I selected the centerpiece image for my prompt this time. I don’t have a title for this piece yet, but I really like the idea it started.
I was surprised to see the centerpiece on the table. It was so tasteful and adult. Grapes in a scalloped ivory bowl. They might even have been real. There were leaves and everything.
On closer inspection they were the fake plastic ones, but high enough quality I had to touch them to be sure.
What were college students doing with a nice centerpiece like that?
As I moved further into the apartment I listened intently. There were no sounds. The hamster cage hadn’t been in the laundry room, which meant its owner at least had gone home for the holiday. The room I passed on the way to the main living area had been dark and empty. That just left the other two bedrooms to check.
The first had the door partially open. I slid through the gap, barely even brushing against the door and tiptoed into the room. No one in the bed. No hum of a computer either. She was gone.
I carefully made my way to the other room. The door was closed.
I tried the knob, finding it locked. That probably meant she was gone. Pulling my picks from my pocket I dropped down to one knee and went to work.
The click of the lock opening sounded loud to my ears.
I eased the door open as slowly as I could, thanking the heavens that the hinges were well oiled.
The hum of a computer met my ears, so I proceeded with caution. If she was home I had to relock the door and get out of them.
The bed was lumpy but I didn’t hear breathing.
I crept closer, trying to see if there was a person, or only pillows and blankets.
Light glinted off a pair of amber eyes when they opened.
She was staring right at me.
I froze, holding my breath. She might not be able to see me.
“Who sent you?” she asked in the darkness, her eyes never moving from mine.
Terror left me mute. He said he’d kill me if I was discovered. He’d kill my entire family if I failed. Was succeeding but being discovered enough to spare my family if not myself?
“Why are you so frightened?” she asked, sitting up in the bed.
Her eyes didn’t seem amber now. They looked blue green.
I shook my head. I couldn’t tell her. If she knew who I was working for surely she’d kill me before my employer had a chance.
“I won’t hurt you unless you offer me violence first,” she said, pushing the covers off her legs.
I took a step back. If I went back now, I could say I’d notice someone home from outside. I could say I’d go back the next night. My family could go into hiding.
“Who sent you?” she asked again, swing her legs out of the bed.
I bolted to the door.
I ran into her back when I got there.
The lock clicked on the doorknob, then the deadbolt thudded home as well.
“I can’t let you leave until you answer me,” she said as I backed away.
She made no move to grab me, just turned and watched me scuttle backwards into the center of the room.
“The window is bullet proof glass, so you can’t jump through it, and you’ve seen that I’m faster than you,” she said calmly. “Who do you work for?”
I shook my head again. I couldn’t tell her. If I ever betrayed him it would be more than just my family at risk.
She sighed and her hand reached out to the wall.
The lights blinded me and I curled down into a ball, hiding my face with by hands and arms.
“What hold do they have over you?” she asked, her voice too close.
I flinched, losing my balance and rolling onto my side curled up in a ball.
“Will they hurt you? Someone else? Why are you so determined not to give them up?”
I shook my head again.
She sighed and I peeked out between my fingers.
She was sitting cross legged on the floor less than a foot from me, her blue green eyes studying me as I lay curled up on her floor. What was she thinking about as she looked at me?
“I can help you,” she offered. “Whoever it is, I can help you get away.”