Suzette had never been a risk-taker. She had spent the past 27 years of her life meticulously calculating the safest route through every predicament, from her six-hour, perfectly-timed, and virtually painless entrance into the world (or so her mother said) to her nearly impeccable school record. She had followed all the right paths to lead her to this moment, but she could never have predicted the events of last night.

Standing at the edge of the balcony, she gazed out at the city. The skyscrapers cast long shadows over the streets, but the reflection of the rising sun illuminated even the darkest corners as New Yorkers hurried along the streets to work. She was one of them yesterday. Now she was…not one of them at all.

Victoria was Suzette’s best friend; they had been best friends since the third grade. Suzette knew even at the tender age of eight that she would need a best friend to get her through some of the tough times of her life, and she had chosen very carefully from among the available children in her neighborhood. They were perfect foils for each other: Victoria’s impulsiveness provided opportunities for them when Suzette’s cautiousness might have closed them off, and Suzette provided security when Victoria needed it.

When Victoria had arrived at her apartment unannounced last night, Suzette took it in stride. They’d shared wine as Victoria told the story of her most recent tragic romance, then decided to go out on the town to drive away Victoria’s sorrows. It was a weekend, and Suzette was fine with moderate recreational activities on the weekend.

A car below honked, and Suzette was startled out of her reverie. Last night was last night, she told herself. Just forget about it and move on. But her well-manicured hands were still shaking, and the scent of blood and bleach still lingered in her nostrils.

They had come back here, she and Victoria and “Noodles,” the guy they’d picked up at the club. Victoria had given him that moniker when he refused to give them his real name. She had said she hoped he didn’t have a wet noodle in his pants, and he had responded with a slow smile. The three of them had stumbled in, a tangle of drunken kissing and groping, leaving articles of clothing on the floor as they made their way through the apartment.

Suzette had made a pit stop to the bathroom to pee and freshen up as Victoria and Noodles continued to the bedroom. Even in her inebriated state, Suzette was making sure she took as few risks as possible. She had grabbed a few condoms from a drawer and looked at herself in the mirror.

Her reflection had smiled at her knowingly.

The sounds in the apartment had gone silent. Instead of muffled laughter, she’d heard nothing at all. She had opened the bedroom door and found Victoria on the bed, straddling Noodles, her hands around his neck. “He said he likes this,” Victoria explained. “He says it makes the experience more intense.”

This was not a part of the plan, she had protested, but then got lost in the rush, the anticipation, and the feeling of power. Oh, God, that power of holding a person’s life in your hands. “There’s nothing like it, is there?” Victoria had whispered, watching Suzette’s irises dilate with pleasure.

When it was over, they both knew they had taken it too far. Noodles was dead, but strangely enough, neither of them had reacted with shock or dismay.

“We’ll have to clean this up,” Suzette heard herself say. Her voice had sounded cold, calculating. Is that what she really sounded like? “Nobody can find out.”

Victoria had nodded and pulled out her phone. She spoke a few words in Russian to the person on the other line, then gazed out the window. “Someone will be by in a couple hours,” she’d said. “I’d help, but I need to get out of here soon. You know, just in case…”

“I get it.”

“I…had fun.”

“So did I.”

“I know.” Victoria had smiled that same lazy smile Noodles had given them. She hugged Suzette tightly. “We’re in this together, okay?”

Together. That’s why she had chosen Victoria all those years ago. She had somehow known that they shared this…darkness, even when they were children.

A sharp knock sounded on the door, and Suzette shivered involuntarily. From the balcony, she called out, “Who’s there?”

“A friend.”

She let him in and showed him the body. He was very efficient. Watching him, she realized that this kind of thing would probably happen again. Her pulse pounded in her ears. It must happen again.

And it was important to be prepared.

“Sir?”

The man paused and looked at her with annoyance.

“Can you show me how to use that saw?”

Masked


I have returned to the IndieInk writing challenge, after an almost two-month hiatus! It’s good to be back, folks.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, DimDom challenged me with “A friend has just offered you a solution to a problem that you have shared, in strictest confidence, with your best friend,” and I challenged Lance with “Alchemy, dinosaur egg, petunia.”

In Strictest Confidence
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  • Anonymous

    Hot DOG! That was awesome. I loved the conclusion, when she wanted to know how to use the saw. It makes me think of the old adage about there being no such thing as a secret between three people. Like she knows that if this is to happen again, it has to be kept between her and Victoria. Or kept to herself alone.

  • Exactly. I’m so glad you liked it, and I’m glad to be back in the challenge!

  • You don’t miss a beat, Maren! This was very well-written, your characters quite powerful and the story flowed without a pause. You are the queen of endings with a twist too. Awesome!

  • Wow! This starts off slow and unassuming and them hits you in the gut! Great build up and great job with the creepy factor.

  • Anonymous

    I love the build and then the punch. Well written. The last two paragraphs are brilliant.

  • That was one crazy roller coaster ride. The photo at the end was perfection.

  • Satu Gustafson

    Creepy. It reminded me a bit of “Shallow Graves”…the problems that can come out of a secret shared with “friends”. 

  • Turk Montana

    Well, I never! When I taught writing skills to you, I certainly didn’t teach you about THOSE things! Ah, what secret thoughts you must have had all along, chortling to yourself about your naive, old-fashioned dad. I bet you got them from TELEVISION, that spawn of the devil’s ilk. Aaargh! But hey, that’s my girl, great story!