This is a short story I wrote for my creative writing course. I thought it was about time I shared some of my work and would love to know what you think. It’s a psychological/crime story with a little bit of violence in it.
It was, he reflected, quite surreal to hear the city’s early morning birdsong signalling a new day while he was ending someone’s life. He watched as the life drained, quite literally, from the man lying on the ground at his feet; the blood running in rivers between the cobbles from the wound in his chest. If only the man hadn’t betrayed him they both could still have been asleep but they hadn’t and had to accept the consequences. He was always very careful when he did jobs like this, it wouldn’t do for someone of his calibre to be caught by the police which was why he wiping off the knife he had used when there was a scuffling noise from the end of the narrow alley. Glancing up he saw a woman, dressed in running clothes wearing a look of sheer terror. A growl of frustration escaped his lips as he started to move towards her.
Lucy turned and ran as fast as she could up the street and round the corner, her breathe condensing in front of her in the cool early morning air. She ran through the old town in Edinburgh as if the hordes of hell were chasing her, and for all she knew they were. Admittedly one person does not a horde make but she knew the man had seen her and if all of the television programmes she had watched were even vaguely accurate, murderers didn’t usually want witnesses, and she was a witness. Conscious that her shoes were making a lot of noise on the tarmac road she waited until she was a few streets away and ducked into a disused doorway. Peering cautiously from her hiding space she looked back the way she had come but couldn’t see anyone following her. Lucy paused a little longer; although she was used to running on a daily basis this was quite different and her chest was heaving, sweat running down her back from the exertion. She took a swig from her water bottle and felt for the hidden pocket of her shorts, reassuring herself that the keys to her flat were there. Taking one last look down the street, she set off in the opposite direction, heading home and hoping she would make it there safely.
He ran along paved streets and round sharp bends, hoping the girl wasn’t too far ahead and hadn’t disappeared into a building passageway for he simply didn’t have the time to check them. When setting the meeting for 4.30am he had expected the streets would be completely empty but he hadn’t considered the strange breed of people who decide that that ungodly hour is a good time for exercise. He cursed himself for not thinking of it especially as he had been so careful in setting up the meeting somewhere secluded and away from any windows. His boss would be furious that he had been seen, which was why he was chasing the girl and hoping that he could stop her before she went to the police. He started running again, he had no choice, he had to find her.
Pausing to check behind her Lucy realised that footsteps she had heard were only those of a sharply dressed commuter walking to catch the early train to Glasgow. She wanted to stop so badly but was only a few streets from home so kept going, continuing to hydrate as she ran. She was so focused on heading home and listening out for anyone behind her that she failed to notice that between the buildings the sky was now streaked with the oranges and pinks that suggested it would be another sunny day. When she was nearly home she took off her gloves and got her keys from her pocket. Reaching the main door of her building hands shaking she unlocked the door, the key scraping on the edges of the lock a few times before she managed to get it to go in. Ducking inside she relaxed a little as she heard the satisfying thunk of the heavy glass door closing behind her. She darted up the three flights of carpeted stairs to her own flat, unlocking that door with more ease than the one downstairs. Stepping into the small entranceway she made sure her door was securely locked before resting her head against it breathing hard. On the way back Lucy had considered going to the police but realised that her descriptions would be vague at best. She had decided to wait and see if anything was reported in the news and then she would reassess her decision about reporting what she had seen. Slowly she peeled herself away from the door and walked into her lounge. It had a large south-east facing window and was above the entrance to the building.
Lucy was quite proud of this room as it was the first room she had decorated after moving in. The deep purple walls combined with thick rugs and squishy cream sofas made it feel cosy and welcoming. The familiarity of her surroundings calmed her which was just what she needed after that experience. Walking towards the window, still breathing heavily, she looked out of it trying to stay out of sight. The tension leached out of her shoulders, there was no one there save a few commuters and they definitely were not interested in her. She went into the kitchen, rinsed out the bottle she had been carrying and filled a glass with cold tap water. Being careful to not drink too quickly she walked back into the lounge and turned the television on, muting the sound while she waited for the headlines on the 24 hour news channel to come up.
He stopped at the corner of a road, cursing under his breath as he was sure he had lost her, but then a movement caught his eye. A mixture of joy and disbelief washed over him as he saw her across the street, her distinctive fluorescent yellow running top having drawn his attention. He watched carefully as she went into the building and up the stairs. Examining the front of the building he realised that there was no way to determine which floor she was on, and there would still be the issue of multiple doors on each floor to deal with as well. Taking the chance that she would be staying there for the next 10 minutes at least he retraced his steps to the small convenience store that he had just ran past.
Entering the shop he moved quickly to the snacks and grabbed a Mars bar and a bottle of water. He’d been awake for hours and was now slightly regretting his policy of never eating before a job. Having paid for his items he crossed the road and leaned against the building drinking some of the water before demolishing the Mars bar. He knew he was a little further away from her front door but this side of the road was in shadow and he knew that would be more useful to him than being a few meters closer. Adjusting his position slightly he settled down to watch the front of her building and develop a plan for dealing with the girl. He was a professional and there was no way he would let slip ups like this ruin his hard earned reputation.
Lucy had been checking the news and the street for the past twenty minutes. She’d also put subtitles on the television so that she could listen for any movement in the stairwell. When there had been sounds she had looked through the peep hole on her door only to see someone walking down the stairs presumably heading to work, though she was careful and had listened for the sound of them leaving the building just in case. Although Lucy was two floors up the main door was heavy and the noise of it closing echoed around the stairway, something she hated when people came in late at night just as she was falling asleep.
During this time she had also been watching the street as best she could, the placement of her window meant that there were areas that were just out of sight although the last thing she was going to do was open the window to get a better look. She was tired of watching and prowling around her own home and after her earlier run her clothes were now drying uncomfortably against her skin. Making one last check of her flat door and the street outside she concluded that she had lost the man chasing her and was going to have a shower and try to get on with her day. Walking back into the entranceway of her flat she grabbed her robe from the back of her bedroom door and headed through the opposite door into the bathroom. Turning the shower on she dumped her clothes in the laundry basket as she waited for the hot water to come through. Once the shower had reached the desired temperature she climbed in, closing the door as she did so. The water cascaded down her shoulders and back slowly easing any remaining tension from her body, grabbing her shower gel and a cloth she began to wash the dirt and dried sweat from her skin.
His patient observation of her building had paid off, twice he had spotted her looking out of the window so he now knew which floor she lived on and that her flat faced the road, so figuring out the actual door would be relatively a simple affair. Taking care to keep out of sight of her window he crossed the street and walked up to the front door. Studying the panel with flat numbers and buttons on it he chose a few at random, hoping that someone would be careless and let him in without checking. After a few attempts a tired voice came through the intercom. A brief conversation followed in which he managed to convince the person he had a delivery for them and then he heard a buzzing sound indicating he had gained entry to the building.
Pushing the door open he was careful to make sure it closed quietly before he headed up the stairs to the second floor. He kept the orientation of the building in his mind as he walked upstairs and when he reached the second floor he paused a moment before walking towards the door that was facing him. Stopping at the door he listened and heard the sound of water running and realised his target was in the bathroom. Looking around he tried to work out if he could enter the flat without alerting her to his presence and then he glanced up and smiled. Above the door was a pane of glass, not large but just large enough for him to squeeze through. It had been put there to let light into the flat from the stairs and he was glad the building designer had included it. Hoping the sound of the water would mask the noise of breaking glass he pulled his jumper over his head and held it with his teeth. Jumping up with as much force as he could manage he was able to grip the edge of the glass frame. Transferring his weight to one hand he wrapped the other in his jumper and ducked his head as he smashed the glass. Still hanging from the frame he swept his jumper covered hand round the edges to remove any small bits of glass that were left and then he let go, dropping to the ground as quietly as possible. He waited for a moment but all he could hear was the sound of running water so sticking both hands in the sleeves of the jumper he braced and jumped again, this time grabbing the edge and pulling himself up. Looking into the flat he could see no signs of movement so he quickly hauled himself up and into the space as quietly as possible. From his vantage point he could see that she had left her key in the door so he undid the extra locks and pulled the key out before dropping back into the stairwell. He put the key in the lock and turned it, the glass in the entranceway crunching under his feet as he entered her flat.
Lucy froze, she turned the shower off and listened to see if she could hear anything but it was quiet. Quickly drying herself off with a towel she wrapped the robe around her and left the bathroom. Immediately she knew something was different, the entranceway was colder but she didn’t know why. Walking carefully into her lounge she screamed as someone grabbed her from behind but her screams were muffled as a hand covered her mouth.
He grabbed her, one hand on her mouth, the other other round her waist holding her tight against him to restrict her movement. He walked her over to the sofas and shoved her down onto one of them making sure she was facing him, he liked to see the fear in people’s eyes when they realised what was about to happen. A hand still over her mouth he straddled her before wrapping his hands around her throat and squeezing. He had to give her credit for struggling and trying to get free but they both knew it was impossible. He watched as the light slowly faded from her eyes, her body going limp as her life ended.
After he was sure she was dead he released her and climbed off the sofa. Wiping down anything he thought he had touched he left the flat, closing and locking the door behind him and pocketing the key. His job was done here, now he was really hungry and breakfast awaited. Leaving the building he headed south, his mind already on the full Scottish fry-up he would have, his work always made him hungry and today was no exception.
While the killer was leaving the flat and walking down the stairs the news headlines were being broadcast on the television. The top story that morning was of a body that had been found stabbed in an alleyway and of the man that the police were looking for who had been seen fleeing the area on foot.