AN: Gah, I'm so sorry that I haven't updated anything in a while. -.- Things have been busy IRL and I have major writers block at the moment. Annoying. Anyway, as an apology for the lack of updates – here's a short story that I had to write for Literature. It's pretty crap and I suck at sticking to word limits. It's already 1000 words over the limit (give or take). Um, yeah. Not much to say about this one. Those of you waiting for 'My Happy Ending' and 'IOU', I'll try to update as soon as I can! I'm halfway through the second chapter of 'IOU' and have been for the past couple of months. Just need to finish a few more pages and then I'll post it. Grr. Hope you're all still interested.
As I said, this was for Literature… so don't expect it to be that great. Love you all.
Also... please note that this has been edited a lot... there was so much more detail and twists added, but by then it was nearing 2000 words over the limit and I doubt my teacher would've been happy with that. Please don't hurt me! Reviews are still appreciated.
Maureen had been living in the apartment for just under a week when she found the bullet. She couldn't even be sure if that was what it was at first, considering that the closest she had ever come to seeing one was on the television or the silver screen. Even then, close ups of a bullet were rare.
Throat suddenly going dry, she swallowed and let the cool metal shell roll to the middle of her now sweaty palm. Oh God. If it weren't for the comfortable solid weight of it, she would've believed the bullet to be no more than an illusion. Lifting up her other hand, she touched the shot lightly, moving it around so that it caught the light. It was real alright. Oh God.
"Hey Maureen, I'm going down to the shops… is there anything that you need?"
Stepping into the room, Maureen's older sister kept her head down as she spoke, rummaging around her purse for the car keys. It wasn't until she nearly tripped over one of Maureen's many shoes that she finally looked up.
"Jesus, when will you tidy up this mess, Maureen?" Nadia complained, dropping the purse down to her side as she surveyed the smaller bedroom of the two bedroom apartment. Maureen was kneeling by the open walk-in wardrobe, a bunch of clothes and shoes piled in a heap around her. "We've been here nearly a week and you still haven't unpacked yet?"
"Mm," Maureen murmured back, tuning out Nadia's lecturing as she usually did. Was it really an actual bullet that she was holding in her hand? Oh God.
"Maureen, you're not even listening to me!" Nadia groused, "you should really do someth-"
"Check it out," Maureen interrupted, twisting around slightly so that she could face her sister. Rolling the bullet between her forefinger and her thumb, she held up her find triumphantly.
Sighing deeply, Nadia cocked her head on one side and stared at the bullet. A momentary look of surprise crossed her face, "where'd you find that?"
"At the back of the wardrobe," Maureen replied, slightly put off by the fact that her sister wasn't quite as thrilled as she was. "What do you suppose it was doing back there?"
"Wouldn't have a clue"
"Don't you want to know?"
Nadia shrugged, "not really. It probably just belonged to the last owner of the house".
"You know, for a journalist, you've not very… well, curious," Maureen frowned, dropping the bullet back to her palm and wrapping her fingers protectively around it. Using her other hand to steady herself, she slowly got up from her kneeling position. Jeez, how long had she been sitting there staring at that bullet? Her neck was stiff and her back ached.
"Who said that journalists have to be curious?" Nadia asked with another one of her shrugs, "and I'm not a journalist yet."
With a roll of her eyes, Maureen followed Nadia out of her room and into the kitchen. "Aw, come on… you're twenty-two and in your last year of journalism. You don't think you could be counted as a journalist yet?"
"Nope. Not until I graduate from uni and find a job as a journalist," came the matter-of-fact reply.
Maureen was not convinced. "Right."
Having found her car keys on the kitchen bench, Nadia opened the front door. "Just ring if there's something you want from the store," she called back over her shoulder before leaving.
Maureen watched the door close and flicked an irritated hand back through her brown hair, scowling as her fingers got caught in some knots. Grumbling under her breath, she disentangled her hand and walked back to her room, tripping over the same shoe that Nadia had earlier. Her older sister still had a way of making Maureen feel so childish at times - like it was foolish to get excited over a little bullet. Though she hadn't said anything, Nadia's last look had clearly said that she shouldn't be wasting her time pondering over it. Some journalist Nadia is going to make…
Feeling the metal grow hot in her hand, Maureen slowly pulled her fingers away from it. Nadia was probably right, it must've belonged to the last owner of the house.
Maureen was determined to find out just who exactly he was.
Lee – that was all that her sister could or would tell her about the former occupant of Apartment 172. Maureen could only assume that that was the name his name. When she had pressed Nadia for further information, her sister had made it clear that she didn't want to play any of Maureen's little games.
"Just let it rest, Maureen. Mid-year exams are coming up soon and I can't study with you constantly bugging me. I don't know anything about the former owner and quite frankly, I don't care. If you want to stay in the apartment with me, you're going to have to let me study… otherwise I'm sending you back to live with mum and dad."
Maureen had promptly responded by sticking out her tongue. And I wonder why she calls me immature?
After that slight outburst, Maureen had decided that she should probably just pursue her investigation (as she liked to call it) by herself - or without the help of her sister, anyway. I mean, it's not as though I don't have the time, she reflected. At eighteen years of age, most people would have expected her to be still in her final year of high school or to have just started university. Most people would be wrong. Having finished Year 12 the previous year, Maureen had decided to take a break before enrolling into University the following year.
"So, what are you looking to go into?"
Maureen glanced over at the man beside her. Though by no means short, she found that she still had to tilt her head up to talk to Andrew. Tall, lanky and possessing unnaturally blue eyes, Andrew was the resident of Apartment 171 and one of Maureen's new neighbours. She placed him at no older than twenty five years of age and had only spoken to him twice before.
She smiled sheepishly, leaning back against the elevator side, "archaeology".
Andrew grinned, "you have got to be the first person I know who wants to go into that. You like history, uncovering mysteries or something?"
"Something like that," she grinned back. As always, she found herself really comfortable around him. Oh, and speaking of mysteries… "I was wondering if you could help me out with something…?"
Funny he should use those words. "What can you tell me about the guy who lived in the apartment before my sister and I moved in?"
Startled, Andrew pulled his eyes away from where they had been tracking the level the elevator was on. They were just passing 9. "The guy who was living there before you?" he frowned.
Andrew let out a laugh. "Oh, Lee's not a guy".
"Nah, Lee's a girl"
This took Maureen by surprise. "And?"
Studying her with his cobalt eyes, he looked her over carefully. She blushed under his gaze. "And she looked a bit like you, actually," he paused, thinking something over in his head – (Maureen guessed that he was picturing Lee in his mind) – "no, make that a lot like you".
Maureen stared at him. Was he serious?
The elevator doors dinged and opened a second later - 17. They both stepped out into the hallway. "What did she look like exactly?" Maureen asked, shifting the shopping bags around to a more comfortable position in her arms.
Shooting him a look, she waited.
Sighing, Andrew shoved one hand deep into his pocket and pulled out his apartment key. "Ah, let's see… she had straight brown hair, about as dark as yours, if not more so… uh, brown eyes and was fairly slim. Maybe an inch or two taller, that's all."
Maureen was slightly disappointed at his description. "That was pretty vague".
Rolling his eyes, he started off down the corridor and Maureen followed. "Just trust me on this one," he said, "I don't know why I didn't pick up on this before, but… well, you two could easily pass for twins".
Stopping in front of his apartment, he unlocked his door, twisted the knob and pushed it open with his foot. Turning around in the doorway, he leaned his shoulder against the jamb. "What's with the sudden interest in Lee?"
Again, there was that guarded look in his eyes.
Maureen debated whether to tell him about the bullet, but decided against it. She didn't want to mention that his former neighbour could be into something illegal – a drug dealer maybe, or a murderer? No, it was better not to alarm him until she had gathered more information. Instead she used a tactic that she had picked up from her sister.
Andrew clearly didn't believe her, but let it go.
"Anything else you can tell me about her? Any… strange guests?" Maureen decided to test out her drug dealer theory and imagined the type of men that might be into such illegal deeds.
"Mm," he thought about that for a minute, "well, there were a fair number of cops coming and goin-"
The police? Oh God.
"I knew it!"
Embarrassed at her sudden outburst, she grimaced, "sorry".
Andrew looked amused, "knew what?"
"That she was into something illegal," she announced, deciding that it couldn't hurt to let him know what she had found, "there was a bullet at the back of my wardrobe. It must've been from her gun"
If it were possible, Andrew looked even more amused. He seemed to find something funny. "It's possible," he mused, "considering the fact that she was a cop…"
A cop? She stared at him. Well, there goes my drug dealer and murderer angle…
For some reason, the fact that Lee was a cop and had a legitimate reason to own a gun took all the fun out of Maureen's 'investigation'. Upon seeing her crestfallen look, Andrew shot her a grin. "Aw, come on… you can still pretend she was working undercover or something…"
"Yeah, I guess," she conceded, frowning slightly, "so why did she leave?"
This time it was Andrew's turn to frown. "I'm not too sure, exactly…"
If Maureen had expected her interest in Lee to fade simply because she had found out the reason for the bullet being where it was… she was wrong. Each night she would dream up a different scenario of what happened to Lee to cause her sudden disappearance. Maybe she was needed somewhere else for some important investigation? Maybe a drug bust went wrong and she had to go underground? Maybe she had a break on a case she was working and it led her overseas? Maybe –
Maureen's eyes shot open. Oh God… was someone else in the apartment with her? It was the long weekend and Nadia had taken off for a couple of days with some friends, leaving Maureen alone in the apartment by herself.
Hearing shuffling coming from the living room, she hugged the covers close under her chin. Or maybe not so alone anymore… Oh God. What should she do? Though they had been living there for just over a month, they had yet to install a phone. Maureen thought of her mobile phone charging in the kitchen. There was no way to reach it without facing whoever was out there.
The doorknob to her room twisted slowly and for a second she couldn't breathe. The door flew open and she screamed. There was no flash of lightning, there was no storm brewing in the background and no rain pelting the windows. This was no movie, this was real. It was not midnight, but just after 3am in the morning. For some reason, Maureen found the silence to be more deafening than any storm could be. Half sitting up in bed now, hands still clutched around her covers, she sat there listening to her own erratic breathing. As her eyes got used to the dark, she could make out the outline of a man in her doorway.
She couldn't see his face well in the dark, but she could hear the cold smile in his raspy voice.
"Hello Lee… remember me?"
Though her mind was screaming that her name was Maureen, she opened her mouth and no words came out. She could barely breathe as she watched him raise his left hand and point it at her. Some cool and metal caught the light.