moment, he wanted nothing more than to be back at home in the comfort of his bedroom where everything was safe and familiar. He’d been missing home a lot of late, but events last night had given the yearning a physical ache in the pit of his stomach.

The urgency for headache tablets overturned the temporary melancholy, and Chris began stepping over the bodies sprawled across the carpet, two of which he didn’t even recognize. Adam was asleep on the couch, fingers still wrapped around a bong, a slice of half-eaten pizza resting on his already considerable belly.

“Adam,” he hissed. Nothing. “Adam!” he repeated. There were a couple of moans from behind, but no sign of life from his friend on the couch. Only when he intentionally collided with his friend’s feet hanging over the edge did Adam let out a snort and open his eyes.

“Sorry, bud,” Chris said.

“What time is it? What day is it?” Adam croaked.


“Yeah. Second drawer down,” Adam said, closing his eyes again.

“I know where they are,” Chris said, stepping over Jon, noting the peaceful look on his face. He pushed the kitchen door open, sighing as the carnage confronted him. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said under his breath.

Trying to ignore the mess, he filled two glasses with water. Only six pills left. He made a mental note—the same one as last week—to get more from the supermarket. He washed two of them down. The water didn’t taste like home; it was harsher.

“I had a weird one last night,” he said to Adam, handing him the other glass and more pills.

“Oh man, me too!” Adam replied, pushing himself up and grimacing as the pain took hold. “Pills first, though,” he said, reaching for the glass.

Chris sat down on the arm of the adjacent chair, being careful not to disturb Becky. “Those mushrooms, man; who brought them? Strong stuff, and—real dark. I mean, d-a-r-k.”

“Tell me about it! That’s why I started on the bong, just to try and take the edge off.”

“I remember going upstairs to the bathroom,” Chris started. “I kept thinking someone was behind me, and I thought I could hear whispering. But it wasn’t normal whispering; it was like, in my head. I turned, but there was nobody there. I just put it down to the wind whistling through the cheap-ass door that the landlord installed. Even when I got upstairs, I could feel it, though—a presence—you know, a vibe that something wasn’t right.”

“Oh man, you thought that was bad, just—”

“Hey, I’m not finished!” Chris snapped. “I looked down to unzip, and then I heard someone whisper again, or at least I heard it in my head. It was a man’s voice, Adam. He said my name.”

“Well, I thought it might be one of you lot playing a prank at first, but when I looked down the landing, I couldn’t see anyone. Anyway, I shut the door and tried to take a piss. Another whisper—my name again. No way was I going to be able to go, so I zipped up and threw some water on my face. When I reached for the towel, I saw him—in the mirror, standing behind me. He was—”

“Faceless,” Adam offered solemnly, his suddenly pale face exposing the dark circles under his bloodshot eyes.

“How the hell did you know?” Chris spat.

“I saw him, too,” Adam said.

You can find Mark’s story, along with nine additional ones, in The Hawthorne Project. Each creepy tale interweaves with the others for a week of terror on Hawthorne Drive, a small cul-de-sac in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Buy it at lulu, Amazon, or on your Kindle.

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