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Thriller Suspense Drama

Your head is spinning and your vision is blurred. Red and silver dots flicker before your eyes, and you feel as if a steamroller has been through your brain. You put your index fingers on your temples and start massaging. The veins along your forehead are throbbing fiercely, threatening to explode any second now. You concentrate harder.


You realize you are crouched on the floor. Trying hard not to lose your balance, you extend your right arm forward and grab onto the first thing it touches. It is smooth and hard, and gives you a sense of stability. You outstretch your other arm and pull yourself up. You focus all your strength to prop yourself against the large oak desk. The world around you starts to slowly reclaim its shape. The glossy surface is covered in folders, and computer cables are hanging from the sides; the devices are nowhere to be seen. There is a broken mug that says “est DAD”, and shyly peeking from below the mess is a name plate: Adam Blumenfeld, Managing Partner.


🎲


“Everyone, meet Stacy Thomson – one of Columbia’s star graduates and our newest associate.” The man’s voice is loud, deep, and clear. But even if it wasn’t, you’re sure that he doesn’t go unnoticed when entering a room. He is middle-aged, the corners of his eyes are cracked with miniature lines, and he has an enviable amount of hair on his head, albeit tinted white. He is tall and has the wide back of a professional swimmer. He shines an overconfident smile at the crowd and wraps a strong arm around your tiny shoulders.


🎲


You can’t stop shaking. Your two arms are the pillars that stop you from crumbling back to the floor. Your breathing is fast and irregular. You look down to see your chest rising and falling underneath a half-unbuttoned white shirt, a stroke of red crossing the pale flesh of your breasts. It is then when you notice that your hands are also covered in red sticky substance. You frantically rub them against your skirt – the gray pencil skirt is already covered in red stains that are turning darker by the second. If you weren’t going crazy, you might think that the stained pattern actually looks quite fashionable. Your gaze shifts further down to your red high heels. You are pretty sure that’s their original color. The puddle of red liquid surrounding your shoes, however, doesn’t seem to be original to the carpet. The stench hits you next…


🎲


The smell of hard alcohol and cigars is in your face. You try to turn away as politely as you can, “Great party, Mr. Blumenfeld. It is so nice of you to organize those quarterly office get-togethers. I think we’re running low on soft drinks though. I’ll go check if we need to bring out some extra–”


“You don’t have to go anywhere. That’s why I pay the catering staff.” His hand makes you shiver when it slides down your lower back. His foul breath tickles your ear like a serpent’s tongue, “And you can call me Adam.”


🎲


A smell like rotting fish fills your nostrils. You turn around slowly and the sight makes a burning mixture that tastes of whiskey and metal crawl up your esophagus. You manage to suppress the urge to vomit.


The furniture around the room has been moved and there is broken glass on the floor. The one thing that can’t be missed though is the large body sprawled out next to the desk. The man’s tie is hanging loose to one side, and his belt is undone. His facial features are twisted and unrecognizable, probably due to the fact that a heavy computer tower seems to have crushed his skull.


🎲


“Stacy, come in!” The man holding the door seems to be in a good mood. “Thank you for staying so late.”


“Of course, Mr. Blumenfeld, Adam,” you reply, quickly correcting yourself as you enter the office. “I know how important the Marković account is for the firm. I’ve brought all files we need to go over in order to prepare for the deposition.”


“That’s my girl! Always so diligent and dedicated.” He smiles and hands you a whiskey glass. “Let’s relax a little first. We have a long night ahead of us.”


“I can’t,” you try to decline politely.


“Of course you can,” he winks at you. “We’re way past office hours.”


You leave the folders at the desk and reluctantly accept the glass.


Your boss takes his jacket off, hangs it over the back of his chair and moves around the coffee table to sit on the sofa. He takes a sip of his glass and reclines his head backward, “Aah, that’s nice. You should try it. Loosen up a bit.” He says while loosening his tie with one hand.


You think about the endless string of 14-hour work days and let yourself sink in the other end of the sofa, “Maybe just a short break–“ You taste the double-malt scotch and a warm sensation spreads through your body.


“Yes, a quick break is the best way to recharge our batteries. Don’t you think?” There is a strange glimmer in his eyes. He has another gulp of his drink and wets his lips.


You aren't sure whether he’s actually expecting a reply. You manage a quiet, “Of course.”


“You know, there’s a way to make it even more pleasant,” he suddenly moves closer to you and places his hand on your knee.


He has caught you by surprise, and your first reaction is to excuse yourself before your boss, as if you are to blame, “I’m sorry, Adam. I don’t–“ You shift a little to the left.


He seems to think you’re just playing hard to get because he moves even closer. You try to discourage him, but he doesn’t hear you anymore. He pushes his weight over you, pressing you against the leather couch, “Come on! I know you want it. I promise you’ll enjoy it.”


There is no way your hundred pounds are getting out from underneath that big man. You feel his accelerated breathing on your neck. The smell of sweat and cigars is choking you. A sticky hand creeps below your skirt and squeezes the inside of your thigh. You try to wriggle yourself out of there, but it’s pointless; it only seems to excite him more.


Your left arm is the only one with some room to move. It reaches for the coffee table and starts fumbling around until finally it manages to get hold of a whiskey glass. You strike with all your strength, “Adam, no…”


🎲


You gasp, “NO! Adam…”


You lower yourself to check for pulse, but you stop half-way. The smell and the great puddle of blood soaking the carpet tell you there’s no need. You rush for the door. It’s locked! Fucking bastard! You start to look everywhere for the key. A reflection from the window startles you as you are going through the pockets of the jacket he left on the chair. You lift your head up, and you see him. He’s frozen, looking straight into your eyes.


The window washer drops his squeegee and the suspended platform he’s standing on shakes. He looks at you. He looks at Adam’s body. He looks at the mess in the room. He closes his gaping mouth and takes a mobile phone out of his blue overalls.


It’s only a matter of seconds before you hear police sirens wailing in the distance…



The scream of the sirens is getting louder and louder.


“Bweep! Bweep! Beep! Beep! Ding!” You slowly open one eye and see the numbers 5:30 blinking in red. The alarm clock becomes a victim of your mightiest slap. You bury your face in the pillow, and cover your head with the quilt.


It’s been ages since you were able to sleep for more than five hours a night. The frequent nightmares are also not helping. You hardly ever remember them, but you always wake up exhausted and need a few moments to realize where you are and calm yourself.


You don’t really want to come out of bed, but you have to. It’s going to be another long day.



It’s 8 p.m. and you’re still at the office. You nearly doze off while taking the elevator to the 24th floor. The ping sound announcing the floor shakes you out of your daze and you realize that the doors have started to close on you. Hugging the big pile of folders, you squeeze yourself out at the last moment. 


You stop to straighten yourself out, and knock on the door. 


“Stacy, come in!” The man holding the door seems to be in a good mood. “Thank you for staying so late.”


You’re not sure why, but his voice makes you stop dead in your tracks. You mouth dries up and your palms start to sweat.


He stares at you confused, “Stacy, are you OK?”


You manage to regain composure, “Erm… What? Ah, yes. Thank you, Adam. I’m fine. Here are the files you asked for.” You adopt the most professional attitude you’re capable of considering the awkward situation, “I’m sorry, but I can’t stay. I’ve just remembered there’s something really important I have to drop at HR.”


You turn around and once you’re out of his sight you start running. You note how the bundle of nerves in your stomach slowly untangles, and you feel free for the first time in months. You allow yourself to smile.


As you go down the corridor you see with your peripheral vision an open door. On the other side of the office windows a window washer in blue overalls whistles happily…


November 10, 2020 08:33

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46 comments

Kristin Neubauer
02:58 Nov 14, 2020

Sorry for the delayed response, Bianca. I've been on overnights at work and am all mixed up. I thought this was a really well-done, very creative story. Your writing is flawless. Such rich description, realistic dialogue, good flow. It was easy to read and very suspenseful. I loved how you wove the timelines together. However, I was confused by the final section. I read through the comments and after reading, I understand that the final bit is in the present while the murder timeline is in the future. But I'm still a little confuse...

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Bianka Nova
13:11 Nov 14, 2020

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate it. If you have other things on your plate, please don't feel pressured to do so. I totally understand it. I've also had weeks when I could barely read a couple of stories, let alone write... :) I agree that it may sound confusing. It probably is actually, even after the little rewrite I did to hopefully clarify some more what's going on. So, yes. Basically the "murder timeline" is a future timeline that would/could happen if she decides to go into the office. ...

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Kristin Neubauer
05:11 Nov 20, 2020

That is a really creative idea and difficult to pull off - you did it so well! I am sitting at work right now trying to get some momentum on a story to submit by tomorrow's deadline, but I fear it may not happen. My mind is mush at the moment. Hopefully next week. I will keep an eye out for your next one!

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Bianka Nova
09:15 Nov 20, 2020

Me too. If you have some draft ready, you can still submit it. Then you have at least a couple of days to edit before it gets approved :)

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Yolanda Wu
20:41 Nov 12, 2020

It's so cool that this was inspired by Rayhan's story. I loved the piecing together of the different timelines, it totally amped up the suspense and the urgency. Since the very beginning, your vivid descriptions hooked me, and you did so well to portray Stacy's disoriented state of mind. You jump between the future, the past and the present quite well, admittedly I didn't realise the end bit was the present, so I was a little confused, but that's probably just a me thing and not a you thing. But overall, I loved this story, Bianka! It was de...

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Bianka Nova
21:49 Nov 12, 2020

Thanks a lot! Actually Rayhan did have some suspicions that people might not understand right away which one is the present, so I'm thinking of changing a bit the last part to make it more clear.

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Yolanda Wu
22:01 Nov 12, 2020

Yeah, maybe a bit more of an indication would make it just a bit clearer and more impactful. :)

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Bianka Nova
22:35 Nov 12, 2020

On it! You may check it out in a few minutes. Let me know what you think :)

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Yolanda Wu
02:21 Nov 13, 2020

It's a lot clearer now! Great work!

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Rayhan Hidayat
10:04 Nov 10, 2020

Ok wow, there’s a lot to take in here. If I have it correctly, there are three timelines: the flashbacks in italics, the visions of the future where Adam is dead, and the present which is the final paragraph. Please correct me if I’m wrong! I love this, anyway. The dedication to my characters, the way you explored the corporation and the workplace harassment more, the vivid and disgusting imagery that pairs so well with second person. Kudos 😉 Oh and of course the section breaks get my approval 👍🏽 I’m just worried that readers might not...

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Bianka Nova
10:30 Nov 10, 2020

You're spot on the timelines. But then again, you're right we are both aware of the initial premise. Let's see what impartial readers have to say about it 😉 I think that in my story Stacy is not necessarily able to see the future. It's more of a premonition, a kind of a warning sent to her by her brain on the basis of the history she has with Adam. And it comes at the right moment, so she could make the best choice about how to handle the situation. Or something like that 😅 Anywho... Thank you, thank you, thank you! For the inspiration...

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Rayhan Hidayat
11:02 Nov 10, 2020

I’m curious too. But for now I think I see the issue: the “present” timeline only begins in the very last paragraph, and the reader recieves no warning that the “future” paragraphs are actually premonitions. I’m worried that people will think the premonitions are the present! Granted, the final paragraph sorta does clear it up because we see her coming out of a daze, but might I suggest having her waking up in bed before she goes to work? If the premonition was all just a dream the reader will automatically understand that and it would make ...

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Bianka Nova
11:25 Nov 10, 2020

Hm... not a bad idea. You did give me something to think about. Let's see if I can twist it around... maybe some kind of a waking dream because on the other hand I don't want to make it too obvious from the very beginning. And, it's always a pleasure. I still have the two from the "best of Ray" list to go through 😉

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Rayhan Hidayat
11:32 Nov 10, 2020

I think it’s just the final paragraph that needs some twisting around, everything else is quite alright structurally if you ask me. And yay, can’t wait to hear your thoughts 😙

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Bianka Nova
22:42 Nov 12, 2020

Took your advice. Hope it reads a bit better now 😙

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Skyler Woods
21:41 Nov 27, 2020

Hi, I loved your story! I was wondering if I could narrate it on my YouTube Channel After Dark Fairy Tales. Is that okay with you?

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Bianka Nova
22:07 Nov 27, 2020

Hi, Sky. Of course you can. It's already public, so no problem. As per Reedsy's terms I think you just need to mention that the story was first published on their website (besides the title and my name). As far as I'm concerned I'm curious to hear your interpretation, so go ahead! And send me a link once you have it 😉

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Skyler Woods
22:35 Nov 27, 2020

Thank u! 💗 I'll send you the link to the video once it's uploaded. I'll have it uploaded sometime next week. I want to thank you again!

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Bianka Nova
22:51 Nov 27, 2020

You're welcome! Looking forward to it :)

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Skyler Woods
06:48 Dec 01, 2020

Here's the video! I hope you like it! https://youtu.be/g72z5qRywq0

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Bianka Nova
16:45 Dec 01, 2020

Hey, Skyler! Thanks! I like the narration, especially the tone of Adam's voice in the key scene! Sounds just as sleazy and creepy as it should. Good job! 😊🙌 I have just one suggestion - try adding some sound effect between the different paragraphs separating the timelines. I think it might be too confusing for a listener to distinguish where one scene stops and some memory or alternative timeline begins. To begin with, it was already pretty confusing in writing 😅 Oh, and another tip. I don't know if it would work, but you might as well...

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Malz Castell
17:48 Nov 15, 2020

Oh wow, this is brilliant. I loved that, even with the multiple timelines, everything that happened is still clear to the readers. I agree with others when they said that you portrayed her confusion and disorientation very well. Great plot, well executed. 10/10.

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Bianka Nova
18:10 Nov 15, 2020

Thank you so much! 🤗 Glad to hear that more and more people understand the confusing timelines 😊

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B. W.
05:09 Nov 15, 2020

I'll give this a 10/10 :)

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Bianka Nova
15:42 Nov 15, 2020

Wow! Thanks! That means a lot :)

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B. W.
18:42 Nov 15, 2020

it does?

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Bianka Nova
18:57 Nov 15, 2020

Considering how busy you are around Reedsy, I appreciate the time you took to stop and read this :)

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B. W.
19:31 Nov 15, 2020

No problem ^^ i dont think im really busy on here, am I?

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Bianka Nova
19:32 Nov 15, 2020

Well, you have to reply to hundreds of comments :)

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Ray Dyer
21:00 Nov 13, 2020

You had me at "an enviable amount of hair on his head." From the bald, middle-aged guy - I get that, SO personally. I hope that I'm different from Adam in more ways than that, though. I absolutely could not stop reading once I started. The sense of two trajectories about to collide, and the building dread that created, kept me reading. I didn't even want to blink. You handled the subject matter so well; I empathized with Stacy on an extremely personal level, and your characterization of her made me hope that she would be all right. ...

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Bianka Nova
22:55 Nov 13, 2020

Dear Ray, this comment just made my night! Especially considering it comes from a talented writer like you. I've never done the second person before either. I've explained in another comment that this story is inspired by one of Rayhan's (Wingbeat). As most originals, his is much better, and the credit for the second person POV should really go to him. I actually thought about changing it, but realized the potential it has to submerge the reader even deeper into the story. Once you're in the character's shoes you just cannot not feel for...

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Ray Dyer
00:58 Nov 14, 2020

Best. Response. Ever! I would be so honored! :-) And I will definitely try out second person soon! I remember liking Wingbeat, too. I love the family that's grown here on Reedsy.

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Bianka Nova
13:01 Nov 14, 2020

Yes, indeed. I'm in it for the community! I don't really have anyone with similar interest in writing (just the usual - family and friends who read your stuff mostly out of obligation and because they try to be supportive). So, Reedsy is where I've found "my people", and I just love it!

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Bianka Nova
10:21 Nov 10, 2020

Inspired by Rayhan Hidayat's story "Wingbeat". When I read it I had this vision of a different scenario that might take place in the same setting, and he was so very kind to encourage me to write it. 😊 You may want to read his story first, or you may read my "alternative timeline" as a standalone. Let me know what worked best for you. Oh, and if you don't know who Rayhan Hidayat is, shame on you! Get your ass over to his profile ASAP and start reading those short story gems. 😜

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Rayhan Hidayat
11:09 Nov 10, 2020

Yeah I don’t know who this Rayhan is but he sounds like a swell guy, so go check him out!

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Echo Sundar
18:27 Nov 23, 2020

Love this story!

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Bianka Nova
20:35 Nov 23, 2020

Thank you :)

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Prathamesh Chavan
13:55 Nov 10, 2020

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