Silence. And not the good kind of silence either. The kind of silence that hurts your ears. The kind of silence that makes your heart drop and your stomach do flips. The kind of silence that makes you feel so queasy you need to sit down. There was just one problem, I could not see where to sit down. I could not see anything. Nothing at all. The blackout had started around 50 minutes ago and it just so happened that it was almost exactly 51 minutes ago that I had witnessed a murder.
The murder of a stranger, yet I felt as if I had known them my entire life, I felt as though I owed something to them, I felt as though I needed to avenge them. Don’t be stupid. Of course, I didn’t need to do that. I didn’t need to do anything but leave it to the professionals. I need to focus on finding my way out of here. Wherever I was. After the attack, I fled. I let my emotions get the better of me, I ran until the lights went out, and then I was here. The moments from the hour before had been a blur. Gunshots. Blood. Yells and screams.
Grace Williams was her name. And now she was dead. What does it matter? She is gone. I never even knew her. I only knew her name because of her friends and family screaming it at the time of the slaughter.
A sudden and vivid scene comes to mind. A little girl, being swept away, by who I assume to be her aunt, crying. She asks through the tears, ‘When will mummy come back?’ the young women carrying her buries the little girl into her shoulder, hiding her from the horrors no one should have to see. She somehow manages to stifle her tears long enough to whisper, ‘She’s not’.
I jolt awake, drenched in sweat. I am lying on the floor. Its cool touch soothes my skin. And for one second in this whole mess that seems to be my life, I am calm.
But only for a second.
“Ma’am, you will need to come with us.”
The voice startles me and immediately get up. As soon as I do, my head starts to throb. I drop back to the ground and the figure who spoke to me before, starts in my direction.
“It’s okay Ma’am. You are safe now.”
Now? Was I not safe before? Is the killer who took Grace’s life, who took that child’s mother, still out there? And if they were, who was safe? As the person who spoke to me lead me into another dark room, I wondered why did the killer choose grace. There were dark intentions behind this kill, and behind this blackout and … I was getting ahead of myself, what did knowing all this matter? Who could do anything? If anyone could it is definitely not me. Lying on the floor, on the verge of passing out again, a throbbing head, and now blood trickling down my forehead onto my cheek. Yet I still felt like solving this crazy mystery was my responsibility like I owed this to Grace, like I owed it to her family, to her little girl.
“Um, I need to pee.” My mysterious escort didn’t seem so pleased with this information.
“You can use the lavatories when we get there.” He grunted.
There. He spoke this word as if I knew where there was.
“I’m super busting.” My throat stung as I lied again. I hid my hands behind my back so this man couldn’t see how sweaty they were, not that he even could in the darkness.
“Fine. If you can find one, you can go.” The man seemed more than disgruntled now, he seemed like my need to use the bathroom was going to impact his day so terribly that it wasn’t even worth looking at me now.
“I’ll be right back.” I tugged away from his powerful grip on my shoulder, and he reluctantly released.
“You have 5 minutes.”
Not a suggestion, an order. I turned a corner and out of the corner of my eye, I could see the man talk into a walkie talkie. His words, too quiet to hear.
Before I knew it, I was speeding up. Jogging, running. Now I was sprinting down the halls of a building that I had never been in before, searching for… well, I don’t really know what I was searching for. I guess I didn’t have to because next thing I know, I am pulled into a room. The person who had pulled me, wore a hood concealing their identity.
“Who are you? What’s happening?” I barely uttered these words but before I could finish a hand had been placed over my mouth. the figure spoke.
“Shhh! They might hear you!”
Whoever this person was, although the whispered almost silently, I could here the frustration, the emotion in their voice.
“My name is Stacy. I have answered one of your questions, now you answer mine…” Stacy’s voice was calm, steady, and serious, though I could still hear a slight quiver in it. “Were you on the street tonight when Grace was murdered?” She knew about the murder too? Of course, she did, everyone will know by now, killings like this rarely go unnoticed.
“Yes.” That was all I could manage. A simple yes, yet Stacy seemed to take this answer very earnestly as she lowered her hood revealing her face. Not only was she the most beautiful person I had ever seen, but she also looked familiar.
“I know you!”
“You were there too! Carrying Grace’s daughter!” my voice was incredulous yet in my mind it all made sense.
“Yes. My sister always wanted Ellie to have the best life possible.”
I couldn’t find the words. I had seen this person before. But I hadn’t. it was almost like a vision. Before I could find the words, Stacy spoke again,
“Come with me.” She pulled me into another room. This room was bigger, way bigger. It was also filled with people. It must’ve been 100 of them in total, all wearing the same hood as Stacy, all staring in my direction.
“What is this? Who are all these people?” I addressed Stacy yet someone else answered.
“Our group and our intentions do not concern you.” The remark seemed very personal.
“Come on Mum. She isn’t one of them, we can trust her.” It was now Stacy that spoke. “I’m sorry uh - I never got your name…”
“My name is Elizabeth.” But I quickly added, “But you can call me Libby.”
“Well Libby, this is Stella May. My mother.”
“And you’re sure that she’s not one of them?” Stella spoke to Stacy only, deliberately ignoring I was even there. Once Stacy had nodded confirmation, Stella turned to me, “I’m sorry Libby, I’m still a little on edge after recent events.”
“You were Grace’s mother? I’m so sorry for your loss” as I said this, Stella’s eyes filled with tears.
“Yes. But my daughter died a hero. Millions of people around the world will know her name.”
“Why? What is happening?” All my questions came flooding back to me.
“Calm down.” Stacy injected, “We will explain everything.” My heart was pounding, and I could feel everyone in room rest their gaze upon me. “We are a group of spies determined on spreading the truth. We know things that our enemies, Grace’s killers, don’t want us to know. They think our intentions dangerous and actions powerful. Powerful enough to kill us. They don’t want the world to know the truth. But we don’t know the whole truth, these killers are hiding something, and we will find out what it is. They want us dead for it.” Stella paused and I noticed tears streaking down her cheek. “They have taken more lives than we can count. But we cannot let these brave young people’s legacies die with them. We cannot let the world forget them.” Stella pulled a piece of paper from her pocket and hands it to me.
Not one or two or even three pieces of paper but 8 pages filled with names.
“Are these the people that have died?” Stacy and Stella look down in sorrow. There must be hundreds of names on here, but one catches my eye. It read:
Grace Williams – Mother, wife, daughter, sister. Beloved by many.
The name underneath read:
Ellie Williams – Daughter, niece, friend to everyone she met. Taken too young.
“Graces daughter?” I asked.
“Gone.” Stacy replied.
“Oh my…” oh my good didn’t seem like it would do a justice in this situation so I quickly changed tactics. “Is there anything we can do?”
“To save them, no.” Stacy replied. “But avenge them, yes.” She started to smile but not with happiness, with malice. Now Stella spoke,
"You can help us, Libby. We need you.”
“What can I do?” I couldn’t believe these people wanted my help. Needed my help?
“You...” Stella paused and looked at Stacy. Stacy nodded and Stella continued, “Can spy for us.”
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Thought it was a great first paragraph that slowly built up the story and made me want to keep reading. A good story. My only negative comment - it needs more editing. In the second paragraph, it goes from one person being murdered (Grace), so the use of 'them' a couple of times is confusing (presumably, originally, you were going for more than one murder). Some sentences I found had to be re-read a couple of times to get a sense of the narrative - but this could be our different cultures (I'm English). I think this was good and has real...
Hi. That's a really good story and left me wanting more. Is it part of a longer story you are writing?
Ahh. The reluctant hero. And the beginning of a longer story. So many questions — who did the killing? Who had found Libby? We’re the people who found her the same ones that killed Grace? Thanks for this.