Although the music had long stopped, the bleeding from the man’s headshot continued to gush out on the cold tiles that slowly turned into a puddle. The rest of his lifeless body lay on the carpet. The blood dripped across his bald head onto his lips. If he would still be alive, there was no doubt with the way his mouth hung open, he would choke and feel disgusted at the red liquid of the metallic taste.

If someone were to ask you what you associate red with, you would say it’s the color of passion, love, desire.

But how can you see blood and feel a sense of desire from it?

You finally exhaled, feeling your warm, shaky gasp rushing through your fingers. Your brain hadn’t caught up to what your eyes were seeing through the blurry sight. Your hands were shaking, feeling the sense of your fingertips grazing your lips.

You huddled next to the stairs in the corridor behind the corner, trying to calm your breath. Your heart pounded fast. You felt as if it would stop any second if you wouldn’t lean your arm against the wall as you started about to fall off balance.

The chili con carne from before spun in your stomach. You could nearly savor it again. One wrong move, and it would land all over your feet, so you tried to hold it back. No words could escape your mouth. No sense of form, no sense of meaning could appear in your mind.

You were so focused on the dead body, you forgot that Qi’ra and your mother were standing right next to it.

And before the numbness in your legs made you slightly kneel; you felt a sudden bump on the back of your head. Shaggy eyebrows were now in the same eyesight as you, pinning you against the corridor wall.

“I bloody believe that I told you to hide and only come out when we call you!” Qi’ra spoke aloud. “And yet seeing you here, I somehow don’t remember calling you!”

Bloody was indeed the correct word to describe this situation.

You noticed Qi’ra’s sweat with blood flowing on the side of her forehead toward her temple. Her hair was a mess, such as her black shirt that was splattered with blood. You knew it was not her own.

Every second you spend on finding the right words to say, her heavy breathing through her nostrils expanded, and her arm pressed into your chest, trying to squash them out of you.

“You killed him…” you finally expressed, like a burden that fell off your back.

“In self-defense,” she specified steadily.

“This didn’t look like self-defense to me,” you determined in a critical tone. “The guy could not defend himself when you shot him!”

She turned her head to the side in confusion. “I’m not sure whether you need some pair of glasses or someone to knock some sense into you, but you clearly didn’t see the complete show!”

“Qi’ra!” your mother pronounced loudly, still standing next to the corpse, yet you and the femme fatale ignored her.

“It doesn’t matter what I saw or didn’t. You killed a man who was begging for his life! He told you he wasn’t here to kill you, and yet, you shot a bullet straight through his head with a wicked smile on your face like a psychopath!”

At your remark, Qi’ra’s arm sunk painfully, even deeper into your chest. She had noticed how your body trembled.

“Do you hear yourself? Do you seriously believe that a man with no intention to kill would rather break through a window instead of literally using the door?” She pointed with her other hand towards the entrance door opposite the open room. “Your logic is really on point.”

You heard your mother’s footsteps approaching the two of you. “Qi’ra, the body!” she hinted through grunted teeth.

The blood from her nose had already dried out like the salty tears in your eyes. Just like Qi’ra, your mother had some blood drops of the dead man splashed on her face. Yet somehow, it didn’t disturb them at all. It’s like they were used to being covered in a stranger’s blood. That of course if he even was a stranger to them.

Qi’ra turned her face to your mother. “He’s dead! He can wait. I’m not done with this child yet,” she murmured, turning her face back to you. “Tell me,” she continued in a lowered tone. “If a burglar dressed in a fairy costume would break into your house and assure you, he’s only here to collect your teeth, would you believe him?”

You parted your mouth, ready to give away the accurate answer.

Suddenly made the knocker, an unexpected loud thumping at the front door.

The anger on Qi’ra’s face disappeared as she let go of you, with her stern gaze fixed on the door. “Are we expecting anyone?”

“Let’s hope it’s not our fellow’s backup,” your mother replied. “One dead body on my carpet is enough.” She stepped carefully in the monitor's direction, wondering who was behind the wooden front door.

You gently stroke the spot where Qi’ra had printed her muscular arm on your chest. Your gaze briefly fell backward to the corpse lying just opposite the front door, where a second knock tapped on it. This time a female voice boomed out.

“Police! Would you mind opening the door?”

Well shit…

Before you could blink, you felt Qi’ra’s black leather gloves pulling you by your right ear.

“Did you call the police?” she demanded harshly.

“Ow, no, ouch, I swear I didn’t!” you howled, trying to break free from her arm.

“For the love of God, let go of my daughter!” your mother commanded in irritation, instantly walking towards Qi’ra. “We’ve got to hide the body. Now!”

Qi’ra pushed you in front of her. “And what is your dearest daughter going to do meanwhile?”

Your mother cupped quickly yet gentle your cheeks, stroking your tiny, harmless cut wounds from the window. Her eyes were so calm, as if she were confident, that no shadow would ever cause you to look at something such disgusting as in the open room. Her presence calmed you, and her scream from before was now in your head on mute.

Your eyes narrowed to her fist, on which bruises were visible on her knuckles. You imagined how hard she probably had to hit the man without breaking her bones.

“Well, someone with no dirt on themselves has to open the door and talk to the officer,” she implied, studying you up and down for hints of blood that could have occurred when the glass broke.

“You know we’re not supposed to cooperate with the police!” Qi’ra frowned. “The officer has no warrant, so we’re not even required to open the door, let alone speak to her.”

“This is a small neighborhood with old renters who have nothing better to do than play surveillance cameras, and gossip around,” your mother spat back in a hushed tone. “Not opening the door would only make us look more suspicious! Let her talk to the officer, lie if she has to while you help me move the body in the car.”

She paused for a solid second. They both looked at you with a judgment on their mind, trying to consider if you’re worthy enough to open the door. Trustworthy enough to lie to a police officer if any question would occur. Acting like everything is fine, and not like you were now a part of a suspect for seeing a cold-blooded… murder.

With no verbal communication and a nod, they had made their decision. Your mother took Qi’ra by the arm as they instantly turned around, making their way back, kneeling by the bloody carpet.

“What if I refuse to do it?” you hesitated without thinking of the consequences.

Neither Qi’ra nor your mother liked what they heard, both of them holding their eyes high above their foreheads.

What you didn’t expect, however, was Qi’ra’s next move.

The pistol, of which from far away, you could still see the blood sticking on the muzzle, was now pointed at you.

“Then I’ll shoot you and the officer,” Qi’ra forewarned, her face showing no wrinkles or let alone emotions.

Time stopped. You paled, and your body paralyzed at the moment of seeing the femme fatale having no mercy on her face doing what she had in mind. She would do what any psychopath would do.

If I refuse to listen to her again, I will end like the man you thought to yourself.

“Qi’ra!” shouted your mother so loud that you were sure even the police officer heard it.

“Okay, fine, then I’ll only kill the cop,” she affirmed. “But it’s your choice. You wouldn’t want another innocent person to die, would you?”

You shook your head, keeping in mind that Qi’ra might pull the trigger, after all. Your mother’s eyes were begging you to listen for once and do what Qi’ra had ordered you to.

You couldn’t lose her. If the police officer would take her to prison, it would have the same effect as flying away for months on her business trips. And now that she finally had been at home for longer than a week, you could at least now spend more time with her. If their only wouldn’t be the other woman, taking her away from you.

Time passed for a while as the police officer knocked the second time. You took a deep breath, smoothed down your skirt, and turned to the door of release, which could also be the way to your own lock-up. Since no third knock occurred, the police had perhaps given up on you for not replying and drove away.

You lowered your eyes to the door handle as you stretched out your nervous hand, feeling the touch of the cold metal. You pushed the handle down and opened the door only halfway.

The air breezed into the warm and cozy house. Instead of the frigid night crouching at the door, there stood in wonderment an alluring woman. She wore a black uniform with a white shirt underneath her body armor and a police cap with a thick gold cord. Her long, dark, thick locs covered her chest. You noticed on her shoulder flaps a badge of rank with a laurel wreath enclosing four gold stars.

Whoever this woman was, her presence at your front door meant absolutely nothing good.

“Good evening, dear citizen. It took you a while to open the door for me. Care to explain why?” she requested in a firm tone with a gush of intimidation in it.

She placed her hands on her armor, which affirmed “police” on it, with several pockets that were stuffed with all the typical police supplies.

You did not know where this conversation would lead you, but you wanted to prevent her from getting shot by Qi’ra. One body was indeed enough.

“Sorry, we… uh… I was kinda in the middle of something—” you stumbled upon your own words with a shaky smile. But you weren’t fast enough to form a false story in your head, and just like you expected it to be, the police officer cut you off.

“Listen, kid. I know what’s going on. No need to come up with a lie.”

Your eyes rounded at the size of the full moon that hung above you in the dark. Was that it? Had your life now drawn a line because a mysterious psycho lady has taken the life of a man? And the policewoman was here to arrest you all?

“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you tried to prevent her statement. You swallowed all the fear you had of the police, just as you had done with your dinner before.

“I’m convinced you to know exactly what I’m talking about,” the officer declared one more time.

She held her chin high above, piercing with her timber brown eyes a stern look that would reveal the truth out of you and what you try to hide behind the door.

You heard the jangling of all the different keys when she reached into her pocket and removed a pair of silver handcuffs. You cast a glimpse of them and how they shimmered under the bright moonlight. Not only that, but you felt the tension rising in your body as you puckered your forehead and darted your eyes back to her.

There is no one more to fear than a person who looks innocent and is yet capable with a smile to look into the eyes of their target and kill them. And that kind of person was now hiding a body with your mother. And you were covering them. Or at least that’s what you were told to do. Many kids your age lie to the police officers’ face every day. And yet, somehow, you terribly sucked at it.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but whatever is happening here, it doesn’t concern you,” you repeated one more time in a deadpan tone.

What a joke. Of course, the dead body on the carpet is a reason to be concerned about. That’s why the police officer was here. Those damn ol’ neighbors must have heard the crack of the terrace windows and therefore called the police.

The officer waggled one of her eyebrows and made a loud sound that appeared to be a laugh.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t take it anymore!” she guffawed, placing the handcuffs back in the pocket. “You were so funny to look at.”

Her laughter took you by surprise, to which you relaxed your shoulders and started nervously chuckling with her, acutely aware of the fact that something was not right.

“Why are we laughing?”

“You should have seen your face when I took out the handcuffs,” she pointed her finger at your face and continued laughing. “You looked like a chihuahua about to attack me.”

You scratched your head in confusion and glanced back to get a flash of how the situation with the body was going. To your luck, the dead body disappeared, but the blood puddle that he left behind was still on the floor.

“Too much of the healthy red wine?”

You snapped your head back outdoors, ready to punch yourself in the face for not being careful enough. The police officer had sneaked a peek inside your house.

“Yeah, it’s a… hell of a night,” you said with a fake smile and stepped outside on the doormat. You carefully closed the front door behind so that it only left a little space for you to get back inside.

“I know. That’s why I came,” she admitted, ruffling her plump lips, which had the shade of a dark berry.

Your fake smile fainted, and you quickly shoved your hands in your blazer. “Come again?”

“Is Finnegan here?”


You flipped through your memory like the pages of a book to come across the name that seemed so familiar, but you no longer remembered. Your tongue twitched until the light bulb in your head finally turned on.

“You mean Finn?”

“Yes, he told me about your birthday party at your house, and since he didn’t reply to me, I thought I should come for a check-up.”

It took you a while to realize that the woman standing right in front of you, who only a short time ago had scared you to death, turned out to be Finn’s adoptive mother.

“Did he really? Wow,” you chortled, planning already a way to give him a payback. “I almost forgot.”

“So, is he still at your house?”

You folded your arms and leaned against the wall, starting effortlessly to come up with a story.

“Actually, you just missed him. He took the bus. I assume his phone died on the way, and he’ll be soon at home. I’m currently having a little after-party with my mother and… my aunt who came to visit,” you said carefully.

“Uh-huh, I see,” the police officer narrowed her gaze in deep study. “Well, he better be in his bed when I get back.”

You smiled, nudging forward with your head. You just wanted the police officer to be gone. It was already enough that she saw the blood that you wished would be red wine, and the dead man would only be drunk and unconscious.

You smiled, nudging forward with your head. You just wanted the police officer to be gone. It was already enough that she saw the blood that you wished would be red wine, and the dead man would only be drunk and unconscious.

And maybe this was a dream. Maybe Qi’ra did indeed shoot you, and you were now hallucinating from the pain that the bullet had caused you. But when you pinched yourself on the arm, you felt everything you had to understand that this was far away from a dream and way too close to a living nightmare.

“Sorry again for giving you nearly a heart attack. That was not my intention. Have a great birthday, and don’t be too loud. You know the law during quiet hours,” the police officer reminded you with a hint of a wink.

“Oh yeah, we’re all aware of the… law,” you jested, extending your eyes. “Have a good night.”

And on that, she climbed in her police car, which you didn’t even notice, and drove away. You let out a deep breath. Lying to Finn’s mother wasn’t so bad after all. Your first intention was to reach for your phone and text Finn.

Finn text message

Finn didn’t tell you about his evening plans, so you just hoped the same didn’t happen to him as it did to the miserable dead housebreaker.



When you got back inside, you made sure you shut the door. You wouldn’t need any extra surprises that would swift you off your feet.

Back at home, it had been quiet. When you were about to step into the open room, you remarked they had washed up the blood on the floor. Your gaze moved to the right, seeing Qi’ra and your mother sitting on the wooden bar tools by the kitchen, eating your birthday cake in peace.

“Hooray, at least the cake survived,” you cheered, ironically.

Both your mother and Qi’ra stopped in motion, the crumbs from the cake falling on their lap.

They shared meaningful eye contact, and your mother placed her plate on the counter. “How did it go with the police officer?” she asked eagerly, brushing her naked palms together.

“Fine,” you answered simply. “She suspected nothing.”

“Did you find out why she knocked?” Qi’ra joined the conversation.

“She’s the parent of a friend of mine, and she thought he was here, so she just came to check on him. But I — I told her he’s gone.”

Luckily for you, your mother didn’t ask if you wanted a piece of the cake. One thought about the dead body was enough to ruin your appetite and make your stomach twist as you nearly threw up in the hall. She just nodded in approval and put on a smile.

What was there to smile about? Your mother sat next to a murderer, eating cake as if the terrace window never broke, and she didn’t see the guy die in front of her. Was she blind? Was this her reaction to seeing someone pass before her eyes? Just ignore it?

You looked around the room. Only one snow globe from your mother’s collection remained unbroken. It had splattered many glasses on the floor, and you noticed that something was missing.

“I’m sure you have a lot of questions,” you heard your mother’s soft voice through one ear.

You returned your gaze to them. “Yeah, where’s the carpet?”

Your mother gasped, clasping her hands together and placed them on her knees while Qi’ra continued to stuff the cake between her cheeks.

“That’s what you choose as your first question? Where’s the carpet?” Her scolded tone was full of absurdity.

You folded your arms in disapproval. “What? At least I wasn’t the one who said it was a shame to throw it away after killing someone,” you protested, throwing Qi’ra a critical look. “And my second question would be what are we going to do about the broken slide doors.”

Your mother gave Qi’ra a sinister glance that caused her eyes to stretch out and blink twice. She placed her plate down on the counter in surrender, took a napkin, and brushed off her mouth.

“Don’t worry about that, we’ll have it fixed,” Mom implied, returning the attention to you.

As Qi’ra stood up and walked over to you, your reaction was to take a big step back. She noticed you moving backward away from her, and you could see the disappointment in her bluish eyes.

“I advise you to get dressed in something much more comfortable — and warmer,” she suggested in a sharp tone. “And leave your phone in your room.”

“Why? Where are we going?”

“You’ll see,” she hinted with a smirk.

You looked at your mother, who was pointing with her head for you to go up the stairs. Was Qi’ra now the new boss of this house?

You thought for a second about refusing to obey her. But then an unpleasant memory rumbled over you of how unemotionally Qi’ra held a pistol on you and didn’t hesitate to shoot you if you wouldn’t listen to her.

Before the attack, you would never think of her like this. A while ago, you were laughing and dancing around with her as if the world were finally at peace, and no cruelty could ever crawl out of the black hole and harm you. But that was, as it seems, only a facade behind her mask.

You gave an unladylike snort and turned your back to the femme fatale, making your way to your room. You shot the door behind you and opened your dresser. Something warm and comfortable…

You put on your sweatpants and a hoodie and left your phone on your nightstand. Your thoughts went all crazy, but you didn’t give them any attention. You didn’t feel like listening to them and letting Qi’ra wait any longer for you. The adventure was not over yet. But you were sure about one thing. Your birthday really couldn’t get any worse.

You jogged down the stairs and found the two ladies sitting together on the couch, whispering to each other.

“Done,” you stated, jamming your hands in your hoodie pocket.

They shrugged, and your mother took a last glance at Qi’ra, who examined you from top to bottom in deep thoughts. Was this not good enough for her?

“What are we waiting for?” you expressed, wondering why they sat there, staring at you.

“Don’t you want to know what — what just happened?” your mother disputed, gesturing with her hands. “Don’t you expect us to give you an explanation?”

“I expected one since Qi’ra’s arrival, but now? I don’t know…” you mentioned in a low tone with a shrug of the shoulders, looking defeated at the floor.

Immediately, your words jumped into your head about how, just a short time ago, you were happy to live in a house with Qi’ra. Looks like this was now just a regrettable thought of yours.

And at that moment, what you assumed would be your mother’s role, Qi’ra spoke. She filled your brain with explanations and pieces of information you didn’t expect, though everything was clearly understandable. And although you were looking at the femme fatale, your brain thought about your mother’s sorrowful face. Qi’ra finished her speech with the termination of “no further questions permitted” and “this stays a secret.”

You furrowed a brow, narrowed your eyes, and relaxed your breath, placing both your hands on your hips.

Without being allowed to ask anything, you did not know how to reply. The words died out in your mouth, the more you analyzed to baffle your memories of all the signs you hadn’t seen before.

Your mother and her stress drinking when Qi’ra moved in, the cameras all over the house, Qi’ra’s anxiety in public places, the whole over-protectiveness… It all made sense. And yet, the murder did not fit in.


About the author


Bio: Sleep is good, but Kylo Ren, fiction and food are better🐒

"Do. Or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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