They couldn’t be allowed …

Today’s writing prompt and my response.

Day two of this week’s challenge. The story starts here.
They couldn’t be allowed to fight. He had to think of a way to stop it

Colin, changed into a warm tracksuit, sprawled on his sofa with a cold drink – because the electricity was off – and fretted about Eve. He’d met her when she was with her previous team and they’d been on a project together. Her game development software was astounding, and although he hardly knew her, he’d been happy for her when she got the promotion. Now, though, from what he’d glimpsed on the screen before she blanked it, the girl was in deep trouble. It wasn’t about struggling. Eve was in real, seriously deep trouble.

He sat in the darkening room, listening to the storm rattling the roof tiles and shredding the last of the autumn leaves from the tree on the footpath. The wind battered the old-fashioned, single-glazed windows in his tiny terrace to the point he half-hoped they’d be blown out and he could get new windows on the insurance. His mind went back to Eve’s screen.

Two mediaeval knights, mounted on prancing chargers, facing each other off. One in black, one in silver. He fervently hoped that Eve’s problem was that she couldn’t get them to fight. And that she had left without solving it. Why were the knights still there? Colin had assumed they’d been wiped from the software after last time … A prickle ran down his back.

They couldn’t be allowed to fight. He had to think of a way to stop it before all hell, literally, broke loose.

Problem was, Eve was an inventive developer. She’d figure it out soon enough. Colin set down his glass, wishing for something hot. No use ordering takeaway, not in this weather, and with no electricity. He wandered into the kitchen, shone his phone torch into the fridge. A cheese and salad sandwich would be dinner. He huffed, closed the fridge, and ambled back to the lounge room. He should find where he’d put the candles after the last black out, and the matches. A rootle around his desk drawer was successful on both counts, and Colin set the candles in jars and lit them, admiring the new cosiness they gave. He drew the curtains against the sight of the storm, if not the noise. The weather had been stormy last time, too.

He pulled out his laptop. The battery was dead. Bugger. He closed it, set it on the coffee table, and put his head in his hands. He should call Eve, warn her.

And have her think he was either mad, or jealous somehow.

No, he had to do it. He found her on WhatsApp under her work email, pressed the call icon.

Eve answered. And screamed.

Read Day three here.

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4 thoughts on “They couldn’t be allowed …”

  1. Fumbling with the key, she felt for the lock in the dark. Not there – why not, it was supposed to be.
    The real estate agent had told her it would be easy to find, even in the blackness. Tracy reached for her mobile phone and suddenly the door was illuminated. No sign of a lock. Very strange. All houses had front doors with locks – at least in her experience they did.
    Tracy carefully tried the handle. It turned and she gently opened the door to reveal a gloomy interior.
    Her fingers felt for a light switch and encountered something soft and furry. Recoiling in horror, she shone the light to capture a large Huntsman spider scampering up the wall.
    “Don’t know who’s more frightened,” she muttered. “You or me.”
    The house had obviously seen better days, she observed as she moved from room to room. Dust filled the air and dirt clung to the window sills, making it difficult to breathe.
    “It’ll need a decent steam clean before I can live here,” she thought.
    Not the sort of place Tracy would normally consider renting – but rental properties had become extremely scarce and very expensive, particularly after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic that had swept the globe.
    “I guess it’ll have to do,” she said out loud to no one in particular as she headed back out the front door – still puzzled at the fact there was no lock.


    They couldn’t be allowed to get away with such sloppy rental management, Tracy thought as she headed back to the temporary home she was sharing with friends.
    “I will confront the agent in the morning and tell her how disgusted I am at the state of the home she sent me to inspect,” she said to Colleen, one of her closest mates since primary school, once she reached the house.
    “It was just yuck! Dirt and dust everywhere – and no lock, even though she gave me a key to the front door.”
    They both agreed it was strange about the absence of a lock and were at a loss to explain why there should then be a key.
    “Must have been a mistake,” Tracy said, another issue to raise with the real estate.
    The next morning Tracy headed to the real estate office and confronted the girl she had met the evening prior.
    “The place you sent me to was absolutely filthy, in need of a solid steam clean – and there was no front door lock,” she said, handing her the key.
    “What do you mean, of course there is a lock,” the girl replied indignantly. “I’ve seen it myself.”
    “Well, it wasn’t there when I arrived last night in the dark,” Tracy responded. “Don’t tell me it just magically disappeared.”
    The agent was dumbstruck. “I don’t believe it. Let’s go see.”
    Tracy reluctantly agreed and accompanied the agent to the house.
    There, as plain as the nose on your face, was the front door lock.
    Unbelievable, thought Tracy. “I don’t understand,” she said out loud.
    “You just didn’t look hard enough,” replied the agent, accusingly.
    When the two girls entered the home, it was spotless – not a speck of dirt or dust anywhere.
    “Bu..but, how can this be?” stammered Tracy. “It was filthy when I saw it.”
    “Perhaps the dark and your mobile phone torch were playing tricks on you,” the agent said patronisingly.
    “Not at all,” said Tracy. “I know what I saw.”

  2. I gather Colin has rung on WhatsApp just after Eve has arrived home and started screaming at whatever she has seen to frighten her. So terrifying vision and WhatsApp call all at the one time. Good one!!

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