On the early morning of Friday, September 18, Lo Blacklock wakes up to her cat, Delilah, pawing at her face—“punishment for coming home drunk,” as she normally remembers to leave the cat in the kitchen overnight—and scratching at the bedroom door. She’s frightened to see that her bedroom door is shut—it can only be shut from the outside.
Ware sets the tone for the novel with a mood of mystery and even terror. Being stuck in confining places will also be a recurrent theme. It’s suggested that drinking is somewhat habitual for Lo, a way she deals with everyday life.
Lo briefly consoles herself with the thought that she just made a mistake, and that she needs to stop her midweek drinking. But when she opens the door to move Delilah, there’s a man standing there. The man is wearing a hoodie and bandana, concealing all detail except for his latex gloves and shining eyes. He’s holding Lo’s handbag, which contains her phone.
The unexpected sight of the man is terrifying. The man’s dress, especially the gloves, suggests that he’s an experienced burglar. Since he has her phone, Lo is cut off from calling for help.
The burglar slams Lo’s bedroom door, cutting her cheek. Terrified, Lo braces herself against the door and listens to her flat being ransacked. Eventually she hears the man leave, and then Delilah returns and purrs outside the door. When Lo shakily tries to open it, she discovers the burglar removed the spindle from the knob, trapping her inside.
The possibility that the burglar might return to hurt her is terrifying for Lo. But before she can feel relieved that he’s left, she discovers the horrible fact that she’s stuck in her own room—foreshadowing later events.