He had to thump the hatch hard with the ball of his palm before it gave an inch. With one hand on the ladder, he carefully lifted up the wooden fixing and placed it inside the attic and onto the soft insulation. A cool fusty breeze rushed past him from out of the darkness like a long incarcerated prisoner making a dash for freedom.
The fine dust and cobwebs that rained down on Kathy made her cough into the chest of her knitted jumper, yet she still clung tightly to the bottom of the ladder.
"You OK Down There?" Jim said, his head had already disappeared into the attic.
"Yep, I'me fine. what can you see?"
"Just blackness - which is good - at least means that there are no holes in the roof tiles."
Jim hoisted himself into the gloom and perched on the edge of the opening with his legs dangling loose. He took out his pen torch and flicked it on. What was revealed by the feeble light of the torch made his feet fish frantically for the top rung of the ladder.
"Holy Shit! Kath, you're not going to believe what's up here."
What is is? Kath said, craning her neck upwards, now speaking to the soles of his trainers. "I hope it's not bats."
A leering face suddenly dropped towards her and she screamed.
"Gottle o'gear," Jim said, moving the dummy to one side so she could see his own grin.
"You dick," she said slapping his leg hard. "You know I hate those freaky things."
It was true, he did know it. She hated any kind of puppet with a passion, and something that looked as sinister as this guy was never going to be allowed to stay in the house.
Everyone has their reasons to be afraid of what others regard as mundane, and Kath told him her reasons on their first date.
"I used to love anything like that," she told him between a main course of mushroom tagliatelle and the banoffee sundae she was so looking forward to. "There was a time you couldn't tear me away from the Muppet Show, or Ronn Lucas. You remember Ronn Lucas and Scorch the Dragon? Loved them."
She paused then, and her face had taken on a darker tone without physically changing.