Tonight was special for Joe Robson. It was his birthday. He had turned 24 today and was hanging out with a bunch of his mates and they were drinking. That was all he could remember. Then he was waving goodbye to his friend Matthew, who had sent him back to the apartment he lived in. Joe stumbled at the front door as he groped his pocket for the key. “Shit, where did I put the keys?” Just then a light shone. “Having difficulties there, young lad?” It was his neighbor, the irritating old man who always listened to his stereo which was always blasting some sort of weird and ancient music. Joe reeked of alcohol and knew the old man was a health-conscious freak. “Stay away from me or I’ll vomit all over your face.” The old man backed away. At this moment, the key fell out of his shirt pocket. Joe picked it up and unlocked the door, slamming it shut the moment he got in. “Young people these days are just so rude…..” The old man mumbled to himself as he made his way back home and turned on his stereo as he prepared to turn in for the night.
Joe was disorientated by the alcohol, but he was still awake and conscious. “Damn that old man and his stereo, I’ll break both of them when I see them again.” But Joe was more bothered about another thing. Tomorrow morning his parents would pick him up for breakfast as a belated celebration for his birthday. Both of them were extremely busy and could only make it for tomorrow. And both of them were extremely strict with tidiness and cleanliness, much like the old man. He remembered that day when his father saw his apartment and screamed at him. “What the hell are you doing to your room? This place isn’t fit for human living.” Then his mom slipped on a piece of sock and went crashing onto the bed. Except that the bed was covering his pile of unwashed clothes and the impact made everyone aware of that. “I…. am withholding your allowance for this month. If we ever see this again we will never give you any more money… Understand?” Grudgingly, Joe nodded. He was lazy and he knew it. There was no way he could hang on to a job and he needed the money his parents provided. The sad truth that dawned on him now was that his room would probably be a war zone to his parents. To his right was his clothing all strewn over the living room. To his left were his beer bottles littering the kitchen. Sighing, he set down to work. It would be a long night.
Unbeknownst to him, someone was watching Joe all the time and was waiting for the right time to strike. That man had a cap on him and was wearing a black suit and gloves. On his hands were a birthday cake box and a bottle of Sprite. He had been careful. No one had been suspicious or even seen him. “Happy Birthday Joe,” he muttered. Now was the time for him to move.
“Crap” Joe jumped at the doorbell. Who could it be at this hour? His parents? No, they hardly had time to drop by and it was now late at night. Besides they were coming tomorrow, visiting now would serve no purpose at all. Could it be his friends? Possibly. They could have followed him back here and were going to surprise him. With a smile etched on his face, Joe walked to the door and opened it. Standing right before him was a man whose facial features were partially hidden by a pair of sunglasses and cap. His hands held the box of a birthday cake and a bottle of Sprite. “Who are you?” “Oh don’t you remember me? I would like to wish you a happy birthday just like you did to me 5 years ago at Running Hill.” Joe pondered for a while, before realization came crashing down on him like a wave. Before he had any time to react, the contents of the bottle of Sprite was splashed onto his face. It felt as though thousands of glass pieces seared into his face. His vision blurred as he opened his mouth to scream. But no words came out as he felt a blow to his head, and he knew no more.