AND THEY WERE ROOMMATES





Written by AnnE Ford



Just Another Day in the Life


In all the ways that matter, my life is simple. Wake up, make breakfast, class, work, socialize, repeat. Isn’t that what we all strive for anyway? To have a routine, that you don’t entirely hate to get you through the day? At least that’s how I manage.


My unlocked front door startles me out of my inner monologue. “Sean?” I call into the apartment. He never leaves the door unlocked. Especially when he’s home alone. No one answers. I set my bag down on the kitchen table and walk to his bedroom door.


I knock on the door a few times. “Sean? Do you still want to go to Freddie’s?” No answer. I open the door. His bed is made neatly, like usual. For a college kid, Sean is a bit of a clean freak. Something I quite appreciate since it means our apartment stays decently clean—unlike the disgusting frat houses that line the streets around campus. His computer is open on his desk, but no Sean.


Where would he go and not lock the door?


I stand for a minute, mulling things over when a knock at the door startles me back to reality. At first, I assume it’s Sean, but he lives here, he wouldn’t knock.


I open the door and Rachel and Kelly march into my apartment. “Hey Nate!” Rachel looks to me and smiles, “Excited about your internship interview tomorrow?”


Ah, my interview. I am in fact SO excited for it, that I had all but completely forgotten about it until now. My mom set it up for me in the hope that getting some hands-on experience would help me get into medical school—she and my dad are both doctors. And she’s probably right, I just think I would make a terrible doctor. I mean, I literally faint at the sight of blood and nearly have a panic attack every time I have to get a shot—she claims I’ll get over this once I get some experience, yeah sure.


“Where’s Sean?” Kelley asks, glancing around the small, empty apartment as if she expects him to materialize out of thin air.


“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” I say and open my phone to Find My Friends. “The door was unlocked when I got here.”


I tap on Sean’s name and give my phone a minute to refresh. “Find My Friends says no location available.” I turn my phone to show Rachel.


“Hmm,” she raises a finger to her chin. “Maybe he got caught up in the TED building? There’s no service there.”


I sigh, Sean is the only college kid I know willing to miss a night out just to catch up on studying. “Maybe,” I say.


“Well, can he meet us a Freddie’s? I don’t want to be out too late,” Kelley says. I try to refrain from rolling my eyes, she’s always such a joy to be around.


“Yeah, I’ll let him know.” I quickly text Sean to meet us a Freddie’s and pull on my jacket.



When Your Roommate is Missing, Drink Beer I guess?



I set my beer down on the edge of the pool table to take my next turn. My phone buzzes in my pocket.


“Is that Sean?” Rachel asks as I pull out my phone. Sure enough, his name appears.


“Yeah,” I tell her as my eyes skim his message.


Had to go home for a bit. Family stuff.


Family stuff? I wonder. Sean usually avoids going home at all costs. He hates spending time with his family. I type out my response.


Family stuff? Since when are you such a family-guy? I thought your parents were still in London, anyway?


Send.


I open Find my Friends Again and click his name. This time his location shows up.


“Hmm,” I look to Rachel and Kelley, “He said he’s home with family, but his location says he’s somewhere called Lucky’s?”


“Lucky’s?” Kelley exclaims. “Isn’t that the nightclub downtown where all the freaks and weirdos go?”


“That’s a nice way to talk about people, Kelley,” I say. She sticks her tongue out at me.


“Why would he be there?” I ask, turning toward Rachel.


“And why would he lie about being home?” She adds.


Rachel looks down at her phone for a moment. “Lucky’s is only 10 minutes from here, why don’t we go find out?”


I shrug. “Sure. Maybe he’s got a new group of friends he ditched us for,” I joke.


Rachel tips her head back into a laugh.


Kelley inhales sharply. “Yeah, no. I don’t want to be seen going into a place like that. You guys have fun.”


Rachel shrugs. “Well, come on Nate. Let’s go track down your roommate!”



Faux Leather, Feathers, and a Whole Lot of Fishnets



“Man, the people here really dress all-out, don’t they?” I tell Rachel as a guy with a gold jacket and leather pants slides by me.


This club is loud. And not just in way of noise or music, these PEOPLE are loud. Everyone is scantily clad with colorful tights, leotards, makeup—the whole works. I’m starting to understand why Kelley said Lucky’s is for freaks and weirdos; this place looks like it walked straight out of a Cirque du Soleil act.


In our simple T-shirts and jeans, Rachel and I look remarkably plain in comparison, and the frequent glances from other clubgoers tells me we look as out of place as I feel.


She looks around, “See Sean anywhere?”


I shake my head. A rush of impatience and annoyance rushes over me. I’m irritated with Sean for getting me into this situation. I just want to find him and get out as quickly as possible.


“Maybe we should ask around?” I ask Rachel.


She stammers, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea—"


“Let’s just try,” I interrupt her and turn toward the crowded bar.


At the bar, I’m greeted by a crowd of colorful costumes waiting to sip down even more colorful drinks. I realize Rachel might be right. I’m not sure how to go about talking to anyone here. I think I’m afraid of them.


I take inventory of the crowd and notice a guy leaned against the corner of the bar with a beer in hand. He is blond, tall, and built like a football player. He’s practically a life-size ken doll. And fine I’ll admit it, a bit intimidating. But he looks semi-normal in comparison to the rest of the people here. And he’s alone, which I decide is less scary than approaching a group.


As I head toward him, Rachel appears behind me. The blond boy’s head pops up, and I forget everything I wanted to say.


“Uh. Mmh. Hii--hey man…You come here often?” I sputter out, much to my immediate regret.


Rachel casts me a dirty look and I cringe at myself. Luckily, the guy smiles.


“Nice pickup line,” he laughs. “Yeah, actually I do. My friends and I are something of regulars around here. I think the staff gets pretty sick of us actually—” He stops mid-sentence, and his gaze moves over my shoulder.


“—Done swindling men out of drinks already?” He says.


I turn to see a girl in all black with reddish-blonde hair that’s pinned back from her face walking over to us. She smirks and holds up a debit card before sliding it across the bar to the bartender.


“Stone and I will take another round of beers, Marko,” she says.


Stone? What kind of name is Stone? I wonder. Although, the name certainly fits the boy’s large frame and hard expressions. I place my hands on the bar and lean across the counter toward them to hear better.


The blond boy, Stone, laughs, “You’ve got them trusting you with their debit cards now? Impressive Scarlett, truly.”


Her lips curl up into a soft but sinister smile.


“As much as I’d like to take credit, this was not my work,” she grabs the beers from the bartender and passes one to Stone.


I open my mouth, about to interrupt them when a petite girl with short fuchsia pink hair runs over to us, a full shot glass in her hand.


She stops abruptly and jerks to face Rachel.


“WHOA!” she exclaims. “Those earrings are gorgeous, mama!”


Rachel reaches up to touch her blue hoops. “Oh, um, thank you,” she responds, a tinge of discomfort in her normally kind voice.


“GUYS!” The pink haired girl exclaims, tuning to Stone and Scarlett. “Seven different people just bought me drinks! I’m having the best night!”


Stone laughs and looks to Scarlett in understanding. “Figures,” he says. She smirks and tilts her beer in his direction.


I find myself stifling a laugh with them. As much as I’d like to hate these people for their flamboyant dress and intimidating demeanors, their banter reminds me of and Sean and myself, and it eases some of my discomfort.


“HEY NOW,” the pink haired girl says. “You had better DROP the attitude. I’m out here doing the lord’s work.” She reaches into her shirt and pulls out two full shot glasses.


Stone stares, openmouthed, “OH my god?—and they’re FULL too?” He questions.


“Trixie, how the hell?” Scarlett asks, wide-eyed.


“Don’t say I never did anything for you” Trixie smiles and hands them each a shot.


“I will not.” Stone takes his shot from her.


“Clink,” the three say and cheers their shots.


“Dink,” they tap their shot glasses on the bar counter.


“Drink,” the three take the shot.


I exhale some of the nervous breath I had been holding.



Send Help, These People Are Weird




Right,” I say, forcing myself back into this colorful conversation.


Rachel tugs on my arm, interrupting me. “Well, it’s been lovely to meet you all, but we really had better get going,” she says coolly.


“No, no! Actually, I think we are good to stay for a bit?” I raise my eyebrows at her, willing her to catch my drift. I’d like nothing more than to remove myself from this conversation, but this trio of weirdos do seem to know the place well. So, maybe they’ve seen Sean?


I turn to Stone, “You said you come here often? Have you seen this guy anywhere?”


I lean back from the bar and reach into my pocket for my phone, but shimmer on the back of my hand distracts me, I flip my hands over and notice my palms are dusted in a thin dusty glitter from where I had set them on the bar. Great, that will never come off, I hate glitter. This place just keeps getting more irritating.


I pull up a picture of Sean on my phone and hold it toward him. Scarlett and Trixie peer at the photo over his shoulder.


“Wait,” Scarlett says, pointing a finger at the screen. “Isn’t that the guy from the attempted robbery earlier?” She asks Trixie.


“No, it DEFINETELY is,” Trixie nods, her short pink hair bouncing above her shoulders.


“Robbery?!?” I ask, very confused. Sean won’t even take a straw from a restaurant without asking—he’s that pathetic—why would he be involved with a robbery?


“Earlier tonight there was an attempted robbery here,” Stone explains. “Some guy broke in through the back and tried to steal some stuff from the back room. Didn’t get very far though, the bouncers dragged him off into some delivery truck. To the police station, I suppose.”


“Except he didn’t even have to break in,” Scarlett remarks. “The back door is always just open…idiots,” she trails off, rolling her eyes.


“Not that it would make a difference for you, Scar,” Stone comments.


I don’t ask what he means, but something about his casual tone and their shared glances tells me these people might be familiar with the whole ‘breaking and entering’ thing. Rachel seems to have come to the same realization because she takes a step behind me.


“They weren’t bouncers, Stone,” Trixie jumps in. “I know all the bouncers in this place, and I’d never seen those guys before,” she pauses and glances around the club. “One of them is still here, right over there,” she points to a tall man standing near the door to the back room.


I shoot Rachel a concerned look. For the first time tonight, my annoyance at Sean is replaced with fear. I quickly pull out my phone and check Find my Friends again. His location has been turned off. My face heats up as I show the screen to Rachel. Concern flushes her face and I know we are thinking the same thing—he’s in trouble.


“Why do you have a picture of the guy that tried to rob this place?” Scarlett asks, raising an eyebrow at me in an intimidating stare.


Rachel tugs on my arm again, giving me a warning look. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m just thoroughly confused by this entire situation, or because I am still somewhat afraid of these people, but I decide to tell the truth.


“He’s my roommate,” I confess. “He disappeared today, and I haven’t been able to get a hold of him. Find my friends said he’s here.”


“Tough luck, mate,” Stone shakes his head. “Sounds like your roommate got carted off to the looney bin. Tell him to try and be more inconspicuous next time.”


“That’s just not him though,” I argue, for some reason feeling the need to defend Sean to these strangers… err criminals? “He’d never steal a napkin, let alone break into a club,” I look to Rachel for reassurance, and she nods.


“You said that bouncer dragged him off? Can you introduce me?” I ask.


“Trixie said he’s not a bouncer—unless he’s new. We don’t know him personally,” Stone reminds me.


“But, I bet we know someone who could get him to talk,” Scarlett says, turning to face Trixie.


Trixie gives a small giggle and a nod.



Talking to Strangers 101




“Alright guys. No funny business,” Stone tells Trixie and Scarlett. His comment seems to piss off Scarlett, who rolls her eyes and heads back toward the bar.


Trixie meets his eyes, raises her arms, starts dancing, and melts away into the crowd of people on the dance floor.


Stone sighs, clearly irritated. “Great,” he says.


We had discussed our plan briefly. Trixie would strike up a conversation with the guy and try to get some information on where they took Sean. I’m not sure why these people have agreed to help me, but they are the closest lead I’ve got; and for some reason unbeknown to myself, I trust them. Rachel, who was silent through most our own discussion, seems to think otherwise.


Stone looks to Rachel and I and motions toward the bar. I start after him, Rachel following me with a small sigh.


When we reach the bar Scarlett is already there, a glass of wine in hand. Stone walks up to her and plucks the wine glass from her hand.


“Seriously? No drinking, Scar, we are on a mission,” he says.


“Oh, so I can’t drink, but she’s allowed to drink and flirt with a maybe kidnapper?”

She gestures over to Trixie, who’s holding a cocktail and deeply engaged in conversation with the guy she pointed out earlier.


I shudder a bit at her use of the word kidnapper. Could Sean really have been kidnapped? I mean, it sure seems that way. He wouldn’t just rob a place—at least I don’t think he would. He’s not smart enough…or is he? I’m not sure of anything about him right now.


“Geez, did you even listen to our plan? That’s kind of the point,” Stone shakes his head at Scarlett.


I watch Trixie and the guy from a distance when I notice something strange; the guy has a small blue packet in one hand. In one swift movement, he tips packet over the cocktail Trixie is holding and its contents spill into her the drink with a small puff of sparkles.


Panic sets in at what I think I just witnessed, mixed with a tinge of guilt for getting Trixie into this situation in the first place.


Scarlett must have seen it happen too, as she gives a small gasp and grabs at Stone’s arm.


“Should we go over there now?” I ask. Not waiting for a response, I head toward Trixie and the guy.


“Wait, Nate!” Rachel calls after me, but I keep walking.


The guy watches me approach, glaring at me the entire time. Hoping to scare me off, I’m sure. When I reach them, my phone is already out, the picture of Sean pulled up again. My breath catches a bit as I meet his glare, but I am already over here. I just need to distract him and keep Trixie from drinking her drink.


“Have you seen this guy?” I ask him, pushing my phone in front of his face.


“Excuse me?” The guy barks at me, pushing my phone away.


Stone and Rachel appear behind me.


“NATE!” Trixie squeals excitedly. “This is my friend Cal! We just met.” She takes a sip of her cocktail. SHIT.


The man ignores her. “Why would you ask me if I’ve seen that guy?” He asks me, his voice stern. He places a hand on his back pocket, and I see a gun peeking out.


“I--, well, we,” I studder, trying to think of a non-incriminating reason.


“We saw you drag him out,” Trixie chimes in for me. “We were just wondering.”


“What did you put in her drink?” Scarlett has appeared behind me, her wine back in her hand. “Chrono—something?”


Chrono? That sounds familiar. Sean’s dad works for a company called something similar. Chronological, I think. That can’t be a coincidence.


Trixie, who had been happily sipping on her drink, coughs, and sputters, “Huh?”


Scarlett draws a knife out of her boot and points it toward him.


“Whoa!” I exclaim, shocked. I instinctively grab at her knife-holding arm.


“Don’t!” She jerks away from me.


The guy pulls out his gun and wraps an arm around Trixie’s throat, holding her still and placing the gun to her temple.


She squirms in his grasp. “FUCKING HELL!” She shouts.


Scarlett wields her knife toward him.


The people around us take notice of the altercation and back away, some give small shrieks and run off.


“Whoa, whoa, everyone just relax!” Rachel begs, grabbing my arm and pulling me back.


“YEAH, NOT HELPING,” Scarlett yells at her.


“Are you going to answer my question, or do you want me to shove this knife through your eye socket and into your non-existent brain?” Scarlett growls at the guy, poking her knife closer to him.


He laughs. “Yeah. Do that and you guarantee your pink-haired friend a bullet through the head.”


“Damn dude, I thought what we had was SPECIAL,” Trixie comments in a sarcastic tone.


With a sigh, the man releases his grip on Trixie, shoving her toward us. “GET out of my sight, and don’t come back here,” he barks at us.


Rachel pulls me toward the door. The others follow us out into the brisk air of the night.




Bar Parking Lots Are Not My Vibe




Dodging around some groups of people smoking, we file out into the parking lot. Stone and Scarlett are laughing, seemingly unfazed by our recent altercation.


Rachel, on the other hand, is pale in the face and looks as if she might pass out or throw up any second.


“I’VE BEEN DRUGGED!!” Trixie yells, but then her face tilts into a beaming smile. “That was so exciting!” She jumps up and down a few times. “What should we do next? Does you roommate have any other enemies?” She asks me.


The smell of cigarette smoke from the parking lot dwellers wafts over to me and I struggle to gather my thoughts. Nothing makes sense. Why would that guy react so strongly to us asking about Sean? And is Trixie going to be okay? I jerk my head to see if she’s showing any signs of illness, but Stone is already at her side.


“Didn’t you just get drugged or something?” he asks her.


“I feel fine! Maybe I’m immune,” she giggles.


“Okayyy…” Stone answers slowly, scanning her up and down.


“I’m not sure, Trixie” I confess. “I’m not sure I know anything about him anymore. Thank you all for your help, but I don’t want to get you in any more trouble. I mean, you just got drugged because of me.”


“Don’t be ridiculous,” Trixie says. “That was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Where to next?”


“You’d really keep helping me?” I look from Stone and Trixie to Scarlett.


“Gladly,” Stone smiles. “About time we channel our talents to something good.”


“I’d never pass up an opportunity to pull my knife on a guy like that,” Scarlett adds.


My face twists into a smile. I never expected to like people like them, let alone for them to like me. I’m about to respond when Rachel interrupts.


“Would you all excuse us for a moment?” She pulls me further into the parking lot, past a guy puking in some bushes, and out of earshot of everyone.


“Nate what are you doing?!” She sounds panicked. “These people are crazy! And I think they are actual criminals? We can’t trust them.”


“Rachel, it’s fine,” I assure her. “I don’t know what’s going on, but Sean is missing, and these people are our best bet at finding him.”


“Let’s just go home and call the police…please?” Rachel says, but I already know from all the time I’ve spent watching Criminal Minds what the outcome will be.


“You can’t report a person missing until they’ve bene gone at least 48 hours, Rachel,” I shake my head. “And he supposedly responded to my texts, the police won’t understand. They don’t know how out of character this behavior is for him. He needs our help. I just know it.”


I want to wait for her answer, so I just head back toward Trixie, Scarlett, and Stone.


“Scarlett, what was the name of that thing you saw the guy put in Trixie’s drink?” I ask.


“Chrono. It was a sparkly powder in a blue bag. Rookie move of him, leaving it in a labeled packet.”


I drop my eyes to the sparkly dusk that coats the palms of my hands.


“I think I know where we need to look next… If you all are game?” I look around at the group.


Scarlet smirks and looks to a smiling Trixie. Stone gives me a pat on the back. Rachel sighs.


Some People Play Video Games for Fun—Others Dumpster Dive.




“I JUST NEED TO SPEAK TO MR. THOMPSON FOR A SECOND!” I say maybe a little too forcefully to the secretary at Sean’s dad’s office. “Uh, please,” I add for good measure.


It’s the next day, and Rachel and I stand at the front desk of Sean’s dad’s biotech business, Chronologically. The name “Chrono” sounded too familiar to Chronologically for me to not check it out. And if Sean really is with family…well, his dad would definitely know.


“Please, sir.” Rachel chimes in, “it’s about his son.”


“As I’ve already told you kids, The CEO is not seeing guests today,” he answers coolly.


I throw my hands up in defeat and step away from the desk.


“Nate?” A man’s voice calls from behind me.


I turn. It’s him. Sean’s dad—Mr. Thompson. Guess, he’s back from London after all.


“I’m sorry sir, I’ve told them you don’t accept unscheduled visitors,” the secretary says.


Mr. Thompson puts up a hand to silence him, but I’m already rushing across the room.


“Mr. Thompson!” I call. And everything just spills out before I can think of the best way to explain.


“I wanted to talk to you because I’m worried about Sean. He said he was dealing with family stuff but then his location showed up at Lucky’s nightclub and now I haven’t heard from him, have you heard from him at all?” I say, a lot more frantically than I intended.


He looks me up and down.


“No need to worry, Nate. Thank you for your concern, but Sean is out of state visiting some of our extended family. I’m sure he’s just busy catching up with relatives and will contact you soon. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m late for a meeting,” he turns to walk away.


“But why was he at Lucky’s nightclub, sir?” I rush after him. “I think he might have been kidnapped. My friends said they saw him get dragged out.”


He turns back to face me, a hard expression on his face. He takes a deep breathe before speaking again.


“Like I said, nothing to worry about. He’s safe with family. Bye-bye now.” He gets on the elevator and then he’s gone.


Rachel guides me toward the door. “That’s good right?” she asks. “He’s just with family.”


I pull away from her.


“No, I don’t believe that for one second. He was clearly lying through his teeth,” I say, heat rushing into my face.


We exit the front doors of the building to find Stone, Trixie and Scarlett sitting on the curb outside, waiting for us.


Stone’s head pops up in greeting. “Any luck?” he asks.


“No, just more questions,” I say with a sigh.


“Well, look what I found in the dumpster behind this place,” Scarlett holds up another Chrono packet and dips her fingers in. She pulls them back out and holds them out to me, they are dusted in a fine sparkly powder—just like the powder that was on my hands from the bar.


“Huh,” I say. “That’s a weird coincidence, isn’t it? My palms were coated with that stuff after I touched the bar last night.”


Scarlett just nods, “The dumpster was full of them.”


“I for one, would like to ask this Mr. Thompson some questions,” Stone says.


“Well, I definitely can’t go back in there. He was very dismissive to me,” I shake my head.


“And you have your interview today!” Rachel chimes in. “You really should be getting ready for it, Nate.”


“I have plenty of time. The interview isn’t until 1:30 p.m., it’s only 12:30,” I respond matter-of-factly.


She gives a defeated sigh.


“Guess that means we will have to take a turn,” Scarlett stands up from the curb and helps Trixie to her feet.


“Give us 15 minutes,” Stone adds and turns, leaving me to wonder what sort of crime they could possibly have in mind.



I Need A Chill Pill



“They should be out any moment now,” I say, looking down at my phone for the time.


“Right,” Rachel responds, frustration in her voice.


I turn to face her, “What’s wrong? You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to…”


She takes a breath and meets my eyes, “Look, I know this is like the worst possible timing, with Sean and now all of this…” she gestures toward the office building.


“But seeing as we are alone, I don’t think I can keep pretending,” her voice wavers a bit.


I tilt my head, confused, “pretending?” I ask.


“I like you. Okay? And I know you are preoccupied with your new friends—but what I’m saying is I have feelings for you and I have for a while. I love being your friend, so it’s fine if you don’t feel the same way. I just want you to know.”


I stare back at her for a moment, openmouthed. I thought we were just friends. How could she have feelings for me? I don’t even know what to think, let alone what to say. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t feel the same way… do I?


She looks at me expectantly.


“I, uh—” I start, trying to find the right words.


A loud BANG catches us both off guard. A side door of the office building flies open with the force of a black boot…Scarlett.


“Well come on then!” She calls through the open door.


Very thankful for the interruption, I take off toward the door.


“Nate!” Rachel calls after me.


I turn, worried she’s going to expect some sort of response from me, when all I care about right now is finding Sean. But her next words surprise me.


“Don’t go in there, it’s breaking and entering. You’re going to get caught,” she says.


“Rachel, I don’t have much of a choice, Sean needs me,” I say.


“Please, Nate,” her voice is panicky now. “Don’t trust these people. They’re criminals.”


Scarlett gives a fake gasp, “Criminals?” she says sarcastically.


“Shh,” Stone hushes her from inside the building.


“And you have your internship interview! You’re going to miss it!” She’s shouting now.


“Rachel, I’m going in there. You don’t have to come,” I say calmly.


“JUST LEAVE, GIRL. YOU’RE WASTING OUR TIME!” Scarlett shouts out the door to us.


“Scar!” Stone exclaims. I hear them start arguing.


Rachel face fills with hurt and then anger. “Fine,” she says. “Go get yourself arrested and ruin your chances of getting into med school. Just don’t ask me to come rescue you. Have fun with your new delinquent friends.” She stalks off.


I watch her walk away, wondering if I should go after her. But right now, all that matters is Sean needs me. If we find him, he’d better be VERY grateful for all I’ve gone through for him.


I make my way to the door that Scarlett holds open. Stone stands behind her, giving me a sympathetic look.


I take a deep breath and walk in.



My New Friends are Pretty Cool, I Guess.




“Trixie is keeping the secretary busy until we get back,” Stone informs me. “But we need to move quickly. The directory says the CEO’s office is on the fourth floor.”


“Hopefully, he has a computer in there,” Scarlett adds. “That will be our best bet for finding out who he has been talking to recently—which will be a good indicator of what he knows of Sean’s whereabouts as well.”


I nod, impressed by how quickly they had formulated a plan that could actually lead us to some answers. Maybe they really are criminals, I think. But the good kind, more like superheroes. Or at least in this circumstance. From what they’ve mentioned of their past activities it seems like they might have not always been so hero-worthy.


We make our way down the hallway to the elevator and press the fourth-floor button. Luckily, we don’t pass anyone along the way, but I notice Stone clenching his fists and peeking around corners—ready for an attack at any moment.


The elevator doors open on the fourth floor, and we get out. Stone gestures to the right and we follow him into another long hallway.


Eventually, we arrive at a door labeled ‘CEO.’ The blinds are drawn, and inside, the office looks dark. I try the doorknob. It doesn’t budge.


“Locked,” I announce.


“Move,” Scarlett says, dropping to her knees in front of the door. She pulls out the bobby pins from her hair and starts fiddling with the lock.


Maybe Rachel was right. This was a bad idea. I start pacing nervously, wondering what will happen if someone rounds the corner and sees us attempting to break into Mr. Thompson’s office. I mean, they know EXACTLY who I am.


“Guys, I know we need to get the computer but maybe we should come back a different day?” I ask. “I mean we left Trixie down there and who knows how much time we have before—”


“—Would you cool it?” Scarlett snaps at me. “I’ve got this.”


She continues to fidget with the lock and the bobby pins, taking them out of the lock and bending them into different formations every few seconds.


I pace around the hallway for a bit and then turn back to the door.


“Seriously Scarlett. If you can’t get it—that’s fine. We will figure out a different way. I just don’t want to draw attention to use on case—”


The door lock clicks open.


Scarlett looks back to me and smirks, standing up, “We’re in.” She opens the door and walks through.


Stone pats me on the shoulder and smiles, following after her. “She had it,” he says.


“How was I supposed to know she had it? I sputter. “I didn’t—”


“—Shut up and get in here!” Scarlett calls from inside the office. Stone pushes me through the door.



Baby’s First: Breaking, Entering, and Robbery




I don’t know how we could have gotten luckier. On Mr. Thompson’s desk sits a laptop. I rush over to it and open it. But of course, just like the electronic of any intelligent person who has something to hide, it’s password locked.


“It has a password,” I say, matter-of-factly.


Scarlett is already in motion, ruffling through the stacks of papers on the desk. Stone stays by the door, keeping watch for any sign of trouble. This clearly isn’t their first rodeo.


“Try some combinations of Sean’s birthday or something,” Stone suggests.


The password is 10 digits. Geez that’s a lot. Okay, okay. Think Nate, Sean’s birthday is December 18, 2000—I’ll start there.


1-2-1-8-0-0-S-E-A-N. Wrong.


2-0-0-0-D-E-C-S-H-T Wrong.


S-E-A-N-H-A-R-O-L-D Wrong.


“Nothing’s working!” I exclaim, frustrated. Well now we’ve broken into this office for no reason at all! I can’t even get his stupid laptop open.


Scarlett is opening desk doors and hurriedly shuffling through their contents.


“Think, Nate,” Stone says in a steady voice. “Pet’s names? Hometown?”


“Ugh, Okay,” I try to remember if Sean has ever mentioned any pets. I know he had a dog from when he was a kid, what was his name?


I do know Sean’s family is originally from Tampa Bay, Florida. I start trying some combinations of Tampa Bay. Nothing works. I slam shut the laptop in frustration and stand up from the desk, looking around for any clues.


Scarlett has moved on from the desk drawers to sorting through the file cabinet.


Stone taps his foot impatiently, “C’mon, Nate.”


Then it hits me. I remember Sean saying his dad used to fly to Florida to go to football games all the time.


I sit back down at the desk and open the laptop.


C-M-O-N-G-A-T-O-R-S


G-A-T-O-R-S-1-2-3-4


F-L-O-R-G-A-T-O-R-S


The computer unlocks.


“I DID IT!” I exclaim.


Stone clasps his hands together excitedly. I start clicking through his emails.


“Nate,” Scarlett says from across the room.


“Just a second,” I tell her, skimming through his new messages.


“NATE,” she says more forcefully. “Please… tell me this isn’t what I think this is…”


I over to see what she’s talking about and my face heats up, I think I might be sick.


In her hand, in its black and red case with the NYU sticker, is Sean’s phone.




END OF PART ONE



Part two coming in 2022



Read more of AnnE's work:


https://www.blackholeentertainmentco.com/post/short-story-contest-winner-2nd-place-anne-ford


https://www.blackholeentertainmentco.com/post/the-amazing-adventures-of-decor-man



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