Despite the thick summer heat, her hands quivered uncontrollably. Crouching behind a rose bush, she placed them on her knees to help keep them steady.
You can do this...
She was outside the house of a certain Elroy McCaffery. There were two things that drew her to this man it particular. One, he had money. She needed money.
And two, he was an older gentleman. Which made her job much easier.
You have the whole plan laid out...
Delora was an obsessive planner. There wasn’t a day that went by where she didn’t lay out every single detail of her proceedings. She left nothing to chance. She calculated the errors and always had a backup plan in place. Several backup plans actually. Some called it OCD, but she didn’t like that term. That made it sound like a disorder, a disability, a disease. To Delora, it was a gift. It undoubtedly was the reason for her perfect GPA, which was the reason she got into her dream school.
Which is why I’m here in the first place...
Money was something that Delora did not have. Despite her part time job at a local deli, she was unable to save up enough to put a tiny dent in her tuition, and her scholarships could only go so far. She came from the “wrong side of the tracks”, as some may put it. She lived with her father, her mother ran out when she was young. And her father was by no means a decent man. He was a drunk and a gambler, a bad one at that. Which had placed Delora in her current situation. She couldn’t qualify for financial aid. Her father made too much money. Which he then lost every Friday in the back of a sleazy, rundown bar. She had explored every possible option, but tuition for an ivy league school was just too much.
Oh how I envy those trust fund babies...
This was the option that made the most sense. It got her the highest amount of money in a minimal amount of time. She knew Elroy kept a large sum of money in his house, and she knew it wasn’t even in a safe. He kept it in a locked drawer in his study. She knew this because if you sat on a particular bench in the park across the street, you could see into his window to his second story study. And if you happened to obtain a pair of binoculars and pretended you were studying the migratory patterns of birds, you could see very clearly into said window. Elroy held meetings in this study. During these meetings, he often opened this drawer to withdraw or deposit large stacks of bills. Delora was pretty sure that whatever these meetings were, they weren’t exactly legal. So when he noticed the money missing the next day, there was almost no chance he would contact the proper authorities. And even if he had, she was off to college in a mere two days, and would never be returning home. She wouldn’t have to stick around for the nerve racking investigation, and she wouldn’t exactly be a suspect.
The only thing throwing Delora off was his blatant disregard for ensuring any sort privacy in his home. He didn’t seem to care if anyone witnessed these private transactions.
But the simplicity of the theft was too much for her to pass up. She needed the money more than he did anyhow.
Now or never...
Delora stood up, slightly more stable now. She drifted over to the backdoor, and the tremors started to return. She pulled out a lock pick kit that she bought two towns over. She had made a point to mention to the cashier that she lost the key to an old jewelry box her grandmother gave her, so her purchase did not raise any alarms. Probably unnecessary, but was a nice safe guard none the less. She jimmied it around a bit and the lock popped open.
The things the Internet can teach you these days....
She gently closed the door behind her. Her confidence was instantly boosted. Her quiet walk turned from shaky stumble to confident stride. She pulled out a small flashlight and made her way to the stairs. The study was on the second floor, and she knew Mr. McCaffery slept on the third. She doubted that he would be able to hear her with his old age, but she was careful none the less.
She made a quick left at the top of the stairs. The study was down at the very end of the hall. She crept to the door and slowly tested the handle.
She drew in a sharp breath, held it, and turned the doorknob. Resting her hand on the edge of the door, she gave it a little shove. It’s well-oiled hinges gave in noiselessly.
This is going to be too easy.
Closing the door behind her, she crept over to the desk. Again pulling out her trusty kit, she went to work. The lock was easier to crack than the door.
She slid it open, ready to quickly stash the cash in her backpack and get out of there as quickly as possible.
There was nothing in it.
Scratch that, there was a small, ripped piece of paper. She picked it up, puzzled and shined her flashlight on it.
In delicate, cursive writing the note read “My turn”.
The lights snapped on.
Elroy stood in the doorway, a sly grin slowly spreading across his face.
She stood up. The note fell from her hand and slowly drifted towards the carpet.
Delora hit the ground before it did
Delora woke up on a cold, hard, stone floor. She slowly sat up and rubbed her temples, trying to remove the fog she felt clouding her head.
She felt a throbbing pain in her foot. She inspected the sole of her tennis shoe and saw a small hole penetrating the heel. She decided this was mostly likely the cause of her fainting. Delora stood up slowly, not wanting the blood to rush to her head, and inspected her surroundings.
The walls were made of the same grey stone as the floor. There were no windows and there was a sole metal door on the right wall of the room. She shivered and exhaled, her breath like smoke.
There was absolutely nothing in the room. Seeing no other option, Delora approached the door. She slowly pushed on the metal bar going across it and it creaked open. She poked her head through the small opening. This room looked empty as well. Sensing no real danger, she pushed it open the rest of the way and tentatively walked inside.
The door slammed shut behind her.
Delora jumped from the noise, and turned around to try to reopen the door. It wouldn’t budge.
Well I guess there’s no going back now.
She turned back around to inspect her new surroundings. The same grey stone covered the walls and floor. Again, there were no windows and this room didn’t even have another door. She glanced around and noticed a loudspeaker flush against the ceiling.
“Why hello Delora,” it crooned, “glad to see you’ve awoken”.
She said nothing.
“Did you really think I didn’t notice you watching me through my window? Did you really think I would leave my money that easily accessible?”
She did not answer.
“Well, it’s no matter now. Luckily, I’ve had this little shindig installed in my basement. I can’t say you were the first to try to rip off my poor old self. You children are quite selfish these days... Delora, you don’t have to stand quite so still. You look like you’re practically frozen in place my dear.”
She did not move.
“Well, that’s quite alright I guess. I’ve put together some fun for you; everyone deserves some fun in their final hours. But don’t go getting your hopes up, you won’t find a way out. And unfortunately, this game must end at sunrise. As you probably understand, I can’t have you wandering around down here all day. I have business to attend to, seeing as I actually work for my hard earned dollars, and I will not be able to keep an eye on you. Well, I’ve talked quite enough now. Enjoy!”
The intercom made a faint buzzing noise and then went silent. A part of the wall then slid open in front of her, revealing a hidden doorway into the next room.
Delora stood for a few moments more, quietly working things through in her head. She then calmly walked forward, through the doorway and into the next room.
As before, as soon as she entered, the door slid shut behind her. She didn’t jump this time. This room, predictably, looked like the others. Empty, except for a door directly across the room from her. Delora wasn’t seeing a point to all of this, but slowly started moving forward anyhow. What else was she to do?
About halfway across the room, part of the floor dropped out from underneath her right foot. She tilted back on her left just in time and tumbled backwards. A gap about 4 feet wide had formed across the entire room, cutting her off from the door on the other side. She crawled over towards it and peered over the edge. There was a pit at least 20 feet deep.
“That was quite a good trap, wasn’t it?” Elroy’s voice filled the air. “Isn’t it amazing what enough money will buy you?”
Delora ignored him as she got to her feet. She backed up, sprinted and jumped, safely making it to the other side. She walked through the next door, this time without hesitation.
Door slammed, empty room, one exit.
This is going to be extremely repetitive...
She went to cross the room, a bit more carefully this time. She tested the ground beneath her before applying her weight to each step. She slowly approached the middle of the room.
She got a bit more confident and picked up the pace, but only slightly. A couple more steps then..
The stone beneath her foot sunk a little, and tall wooden spears shot up right in front of her face, just barely missing her.
Delora gasped and then crumpled to the floor.
Elroy frowned. He thought this one had showed some promise.
He was sitting in a plush velvet chair in a small room. Small flat screens covered the wall in front of him. He waited, patiently, for the girl to awaken. An hour passed and she hadn’t even stirred. Elroy frowned again.
It was not uncommon for his participants to die from fright. The tranquilizer he used could make the heart rather weak, and it was occasionally just too much to handle. He figured he’d wait some more, optimistically hoping that her terror had only caused a temporary loss of consciousness.
Another hour had passed. “She should be awake by now,” he said aloud. It was almost sunrise and he did not have much more time to waste. He sighed, giving up, and arose from his chair. Mine as well get the body to the furnace now, and then he could even get a few hours of sleep before his meeting.
He walked over to a keypad on the wall and quickly punched in a four digit code. The wall in front of him slid open, and he stepped forward into the room were Delora laid crumpled on the floor. She was on her side with her back towards him, and did not appear to be breathing. He flipped her onto her back and grabbed hold of her ankles.
“I’m getting too old for this,” he puffed as he began to drag her through the doorway.
He was nearly to the door when Delora’s eyes suddenly sprung open. She had tugged her feet loose of his grasp and expertly used her leg to swipe his feet from underneath him before his feeble body had time to react.
He buckled to the floor, his head crashing to the stone. His harsh, authoritative eyes suddenly softened and looking pleadingly up at her as Delora pulled out a knife she had strapped to her leg, concealed under her jeans.
She knelt down next to him and smiled.
“Where’s the money Elroy?”
Delora always had a plan for everything.