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The Hidden Crime - Chapter 5
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sagittaeri
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 9:13 am    Post subject: The Hidden Crime - Chapter 5 Reply with quote



WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE.

The entire story (to date) in beautiful, readable HTML, courtesy of the wonderful Dropbox. Great for catching up, too. Link: The Hidden Crime

Chapter 1: Clean up, or come clean?

Murky red water was filling up the wash basin. The sounds of my ragged breaths echoed around my bathroom. No, no, no, this isn't working. I grabbed my toothbrush and frantically scrubbed my wrists, my fingers, my elbows, and---oh god, no---my face. I kept scrubbing. And scrubbing. If anyone could see me right now, they'd think I've lost it. Maybe I have.

What happened last night? Fuck! Why was there blood everywhere? Wait, maybe it wasn't blood. I mean, I've never actually seen that much of it before. It was all over the white striped shirt I use when I go out to clubs. It stained one entire leg of my favourite pair of denim jeans. My bedsheets were practically soaked in it. And it wouldn't fuckin' wash off my hands!

No, I told myself again. Stop. Calm down. Think. I shut my eyes, and forced myself to breath slowly. Evenly. I opened my eyes and looked into the mirror. I shut the tap and walked out of the bathroom. Everything looks normal, in its usual place. In the living room anyway. Nothing…red. Then, I had to force myself to step into my bedroom. The bedsheet was once white. The patch on the carpet next to my bed was once beige. Spots and smears marked my brown wool blanket. It's blood. It's definitely blood. There was so much of it that I can practically smell it in the air.

I started to feel sick again. Maybe it was animal blood. What animal? You're in the middle of the city! If it wasn't an animal, then it must be…

I must have turned around and fled, because the next thing I knew, I tripped over a coffee table in my living room and fell onto my bookshelf with a loud cuss. Before I could do anything, my weight on the lower shelf pulled the furniture off the wall, and it came crashing down right next to me, books and all. But I didn't care about the furniture. Fuck the books. All I wanted to know was what happened last night. Why can't I remember?

Knock, knock.

I jumped at the sound. Someone was at the front door.

"Seb? You in there?" He knocked again.

Daniel Reece. My best friend since I learnt how to build lego cars and paper spaceships.

"Seb?" he tried again. "I heard something, man. Did something happen?"

"It's nothing, Dan," I somehow managed to find the voice to say. "Don't worry about it."

A moment passed before a reply came. "You okay, man? You sound kinda weird."

Mister emotions-aren't-for-public actually sounded concerned. How much noise was I making? If he heard it, then my other neighbours must have heard it as well. Although, they've probably already left for work.

"Seb?"

Dan moved to this city before I did, when he landed a neurosurgery residency at a prestigious hospital. Some time later, when he heard that I was offered a job in the same city, he suggested that I move into the vacant unit next to his.

"Seb, come on man, open the door."

We probably only spent six months of our lives not being neighbours. Even when we were in college, we somehow ended up as dorm neighbours. I had seen him grow from the playful trouble-maker with pimples into someone who could be described as charming, intelligent and trustworthy. I think even his parents who loved him unconditionally was surprised at how well he turned out.

"Hang in there, Seb. I'll get the spare key."

It took me only about a second to realise that this was bad. Very bad. But, by then, it was already too late to call out and stop him. He had already gone back to his apartment. No, no, no, it's too soon. I hadn't even thought about what I was going to do, yet. Fuck, fuck, fuckery fuck!

Maybe I should just let it happen. There was no one I trusted more than him, after all. Even so, one look at me and he'll surely think I'm a murderer. I paused. Am I? No, stop. I have to think about what to do. I looked around my apartment. A washing machine next to the bathroom. A laundry basket next to my bed. A wardrobe at the back of my bedroom. A shower and a bar of soap. A shameful thought ran through my head: maybe I can try to hide it all.

I don't want to compromise my integrity, something that has been a part of me for, well, ever. But, I can't know how Dan will react when---if---he sees me like this. I do trust him, but, this goes way beyond best friend obligations. Is there another option? God-fuckin'-dammit. My head's been pounding ever since I woke up. Either way, I have to decide now. Knowing where he keeps my spare key, I only have a minute or two.


Last edited by sagittaeri on Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:19 pm; edited 30 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm intrigued by this story line...and as i'm sure Bizzy himself will tell you, it's nice to see someone else in the horror department. =) very impressive opening post. only minor grammatical errors, and the writing quality is fantastic. i would suggest, though, that due to the language used, we might move this one into the dark horror section perhaps? anyways, again, very impressive. a very warm welcome to If, and i can't wait to see more from you.

for the DP, being the overly trusting person I am, i'm going to say let's trust the best friend. if theyre really that close, he's going to know something is up anyways.
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I had no idea there was a dark horror section until you mentioned it. I managed to get it to show after playing around with the forum a bit. Uh, sorry about not realising there might be underaged people here!

Now, I have to make a choice. I can either tone down the narrative and keep it here, or risk the story being moved to a restricted forum...damn, and here I thought I wouldn't have to be the one making choices!
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teeheehee...this site is all about decisions. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the creepy cave. My name is Mister Biz, your moderator, and you have no idea how glad I am to have you here. I'm like ecstatic that I am no longer the only one here. I'm not just talking to myself no more. Maybe a teensy bit of my sanity can return...eh, nah.

Moving on, I am intrigued by this. Yes, a good mystery about it. As for language, I wouldn't throw it to the dark section for that. Only when you start getting explicitly sexual or incredibly graphic when it comes to gore (when a majority of the insides become outside so to speak.) Language, I see, is a part of horror and life itself and as I tend to swear extensively in my longer pieces, I'm fine with language.

For the dp, I say throw anything with blood on it in the washer and dive into that shower ASAP. Deny, deny, deny. This never happened. They may be friends but even The Unibomber got turned in by his own brother.

So yes...denial...and I'll leave it up to you if you want me to move this over for ya.
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to IF, Sagittaeri! Smile

This really is a very compelling opening post. It is well written, though I'd probably feel much better with a smaller font size, and maybe even italics for thought. But then again, that is entirely me, and its entirely your wish how you word your chapters. I'm still going to read along, because the plot itself is impressive Wink As for moving this to the Dark Forum, I'd be against it, and not only because I'm underage. This is only some swearing, and you'd be okay if you just put up a warning on top of that post. Once again, well written and I'm looking forward to more!

As for the DP, I'm going to suggest that you clean up immediately. Get in the shower, and when Dan gets in, tell him what happened. Something is obviously wrong, and we really need help. So I'm totally against lying to the best friend and probably making things much worse than they should be.
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Biz and Vishal, thanks for reading and for the nice comments!

I actually did intend to use italics for thoughts, so I typed out the chapter in Markdown as I'm able to export it to html. Unfortunately, I couldn't get html tags working in this forum, and I can't find a BBCode exporter from Markdown. I actually also agree about the font size.

What's the policy on changing written chapters? Can I make aesthetics modifications at any time?
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm fine with you going back and changing things for aesthetics sake. I've done so, forget to italicize here, forget to caps lock there..go ahead, mon ami.
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firstly, I've added a warning at the top of your post for the language it contains and marked the post as a chapter. You can edit/delete the warning if you wish, but the warning on top means you wont have to move it to a restricted frum Smile

Anyway, IMO, this is some really good writing. It was pretty good to get some info about the characters and the surroundings. The plot is interesting and I cant wait for the next chapter.

DP? Just stay put. I dont think anything wrong could happen if the friend knew. Let him see what's happened Smile

Oh, and welcome to IF Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Vikas, thanks for the encourage and the help with the warning label. I'm definitely keeping the label. Smile

By the way, I'm still trying to get a feel of when I should put the poll up. Just tell me when you think it's time.
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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say one week, so that's two more days.
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Polling now. Smile

I've only been here for a week, but I can already tell I'm gonna love it here. So many good, creative people around...this is going to be the most fun I've had in ages!
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aww! Great! Smile I can tell we're going to like you too. Lol
How did you set your poll? It wouldn't let me vote. Did you add a limit of days to it?
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I did set a limit to the number of days. Whoops, was I not supposed to?

Anyway, I remade the poll without a time limit this time, hopefully that made a difference.
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voted 8|

You have a three-way tie now. Sorry Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha that's fine. Two other people voted, and now I have a 2-way tie. If no one else votes soon, I may have to cast my own vote. Or, is it possible to merge them?
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Sagi!
I'm super bummed I missed out on both the discussion and the voting, but I would just like to say that I am totally on board with this story! It has a nice, fast and readable pace with a really good hook.
I'm guessing you're done with voting for now, but I could, I would vote with the 3rd option. Dan seems like a trust-worthy dude-- he'll probably help calm you down at least.

I have to say, it's really nice to see another "horror" (or whatever you want to call it) writer around here. Welcome to IF!
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Phantomfan! It's too bad I didn't wait for one more day, because I already written up a lot of the next chapter. You vote would've changed a lot of it!

But, I promise it's going to be a good chapter either way.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chapter 2: Just another bloody day.

The nicely formatted version: In HTML

****************


*Move.*

I felt like I was drowning. I couldn't focus. Every breath I took was a gasp for survival.

*Move.*

I wanted it to end. I should have just told Dan. I couldn't do this alone. I couldn't.

*Move, now.*

Even if he didn't trust me. Even if he went to the cops. At least I wouldn't be by myself.

I was vaguely aware of the shuffling behind the wall next to me. Drawers were being opened and slammed shut. *It's in the 2nd drawer next to your coffee table, you dork.* Maybe if he wasn't so swamped with his neurosurgical residency, he might actually know his own apartment better than I did.

*MOVE!*

Suddenly, the fog in my mind cleared up. It felt like I had snapped awake. It then dawned on me that if I did nothing, Dan was going to find me covered in blood. Blood that wasn't mine. As if in reaction to this new layer of horror, piled on top of everything else, my body responded on its own. It leapt up from where it fell next to the collapsed bookshelf. Then, it sprinted across the living room, into my bedroom.

**Slam.**

That was his front door. *Ten seconds*. I grabbed my bedsheet and yanked it off frantically. *The carpet---shit!* I didn't have time to think, so I reached into my laundry basket, and tossed the first thing I could grab onto the bloody patch. Then, I dragged my bedsheet and my blanket into the living room.

The sound of rattling keys reached my ears as it was being inserted into my deadbolt lock.

I stuffed everything into my washing machine and tried to start it. *Dammit machine, turn on!* But I was too late. My front door clicked in satisfaction and was starting to swing open. My heart stopped in my chest. I dashed into my bathroom, but before I could close the bathroom door, I slipped over the wet tiles and fell on my side with a cuss.

"Seb?" I heard Dan's concerned voice, as he walked towards me.

I quickly reached over and pushed the door shut while I was still on my side. As I picked myself off the bathroom floor, I felt a numb aching sensation along my left ribs and thigh. I must have bruised it when I fell. I leaned against the door, afraid that Dan might try to enter. *Fuck, did he see?* He was looking right at me. Could he see the blood on my shirt or pants from that angle? What if he opened the washing machine, or kicked off my dirty laundry on the carpet stain?

"Holy cakes," I heard him exclaim softly.

Dread filled my already petrified heart. Suddenly aware of how guilty I must've looked, I tried to think of an explanation. One that my best friend would believe. Then, I was struck by a heavy dose of guilt. Why was I hiding from him? It was Dan. I could trust him. Just like he trusted me. It wasn't too late for me to come clean, explain it all to him. My wavering hand reached for the door handle. It was either that, or go through all this by myself. I wasn't strong enough, not for two years now.

"What did you---what happened to your bookshelf?"

I snatched my hand away from the handle. For the second time today, a fog cleared up in my mind. He saw nothing. He must have been distracted by the fallen furniture. "It, uh, fell."

He chuckled. "Really? I couldn't have figured that one out myself!" A pause. "You okay, man?"

"Yeah, of course. I'm just, you know, taking a shower now." It was only after I said it that I realised it was actually a good idea. I immediately turned on the shower and stripped off my blood-soaked clothes. I winced as I realised the bruises along my side was worse than I thought.

I heard Dan's muffled acknowledgement over the shower noise. Under the spray, I scrubbed myself as hard as I could, until my skin turned red and raw. It was then I became aware of the dull pain in my right hand. When did I hurt my hand?

After I was done, I grabbed my bloodied shirt and jeans and tried to drown them in soapy water. At first, it worked. But I quickly discovered that there were still large stains that wouldn't come off. *Fuck!* What do I do? It didn't occur to me that the blood stains might be permanent. There was no way I can leave the bathroom without Dan seeing this. My heart thumped violently in my chest. *Think, think, think, think---*yes, that's it.

I wrapped my incriminating shirt and jeans tightly around my waist. Then, I wrapped a large towel over them. If Dan didn't look too hard, he wouldn't notice anything strange. I took a deep breath, put on my best poker face, and stepped out of the bathroom. My friend was facing the fallen bookshelf, with his back at me. He turned towards me and looked at me, down at my towel, and back at me again. Without a word, I walked past him, into my bedroom and shut the door. I held my breath in anticipation.

Nothing. He didn't say anything. I breathed a sigh of temporary relief. Realising that he was still waiting for me, I hastily hid the bloodied clothes in my laundry basket and got dressed in plain shirt and pants. Then, I counted to three slowly in my head.

*You can do this.* I reentered my living room. My best friend was carrying a first aid kit---from my kitchen---in his right hand. At first I was perplexed. Then I saw it. My bookshelf was upright against the wall. Dan must have pushed it back up. I stared in horror at the bloody handprint on the lower shelf, out in the open.

"Alright, where's the cut?" Dan lifted the kit and grinned sympathetically.

I froze. There was no cut. Dan was going to find out the blood wasn't mine. *Get your act together!* "I…I already took care of it."

"So? Surgeon here, remember? I'm pretty sure I can do a better job."

"I said it's fine!"

My best friend looked dejected. "Alright, alright, no need to bite my head off, man." He went into the kitchen and put my first aid kit back on top of the fridge. "Bad hangover from last night?"

My heart skipped a beat. Did Dan know anything about last night? I swallowed. "I can't really remember."

He laughed at that. "I'm not surprised, you must have had three dozen shots by the end of the night. I thought I had to carry you home myself!"

I held my breath. Flashes from the night suddenly filled my head. Excruciatingly loud 90's disco music. Coloured spotlights were moving to the beat. Dan was by the bar, with an arm around a pretty blonde. He had a wide grin across his face as he looked at me. I was dancing with a brunette---a very drunk and grabby one.

"So, how was she?" he asked knowingly, yanking me back into the present. It then occurred to me what that question meant. I must have left the club with her.

"I…I don't remember." Oh god, no. The blood. Was it…

"Not even a bit? A girl that fine?" he made a squeezing gesture with both his hands.

I didn't say a word. He had no idea how much I had wished I could remember. But now, I wasn't so sure anymore. I had never been violent. *Not that you remember...*

He roared in laughter, surprising me out of my thoughts. "After two years, I *finally* got through to you, and you don't even remember!"

I stepped back and collapsed into my couch. "Dan, please…" I started, before realising I had no idea what I wanted. This was all too much.

My best friend stopped laughing and sighed sadly. He leaned over and grabbed my head affectionately. We locked our eyes. "Seb, you have to move on. It's been two years."

We didn't say anything to each other for a while. Everything that could have been said about two years ago, had already been said. But, for once, my mood today wasn't about that day. And I couldn't tell him that. He sighed in defeat and let me go.

"Anyway, I have to go back studying," he walked towards my front door. "By the way, aren't you late for work?"

"Oh, *fuck!*" I looked at the clock in my kitchen. My group was going to be royally pissed at me. "*Dammit!*"

"Whoa, calm down, man. Call in sick. Just don't tell them why," he winked at me.

I ran into my bedroom and packed up my laptop. "You don't understand," I yelled from my bedroom. "This research can't wait. We have too much competition!"

"Dude, you were bleeding, like, five seconds ago. I'm pretty sure they'll let you off this time," he reasoned as he stepped outside my apartment. He stuck his head back in. "Speaking of which, use salt---or peroxide if you have it---to wash off the stains before it dries. It becomes permanent if you leave it for too long," he finished as he shut the door.

The illusion shattered at his parting remarks. For a brief moment, everything was normal again. Why did he have to mention the blood? I closed my eyes and let myself think. My research group at the University will definitely notice if I skipped work today. No one was more motivated in this project than I was. I had always taken my experiments seriously, and everyone in my group knew that.

But, maybe I should get rid of the blood first, as Dan had suggested. I looked around my apartment. Of course, he had no idea how much blood I had to clean up. There were too many stains around, and I simply didn't have enough salt, or---what was it---peroxide, to do it all. I needed to get more.

My thoughts drifted to the brunette girl last night. I could almost remember her face. But no matter how hard I tried, her name wouldn't come to me. Maybe Dan knew her name? Dread filled my heart as I thought about turning on the news. There was a newsstand a few blocks from the apartment. If nothing was reported, then maybe everything was fine? *But what if something was reported?*

I shook my head. So many things I had to do. But I couldn't do it all, not in one day.


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've got no choice. Call off sick, just this once, and get more peroxide, quickly. And then just clean it all up and hide in the apartment until it all blows over.

And I'd suggest going to an AA meeting sometime soon too if Seb drinks like that regularly.

Another warm welcome to IF, Sagittaeri! Your chatpers are on the shorter end and fast paced, and all while being WONDERFULLY 'additional proof-reading required' free! Really great choice for an SG!

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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that was FANTASTIC!! your writing style is extremely clean & precise. very enjoyable.

I think we should call in. Get our hands on a newspaper to see what showed up from last night. Then we should deal with the blood ASAP.

great work!! can't wait to see more!
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As said before, Im really enjoying your writing style. Though I would have preferred Dan knew the truth, this was very well written and its hard for me not to enjoy this Wink

I couldnt find any typos or grammatical errors except for this small one (I'm sorry, I can be pretty hard at times, especially when the author doesnt make too many mistakes Razz )

sagittaeri wrote:
"It said it's fine!"


should be "I said.."

That's really, really minor but it did make me read twice.

Anyway, I think our protagonist should call in sick and check the news. If we have done something, we need to know Wink
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I wanted it to end. I should have just told Dan. I couldn't do this alone. I couldn't.


Quote:
Dan was going to find out the blood wasn't mine


AWESOME chapter. This just gets more intriguing with each line, and your delivery is amazing. I'm agreeing with everyone else on your writing style as well. I've added a couple of typo's here, but they aren't your fault at all. Just some silly omissions and my silly corrections. That probably will never happen again Wink . I also noticed that your HTML version has some italics, and I couldn't help suggesting that you could use italics on our site as well. It'd be much cleaner that way xD

For the DP, I'm going with everyone else here. Call in sick for the day, and before you check the news, I'd really prefer it if Dan knows what's going on. We really need to confide in him, and hopefully, he'll stick with us through all of this. So check the news and then we can plan on what we need to do next. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is awesome, it's like having a whole team of proof-editors! Razz Thanks for spotting the typos, I can't believe how I missed some of them silly ones.

Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Sagi!


Loved this second chapter! The characters confusion I find is very much mirrored by my own, in a good way, of course. The fact that we have no more information than the character of Seb himself knows makes it easier to relate to the character. Really, really wondering if he's actually done anything...though he must've done something to account for all the blood. Really enjoyed it, and really frustrated (in a good way) at not knowing more and having to wait to learn more!


For the dp, I'm all for going out and grabbing a paper. Dan clearly remembers what the girl looked like, and if he happens to get to a paper while he's out and her picture is on the cover, Seb is going to need a plan of action. Go get a paper, then plan the next move from there.


Great work, Sagi! Looking forward to more! Keep up the good work! Smile

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The poll for "Chapter 2: Just Another Bloody Day" is now up. Please vote!
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voted! Clean that place up! Blood isn't exactly odorless you know.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Lilith!

Should I be worried about your extensive knowledge of blood?
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. If we go to the newspaper stand we're not guaranteed that we'll find any relevant stories. I'm going to go for coming clean to Dan. We've known him for years and there's always the chance he'll be an ally. We're going to need an ally.

This is a well written story. The narrative is clean and tight. I'm watching this one. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woah.. I guess I did more bad than good lol. 3-way tie xP
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted for coming clean to Dan for three reasons.

1) Dan knows at least part of what happened last night. If the girl is hurt, or better yet framing you, Dan is going to remember her when you're not.

2) Dan's in med school, if he thought that the blood that left the hand print on the book case was fresh, and it's easy to tell when blood isn't fresh, then he's going to be able to help you from a medical standpoint with what might have gone down in your apartment...although a forensics major would likely be of more help.

3) Dan is your best friend and, even with all this evidence around you, he's still going to at least be able to provide you with an excellent character witness and or sympathetic ear. You should have come clean to him right away as that would only have enforced the fact you don't remember shit.

Remember folks, you can always plead temporary insanity.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes!! The tie is broken again! Smile

Thanks Kalanna!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poll is now closed - writing up the next chapter now. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chapter 3: Coming out.

The nicely formatted version: In HTML

****************


"Just...give them my apologies, if that's okay."

"For sure, anything. Are you okay, Seb? It's not like you to skip work. I don't think you've ever taken a vacation, like, ever. I remember the time when you had, like, food poisoning or something, you still---"

"This one's different," I interrupted my colleague. Carl had a tendency to ramble. "I definitely won't be able to work even if I went in."

"Yeah, sure, but what about Peggy? You know the bitch isn't going to let this go. Remember the time when you, like, forgot to mention her contribution in the social dinner last week? An honest mistake, I know. Well, everyone knew. No one ever thought you, like, meant anything by it, but man, she sure rained hell on you. Did you know she even, like, filed a complaint to HR and---"

"I really don't feel well, I'm sorry, I have to go," I hung up before he could get another word in. I felt bad, doing it, but I wasn't lying. I had never felt so terrible in my life.

I put my phone down, leaned back into my 3-seater couch, and closed my eyes. Finally. Time to think. My heart had stopped racing. However, the bloody horror of it all was still there. I had accepted that the painful sensation in my chest wasn't going anywhere. *Good thing my work had trained me to operate under pressure,* I chuckled to myself miserably.

With everything that had happened since I woke up, I didn't have time to really think through my options. *Fuck, I lied to Dan,* I realised with guilt. *Well, it's his own damn fault for coming over so suddenly.* He never had the best timing. Still, I had to tell him. He was the only one I knew who was with me last night, and the only one I trusted more than I trusted myself. I needed him to piece this nightmare together. *Some things are better left undiscovered...*I shook my head. I had to find out. I wouldn't be able to live like this if I didn't. *But can you live with yourself if you didn't like the answer?*

Ignoring my stray thoughts, I stood up, took a deep breath, and left my single bedroom unit. The apartment building was the very picture of ordinary. Too expensive for starving students, but also too run-down for upper class socialites. It was refurbished from a 60's newspaper agency, thus the building design had a pragmatic feel to it. The owners of the apartment tried to spruce it up with antiques, which would've worked if the antiques didn't look so fake.

I rapped on Dan's door twice, then once. It was our way of telling each other that it was only us, and no one else. I heard his footsteps coming up to the door before it swung wide open, revealing my best friend in only a towel around his waist and a tooth brush in his mouth.

"Hey Seb," he mumbled over his tooth brush as he turned and strode into his bathroom.

I returned his greeting as I closed his front door behind me. "You busy today?" I asked. I felt myself getting nervous about what I was about to do.

He rinsed his mouth and spat into the sink. "I got some studying to do, you know, the usual." A pause. "Wait, you're actually skipping work today?"

"Yeah."

His laughter echoed around his bathroom. "Shit, dude, that must be one killer hangover. All this time I've known you, you've never---"

"Yeah, okay, a colleague's already covered that one." I swallowed as I hardened my resolve. I had to do it. "Listen, I need to ask you something."

He walked out of his bathroom and into his bedroom, presumably to get dressed. "Yeah? Go ahead," he yelled from over there.

I started pacing around his living area. Then, I found a kitchen chair to sit on. Deciding it was too uncomfortable, I switched to his cushioned office chair next to his study table. A few of his medical books were open, and his laptop was showing an annotated picture of a brain. Studying was what Dan did most of his time, so it wasn't unusual.

"Well, are you going to ask me or not?" he asked suddenly, his voice a lot closer to me than I had expected. I swivelled around on his office chair and found him standing two feet from me with an eyebrow raised, dressed in loose-fitting clothes. I hadn't heard him leave his bedroom.

My throat became dry. "Uh, yeah." I stood up and walked towards his bookshelf. More medical books. Dan didn't read anything else. He once reasoned that he didn't have time for anything but work and study. But that was just a convenient excuse, because even before he got busy, he was never into reading.

"Uh oh, I have to sit down for this one, don't I?" my best friend said with a grimace.

I stood around his kitchen table. "What makes you say that?"

"Because I can tell you really don't want to tell me," he sighed as he grabbed me by my shoulders. "And you can't even look me in the eye. Come on, man, spit it out. You know I can take it."

*Do it.* "Last night," my voice was hoarse. "Can you tell me what happened, you know, when I left?"

He looked up, as if to help him remember. "Well, I took Mary---no, it's Marsha, I think---"

"No, I mean with me."

He looked at me in confusion. "With you? How would I know? You left with a girl." He released my shoulders and crossed his arms. "Seb, what's this about?"

"Do you remember her name?"

"Uh," his brow creased. "Kathy? No, Kayla? Something with a 'k'. Why, did she leave without---"

"What about her last name?"

"I don't know, she never told us," he grinned. "Aww, man, my boy wants another helping of---"

"*Fuck!*" I cursed suddenly.

Dan's grin was replaced by a look of exasperation. "Dammit, Seb, tell me what's going on already!"

I didn't say anything in reply. Instead, I walked over to his kitchen sink and poured myself a glass of water from the tap. I drank it all in a gulp, then, I refilled it and drank it again.

"Look, Seb, this is not like you. You have to tell me what's going on."

I put the glass down on his kitchen counter, but I didn't release my tight grip on it. "I think I killed her," I said softly while looking down at the sink.

"What? You have to speak up---"

"*I think I killed her!*"

The silence that followed was deafening. Neither one of us moved or said anything for a minute. Then I heard him swallow. "What do you mean, 'killed'?"

I turned around and faced him. "Don't make me say it again."

His expression slowly turned from uneasiness to shock. My best friend's voice quavered. "What happened?"

I closed my eyes and tried once again to remember. Nothing.

"*Seb, what happened?*"

"*I don't know!*" I snapped back at him. "I don't...I *can't* remember a thing." I covered my face with my hands.

"If you don't remember, then why did you think you---" Dan stopped suddenly, his face was ashen. "Wait, is she in your room now?" he asked nervously.

I shook my head. "No."

"Then why did you think you killed her?"

I put my hands down. They were starting to shake. *No, get a grip of yourself.*

Dan must have known what was happening to me, because he came up and grabbed my head affectionately. "Seb," his voice softened. "You can tell me."

I nodded, but I had to pull away before I could say anything. "There's a lot of blood. On my clothes, my bed, my carpet. *On me.*"

My best friend tried to hold back his alarm, pretend that he wasn't perturbed by my words. But I could see it in his body language, from the way he had to stop himself from backing away. "It doesn't mean anything, Seb. It's probably some cat, or something. Even if it wasn't, it doesn't mean anyone's dead."

I didn't think Dan understood just how much blood I had meant. So, I told him to follow me back to my apartment. He hesitated for only a split second, before falling in behind me with confidence, as if trying to let me know that he would never doubt me. I had to smile to myself. He tried so hard to prove that I can always depend on him. Even two years ago, he had never allowed even a moment for himself, because he had to be the best friend. The familiar feeling of guilt returned. Was it really fair on him, that I kept piling all these burden on him? *It's too late now.*

I gathered my bloodied bedsheet and blanket from the washer, and my soaked clothes from my laundry basket, and laid them on either side of the red patch on the carpet. I looked over at Dan as he stared at them. He was speechless, and I could see the wheels in his head turning, trying to make sense of what he was seeing.

"Okay," he started slowly. "That's a lot of blood."

"You want to tell me again that it's probably nothing?"

He whipped his head around. "Yes! Because this is crazy, Seb. You're not a..." he trailed off.

"A killer?" I finished for him, my voice void of all emotion.

He shooked his head. "Look, it's a lot of blood, but it still doesn't mean you did anything."

"But---"

"It could still be animal blood, you know. There are ways to test this, and I can find out how to do it, if it makes you feel better."

"Dan---"

"Even if it isn't from an animal, so what? Have you even read the paper today? Or watched the news? I promise you nothing happened."

"You can't promi---"

"And when were you planning to get these cleaned up? The longer you leave them, the harder they'll stain---"

"*Dan!*" I shouted frustratedly at him. It worked, because he stopped talking.

My friend staggered over to my bed and sat on it. "Sorry," he said softly. "You really dropped the bomb on me with this one, man." He massaged his temples with his hands. "Okay, I think Marsha left me her number."

"Marsha? That's the girl you took home?"

He simply nodded.

"What's that gotta do with anything?"

"Don't you remember? Dude, they did the whole '*oh my god you go to that college too what a coincidence*' thing last night."

Realisation must have been written all over my face when he said that. "So they might know each other."

"Might, yeah, but I don't remember them exchanging numbers or anything."

"I still have to give it a try...at the very least, she'll know her name, right?"

Dan shot up from my bed suddenly. "Wait here," he said and left.

He returned a few minutes later with a crumpled piece of paper on one hand, and his phone on the other. His fingers were punching in the numbers furiously as he paced around my room. A yellow spot and a distinct smell of mustard enamated from that piece of paper. He must have trashed her number with his breakfast as soon as she had left.

"Seb, I left some peroxide on your kitchen counter," Dan said to me while he waited for the call to connect. "You have to pour the peroxide over the stain, and leave it like that for a few hours. Then, rinse it away with *cold* water, you got it?"

I nodded at him and carried the bloodied fabrics into the kitchen. I stuffed them into the sink and held up the bottle Dan had left on the counter. It said Hydrogen Peroxide 3% on the label.

"This is impotant, Seb. It *has* to be cold water, or it'll---oh hi," he turned away from me suddenly. "It's me, Daniel, from last night. How are you, Marsha?"

I cocked my head to listen as I dripped the 3% solution evenly onto the stains. Did Dan always have peroxide in the house? I never noticed it. He must have needed it to wash his scrubs, being a surgeon and all.

"Of course I called you 'Martha'. Had some food in my mouth, that's all. Listen, I'm wondering if you can do me a solid for a friend. Uh, yes, last night was special to me, too. Look, remember that girl who's in your college? Yes, Kirsten, that's her name. Do you happen to have her number? No?" he looked at me and shook his head disappointedly. "Say, you girls have the same professor, right? Maybe you can look for---uh, dinner sounds great, but I'm kinda busy with studying and---no, no, I'm not playing around, I swear---" he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "What I meant to say was, we can do dinner this weekend, is that okay? Great! So, about Kirsten...yes, that would be awesome. Thanks, Martha! Listen, I gotta go, but I'll call you soon."

*Kirsten.* I smiled at him, or at least I tried to, with all that was going on. "A date, huh?"

"Shut up. So, she said she'll look for Kirsten in class today. I'll call her again at five to find out how it went."

At five o'clock. I glanced at the clock on the living room wall. Only eleven in the morning. *Kirsten.* Could I really wait that long? I cleared my throat. "Okay, the bedsheet, blanket and clothes are soaking in the sink. But what do I do with the carpet?"

"The same, just pour peroxide over it," he quickly reached down and scraped some of the blood off the carpet onto the crumpled piece of paper that contained Martha's number.

My eyes were fixed on the paper as he folded it and stuffed it into his back pocket. *Kirsten*. "Are you getting that tested?"

He nodded. "Yeah. I'm going to the hospital now. Try to stay put, okay?"

With that, Dan was gone. He didn't even wait for my reply. Stay put? Could I really do that? *Kirsten.* I was tempted to follow Dan to the hospital, but I didn't know how helpful it would be. Then it hit me: maybe I could find out if anyone was hospitalised recently. *And even get the newspaper on the way.* I had her first name now. *Kirsten.*

As I poured the peroxide on the carpet, I suddenly remembered the bloody handprint on the bookshelf, and all the books scattered at its foot. Were there anymore blood stains hidden away somewhere? *Kirsten.* Maybe I should spend the day making sure I didn't miss anything, and tidy up the mess I had made in the morning.

I had to decide soon, if I wanted to catch up to Dan. *Kirsten.*
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Despite interruptions via angry snarling cats, I managed to have enough time to read your new chappie.

Yes you should stay put! And don't even put your face in the windows or anything. You told your friend, he doesn't think you did it and he's obviously helping you. So get your behind to cleaning for now. Check every square inch of your apartment.... make sure you didn't leave a body in the closet or under the sink in the bathroom, all chopped up into little pieces in a garbage bag. Smile

Really well written, Sagi. I'll be keeping up with this one.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lilith! Thanks! Very Happy

I'm starting to get used to Melbourne hours again. Sorry I've been away for a few days! I'm happy you found time to comment on my SG. Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aweesomeeeee! Very Happy

I love the way the story's heading so far! Can't wait to read the next chapter already xD Really well written, man!

I'm tempted to go with Dan, after we're done with the cleaning. I wouldn't like being left alone now xP So I say we ask Dan to wait up till the cleaning is done (or ask him to help with the cleaning too) and then go to the hospital, get the newspaper and then see how things go. Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, this was my first reading of a story by you Sagi. Honestly, have to say that i enjoyed the to the point paragraphs, as well as the blunt swearing inside of the story. Kinda made me giggle while reading it, *Knows that makes me a bit twisted*. You did great work Sagi, and I can see this story growing much larger. I personally would be too freaked at this point to leave any kind of evidence in my home, So I suggest that he finish cleaning up before he begins doing anything else.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for reading, Vishal! I can't wait to continue writing the next chapter too, hehe. Man, I can't believe I haven't found this site earlier. I can't believe I could be having this much fun the whole time! Plus, the community here is great. Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, Ven! I'm so excited that you've decided to read my SG. Thanks! I hope you're having as much fun as I am, being in this site! Very Happy
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Maybe I should...no! Don't get distracted. Head to work, now. Then...
I need to find out what Dan wants to tell me before I go to the station. He might have something for me.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
It's worth the risk. I have to check out the crime scene at some point, if it means I can remember what happened, or how I got into the list.
33%
 33%  [ 1 ]
Don't raise any suspicions. I have to be consistent in everything I do. I called in sick last night, now I have to make it feel real.
66%
 66%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 3
Who Voted: Andolyn, Seraphi, Tikanni Corazon

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