Saffron turned the woodcut over in her hand, running her finger along the carved contours. The printing design wasn’t to her liking, but she couldn’t resist a bargain, and this little gem had only cost fifty pence at a boot fair.

It reminded her of something she had made at art college two decades ago, involving the gouging out of a round wooden block. All students had made them to produce business cards. She still liked her logo idea of two birds with a heart and had computerised it recently. In contrast, the Mediaeval man, pointing his finger accusingly on the block in front of her was creepy but intriguing. She slid it behind her table easel and started sketching her new greetings card range.

The townhouse was usually cheery, but this afternoon, the open-plan ground floor, even with the light on, was dingy and depressing.

A message came through on her mobile. A Facebook friend request by the sound of it. She flicked it on and just seeing the name sent a shiver through her body. Instantly and instinctively she declined it. Oliver Horton had been a friend, her lover, then enemy, and was the reason for moving hundreds of miles away from family and friends.

The colours and designs first imagined by her were now spoiled and grey, but usually an energetic walk helped inspiration flow again. After pulling her woollen coat on and lacing up black ankle boots, she paced towards the park. Rain scented the air and whipped across lawns edging a lake, where she dashed to shelter under nearby trees. Staring at the usually peaceful waters, she tried to clear her head of painful memories, the ripples blurring with every second. Delving into her pocket, she searched for a tissue, but instead, she was surprised to discover the woodcut beside her phone and realised she must have picked the curio up unintentionally. It felt warm to touch, but suddenly the phone vibrated and alarmed her. Especially when she pulled it out and saw another notification from Him. This time a private message. It read, ‘I know where you are’. Her heart raced, she prayed that he was lying. Surely, there was no way he could find out her new name and address, but she was accustomed and afraid of Oliver’s devious ways.

Leaving the seclusion of the wooded area helped her feel safer, and she tried to ignore the turmoil mounting in her, but found herself running home; fair hair wet and streaming behind her.

Back at work, creativity still evaded her. Saffron erased mistake after mistake from cartridge paper and rolled her pencil back and forth across the worktop before the woodcut came to mind again. Feeling curious, she inked the features of the pointy fingered Mediaeval man and pressed paper over the raised lines. Peeling it back revealed a black imprint on white background, and was delighted to see an upward curve to the man’s mouth now it was viewed in reverse. Smiling, she balanced him next to a potted cactus and paperweight on a shelf next to the kitchen area, then stood back to admire them.

It was dark outside and the wind howled. Saffron could see herself mirrored in the studio’s patio window and wondered why the garden lights hadn’t activated. They were timed to light up at 6 O’ Clock and it was now half-past. After eating dinner, she would go out and check the electrical fuses and light bulbs.

With her back to the window, she carried on heating food in the microwave, meaty spicy aromas permeated the room. Chilli con Carne was her favourite ready meal when she had work deadlines, even though she wasn’t very hungry after hearing from Oliver, and notably more so, since remembering that his prison release date was due.

Annoyed with herself for thinking about Him again, Saffron decided she would give her sister a call later, she hadn’t spoken to anyone all day and a friendly voice might give her a boost.

A rattling sound came from behind, she spun around, trying to recall if she had locked the back door, but her attention was taken by the woodcut spiralling along the shelf. It slid and dropped to the laminate floor and then circled around before stopping near the patio window. Saffron stepped over to retrieve it. Relieved to know what had caused the noise, she bent down to lift it up. The Mediaeval man’s bony finger pointed towards the garden shed. Its door slowly creaked open.

Standing up, she peered through her reflection as a man stepped from shadows into the moonlight.

In his fist, was a metal blade; glinting and flashing as he brandished it.

Her eyes met his.

It was Oliver.