“And have you noticed anything out of the ordinary?” “Nothing.” “So has she contact police? Tried anything?” “Not that I have seen, no.” “So do you think she is still a threat?” Joe shrugged. “I don’t know. It can be hard to tell.” Mary sighed, “look, she either is or isn’t.” “I do not think she can harm us, however it would be better to take care of her.” Mary looked at him for a moment, deliberating. “No. If we do that it might bring some negative attention towards us. You already put us in danger with your little stunt. If we’re not careful we’ll have to pull up stakes and move again. We’re not quite ready for that yet.” Joe opened his mouth, then shut it quickly as she glared at him. “We leave her. She doesn’t know anything. We’ll be safe if you don’t go off and fuck things up again.” Joe nodded slightly. She was wrong and he knew it, Ariadne was a loose end they couldn’t afford. She should be dealt with, Mary just couldn’t see it. “I’ll leave her alone.” “Good.” “Anything else to report?” “No, everything else is on schedule. We don’t need to worry about it.” “Right. Get back out there, make sure you’re seen. It will throw up doubts if she goes to the police.” Joe smiled, “Don’t worry, she won’t.”
Mary turned from him and went to her desk, he stood and left quietly. Things were falling out of her control. Joe had messed up, badly. He wouldn’t have done it a year ago. He was getting careless. It didn’t matter. She’d get everything under control, she always did.
The first day was awkward as they both tried to forget about what happened, but things returned to normal startlingly fast. Neither felt too much guilt over what they had done. Both felt as though it was a head clearing experience, they felt more focused. Ariadne had read the letter twice more, she wasn’t as upset by it now. She saw it for what it was, vulgar, empty threats. She was safe at the moment and Joe knew it too. He was trying to shock her into doing something stupid. She considered going to the police, but with everything that happened it had all been pushed back and despite Patricks reassurances she still felt as though it was too late to go to them, after all, what evidence would be left? Everything had been touched and moved and and cleaned. She had the note, but really it proved little. One of her greatest fears, one that she hadn’t shared with Patrick, is that they would think she was lying. Some poor head case that was looking for attention, she already had the cult thing against her.
She had started to write in a journal, writing out her experiences. She hadn’t been to a therapist yet, but she thought it might help. It allowed her to clarify and distil her thoughts without fear of being judged. She knew a therapist would be a good idea, but she hadn’t brought herself that far yet. She didn’t think she could discuss all this with another human. So the journal would have to do for a little while until she had a bit more confidence.
Patrick had been talking about opening the offices again, and Ariadne had offered to be his secretary for a short while until he found a new one. She’d be safe there and she’d be helping, along with gaining some work experience. Patrick had agreed and even offered to pay her, but Ariadne refused, she already owed him so much. She didn’t think he would take advantage of her offer and after some argument he had accepted her terms.
On her first day Ariadne was overwhelmed, wondering how on earth anyone could think this system was easy. One moment she was starting to get the hang of it, the next she was scrambling to recover a lost file or fix some silly mistake. Despite all this she felt she did quite well. No one had come into the office today, Patrick spent most of it ringing clients and apologising for the closure of the business. Most were understanding and a few accepted the refund he offered. He also had a large amount of phone messages, regular clients looking for him to do some work. He dealt with them one at a time, getting Ariadne to ring them and patch them through so she could get used to the phone system.
At the end of the day both were exhausted and ready for bed. They stopped for take-away on the way home, neither had the energy to cook. After eating, Patrick went upstairs, he knew that tomorrow would be equally tiring, he had six appointments throughout the day as well as more phone calls to make. He had arranged for the clients that took up the most time to come into the office tomorrow to clear that out of the way. He knew each meeting would probably take an hour at least.
Ariadne stayed up after Patrick went to bed, she liked the silence, it gave her time to think. She went to her own room and took out her journal, then she started to write. She paused a few times to massage her hand, but when she finally put the pen down she realised she had been writing for a solid hour. She closed the journal and began to get ready for bed.
She had tried and searched, but the room was empty. There was nothing that could be used as a weapon. She had to keep this up though, just a little bit longer, he’d slip up, he had to. She knew she was the longest surviving of his victims. She was grateful to the woman and child that died, though she hated herself for it. It took away his need, he hadn’t said it to her, but she could tell. He was much more relaxed around her since then. If he hadn’t killed them she’d be dead. She had tried to pry the table leg loose, hoping to use it as a bat, but it hadn’t worked. It hadn’t budged at all, she wondered if it was bolted to the floor, she could see no bolts or nuts, but something had to be holding it in place, the entire thing wouldn’t move. She wandered the room for a little while, getting used to the freedom and stretching frequently. It felt nice not having anything hanging from her arms and legs. He’d return in the morning and, when he saw that she could be left alone like this, he might start letting her out of the room. After she finished searching, she lay in bed, trying to get comfortable. She’d get out of here soon, she couldn’t stay much longer, not if she wanted to keep herself intact, mentally and physically.
He drove slowly, it was still dark and, though not many people were out, if there was an accident it would bring unwanted attention. He wanted to get in early, make sure that everything was fine. He let himself into the apartment, being as quiet as possible. She wouldn’t be able to hear him, but he didn’t want to risk it. He crept to the bedroom door and carefully, ever so carefully, eased the door open, ready to slam it closed again at the slightest hint of danger. The lights had been left on in the room and there she was, asleep on the bed. He smiled. He glanced around the room, looking for anything out of place, but there was nothing. He knew he could trust her. He knew it.