Untitled – 08/01

Another body has be found by the Metropolitan police, a young woman who has not yet been named was found dead in her flat this morning. This is the second person this week found dead in London. With no comments from the police, we are yet to understand how far they are in their investigation and what the cause of both deaths are.

I can’t believe she sucked off Ron for that position!”
“Well, we don’t know how true that is Karen.”
“Of course we do! I mean,” Karen adjusts her focus to myself as she takes a swig of her cider. “She was nothing, nobody even noticed her during her internship. All of a sudden, there’s the Christmas party, her and Ron go missing and before you know it, she’s not only being hired, she’s in-line for the big job role?”
I look back at the screen where Celia had now began reporting another issue and looked back at Karen.
“I just don’t want to think of the worst.”
“Think what you want then, but after the Christmas party and Celia got all those fast tracked promotions, Ron and his wife got,” She placed her forefinger by her throat and slashed it as if to behead herself, “a divorce. You do the maths Taylor.”
She raises her eyebrow at me then makes her way into the kitchen. I watch Celia and can’t help envy her. Karen was talking about sucking, but what truly sucked was the fact that I had been studying almost my entire life to be where Celia was. Years upon years dedicated to being a journalist and yet all I had become was a measly receptionist for a low ranked radio station that no one had really heard of.

I take a sip of my strawberry and lime cider and change the channel. It was bad enough that Celia and I grew up in the same area together and even studied together, but somehow our worlds seemed light years far apart and watching her progression did nothing for my self-esteem. I settle on some late night talk show as Karen returned.
“You ever wonder how people like that go on with everyone knowing how you got to the top?” I ask her.
“Babe, when you’re at the top, do you really think you’ll care about those below?”
“I probably would!”
“Trust me Taylor, when you get high enough you don’t even hear the whispers of those below, let alone the gossip.”
“True.” I sigh as I roll my head back. What made our paths so different? Same age, same journey, practically same upbringing yet, she was Daisy Buchanan and I was Nick Carraway watching her from across the bay.
“What’s the time?” I tap my phone screen causing it to light up.
“Half past ten.”
“I’m off to my room, Damian is meant to call.”
“And off she goes!” She throws me a cheeky smirk and heads to her bedroom. I turn off the television calling it a night too. I didn’t expect any late night calls, but sleep was calling and I couldn’t afford to be late again this week. If I wanted to get to where Celia was, I had to make sure I made no mistakes on my journey in getting there and lateness was not going to be it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dammit! I’m going to be late. Bloody delays have now got me sweating as I run towards the office. Greg is going to kill me. I’ve been trying to impress Greg ever since I got the job. He’s not very known in the industry, but ever so often he gets invited to events and award shows that is basically an aspiring journalists wet dream. If I could get myself just included in the list of attendees, then I could network and who knows whom I could meet.

Yet without a doubt, every event, every award ceremony Greg invites the ‘more important’ employees. The radio hosts, his secretary, everyone known to man but me. Of course I know it’s a long shot, I’m just the receptionists, but I want to prove I can do much more and I can’t do that by taking calls and fetching refreshments.

I practically hurdle over people and push through the office doors when I notice that it’s still quiet. Without hesitation, I take off my jacket and bag, stuff them under my desk, neaten out the creases in my shirt and get to work. If he hasn’t noticed then it’s better to get my head down straight away than to apologise.

Time goes by, a few calls and emails come in that I attend to. Everyone upstairs is busying around as we have an ‘important’ guest arriving today for an exclusive interview – the only thing is what we classify as ‘important’, is far from that in reality. My telephone flashes as a call from upstairs reaches my line.

“Hi Bob.”
“Taylor, Aimee Lynn and her team will be arriving shortly – please ensure that they are offered refreshments before you send them up.”
“Sure thi-“
“Oh and another note,” He says cutting me off, “make sure you give Greg’s secretary a call when she arrives.”
“Will do.”
Before I could ask further questions the line cuts. I roll my eyes and put the receiver back on the phone. Bob wasn’t even ranked as anything, yet I got no respect from him. I roll my eyes again and checked my emails when I feel a breeze envelope me. I look up to expect Aimee and her entourage but instead see two men walking towards my desk.
“Hello, I’m DC Fletcher and this is my partner detective Williams, is Mr Evans available?”
Just as I am about to respond, Aimee Lynn walks through the office doors with her team. I look between the detectives and Aimee Lynn. Weighing which one I should respond to first. I excuse myself and rush towards Aimee.
“Miss Lynn –”
“Urgh, my mother is Miss Lynn.” With a nervous smile, I correct myself.
“Aimee, would you like to follow me and I will take you and your team to Greg Evans.” We walk pass the policemen and straight towards the elevator. It was then I was reminded that I was meant to call Greg’s secretary when Aimee arrived and offer beverages, but with the policemen catching me off guard, I’d failed to do any of what I was required to do. The elevator dings as the doors open and I’m left contemplating going in or running back to my desk to call Greg.

Before I have a chance to act, Aimee and her team walk through without my permission. I step inside with them, catching a glimpse of the officers who requested for Greg just only a few minutes ago and give them a nervous smile. Sort out Aimee then attend the officers, I chant to myself as the doors shut.
We reach the seventh floor and walk towards Kelly.
“Hi Kelly, could you let Mr Evans know Aimee Lynn is here.”
Her eyes flicker with confusion and anger for just a second before it’s gone.
“Sure Taylor, I won’t be a minute Miss Lynn.”
I hear Aimee groan behind me from what I can assume was due to being referred to as ‘Miss Lynn’. Kelly disappears into Greg’s office, returning with Greg closely behind her.
“Aimee, what a pleasure! Great to have you here, please follow me.”
He walks off with Aimee and her team, leaving me with Kelly.
“Wasn’t you meant to call me before she arrived?”
“I was caught up.” She chuckles and shrugs her shoulders.
“Have fun explaining that to Greg.”
I turn to walk back to the elevator when I remembered the two officers I left waiting for me.
“Well when he has a spare minute, there’s two policemen asking for him downstairs.”
“Pardon?” The confusion in her voice clearly showed she wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying up until ‘policemen’.
“Two policemen are asking to speak with Greg, I’ll have them up shortly.” The doors ping open.
“No! Have them wait downstairs, I’ll get Greg to come and see them.”
I nod my head and enter into the lift. By the time I’d reached the lobby, both officers were nose deep into the guest book I keep just in front of my monitor. The noise of my heels and the marble floor cause the men to look up from the book.
“Hi officers, my apologies that I left you so abruptly. Mr Evans is in a meeting –”
“With the girl you just took to him I presume?” The officer named Williams curtly said. Lost for words I nod and take my usual position around the desk.
“Yes, if you could give him a few minutes he should be with you shortly.”

The officers walk off talking to each other quietly. What were they looking for in the guest book? My curiosity gets the better of me, whilst still watching the men I grab the book and slide it to my keyboard. They’d left it on sign-ins from Monday this week. Looking for something I clearly had no idea what it was exactly I was looking for, my telephone rang, echoing around the lobby.
Hesitantly I pick up, knowing it could be Greg on the other line, “Hello?”
“I asked you to do two things Taylor, offer refreshments and call Greg’s secretary. You did none!” Bob shouts down the line.
“I was dealing with another issue for Greg, I was pressed for time.” I whisper, trying not to attract the attention of the officers, who were already making their way back to me.
“Clients are our priority, keeping them happy is our priority. Delivering outstanding service is just simple knowledge–” By now the officers stood before me.
“Bob I have a customer, I’ll call you back.” I drop the phone on him mid-sentence and address the officers.
“We don’t have all morning Miss?”
“Taylor.” I answer DC Fletcher.
“Taylor, we don’t have a lot of time. We have a serious investigation underway and need to speak with Greg Evans as quickly as possible. We don’t want to have to go up to meet him, but quite frankly, I don’t like waiting.”
Just as Fletcher finishes his sentence, Greg appears from the elevator, clearly confused by their visit.
“Officers I heard you were after me?”
“Mr Evans, I’m DC Fletcher and this is my partner detective Williams – do you have a spare moment, we have some questions we need to ask you?” DC Fletcher said addressing Greg.
“Of course, right this way.”

Greg and the officers take off as I’m left watching them walk away. I look back at the guest book remembering the officers mentioned they had an investigation underway and wonder what that had to do with who came to the office on Monday and Greg. I look back again and notice DC Fletcher staring at me. I wonder what Greg has gone and got himself involved in now?

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

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HER

She’s dead…

I didn’t mean for her to die, it was an argument – an argument that didn’t stop. She kept going on about Eleanor, kept reminding me how imperfect I was, how my mistakes were unforgivable. What was I meant to do, I screamed my protests, told her it was enough. How many times must one hear they have made mistakes, let alone accept them? But she didn’t stop, instead she kept pushing. Pushing every button I told her, throughout our five year relationship, never to press. And tonight she pressed every single button. So I grabbed the nearest object beside me and hit her on the head. Once and then a few more times after that.

I wasn’t even aware of what I was doing until it was done. Now by my feet lays here limp lifeless body – another mistake staring me boldly in the face. How many more wrongs must I do, before I start to do right? I couldn’t process what was going on in front of me, don’t get me wrong, I knew she was dead, but what was I meant to do now? Was I meant to call the ambulance and turn myself in? Or was I meant to lie and say I found her like this? Either option had the same outcome, that being my life coming to an end. But I couldn’t drag her out into the backyard and dig a hole like in the films, which they make it look so easy to do. Not only was that ridiculous, but it was raining and I wasn’t a murderer, I hadn’t planned for this, so I was bound to get this wrong.

Instead I sat beside her lifeless body and held her hand. Stroking her hair just the way I knew she liked it and sang to her. Sang until my voice grew hoarse, and then I just watched. Watched her watch me. She was everything to me. She was the energy that made me wake up every morning, the reason I tried to become something.

After my family had abandoned me, Savannah took me under her wing, made me a home when there was only bricks in my hands. And look how I’d repaid her. After laying there for what felt like more than a few hours, I stood up and washed my hands. Had to get rid of the blood, the mistakes and every other failure I’ve managed to conjure up in my life. Then I went to the bathroom, unsure of what to do next, but aware something had to be done. The person staring back at me wasn’t the normal face I’d recognised. My hair was tangled and clumped, caused from where we’d had our argument. My skin paled ever so slightly, probably due to seeing a dead body for the first time and then for the fact it was my hands that had been the reason why the body laid there in the first place. The dark rings under my eyes had grown, they were always there, but for some reason, tonight it’d grown – maybe because I was tired, or because I my body knew after tonight I wasn’t going to get sleep for a long time.

But what shocked me the most was my lips. And how they’d curved into a weird shape, baring some of my front teeth. I hadn’t seen this look before and I wasn’t even aware I was doing it. But, it appeared that the person staring back at me through the mirror was smiling, a grim, sinister smile. She looked hungry, hungry for more of whatever had just quenched her desire… I didn’t like the person staring back at me – I didn’t even know she existed until now.

Countdown [Part 2]

Last night was difficult for Anna and the cycling had only done so little to settle her nerves, which left her too restless to sleep. All night she stayed awake, remembering that night seven years ago. The memories fresh in her mind, reminding her who she used to be and who she is now after what had occurred. Her life was no longer the same. She was no longer the same. She was eroding away in front of her own eyes and there was nothing she could do to stop what seemed to be the inevitable. Dammit, she muttered to herself in her bed. One night was all it took to have her clutching onto her sheets again for dear life, when she was in no apparent harm. She thought about the letter again and the photo and shock inwardly. It was stressful enough to not know whether this was a just someone with sardonic humour, but something in the back of her mind screamed alarms.
The same voice that screamed alarms seven years ago, but she ignored. Anna had learnt her lesson and she learnt the hard way. She’d find herself rummaging through her memories to see if she knew the man in the photo, but nothing came to mind. Instead she’d try to remember the man laying dead in the picture and then remember Detective Sutherland.
There was something about Sutherland that made Anna feel protected. And that alone was what was scaring her. She barely knew the man, let alone spoke to him. But the aura that fed off him was something she treasured, a feeling she had no awareness that she desired, but had wanted so deeply. Anna wasn’t prepared to teach today, with her mind still wandering back and forth between Sutherland and the photo, she wasn’t focused enough to prepared students for upcoming exams. But she was sure as hell she wasn’t going to stay at home, where there was definitely no escape of the events of last night and Sutherland. She began to clear her mind and focus on the paperwork that was stacked on her desk as her students were reading, when the door knocked. She looked up to see Mike standing in her doorway, with that grin that made her skin want to turn inside out.

“Miss Phillips can I have a word outside please?” Anna excused herself from the class and made her way outside, hoping Mike wasn’t trying to ask her on yet another date, because she didn’t know what other excuse to give him to avoid his proposal. It was bad enough he kept asking knowing she wasn’t interested in him, but being her boss made everything more difficult. Mike didn’t know when to take the hint, especially when it came to Anna, and he didn’t seem to read expression very well too. Because if he looked closely for just a second, he would realise every time he spoke to Anna, she’d recoil within herself. Every time he stepped just a little too close to her, she made sure the gap between them was more than big enough to give her the space she needed. So whatever Mike thought he was seeing between himself and Anna was far from reality.
“What’s the issue?” Anna asked looking at Mike. He shrugged, directing her towards a figure that was behind her with his gaze. She turned around to see Detective Sutherland, standing just as large and confident as he did in her living room the night before.
“I have no idea, but I do hope you’re not starting trouble Miss Phillips – you’re too much of an asset to lose.”
She cringed at his comment, knowing what he meant and faced the detective.

 

Sutherland, who had caught every meaning to that slimy principals comment, clenched his jaw, watching Anna attentively to see if she’d received his subliminal meaning. When he saw her slightly flinch and turn away from him, he decided to react the same, there was no need to fight this woman’s battles just yet – even though he wanted to. No matter how much he tried to fight it, it was the first time in a long time he wanted to protect any woman who wasn’t family or his partner. The world was a cruel place, it gave when it wanted to give and took when it wanted to take. He thought of his life only just a few years ago and grew stiff at the sour memories. He needed to pull himself together, this was no time to reminisce on the past and the ‘what could have’s’, instead he focused on the now, and that was finding out more about Anna Phillips and who would send her a picture of a dead man.
“I have a few questions to ask you Miss Phillips, is there somewhere private we can talk?”
Kane wanted privacy, with the principal still lingering around like an unwanted smell, he didn’t want to ask anything that could possibly cause complications to the investigation. Anna looked towards the class and Kane.
“I hope you don’t mind sparing 30 minutes, I’m in the middle of teaching. But after, I’ll be free to answer any of your questions.” Kane nodded then faced the principal.

“Is there a place I can wait until Miss Phillips is finished?” He nodded and began walking down the corridor. Kane could destroy this weasel who thought he was a man in a second if he truly wanted to. Not only did Kane tower over him, but is was clear enough that physically, Kane weighed and worked out more than this principal did. As the man continued down the corridor, leading Kane further away from Anna, Kane dared to turn around to catch one more glimpse of Anna and did he catch an eyeful. Not only did her pencil skirt accentuate her curvaceous body figure, but the shirt she wore grew tighter around her breasts, almost making Kane salivate. Like a dog, because I’m behaving like one. Kane shook his head, trying to focus on the matter at hand. But when Anna hadn’t entered the classroom, he realised she too was watching him. When he caught her eyes staring at him, she disappeared in the classroom without giving him a chance to react. The principal led him to the waiting room outside of his office.

“Sorry,” Kane spoke. “Does Miss Phillips have many friends here?”
“A few,” the principal replied nonchalantly.”She does her job and leaves. I’d consider myself one of those few she classifies as a friend. I’ll always look out for Miss Phillips.”
Kane’s body tensed, this man was more than interested in Anna. It seemed he would do more that the average to get her attention, which made Kane dislike him even more.
Through gritted teeth Kane spoke, “what about teaching?”
“Oh, Anna always goes that extra mile for her students, there’s no doubt in that. She is definitely an asset to this school and losing her would be a major loss for me.”
How much more could Kane take before his primal instincts took the better of him. He took a deep breath and continued.
“So you’d say she’s a good colleague?”
“She’s amazing. Just very quiet.” A woman spoke from behind Kane. He turned around and was met by a tall, slim ebony beauty. She greeted him with a smile and stuck her hand out for a shake.
“I’m Toni, Mike you have a call on line one.”
In a flash Mike the principal disappeared into his office, leaving Kane standing alone with Toni.
“I’m –” Kane wasn’t sure what to address himself as. He didn’t want Anna’s business spreading like wildfire, and he wasn’t sure what the repercussions would be if he told Toni who he was. “I’m an old school friend.”
Toni smiled whilst looking towards Mike, who was now behind his desk, chatting away on the phone.
“Mike’s odd, don’t mind him. We’ve all guessed he has a crush on Anna, but if she’s going to ignore it, then so will we.” Kane looked at Mike then shook his head.
“A little unprofessional, don’t you think?”
“Hell, when it comes to Anna, the man acts like he’s never seen a woman before.” She huffed and continued. “Chasing like a dog without a leash, it’s embarrassing. The man just doesn’t know when to stop.” Kane made a mental note of Mike, and thought to conduct a background check on him when he got back to the office.

“Does he behave like that all the time?” Kane asked, partly to keep the conversation going, whilst wanting to know more about Anna.
“It went up a notch when Anna’s ex split with her…that was years ago now. But ever since then, Mike never stopped trying.”
There was an ex, Kane made another mental note and decided to ask Anna when he saw her. His phone vibrated in his pocket, whilst he was just about to continue his conversation with Toni. He grabbed it, seeing the caller ID and decided that the conversation could wait.
“Sorry excuse me.” He left the building, praying his partner Charlie had some good news about the case.

The Little Girl [Part 1]

Reports had stacked up far beyond what she could even recall gathering. Amongst those were email requests from clients and reporters who had been more than intrusive on Olivia’s work and private information. She wasn’t interested in responding to those emails, all they wanted was to put their noses into places where it wasn’t needed. After hours of categorising her workload she began to put pen to paper when her phone rang. Dammit. She grabbed her phone and looked at the caller ID before answering, Lieutenant Young. Her thumb lightly traced the answer button as she stared at the name. How long had it been, five months? Olivia remembered her last time she’d been with Young, all her insides tighten at the memory. There was always something about Young that had Olivia tense in a way she tried to reject far often than need be. Remembering she’d left the phone unanswered, she picked up the call.

“L-Lieutenant?”

“Olivia.”

The connection that she had questioned for months hadn’t just been an imagination. It was there and still strong as it was five months ago. With a struggle, she put on her professional voice, ignoring how her body had reacted to his voice.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“Yes,” he spoke with a husky voice. Olivia rejected the urge to feed into her need and desire and let him continue. “I mean, I’ve got a case here and need your help.”

He wanted her and that was obvious. But he hadn’t called for that, something was wrong and he’d called for help.

“I assume you need me now?”

“Yes, if it’s possible?”

Her eyes gazed at the pile that continued to gain in height and ran a hand through her hair. Whether the workload was a mass amount or not, she knew due to the fact that Young had called her, she’d oblige to any request he made. You’re pathetic Olivia, so pathetic.

“Sure, I’ll be there shortly.”

She cut the phone and with an exasperated sigh, stood up stretching her arms and wondered what case Young was working on that would require her expertise. She recently read in the news a case Young had been working on. A child had died in the hands of his own mother, yet the mother was still able to walk the streets free no matter how much Young had tried to put her away, due to her attorney.

Grabbing her car keys, she left her office sure to return after her visit to the precinct. Weary of the poor weather the Cincinnati skies had showered upon everyone, she slowly walked towards her Ford Fiesta, making sure the snow beneath her feet were solid enough to handle the pressure she applied.

It hadn’t taken her too long to reach her destination, which is probably why they called her, she thought, hoping there was more to Young’s invitation. Stop it Olivia, just find out what he wants. She buried her hope deep within a place where she was sure she couldn’t reach and focused on the task before her. Bracing herself for the frosty weather, she got out her Ford Fiesta and walked towards the building. Shaking off the snow, she looked around noticing how busy it was and found what looked like to be the reception.

“Hello.”

“Dr Lint?”

“Yes, is Lieutenant Young around?”

“You’re here.”

A deep voice rumbled behind her, making her turn around. He hadn’t changed. Lieutenant Young amongst two officers made their way towards her, giving Olivia enough time to get a glimpse of how Young had developed over the few months they hadn’t seen each other. Young was the youngest in the force to become a Lieutenant, yet held so much confidence. Whether that was because of his huge frame or his stern face, either or, no one attempted to cross his path. He not only strived to gain the best possible outcome, but he always seemed to have that golden intuition that helped solve his cases. As far as Olivia had known, he had only failed three times to close a case in the eleven years of being a cop and last month was one of them.

“Lieutenant, how are you?”

“No need for formalities, call me Nicholas.”

Olivia only realised how great his frame was after being so close to him. She wasn’t a woman who was dependent on anyone, but being beside Young made her feel small but not in a way which she felt vulnerable. I’ve missed feeling like this. It’s been so long. She didn’t despise the feeling, in an odd sense she enjoyed it, probably far more than she should have. She shook his hand, ignoring the electrifying shock that ran through her body and focused on the matter at hand.

“So what did you need me for Lieutenant?”

He gave her a quick but brief smile, noticing her obvious remark to ignore his previous request and angled her towards the corridor.

“I thought it would be better to let you see first hand with what we’re trying to work with.”

As they walked through the corridor, with the remaining officers behind both her and Young, she tried to ignore the gut wrenching feeling that began brewing in her stomach. She knew all to well that the last time she walked this path was to help solve a child trafficking case, and Olivia tried so hard to forget those memories.

“Another child I guess?” Without looking at her he nodded.

“Just step into this room.” She opened the door and walked in, sighing as she witnessed from the one sided mirror a small fragile girl, who probably lacked nutrition in a large black jacket. The little girl had her fists tightly balled in her laps with her head down, letting stray clumpy hairs fall.

“She’s so young.” Olivia murmured to herself.

“This is both Detective Dorian Moore, the lead detective of this case and his partner Detective Andrew Williams. Both detectives came across a blood bath this evening and the only living thing left is this little girl.”

“Jesus.”

“Jesus indeed-” Detective Moore spoke reaching his hand out for a shake. She took his hand, instantly comparing it to Young’s and then disregarded the thought. “After she was recovered from the scene all she’s done is sit, with her head down.”

“We can’t even get a reaction out of her, she almost seems as though she can’t hear us.”

Detective Williams said looking at the girl through the one-way mirror. She must have been through a lot Olivia thought, definitely nothing she hadn’t come across before.

“We tried to see if she was possibly deaf, but she was still unresponsive.”

“How did you try that?” Olivia asked Moore who seemed to hold a grave look on his face.

“My brother’s deaf, so I learnt how to communicate through sign-language.” She nodded then turned to the little girl who hadn’t moved an inch during their conversation.

“And she didn’t respond to that either?”

“No.” Young had said, closer to her than she had anticipated. She steadied her heart and focused on the girl.

“We tried everything.” Williams said rustling hair that once had been carefully groomed, but now held a rough look.

“Apart from you.”

Trying to ignore the double meaning behind his comment, knowing it was her alone who had caught it, she pushed those disobeying thoughts further away in her mind, and she stared at the child who’d probably seen more than her mind could comprehend and began devising a strategy.

“Before anything I can’t promise to give you any critical information tonight. This girl has probably witnessed too much to even function anymore, my main priority is to get her functioning again, have her involved in idle conversation and then I’ll begin working on pulling out information in relation to the case.”

“Anything is better than nothing.” His voice ricocheted around the room, leaving Olivia vibrating. Waiting until she had gathered her composure, she turned to face Young, who was no more than a foot or two away from her.

“Is there any other aspects of the crime scene I should be aware of?”

Trying to gain an understanding of how she could formulate her questions without pressing any trigger buttons.

“First we need your trust. What we disclose with you cannot be recorded or broadcasted, not until things play out in our hand more favourably than now.”

Olivia gave Young a firm nod, knowing far too well the extent of those bottom-feeding journalists. Once they got an earful of any of her cases, they piled up at her office requesting for a statement, she hadn’t needed Young to go on to understand what he was saying.

“You have my trust Lieutenant.”

With a dark look in his eyes, he looked to his colleagues who shared the same look as he did and took a deep breath, his jaw working as he faced Olivia.

“Nine, nine dead mutilated bodies were found with the little girl. So Olivia tread carefully.”

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Countdown

It was late, later than usual. Anna hadn’t planned leaving work so late; this was the second time this week I’ve gotten home when it’s dark. She checked her watch, 19:21. It was far too late for her to be getting home at this time, especially when it didn’t take too long for the Denver skies to get dark and cloudy with snow in the winter. She clutched her jacket tighter to herself, feeling alone and cold. There was always something about the evening that didn’t make her feel safe. Maybe the way the darkness slowly consumed any and everything in its way was why Anna shuddered. If she drove, this journey wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed, but she didn’t drive or ride her bike today either.

The streets were silent. Nothing but the wind made noise, and Anna hated that. It did nothing other than highlight the fact that she was alone, or even worse someone was quietly watching her. She balled her hands into fists, trying to ignore the faint fear that began slithering up her spine, but she couldn’t shake it off. She increased her stride, picking up the pace, fear escalating with each step. There was no real reason for Anna to be scared, but she kept thinking of the possibilities that could occur if she didn’t get home soon. Someone could jump out and rob me, or worse… Anna took a deep breath and without thinking began running home. One foot in front of the other, trying not to miscalculate her footing.

 

Finally she reached her house. She hurriedly searched for her keys in her jacket pocket, but realised they weren’t there. Oh fuck, where the hell are my keys? With panic slowly gripping her body, she threw her bag onto the ground and began rummaging through the past test papers; homework and essays then pass the laptop where she found her keys. She picked her bag up, quickly checking the street to see if anyone else was there. She was alone. Of course I’m alone she thought, nobody was ever there, it was always her mind that got the better of her. She unlocked the door then stepped inside, closing it behind her. After gathering herself, she slowly rested against the cold steel, closing her eyes and taking deep breaths wishing paranoia didn’t have such a stronghold on her like it did. Get a grip Anna; you aren’t the same woman you were seven years ago. She ran her fingers through her hair, opening her eyes, noticing the large amount of letters that lay scattered on the ground. She turned to lock the door, one bolt, then another and then the key lock. Whether her mind continuously wanted to play games on her or not, she wasn’t ready to take any chances. She dropped her bag near the umbrella stand and began gathering the letters on the ground. Sifting through the envelopes, wondering whether any of them were worth reading tonight.

 

“Work stuff, bank stuff, gym membership…what’s this?” She held a white plain letter that only had her name on it. Anna Phillips. She held the letter whilst removing her jacket. After hanging it loosely onto the coat rack, she made her way into the kitchen.

 

She considered calling Caroline, seeing as these panic attacks are getting worse. Then decided to eat first, and then figure out whether a call to Caroline was necessary. She put the letter on the table and walked to the refrigerator. Finding left over spaghetti, she grabbed the bowl and removed the foil lid. Placing the bowl in the microwave, two minutes should do it. She sat down on the dining chair and grabbed the letter, unsealing it wondering who would have gone to the trouble to hand deliver a letter to her. It wasn’t her birthday (not like anyone remembered), and she barely kept communication with her family or friends, so figuring out who would have gotten in contact with her was something she couldn’t guess. Once she’d opened the letter, she shook  the contents over the table and out came a note with a folded piece of paper. She took the note and read it,

 

‘Dear Anna Phillips,

 

I apologise for the grief and hurt I’ve laid upon you. I was foolish and unaware of what I was doing. I now know what my behaviour has caused you and I’m sorry.

Please forgive my actions.

 

                                                                                                                        10.’

 

Confused, she unravelled the other piece of paper, wondering who felt the need to apologise to her. She unfolded the paper failing to comprehend the image before her eyes. But with another moment everything clicked. A slit throat, bathed in blood, and dead eyes staring right back at her. Her hands trembled involuntarily and without thinking, she jumped out of her chair and rushed to her phone. She held her mouth trying to suppress the scream she knew would escape her lips and waited for someone to pick up. Finally, the operator came alive,

“Hello, you’ve called 911, what is your emergency?”

“Dead…someone’s dead!”

 

*******

 

It didn’t take that long for the police to show up but once they had, they secured Anna’s house within moments. People roamed the house,  whilst others were repeatedly analysing the picture. Dead eyes. Anna hadn’t moved from where the officer had questioned her earlier. He’d asked the generic questions, “So can you recall the situation to me madam?” “When was this delivered?” “Where were you before you came home?” “Do you recognise the man in the picture?” Throughout his questions she couldn’t help but tremble, remembering the picture, the man, the blood it was all too much for her. She knew something wasn’t right. First she felt like she was being watched on her way home, then that letter. She bit her lip and took a deep breath, she refused to let the police know she didn’t feel safe before she got home, because then they’d ask questions, questions she wasn’t prepared to answer, not tonight. She shut her eyes, the dead man printed on the back of her eyelids. Even though she hadn’t witnessed a real dead body, seeing one in a photo was just as bad. And maybe because she was already shaken up on her way home was what had her panicking. But something in the pit of Anna’s stomach made her know this wasn’t something to ignore. She shivered again thinking about everything; breathe Anna. She took another deep breath and gathered herself together, opening her eyes to see an officer watching her. She averted her eyes, but noticed in her peripheral vision that the officer was making her way to Anna.

 

“Would you like to take a seat madam?”

 

Anna shook her head, again refusing the offer to sit. Focusing on her breathing, she closed her eyes and tried to remember things Caroline had told her to do when she felt like a panic attack was close. Take deep breathes, forget everyone and everything around you and focus on your breathing. In through your nose and out through the mouth. Anna replicated the instructions in her head, focusing only on her breathing, shutting out the footsteps, the talking, the clicks of different equipment. Once she had control over her breathing the only thought that ran through her mind was why would anyone want to mail this to me?

 

She tried not to dwell on the question, but it was the answer to that one question that could ease her mind if she knew the answer. She held herself tighter until she could feel the air around her become smaller. She opened her eyes and her gaze was filled with a man that made Anna pause just for a second. His strong jaw structure, skin hard around the mouth, but smooth everywhere else and then his eyes stunned Anna. His glassy blue eyes held her gaze. With everything occurring, for just a moment she felt safe. For a minute this man, who she knew nothing of had made her feel safe. He stretched out his hand to shake hers and reality hit her again. The noise around the house arose again, feet continued to move, the pounding of her heart grew so loud, she grew conscious wondering whether everyone else could hear it.

 

“Anna Phillips, I’m detective Sutherland, would you like a seat, you look pale?”

She shook his hand and shook her head, looking at the ground declining the offer for the fourth time.

“Alright, could you explain what happened tonight?”

“I came home, later than usual and when I got in, I saw a pile of letters. I was going to look at them tomorrow, because I was exhausted, but one of them only had my name written on it. And I just wanted to know who would have come all the way to mail me something…”

“Then what happened afterwards?”

“I went to warm my food. Whilst it was warming, I opened the letter. There was a note and a folded piece of paper inside of the letter. I read the note, not understanding it, so I opened the paper which revealed the picture.”

“Why did you read the note first then look at the picture?”

He stood waiting, attentively listening, not forgetting any details.

“I…I don’t know. Maybe because I thought it was easier to read the note than look at the folded piece of paper first.”

“Okay, then what did you do after realising what was in the letter?”

“I rushed and called you.” He looked up, his eyes turning dark and his jaw clenching.

“I mean I called the police. I don’t know if this is a prank, but…” Anna shuddered again. Stop this Anna…at least until you’re alone. “That note and then that picture.”

 

He continued writing silently whilst she watched him. Watched him write, watched him inhale and exhale. There was something about this man that made Anna feel safe, though his build was strong, it was his aura that made Anna want to talk. Talk about everything, something she never did after the things she’s been through. She looked down, attempting to repress those memories, no matter how many times I went counselling nothing got better.

“Miss, please take a seat.”

 

She looked up, and her eyes were met with the detectives stare. He was cautious of her, this was the second time she grew pale, and why would I know that? Because I keep watching her that’s why. She slowly sat down and controlled her breathing.

“What now?” She tested her voice; glad it wasn’t replicating how she truly felt.

“Well,” He knelt in front of her and gave her a reassuring smile. “We’re going to do our best to find out who sent this to you. Then we’re going to find out whether or not this is real.”

“And if it is real?”

She looked into Kane’s eye deeply, almost pleading for him to give her an answer that would end this, but he knew if this was real, it was just the start of something dark and vile.

But he decided to smile.

“If it is real, we’ll track down the body and catch the killer.”

She nodded. He brushed a hair away from her face, gave her another smile and walked towards his team. For now he was going to ignore the foreign feeling he had towards the this woman and focus on the task at hand.

“Alright guys, what do we have?”

Sutherland asked the ME.

“Not much and I’m not surprised, I’ll take it to the lab and run it for prints. We’ve swept the house to check if the person dropped anything, but right now…nothing.” Another ME grabbed the photo from the previous one.

“Never in my 16 years have I had to analyse a body through a picture.”

Lauren, the leading medical examiner said assessing the picture.

“We’ll try to get something Kane.”

Kane nodded.

“Something is better than nothing.”

 

They nodded and shortly after, Kane’s partner walked through the door.

“What’s going on?”

As soon as Charlie spoke Kane noticed the faint smell of alcohol on his breath. Jesus, not again. Kane grabbed his partner outside.

“Are you drunk?”

Charlie smiled but shook his head, sighing.

“No, I just had a drink, maybe two.”

“We don’t have time for this Charlie, we’ve got a possible dead person lying around somewhere, a woman who is shaken to death and you’ve had a couple of drinks?” Kane lowered his voice and stood closer to Charlie, so that nobody overheard their discussion. “I need you focused Charlie, especially now.”

Charlie scratched his head then sighed, this time without a smile.

“Sorry, it’s been a rough day, I’ll sober up.” Charlie walked back inside with Kane staring at him. All he had to do was remain sober, but Charlie couldn’t do it. Charlie was a good cop. Good was even an understatement. He had talents that a lot of other cops didn’t have. Yet, he continued to drown his talents at the bottom of a bottle. Even though Kane was angry it never really lasted, Charlie had lost a lot in the past year and if drinking was the way he dealt with it, Kane wasn’t going to stop him. However, drinking during work hours wasn’t responsible and once Charlie and Kane were done here, he’d have a quick talk with him. He walked back into the house and looked at the neatly folded paper.

“Has anyone read that note yet?”

“I have,” Lauren grabbed the note and gave it to Kane. “We couldn’t make nothing out of it, seems real personal.”

Kane opened the note and read it.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

 

 

Three Sisters

Scene 1:

Stage lights turn on. The stage is set in a woman’s bedroom. In the middle of the stage a man lays dead on the floor, three women are on the stage. One is standing near the body, close to a chair near a mirror. The other is sitting on the bed in shock whilst the last is kneeling down close to the woman on the bed.

 

ANNA:             Is he dead?

(DELILAH nods)

DARCY:            Are you sure?

(ANNA bends over and checks for a pulse, then jumps up when she realises he’s dead)

ANNA:             He’s dead Darcy. What the hell went on here Delilah? He’s dead!

DELILAH:         I-I-I know that Anna.

ANNA:             Was it murder, self-defence or naturally?

(DELILAH remains silent)

ANNA:             Did you kill him on purpose?

(Silence)

ANNA:             Jesus, he’s dead. I can’t believe you killed your husband!

DARCY:            Stop panicking Anna.

ANNA:             What! There is a dead person lying on our sister’s bedroom floor! And that person is her husband.

DARCY:            I know that Anna! I know, but that isn’t helping. So stop panicking.

(DARCY looks at DELILAH’s hands, covered in blood)

DARCY:            You need to wash your hands Delilah, get his blood off your hands.

(DELILAH gets up to exit on the right side of the stage, before leaving she looks at her sisters, then exits stage)

DARCY:            This is a mess.

ANNA:             (Whispering) Mess? Darcy, this is more than a mess, this is murder. She murdered him Darcy, our baby sister killed her husband, how the hell do we sort this out? And what about the police?

DARCY:            (Whispering) Don’t you think I know this is way out of our hands. I know she killed her husband, and I know we need to call the police, but we need to know why she did it. So instead of asking questions that I can’t answer, just help me try to solve this.

(DELILAH returns on the stage with a hand towel. She places the towel on the bed and looks at her husband dead on the floor, her eyes water)

DELILAH:         What have I done? What have I done Darcy? I’m going to jail. No one will believe my story (cries).

DARCY:            (Comforting DELILAH) It’s okay, stop crying, I know it looks bad now, but it’ll get better, trust me.

DELILAH:         How Darcy? He’s dead, I killed him, and no one will understand why.

DARCY:            They will.

(DELILAH nods then stops crying)

ANNA:             So, how are we going to fix this?

DARCY:            Right now, I’m not too sure, but we will.

ANNA:             We don’t have all the time in the world Darcy, he’s dead and if we want our sister to get away with this, we need to get rid of the body.

DARCY:            (Looking at ANNA) Well do you have an idea? Or are you just going to keep reminding me that he’s dead, because I can see that.

ANNA:             Let me just remind you all that the more time we waste trying to be calm, is the longer we have a dead body in the bedroom. If we don’t do something soon, people will wonder where the famous Paul Willingham has gotten to. And then when he doesn’t answer anyone’s phone calls, they’ll turn to Delilah.

            (DELILAH starts crying again)

DARCY:            See what you’ve done!

ANNA:             What! I’m just saying the truth and you know it Darcy! You know people will wonder where he disappeared to, and who do you think they’ll turn to next? His fucking wife, that’s who.

(DARCY walks up to ANNA and stands directly in front of her, making DARCY move backwards, up against the chair in front of the mirror)

DARCY:            You are not helping Anna! Don’t you think I’ve considered that, I know people will question his disappearance, but you saying it does not solve anything! Are you here to help or just to state the obvious?

(ANNA slowly sits on the chair, looking down)

ANNA:             I-I came to help.

DARCY:            Well then start doing it!

DELILAH:         It’s true though isn’t it Darcy? (Both ladies look at DELILAH) What Anna is saying is true.

DARCY:            No –

DELILAH:         You don’t need to lie to me; I’m not your baby sister anymore!

DARCY:            Look at what you’ve done Anna.

ANNA:             I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be harsh Delilah. I just wanted you to understand that this situation is beyond Darcy and I. And I’m scared Delilah, he’s dead and I’m scared, I’m terrified for you, you’re my baby sister and your husband is dead. But, I will never leave you because your problem is mine too. I’ll be there every step, even with the police.

DARCY:            Not the authorities –

DELILAH:         I should have called the police!

DARCY:            No.

DELILAH:         I should have!

DARCY:            No Delilah.

DELILAH:         I’ve made everything worse for myself.

DARCY:            Delilah stop!

(Everyone looks at DARCY, who is pacing around the room.)

DARCY:            Maybe not calling the police isn’t such a bad thing, they may have gotten your story wrong and where would that have gotten you? Locked up and thrown in jail. So please, can we not talk about the police? We can consider them later on, but right now we need to actually hear what went on before reporting to them. Okay?

(ANNA nods along with DELILAH)

DARCY:            Delilah, I need you to recall what happened here before you called Anna and I to come and help you. And make sure you don’t miss out anything, okay?

(DELILAH nods)

DELILAH:         I came home late, even though I knew that would have made him angry. But I had work to complete, if I didn’t get it finished I would have been on my third strike and I couldn’t afford to lose my job. So I stayed, but not for long. (Pause.) Then once I had gotten home he was quiet, really quiet. I thought maybe if I cooked some dinner he would be fine. But he ate it and then went to bed. Still silent. (Pause.) I knew he was angry and I was scared, he wasn’t speaking to me, and I knew how that always ended. Once I was ready to go to bed, he was already waiting for me. Sitting on the bed, just anticipating my arrival. I changed and tried to climb into bed and then he spoke. He shouted at me, (her voice begins trembling) I tried to apologise, I really did, I said sorry. I told him what would have happened if I didn’t stay, but he didn’t listen. Instead he got angrier that I was responding. Then he got up, and slapped me, hard (touches her cheek). I screamed and then he started beating me, non-stop. He was furious; he started strangling me (chokes back a cry). I was going to die Darcy, I didn’t know what to do. Then he pushed me onto the dresser and watched me change colour, from white to blue. I knew I was going to die, at the hands of my own husband (begins crying). I loved him. But he just wouldn’t stop hitting me, his grip got firmer around my neck, so I did what anyone would do, I grabbed the closest thing and hit him on the head with it. I wasn’t going to let him kill me, so I kept hitting him. Even though I couldn’t breathe, I still hit him, he fell in the middle of the room, and I just didn’t stop. If I did he would have killed me Darcy, he would have (starts crying).

             (The room falls silent after DELILAH has finished speaking, ANNA is visibly crying, whilst DARCY is standing watching the man on the floor)

ANNA:             Why didn’t you tell us he was hitting you Delilah?

DELILAH:         He said he would do worse if I told anyone.

ANNA:             We’re your sisters, we would have helped you, I can’t believe you went through all of that alone. (Grasps) I’m so sorry Delilah… how many times has he done this to you?

DELILAH:         I don’t know.

ANNA:             Last Christmas you had a black eye?

DELILAH:         It was him.

(ANNA’s cries become audible whilst DELILAH silently cries)

ANNA:             Oh Delilah, I’m so sorry.

(ANNA goes to DELILAH and embraces her lovingly)

DARCY:            (Monotone) I’m proud you killed him.

(Both ANNA and DELILAH look at DARCY)

DARCY:            And anyone who believes that you did this intentionally without any reason is a fool.

ANNA:             Are there bruises.

(DELILAH nods)

DELILAH:         I know I should have told you all. I was just scared he was going to hurt you. Plus, mum was going through that heart problem; I didn’t want to add my stress on top of the family stress. I thought he’d stop; I thought our love was stronger than this, but things changed.

ANNA:             Darcy, what are we going to do? He hurt our sister, we should report him to the police, her bruises will be enough evidence right?

DELILAH:         I don’t want everyone to know. I don’t want my name in the media.

DARCY:            We will figure that out when it comes.

(Gets her phone out)

DELILAH:         What are you doing?

DARCY:            Calling the police, now I know what happened. You were just defending yourself. I’ll get the police here, so they can hear what happened to and take this scumbag out of here. Everything will be fine Delilah, I promise.

(DARCY kisses DELILAH’s head then leaves the stage)

DELILAH:         Not the police Anna, I’m scared.

ANNA:             Don’t be, you heard Darcy, she’s going to sort this entire mess out.

DELILAH:         She can’t though.

ANNA:             It’s okay Delilah, he can’t hurt you anymore, the police will take care of everything.

DELILAH:         They can’t, they can’t…I’ll go to prison.

ANNA:             (Hugging her) It’s okay, shush, everything will be fine.

DELILAH:         It won’t, because…because…this is my fault.

ANNA:             (Looking at DELILAH) It’s not Delilah.

DELILAH:         (Crying) I hit him first Anna. He was sleeping when I got to bed. And then when I tried to get in, he pushed me out, said he was angry with me and that I should sleep on the couch. I said sorry, but he ignored me. So I tried to get in the bed again. He pushed me out. So I started hitting him, we got into a fight, but he was trying to stop me, not attack me. He pushed me, so I shouted at him, he slapped me, and before I knew it, I grabbed the closest thing and hit him over the head. He never got back up. Anna, I killed my husband…

ANNA:             Oh my God. (Letting go of DELILAH) Why did you lie to us?

DELILAH:         Because I knew what would happen to me, Anna please don’t let Darcy know.

ANNA:             Has he ever hit you?

DELILAH:         Yes, but this time it was my fault. Anna, if I didn’t aggravate him, he wouldn’t have pushed me. I caused this argument.

ANNA:             Jesus Delilah, what have you done?

DELILAH:         Darcy can’t find out…

ANNA:             Why?

(DARCY enters)

DARCY:            The police will be here soon, don’t worry Delilah, this nightmare is over (coming to hug DELILAH).

(Whilst DARCY hugs DELILAH, DELILAH looks at ANNA, with tears in her eyes)

– End Scene. Curtains Close.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun