She pushed open the front door, the hinges creaking loudly as the heavy oak swung away from her. Stepping into the large hallway, a dank, musty smell stuck her full in the face. Directly ahead was a grand staircase, covering in what must have once been fine tapestry. Time had taken its toll on the fabric though, which was now faded and riddled with holes.
Turning to her right, she ventured not up the grand staircase but through a small door to the side. The corridor was simple and bare — a stark contrast to the ageing grandeur of the entrance hall. Creeping softly down the passageway, she reached the door on the other side and paused.
With bated breath, she pressed her ear to the door and listened for signs of movement on the other side. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, her hand slowly raised towards the brass doorknob.
A muffled crash from the other side of the door froze her hand.
Eons rolled past as she considered her options.
Finally, she grasped the cool metal and silently opened the door.
Photo by Taylor Ann Wright on Unsplash
Lining the walls were shelves stacked with books of varying sizes. At the end of the room was an ornate table with a luxurious leather chair. An old fashioned lamp sat on the desk, casting a warm orange glow over the room. Next to it, a sleek laptop sat in temporal defiance of its surroundings. The room carried the same smell as the entrance hall — the stench of something once grand being left to whither.
But something else too… cutting through the musty smell of old books, the unmistakable scent of fresh coffee. On the floor by the desk were the remains of a mug, and a dark stain on the carpet underneath. This, then, was the source of the crash.
But where was the cause?
Looking around, there were other signs of recent activity in the room. While most of the books lining the walls were coated in a thin layer of dust, a select few had clearly been moved. The window at the far end of the room had also been cleaned recently, as though someone had wanted to look out onto the garden below while they worked. Not that it was much of a view these days, she mused. The grass hadn’t seen a blade in over a year, and what was once a finely sculpted flowerbed had been over run. A rhododendron had consumed the entire east wall, suffocating everything else underneath it.
Towards the back of the room there was another door. It lead to a much smaller room — perhaps a kitchenette. Light spilled out from the crack under the door, and the faint sound of movement could be heard behind it.
The door swung open, and the room’s two occupants stood staring at each other.
“What are you doing here?!” the voice held no hint of a tremor, which the assassin found mildly irksome. Perhaps the gravity of the situation wasn’t immediately obvious.
“I’ve come to kill you.” Sometimes honesty is the best policy. The assassin underlined this policy by drawing a gun from inside her coat.
It was over in a flash. Before the victim even had a chance to response, a single loud crack echoed round the room. There wasn’t even time for shock on the victim’s face before the bullet found it’s mark, and she hit the floor with a dull thud.
The assassin looked down at the body for a moment, wondering if she was supposed to feel anything. Maybe the guilt would come, but for now there was only a sense of finality that hung in the air.
The assassin turned and walked back the way she had come, admiring the room as she left it. It was far too grand a house to let rot like that, she mused as she walked once more through the once ornate entrance hall. Centuries of history tied up in one building, and it was going to be sold to the highest bidder to do who knows what with.
No, she thought as she pulled the solid oak front door towards her and stepped out onto the front lawn.
She turned and looked back at the house. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She hadn’t wanted to kill anyone, of course. But sometimes horrible things were necessary in order to preserve what is right.
Lingering a moment longer she breathed in deeply, letting the cool night air cleanse her soul. She turned towards the street and began walking away. Away from the house she grew up in, and away from her sister.