“Umm, yesterday around 2.” I rubbed the side of my face and tried to remember when was the last time I saw the person in question.
“You sure?” the detective questioned. He’d been writing down notes on a small notepad. Occasionally, he looked up only to look back down.
“Yeah, it was yesterday. I took the trash out and saw him doing the same.”
“Well if you remember anything else, would you give me a call?” he asked and handed me a card.
I nodded and accepted it. I closed the door and thought about what he just told me. A neighbor down the hall was found deceased. He never said it was a murder, but his questions caused me to infer as much.
“What happened?” my roommate probed when she came home and found me in a stupor. She’d probably seen the police knocking on the neighbors’ doors to ask them the same questions they’d asked me. At the table, she started to sort through the mail in her hand.
“I think someone down the hall was murdered,” I answered.
She looked up from her task and tilted her head. “What?”
I just nodded. She heard me. I knew her question wasn’t for me to repeat myself, but to confirm she’d heard what I said correctly.
“A professor from the university.”
“What was his name?”
“Dr. Argent. I took his Ecology course last Spring, I didn’t really talk to him one-on-one, but he seemed nice. It’s sad.”
“Here,” she passed me my portion of the mail. “I don’t know if I want to stay here tonight.”
“What if they come back?”
“The ones that killed the professor.”
“I don’t think the murder was random.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t. I…” I stopped. It wasn’t something I knew how to explain, it was just an impression from the detective’s questions. Besides, the apartment was always quieter when she wasn’t here.
“I’m staying at my boyfriend’s.” I nodded and she left the room to pack.
There was something on the edge of my mind and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Frustrated, I paced around the apartment and looked around. There was something my subconscious mind wanted to bring to my consciousness, but it wouldn’t do it blatantly. As much as I enjoyed suspense, this was irritating.
“I’ll see you in a couple days?”
“Sure,” I answered absently. My mind was somewhere else. The door closed behind her and part of me thought it was messed up that she would leave me, if she thought we were in danger. Then again, we tolerated each other most of the time. Maybe she thought if the murderers did come back, she’d be free from her lease with me. The thought was cynical, but I wouldn’t put it past her to have actually considered it.
I gasped when my eyes landed on the desk in the corner of my room. The thick envelope I meant to give to our neighbor down the hall rested on top of a few books. I picked it up and read the sender information. Tomorrow, I’d send it back to her. Of course, I’d include a letter to apologize for the delay in forwarding it, but then again, how was I to know Dr. Argent would be dead days later.
Waking up at 2 in the morning, I turned on the television to the news. My eyes grew heavier as the reporter droned on about the stock market losing a few points. Just one more segment would have sent me back to sleep, but instead it had the opposite effect. Sitting up and rubbing my eyes, I focused on his words and the captions.
A scientist had been found dead at home. Investigators were still trying to determine what happened. The news report wasn’t about Dr. Argent, but Dr. Lilly Moore.
Two dead scientists that didn’t seem linked except by the envelope on my desk – Dr. Argent, the intended recipient, and Dr. Moore, the sender. Sleepiness evaporated and I wondered if there was any connection between the two of them and their deaths. My mind raced with conspiracy theories and possible coverups.
I jumped to my computer and tried to find what the two scientists had in common. I couldn’t find anything. Dr. Argent studied ecology, specifically population ecology. Dr. Moore studied ocean currents and marine life. Although their fields could easily overlap, they didn’t share any published papers or research areas. I decided it was a coincidence. Their untimely deaths happened within 24 hours of each other, but there was nothing else they had in common.
I sat down on my bed and looked over at the envelope that had no where to go. It’s recipient and sender both deceased. Taking a deep breath, I relaxed into my bed and reached for the lamp switch. I laid down and pulled the blanket to my chin. My eyes began to drift close and only when they were almost closed did I notice the red light of my web camera. The lens was covered with tape, something I did just in case some perverted hacker wandered to my computer.
I pulled the Ethernet cord out of the wall. Whoever it was wasn’t getting a show or anything else off of my computer. I’d ask one of my tech friends to beef up my firewall later.
by Angelique Grey
notes: I’m not sure if this will be a micro, mini, or full story, but I’ll write the pieces as they come to me.