Monday, December 7, 2009


Darcy Rogers parked the rental car in the darkened lot across from her law office. She turned on the radio, hunkered down in the seat, and waited for the late night overworkers to abandon ship. An hour later the last car to leave her building pulled out of the law office lot and turned left—Arnie, she thought--such a hardworking guy. Too bad he was an incompetent fool. She wondered for a moment if the cops would grill him first--maybe even arrest him as the likely perpetrator, but she dismissed the thought. Nobody would ever suspect Arnie of anything, not with those baby blue eyes and a penchant for spilling his guts over the least little sin.

She got out of the car and opened the trunk. The canvas toolbag she’d stolen from her brother had opened during the ride from the airport and now her tools were scattered all over the back end of the car. Cursing to herself she pulled on her gloves, found the flashlight and methodically searched for every item she’d so carefully packed earlier in the evening. She pulled the drawstring on the sack and lifted it. It was heavy—heavier than she’d remembered. She must have stuck something extra into the bag. It didn’t matter. She was strong. She slung it across her back and slammed down the trunk.

She walked across the street and headed for the back of the building where the dumpster sat stinking with the week’s garbage and a ream or two of Arnie’s badly written drafts. She didn’t mind the smell of rotting food, but Arnie’s putrid reasoning made her ill. Arnie the idiot, she thought to herself. If only he knew.

She tramped down into the weeds behind the dumpster and pulled out the ladder she’d hidden during one of her late night practice runs. She maneuvered it into position against the building. She picked up the tools again and started to climb, one hand on the ladder, the other holding on to the sack. It was a two storey climb, but she wasn’t afraid. She was too bent on revenge to be afraid. When she got to the top she opened the sack and drew out the first item she could get her hands on. It was the tire iron—the one thing she hadn’t intended to use—but it would work just fine. She hefted it a couple of times, then she closed her eyes and swung.

She broke the window—shattered it, actually. The shards traveled further than she expected and for a moment she regretted the power she’d put behind her swing. No regrets, she thought to herself. No room for musing, either. The die was cast.

She pulled the remaining pieces of glass out of the window and tossed them to the ground where they landed and split apart against the gravel with a sound that reminded her of the time she and her brother smashed a case of beer bottles against the high school. They were empty, of course. She stopped for a moment, took a breath, listened and looked around at her surroundings. No alarms, no dogs, no lights flicking on against the darkened sky. She was ready for the next part of the plan.

She tossed her canvas toolbag over the broken window and hoisted herself up and through the opening. She set her feet down on the plush carpet of Adam Nolan’s office and stood for a moment to get her balance and survey the room. Other than the glass scattered acros the expanse of the room the place was in perfect order. Perfect, she thought, just like Adam. She felt bad, ruining the order of the place with all the glass making a mess. When she walked out of the room she kicked over the wastebasket, just for fun. Crumpled paper rolled out and settled against the desk. She paused for a moment, taking in the scene. She hoped no one would touch the place until Adam had a chance to see it this way—disheveled, out of sorts, maybe a little dangerous—he’d know it was her, just from way the room looked.

She went to the second floor alarm and punched in the code. She checked her watch and frowned. She’d planned for three minutes, but she’d taken six. There was a good chance the silent alarm had already activated. She had to assume the security company would be pulling into the parking lot in fifteen minutes unless she called, and she couldn’t call—so she had to work fast.

She raced down the hall to the back stairs and pushed open the fire door. She practically flew to the first floor landing and pushed open the door leading to her destination. The office safe was in the back room where Laurie Dunton spent her time pouring over billing records and writing snippy notes about expenses. Darcy hated the snippy notes and hated Laurie—hated her with a passion. She thought about how upset Laurie would be in the morning when she discovered the open safe—she’d probably cry, maybe even faint. Darcy wasted a good five seconds gloating, then she got back to work.

She fished the flashlight out of the bag and focused the beam on the closet. The door was closed and locked, but she was prepared for that. She took a step forward, but then she paused.

It wasn’t a noise, really, but a sense of something—something located off to her left, something large and dark rising up from Laurie’s chair, growing larger, breathing in heavy sighs. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up; she whipped the flashlight around to get a better look, but the beam fluttered and died and she could see nothing except the great shadow moving closer, smelling like Old Spice and cheap whiskey.

In the end, there was nothing she could do but scream.

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