Alex Neilsen: 24, broke and struggling to fulfil his early promise as a writer. His life is turned around during the space of one morning. First, news reaches him that the father he never knew has passed away and left him half a million dollars. Later that morning, a wrong number call presents him with an unexpected property opportunity that he can now afford.
With his life turned completely around, Alex takes on the guise of Peter Stravinsky and makes the move to Echo Lake. It is here that his writing starts to take off – vivid ideas flood into his head and straight onto paper. But is there more than meets the eye to the story he has told? And what should he make of his father’s diary that he receives from a mysterious stranger?
Blood dripped down the nicotine stained walls in a dank room lit only by a flickering 60W lightbulb. The dimming sky outside was beginning to show signs of anger. A commotion in the stairwell beyond the ill fitting and recently abused door made it clear that it was time to leave the room by the only exit available.
I took a final look down at the bloodied body of Helena that I’d discovered, naked and curled up in a fetal position in a vain attempt of self-preservation. Knowing full well that the finger of blame would be firmly pointed at me if I was still here in the next twenty seconds, I backed myself up against the door, dislodging it from a hinge in the process, prayed I would hit the target and ran at the window.
* * *
The telltale noise from above told me only one thing. Sam had jumped. The distant splash below confirmed that it wasn’t a blind attempt at suicide. My duty at this point was not to pursue him. I had to make sure that Helena was dead. I pulled my black leather gloves on and gently pushed the door. It didn’t take much for it to completely fall from its hinges. What I saw left me in shock.
It was intact. Helena was nowhere to be seen. Someone had been here, and quite recently. The state of the door was a telltale sign of a forced entry. But the room was empty. Could I possibly be in the wrong place? No….I had seen Sam enter the building I’d seen him connect a strong right hook to the chin of the now unconscious building manager. I’d seen him go up the stairwell. I’d….I’d lost sight of him. That still did not explain why Helena’s body was not here.
A searing pain in my shoulder followed by the floor rapidly coming towards my face only left me thinking “It was the alley”.
* * *
What could possibly have brought Robbie here? What had I done? It could not have been my time yet. I was far too valuable too them. No time to think. I would be found if I stayed here. From across the hallway I could see Robbie’s assailant make sure that his life drained away. She had done a number on him, that was sure. A witness like me was not welcome and I knew that a professional would search and clear the floor. I only had one option.
Someone had boarded up the window, which meant that the fire escape was not an option. I bolted from my hiding place and sprinted down the stairs two at a time without looking back. The greater the distance between myself and Robbie the better. Be he dead or alive.
* * *
A noise behind me caught my ear but failed to distract me. Little Sally. She’d been trained well. But her mind didn’t think like a true professional. And neither did Robbie’s. Possibly the easiest set up ever and Sam didn’t even know that he’d been a decoy. Robbie would have thought that the first time he’d lost sight of Sam was when he “saw” him enter the stairwell. Headstrong and two steps ahead of himself, that was Robbie.
I turned the body over.
My heart sank a mile. Helena. No….it couldn’t be. I looked up at the window. My heart sank even further when I saw that it was broken. I got up, still in disbelief and went over to the window. In the pool below I could see what looked like a table. Which could only mean one thing….
* * *
Why? I have no idea. I knew the scene was a fake the moment I walked in there. Too much blood and not enough injuries on Helena’s body. Only now, that had changed. The wounds were real, and Helena was dead. Why had she got up and dressed quickly? Was this my set up or something bigger?
I got to the bottom of the stairwell and walked in the hallway. I saw a body face down on the floor. A small pool of blood circled his bald head. Another victim of this mess, albeit an innocent one. I doubled back and went back upstairs.
* * *
Faking death in this business is an important trait. The knife in my shoulder had glanced off my shoulder blade, a result of being stabbed without conviction. I managed to slightly pike in the air as the force from behind crashed me to the floor. Once the light frame was on me, it was a just a matter of training. I knew Little Sally wouldn’t think to check for a pulse. Instead, she’d knelt on top of me for a minute with her knee dug into what she thought was a paralysis point.