Here's a rough first draft for a scene, attempting to describe the place from the point of view of one of the characters.
I'd be interested to hear opinions of it. Physical descriptions of places and people are not my strong suit.
Even though he knew no one had been detected going down the driveway or entering the house since Andrea had left the house that morning, Ian took a stroll around the outside of the house, visually checking the windows and doors and keeping an eye out for anyone lurking nearby. As he went, he also made sure that none of the concealed micro-cameras were obstructed and that the thermoelectric sensors were not visible
Built in the mid 1950s, the house was nearly seventy years old. The stucco walls, wooden casement windows and corrugated iron roof were all in need of a fresh coat of paint, but were otherwise sound. The windows themselves were coated with clear security film to prevent them from shattering if struck.
There were no signs that anyone had attempted to break or pry open a window and the front and rear doors were both secure.
Satisfied that there were no signs of a forced entry, he unlocked the deadbolt on the rear door and entered, automatically locking the door again as he closed it behind him.
As in most houses of that era, the rear door gave access to the laundry, with its mid-nineties “Smart Drive” washing machine and even older dryer.
Within a few seconds, his mobile phone chimed an incoming message – the notification that the door had been opened.
He stepped from the laundry into the tiny kitchen and opened the old-fashioned ventilated food safe just inside the door. He felt between the slats of the shelf to locate the hidden button and pressed it. As he shut the safe door, his phone chimed again, alerting him that he had pressed the button. He knew that five other phones should also have received both notifications.
Despite two confirmations that the alarm system hadn't malfunctioned or been by-passed, Ian still did a full sweep of the inside of the house, checking the window locks as he went. From the kitchen he entered the dining room, with its old formica-topped table and mismatched dining chairs, and from there into the living room.
The living room was as he expected: old television set and basic DVD player on a cheap stand, old computer on its battered kitset workstation and worn, but comfortable, sofa. Nothing really worth stealing there. The only decorations were photographs in cheap variety-store frames.
He went up the hall and checked all three bedrooms. Here, as in the rest of the house, the furnishings were old but serviceable and offered little to interest a burglar. The standard joke they made was that a burglar would probably leave them money out of sympathy.
Finally satisfied that the house was secure and untouched, he went opened the utility closet in the hall. It was lined on both sides with small shelves that contained various household items and cleaning products and there was a large shelf above them that held boxes.
He moved an innocuous-looking item from one shelf to another then pressed a remote control, similar to that for a car alarm, on his key ring. There was a nearly-inaudible click. He pushed on the rear wall of the closet and the entire section below the upper shelf swung away, revealing a stairwell beyond.
The lights in the stairwell came on automatically and he pulled the closet door shut behind him then made his way down the stairs, swinging the fake wall shut as he went . At the bottom of the stairs, he unlocked the metal grill that blocked the passageway at the bottom and made his way to a large underground room.
This room, in contrast with the living room upstairs, was luxuriously set up. A large modern flat-screen television, flanked by two cabinets containing DV Ds
, dominated one wall. Below it was an expensive stereo and the small computer tower that acted as music and video server.
Facing the television were three matching leather sofas all within easy reach of a large walnut-and-glass coffee table.
Here, the walls were decorated with expensive framed pictures and there were two large display cases filled with the family's treasured ornaments and heirlooms.
There was a large drinks cabinet to one side of the door and to the other was a bench with a sink and a small refrigerator. On the bench was an automatic espresso machine that ground its own beans. He rinsed out his mug and dialled up a double short espresso. While the machine ground beans and went through its routine of tamping the grounds and flushing them with hot water, Ian boiled some water and got the milk from the fridge.
He topped up his double espresso with boiling water, added sugar and milk, then made his way back down the passageway to his office.
The walls of his office were lined with replica pistols, rifles and submachineguns – mostly airsoft weapons with accurate trademarks and a few non-firing zinc-alloy replicas – and there was an antique desk in one corner on which his laptop sat.
This was where he came to relax amid his collection.
He put his coffee down beside his laptop and sunk into the leather-upholstered swivel chair. While waiting for his laptop to start, he took a charger cable and plugged it into his arm – it wasn't feeling tired yet, but it wouldn't hurt to give it a bit of a top-up and he preferred to run it on external power when he could.
He lighted a cigarette and settled down to check his emails. He hadn't even finished his coffee when his phone chimed to announce that the rear door of the house had been opened.