Chapter 5

Written by: Ray Stone

Marie always puts the kitchen rubbish out each afternoon. My feet crunch on broken glass and I step sideways quickly onto the rust stained concrete by the swinging gate.

As the ambulance speeds off I turn around to find a hand thrusting out toward me, accompanied by a widening grin.

“I’m Brian, your neighbour down the hall. You must be Tamara.” He points to the pile of sacks. “She took a tumble onto that broken glass. That was a nasty gash.”

I agree with him and turn to walk back to the kitchen. He might think me rude but I choose to ignore conversation for a quiet moment to reflect and gather my thoughts.

Marie has confirmed that there is a link between the photos and me.  The room holds the answer; the vacant room where the first photo lies on the table, upside down.

It has been some time since I visited that room. For some unexplained reason I have never entered there since that first day despite several opportunities when Marie has gone out.

Maybe I have an overactive imagination but my mind conjured up all manner of frightening scenarios after finding the photo. Staying out of the room has somehow kept any danger I imagine at arm’s length. As the door remains shut so my fears subside. With the discovery of another photo I am not so much fearful now but more angry. I need to revisit the room.

I hear the soft tick ticking of a clock in the hallway. The worn blind is tapping on the kitchen window. A newspaper lying on the table near the open kitchen door rustles constantly. It’s as though the house is talking to me in soothing tones, calming me. My mind is set and walking past the photo on the wall, I glare back at the cat who sits on the washing machine with unblinking eyes, staring me down.

There are two boxes I want to examine. Maybe there will be something that reveals an answer to the puzzle. A movement on the landing breaks into my thoughts and I turn nervously. There is no-one. The music box starts playing. My head spins and I grab instinctively at the handle.

The music stops as I close the door swiftly behind me. I look expectantly at the two boxes. Before I can move, the door opens behind me and Brian is standing there.

“There is obviously something wrong,” he says. “Would you like to share?”

I don’t want to but I have to explain why I am in the room. I briefly tell him of my strange experience and Marie’s message. “I have to look in those boxes,” I tell him.

As we remove the lid from the first box, I gasp. Sitting neatly at the bottom is my backpack, or rather a similar one. The New Zealand key ring has gone.

There is a small metal ornament attached to the zip instead - the Eiffel Tower.    

 

Comments

I really like the atmospheric tapping of the blind. It echoes what is happening inside Tamara and the key ring really opens up the mystery. I enjoyed this very much
This story is really getting some legs! I loved this. You've moved the story on effortlessly and added interesting new layers to explore. I envy the next (lucky) writer.
Thanks. I wish I could have written more. Maybe soon we could have chapters of 1000 words - I'd go for that.
Nice job Ray. Its funny how 500 words is up just when you feel like you're getting into the groove!