The Influence by Ramsey Campbell (an excerpt)

The white cottages multiplied as far as she could see, an unbroken shadowless terrace of them on each side of the road, beneath the lamps that looked exactly like household light-bulbs standing on their heads. Since there were no front gardens and no gaps between the cottages, there was nowhere anyone could hide. She stepped forward almost confidently on the flagstones of the pavement, which were white.

So were the doors of the cottages, which opened straight onto the pavement, and the curtains at each small neat window. As the narrow glassy sky turned deep blue and then died out, the street grew whiter still, the outlines of the roofs and chimneys sharpening like ice. Rowan was glad that the street was deserted, but shouldn’t there be sounds of people dining or watching television in some of the curtained rooms? Almost at once she reached the first cottage she could see into downstairs, into a room with rings of dancing fairies printed on the wallpaper. Perhaps the people who lived in that cottage had a child who couldn’t climb stairs, though there was no furniture to show what the room was used for.

Rowan hurried past another dozen cottages or so, and then the silence made her glance back. The decaying tunnel was out of sight, but why wasn’t the white street more encouraging? Perhaps it was the absence of any signs of life. Maybe she would see someone through the next uncurtained window, several cottages ahead on the opposite side of the street; just the sight of someone else might be enough. She went forward so quickly that she felt she was losing control, in danger of being unable to stop. Instinctively she reached out to the wall of the nearest cottage to slow herself down, and her hand sank in…

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