He slid his identity card into the reader, listened to the beep and clocked out at six, right on time.
His colleague packed a high visibility jacket into a bag, tried to initiate a conversation, but Colin was distracted.
Marion's shift ended at the same time on a Wednesday, but she was often too busy serving shoppers to leave when scheduled.
The other workers rarely relieved her, she would get stuck behind the till as customers approached. He hadn't seen Marion in days and didn't want to miss this opportunity.
'Sorry mate, I need to meet the Missus, we should have a beer sometime this week', Colin excused himself and rushed from the factory, the crisp winter air numbed his lips.
A light rain spat against his face and his heavy coat rang with loose change as he crossed the street and entered the shop.
The bell sounded, and he saw Marion briefly look up, compliantly stationed behind the till. She neatly packed an old ladies shopping into a cloth bag and nodded to Colin.
He noticed her nail polish was purple, her long fair hair tied up neatly in a bun. He felt a light sweat break out on his forehead as he took a microwavable meal and two beers from the fridge.
In the queue, he fixed his gaze on Marion, but her head was bent down as she passed coins into an elderly woman's hand. A man lingered behind her, ready to take her place.
She disappeared into the staff area, the worker assumed Marion's position and beckoned to Colin.
There was nothing he could do, he threw the money into the man's hand and left the shop without taking the change.
Colin watched as Marion left through the back exit. When she reached the end of the street and turned left, he began to pursue her.
He lingered behind and followed her slender figure, checked his phone to appear occupied. Marion glanced at her reflection in a pocket mirror and knocked on a door.
A man with dark hair answered, kissed her cheek. Colin's jaw tightened as he watched the man slip a slender arm round Marion's shoulder and take her inside.
The door closed, and he could see the outline of the metallic number 10 from across the street. He looked up and down at the rows of terraced houses, lights on behind closed curtains.
He resigned himself to home, ground his teeth as he walked, bit the skin from his upper lip, his mind sick from thoughts of Marion and the man with dark hair.
The bedroom desk was scattered with brimming ashtrays and dirty cups. Colin poured himself a whisky into last night's glass, took a firm swig.
The microwave sounded from the kitchen, but he wasn't hungry. He lit a cigarette and sat on the pile of dirty clothes that had become his bed.
Piles of useless junk, weeks of forgotten stacks of plates moulded in the corner, the stale smell of old tobacco permeated the house.
He decided he would wait for a couple of hours, then walk to Marion's house, see if her light was on, a sign she had returned home. He was sick of waiting.
Marion's cheeks were flushed, she looked up at the ceiling pattern, post orgasm, white icicles of paint dripped down towards her.
His tongue brushed against her neck and he mumbled in her ear to stay the night. She felt like walking home. 'Order a taxi then or let me walk you.' He lit a cigarette. 'I'm a big girl.'
She slipped on her clothes. 'Don't smoke in bed,' she teased, 'You'll set yourself on fire.'
She stayed a moment longer to admire his attempt to entice her back to bed, smoke trickled from his mouth and he slowly pulled the sheet down to expose himself.
The air was bitter, and Marion huddled herself in her coat, wondered why she was so intent on going home. She liked her own bed, she remembered, as her phone vibrated in her jacket pocket.
'Really enjoyed tonight, thanks for coming over. Text me when you get home, Dinner tomorrow?' She smirked and buried her numb hand back in her pocket.
She decided to cut through the alley and stop by the store to stock up her empty fridge. It had only been a few hours and she was voluntarily going back to work.
The sound of running came from behind and she turned to see a hooded man, his trainers smacked the tarmac as he approached.
Marion stepped back against the metal fencing that surrounded the alley, made a space for him to pass, but he stopped and faced her, their eyes locked for a moment.
His eyelids were thin, with blonde eyebrows, giving the appearance of something hairless and serpentine.
He lunged forward and reached for her throat, a scream escaped her chest, a stream of obscenities followed as she held her arms up to her face.
Like trying to move in a dream, a nightmare, her legs were heavy and weak, unable to find a footing.
She had the overwhelming feeling that time was slowing down, but her gaze became fixated on the blade which emerged from his pocket.
The glint of the silver point sent jolts through her body and she slipped underneath his grapple, they were separate strangers in the night again.
She ran faster than she knew she could, detached from her body. The light of the store shone like a safety beacon ahead, signalling the end of the alley.
He had her again, by the coat, but he was desperate as she thrashed wildly, tried to tug at her sleeve.
He lost his nerve as Marion entered the light and ran in the opposite direction, back into the darkness.
Marion stopped running when she reached the shop. She fell to her knees, her breath left her in excited funnels of steam, adrenaline pumping.
She could see the shapes of customers through the glass, a group of men chatting to the night shift worker. She slowly got to her feet, brushed her knees down and was about to go inside.
'Marion? Are you alright?'
The sound of her name startled her. She was relieved to see a familiar face from the shop and relayed the events in the alleyway, spluttered on her words, laughing and crying.
'Shit, I just saw him. I was walking through the alley and a guy ran past me. Blue tracksuit bottoms. I didn't notice much else. He had his hood up.
You shouldn't use that alleyway! Blimey Marion, you managed to get away from him though, and that's something.'
His wrinkled face frowned down at her and he gently placed his hand on her shoulder.
'Are you alright? I think you need to speak to the police.'
'I'm so tired, I'll have to phone them in the morning. I just need to get home and rest, I have work in the morning.'
The adrenaline was wearing off, and an unhealthy pallor had begun to creep over Marion's face.
'I understand, but he might attack someone else, I think it's important to report it tonight. I'd go after him myself but at my age I don't think I'll be of much use.' He gave her a wonky smile.
'You're right, I can't believe I didn't think about that.'
'Don't be so hard on yourself, you've just been attacked, you must be in shock. Do you have anyone at home?'
Marion shook her head.
'Let's walk to my house, it's just over there. I'll make you something to eat and drink and we'll call the police. Bless you, come on.'
Marion allowed him to guide her down the street. He opened his front door and gestured for her to go inside.
'I'm so sorry, I've forgotten your name, I feel so rude.' Marion said as looked around the small entrance hall, glanced at an old photo on the wall of a pretty, blonde lady in a wedding dress.
'Don't be silly, I'm not offended, you've just had an awful ordeal. Besides, you must serve hundreds of us locals in that shop. It's Colin.' He gently locked the door behind him.
'You'll have to excuse the mess I'm afraid. I struggle to keep up with it these days.'
'Colin, of course, I remember. Don't worry, I don't mind. Thank you so...' Marion trailed off, the smell of stale tobacco turned her stomach.
'Don't be silly. Go and sit down, make yourself comfortable if you can and we'll get the police over.'
Colin felt a light sweat break out on his forehead as he poured the drinks. He had taken some time to find the powder, and he was careful as he emptied it into Marion's mug. No more waiting.