I want to make it clear that this story mentions suicide.
That’s how long it took for Farzana to reach this town. She came to the right place. Remote, but not in the middle of nowhere. She could blend in if she ever would need to. A town everyone left during the day to go to work.
She parked her car at the very end of the street. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t hers, it was her foster parents’. Her seventh. The ones that she ran away from eight days ago. The ones that probably worried more about their car’s whereabouts than their foster daughter’s safety. Fuck that.
She opened the glove compartment and took out her five-dollar ski mask, the most she could afford. She didn’t mind. After this, she would have more than she needed. She pulled on the mask and turned the mirror towards her. She snickered. She looked hideous. She looked even less like a professional robber and more like a lost twelve-year-old. Then she reached the back seat of her car and dragged out her ragged skateboard. It took a bit of effort. At least I’ll look like a cool twelve-year-old. It had a cartoonish cat drawn on it and a middle finger painted above. She didn’t even remember how she got it, or when.
She took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. The empty street made the houses look like a collective ghost town. She walked across the street in broad daylight. Running was a bad idea. She slipped behind the first house she laid eyes on.
She peered inside. The lights weren’t on. But she had to make sure. For another thirty seconds, she carefully listened to any signs of people inside, but heard none. This is it. She lifted her skateboard above her head and thrusted it towards the window. The skateboard simply bounced back. She quickly looked around. Still no one. She leaned the skateboard backwards as much as she could and tried again.
The window shattered dramatically, some of the pieces landing on Farzana’s hands and feet.
“Fuck!” she whispered.
At least it was enough for her to open the window by reaching inside. Abandoning her skateboard outside the house, which she didn’t care about anyway, she climbed inside. She hadn’t used it how it was supposed to, not since graduating from middle school.
The house was eerily dark, suffering from a severe lack of windows. Too organized, too. Farzana wrinkled her nose in disgust. It reminded her of the house of her fifth foster parents. They were freaks. She would never let her own house be this clean, if she would ever live in one.
She sneaked towards the kitchen counter to her right. Marble. Ugh. There was barely anything on the surface. Do these people even cook? She crouched lower to touch the handle of a drawer. Maybe she would find priceless dishes inside that she knew people never use. She hesitated. Her hand pulled the drawer open.
Hunter woke to the sound of breaking glass. The first thing he did when he stood up was to rummage through the boxes in his closet. Then he found it. A Glock 41. He had kept this gun for years, letting dust settle on it for occasions exactly like this. Even his girlfriend didn’t know about it.
It sucked that Alma wasn’t here today. He didn’t like being alone, especially not now. He loaded his gun. He quietly slipped through his already open bedroom door, fingers closing around the pistol.
More sounds came from below. Is it the kitchen?
It sounded like it was.
His socks made not a sound as he moved down the carpeted stairs, one by one. He raised his arms, pistol held steadily in front of him. He knew what he was doing. He had had practice. If anything came in his or Alma’s way, he would not hesitate to shoot.
When he reached the last step, his eyes took in his new surroundings. A shattered window, for instance. He groaned. How much did he have to pay for that?
He knew it was a girl, because the figure in front of him had a yellow hoodie and black jeans with incredibly long and extremely untidy hair that bounced off her back as she opened drawer after drawer.
“Turn the fuck around!”
She didn’t. Instead, her hand reached towards the knives gathered together and grabbed the handle of the biggest one.
He missed his first shot. The girl turned around, her eyes wide —
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Five shots. Three hits. Not bad. It was over in less than five seconds. Her body slid down the floor, blood soaking the front of her hoodie. She had a ski mask on. He smirked. He leisurely walked towards the body and yanked the mask off his intruder’s face.
It was his girlfriend’s face.
He dropped his pistol. Clonk. He froze, his eyes wild with unsettled confusion. His hands trembled as he slowly reached for her face, then shook it from side to side.
“What have I done?”
Before he knew it, his hands were full of kitchen towels. He dropped to his knees. He tried desperately and uselessly to clean up the endless stream of blood pouring onto the previously spotless kitchen floor.
“I don’t understand.”
He moaned, his face in his hands, body rocking back and forth. For how long he stood there, he wasn’t aware. But less time had passed than he thought did as he heard the distant jingle of keys from the direction of the front door.
Who else? Hunter picked the pistol back up with his hands now caked with dried blood. He was ready. Soon enough, the door opened.
“Hunter? Hunter, what the —“
Alma grabbed her right arm with a piercing scream.
“You’re not real.” The pistol shook in Hunter’s hands. Tears streamed down his face. His eyes were unfocused, staring at something outside of this world. “You were fucking dead, Alma.”
Alma dropped to the ground, lifeless like a stuffed doll. “I killed you. You’re not real. You’re not real.”
“You’re not real.”
Hunter paused. He pressed the barrel to his head.