My life is a simple one, and I am seldom troubled by flights of fancy. Though not of a particular practical bent, nevertheless the strictures of work and family life leave little time for metaphysical speculation. The only time I permit myself in the week for what may be termed relaxation is the hour or so left between the closure of the school gates and the departure of the evening mail coach for Penpont. I spend this in one of the many tap-rooms in Queensberry Street, swopping convivial tales with many of the jolly fellows who wash up there. It is an easy enough pleasure and one which I anticipate keenly during long afternoons cramming latin grammar with the young denizens of Sandside. Lately, however, this innocent diversion has soured for me. During the dark days of January I began to get the peculiar but yet pervasive notion that I was being followed. By whom, or what, I could not discern. Of course, my first instinct was to dismiss the thought as pure imagination, or perhaps the result of too much pickled herring for lunch, but after a few days had passed with the same cold feeling persisting, in fact growing in intensity, I was forced to give credence to the fact that someone or something was indeed dogging my footsteps. The days of January and February were mournfully dark, the evil winter weather compounded by a thick and unnatural fog that seemed to blow in daily along the mudflats and through the alleyways of Drumsleet. It chilled a man to the very marrow and as I made my painful progress along the cobbled roads each night, I could not release myself from the dread sensation of being shadowed by a being I increasingly knew to be not completely human.