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Chapter 51

All in the building had come to curse the alarms installation. Activating in late nights, or early mornings, not only interrupted their sleep; it did likewise to their neighbours. People began complaining of the shrieking alarm. Startled awake in the early hours was beyond acceptable.

“We’re leaving,” Barbara’s father said, on Friday morning as they ate breakfast. “We would’ve stayed longer, but the alarm’s driving me crazy!”

“As far as I can tell there’s nothing wrong with the system, but I’ll keep investigating. I suggest it only activate it when the building is vacant. Don’t zone it off when someone here,” the locksmith advised Sophia, Thursday afternoon. With no obvious faults discovered, no other option was available.

Bruno knew he was incapable of disconnecting the alarm, but he had devised a plan.

Opening and closing the front door, quickly, at all hours of the night, or the early morning, would almost guarantee the alarm’s deactivation. He was relying on the time delay, between it registering an activation and the siren announcing an intruder, to escape into the night.

As each night flowed into another he, too, was tiring. The adrenaline surge from each implementation in the dark hours was also causing him many hours of sleeplessness. But, by persevering, Bruno was hoping his plan would succeed.


The alarm failed to activate in the late hour of the chilly Friday evening, and, although overjoyed, he still had reservations.

I knew they’d turn it off, but I have to come back, he thought, as he walked down the steps.

“Finally!” he muttered, as he gripped the front door’s handle. Again, the alarm didn’t activate. “I’m comin’ for you, Katherine. I’m comin’!” he said, quietly, but emphatically. The brisk bite in Saturday’s cold early hours helped to put a spring into his stride.

I’ll go there later tonight, he thought, as he sat on the worn couch.

He had become a paranoiac competitor when it came to the prize. Katherine. Unfortunately, his opponents had become weaker by the loss of their champion.

With a twisted and demented mind, he thought of the one who mattered most. In comparison, his attitude to his work was one of dedication. These two aspects of his persona were about to combine, to form one formidable force.

Sophia still maintained the habit of travelling to the markets and deli at her usual time. A loaf of crusty bread for dinner was essential for dipping into the soup she planned on making. Difficult to break was another routine; cooking for more than one day at a time. She considered it economical, and convenient.

Although Barbara and Katherine enjoyed her soups and casseroles, on the evening of their cooking, they appreciated them more the following day. “They taste better.” Each had said, previously.

Sophia knew, by cooking extra soup, there would be ample leftovers for lunch and dinner on Sunday and, with cold weather, soup seemed appropriate. Her favourite, pea and ham, she made from ham shanks, fresh peas, and a mixture of freshly ground herbs as an addition.

“It’s easy to make, but the secret’s in the puréeing. Some shredded ham and a large serving of peas, then blended with the remaining contents, allows it to thicken.”

“Do you want me to shell the peas?” Barbara asked.

“Yes, please. I also need some ham cut from the bone.”

With the heat flowing from the kitchen, through to the remainder of apartment, the temperature had risen to a point Barbara considered uncomfortable; leading to her turning off the heating system.

Eating, without JM, was still a sombre affair, but his much-loved music playing in the background still stirred emotions.

“I will always think of dad when I hear this music,” Katherine reminiscently remarked.

“Me, too,” Barbara replied.

“You’re going to be famous one day.” Sophia said, as she sat in Katherine’s bedroom.

Her compliment caused the kneeling Katherine to turn her head slightly left, to look at grandmother sitting near the bedroom window. For the fleetest of seconds, she smiled the tiniest of smiles, before returning to her preoccupation.

The music no longer played, and Barbara had retired to her bedroom.

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