Why are they here?
Ray was still in a mood when she entered the lift of her building. It was quite late as she had decided to eat out because at the moment she didn’t have the patience to cook. It was not a decision she was completely happy with but she had chosen self care over a few bills. And that she did not regret. However, even the good food at the Crowne Plaza couldn’t wipe Timothy’s words from her head. She had mulled over it the entire evening and found it exceptionally odd that he should offer her a place to live when she had decided to move out. She recalled Zeal’s words from the day they met and got hired.
Now that you are associated with Mayhem there will always be a pair of eyes on you.
Ray had felt a presence around her once or twice, but she had brushed it off for paranoia or just being in her own head. Maybe it was true. A shiver ran down Ray’s spine as she imagined random creeps staring at her, all the time, even peeping through the windows in her apartment. Her face scrunched up in cringe over that.
“Why?” she whispered to herself.
Calming her nerves, Ray wondered whether this job was even worth it when the lift stopped on the 6th floor. A woman who was in her late twenties entered the lift with her eyes glued to the papers in her hand. She was in her joggers and hoodie which looked really comfortable, and Ray, seeing her, couldn’t wait to get in her PJ’s herself. The woman only saw Ray when the lift started with a jerk. She smiled at Ray and greeted her.
“Good evening, Ray.”
Ray returned the courtesy.
“Good evening, Lola. How did the committee meeting go? Did I miss too much?” asked Ray, bound to her responsibilities.
“It would have definitely helped to have you there. Everyone was inquisitive about the boy you live with.”
“Oh, what about him?” Ray tried to play it cool.
“The usual, just the opposite this time around. They were complaining that it’s been awfully quiet for the past week. No wait, the word they used was blissfully quiet.” Said Lola, amused and smiling to herself at her own sense of humor.
A frown settled on Ray's face as she tried to figure out what exactly Lola meant. She was about to ask when Lola spoke again, interrupting her.
“Did he move out?”
“No no, he is there, but he is not home most of the time. So maybe that’s it. We don’t talk much, you know.” Said Ray shrugging it off, but internally she held onto that thought.
In time, the lift chimed as Ray’s floor arrived. She was quick to step out of the elevator, and said to cut the conversation short.
“I will get back to you on it. See you later?” Saying that Ray slipped out of Lola’s sight before she could even respond.
Entering her room, she dumped her laptop bag onto the couch and paced the length of her living room. Ray hadn’t noticed it, but now that Lola had said it, it was indeed true. She didn’t know about the week, but she was sure he hadn’t been home for two days when she had been waiting for him. Her thoughts went into overdrive.
Did he go away?
Where did he go off to?
Did he move out or did he just up and leave?
What the fuck is happening?
Did he really go though, or is something else going on?
When her brain was near to being fried, Ray deduced that she couldn’t sit and wait around anymore. She had to find out. She stopped in her tracks and dared to look the way she had never before. The corner of the apartment she strayed away from. The door that was in an eternal shadow, and was an unknown territory for her. She dared to look that way and steeled her guts to take one step at a time towards it. Ray felt the sudden change in temperature. It was like all the negativity in the apartment loomed here. She stood there contemplating what to do. She first put her hand to the doorknob, shriveling from the icy feel of the steel. Then thinking it to be too forward, she retreated her hand and raised it for a knock. Even though she knew he wasn’t in there, she wanted to knock before she entered. Finally, taking a deep breath, she thought to herself that being so nervous was ridiculous and that it was just an empty room. It gave her a boost of courage and her idle hand in the air moved by itself and was about to make contact with the wood of the door when a sharp noise reverberated through the apartment.
The doorbell had rung and Ray, on impulse leaped back from the dorm guilty of being caught in action. Even though no one was there to see it, the thought of doing something she wasn’t supposed to resulted in her feeling liable for a crime she hadn’t committed. Shaking off that feeling and rubbing her sweaty palms on her trousers, Ray went to open the door.
“You?” she screeched after seeing who was on the other side.
“You don’t sound happy about it?” Said the person, unsure.
“No, no, no, Sam, it’s not that. I am on my nerves. Come in.” Said Ray, rubbing her forehead and welcomed him in. She continued as they came to a halt in the middle of the room.
“Although it is not entirely on me. You can’t keep showing up like that. You have got to stop doing that.” Said Ray as she plopped down on the couch and looked at Sam upside down with her head hanging on the edge.
Sam made a small face and with puppy eyes, he said in a tiny voice.
“But you said you liked surprises?”
“I do, but today is not the best day.”
Sam noticed the fatigue on her face and rushed to her side. He said with the utmost ardor.
“What’s wrong, pumpkin?”
And so Ray filled in him with all the shit she had gone through that day. As she finished Sam pulled Ray over his lap and cooed in her ear while rubbing her back.
“You can’t catch a break can you? I am sorry I wasn’t here for you.”
“You are here now.” Ray murmured back.
They basked in the pleasantness of each other's company for a while, before Sam struck up the unpleasant topic again.
“Should I go look for you in that room?”
“No. I will do it.” Said Ray, as she pulled back and stood up. Sam held on to her hand and said.
“Can I come with you?”
“I want you to come with me.” Said Ray, pulling him up with her.
They approached the door and Sam put his hand around Ray’s waist and nodded at her to go ahead.
She felt the cold of the knob again, but it wasn’t as intimidating as before because the warmth from Sam had more than compensated for it. Ray clasped her hand tighter around the knob but right then, the doorbell put it off again. Only this time it was more urgent than before, followed by three more rings.
“Could that be Justin?” Sam interpreted.
“If that were him, it would have been showering cuss words and blaring music on us by now.”
Ray left Sam behind and went ahead to open the door. What lay behind that door, was the last thing she expected to see. Three men and one woman stood in front of her. All of them in uniforms and armed. Their presence made it hard for her to breathe. When one of them confirmed their identity flashing his ID card, Ray’s mind went numb.
“We are the C.P.D.”