This story recently came second in the Bath Young Crime Writers Competition.
My bare feet slap the pavement, puddles splashing up onto my legs. I abandoned my heels a few streets back, and I left my coat at the club, leaving my shoulders and neck exposed.
So this is what they meant when they said they’d ‘pay me back’. I think to myself. How did I not see this coming?
I risk a glance behind me. They’ve just come round the corner, bleached hair flashing bright white under the streetlights. I blink, and when I shut my eyes I see the girl from the alley, her hand trailing in the gutter like a floppy glove.
Usually I don’t mind the blood, but then again, usually there’s less of it. This one was different from the last few- messier. She kept wriggling her head, so the knife didn’t work as cleanly as usual.
Ahead of me is the imposing silhouette of the Abbey, a sliver of light visible through the doors. I run across the square and slip through the entrance, helpfully left open by one of my colleagues.
Exaggerated shadows stretch across the ceiling, and the marble statues silently judge me with their blank fish eyes.
I scan the walls- there; the tapestry M told me about. I tiptoe over to it, brush it aside and blindly step forward, my feet finding a staircase.
I count the steps- thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five…
At around forty, I hear more footsteps join my own.
As I near the top of the staircase I feel a draught on my neck and I speed up, lured on by the promise of moonlight and fresh air.
Bursting onto the top of the tower, I shiver uncontrollably and stop to catch my breath.
M told me that he’d give me a ‘signal’ once I got to the top, but he didn’t clarify exactly what that signal would be. I watch and wait, my breath ragged in my ears.
Far below me, a set of blue lights twinkle and a siren whines.
The footsteps are getting louder and louder- Hurry up, M!
A hand twists my arm behind me and pain shoots through my body. In a desperate attempt to free myself, I use my other hand to claw behind my back. I feel my nails dig into something, and I rip my fingers away, hoping to tear skin.
“Aah!” my captor yelps.
“What is it?” asks their accomplice.
“The little runt cut my arm!” Another hand presses me into the stone, and then-
And then I am free.
Like one of the sad stone angels rejected from heaven.
I hear a voice from the tower.
“M sends his regards.”
Was this M’s signal?