Authors: Maddie Bennett
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appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living
or dead, is purely coincidental.
Warning: This work
contains scenes of graphic sexual nature and it is written for adults
only(18+). All characters depicted in this story are over 18 years of age.
How the hell did I get here?
The bullet burst through my windshield and buried itself into the
back seat. The sound echoed in my ears. The blood drained from my face. I
turned to look at Mathis, his blue eyes staring back at me widened in shock.
For a moment I couldn’t hear anything. My vision blurred as my eyes fell to his
lips mouthing words I couldn’t hear. What? What was he saying?
Slowly, my hearing started to come back. “Ama… Aman… Amanda!” My
eyes that were dazed, now focused on his blue eyes again registering his voice.
TWO WEEKS AGO
I sighed with discomfort as I leant back in my chair, stretching
my back as far as it would go to ease the dull ache which was developing after
four straight hours sat at my deck. I was sitting in my bland, grey cubicle,
the monitor in front of me glaring its offensively bright glare and the
fluorescent lighting above me doing absolutely nothing for my fair complexion
or the general cheeriness of the room. Of all the places to work, this little
accounting firm had to be one of the most soulless.
To delay the inevitable moment when my tired eyes would have to
refocus on the painfully boring excel sheet in front of me, I untied my thick,
glossy brown hair, combing the dark strands with my fingers and retying it in
its customary braid, putting the wayward strands in their rightful places.
Unfortunately, my practiced hands took only a few seconds to perform this task.
I looked at the excel sheet again. The sullen little rectangle of tiny black
figures looked back defiantly.
If you don’t concentrate on me, Amanda,
you’ll lose your job, and then where will you be?
Great, I was imagining my
excel sheet talking to me.
Desperate for a distraction, I looked around my cubicle again.
Dull and grey and lifeless. The only point of color or interest was my tiny
little Christmas tree, still cheerily embodying the spirit of a festival which
had passed more than three months ago. Still, even in March, the Christmas tree
seemed to perk the place up a bit, its little lights glowing loyally and its
ornaments managing to turn the florescent glare into something approaching a twinkle.
Slightly cheered, I went back to my skulking excel sheet, determined to knock
that insolent attitude right out of it.
The gentle tapping of keys filled my little cubicle as I got to
work again. See, this was fine. This was a nice, sensible job to have. It paid
the bills, kept me in clothes and almond vanilla body scrub, and even allowed
me to grab a sandwich from my favorite deli once in a while. Excel sheets were
great. Much greater than out-of-date Christmas trees with no presents
underneath them and irritatingly upbeat ornaments.
I looked up from my work again as the mailman came into the room,
eager to see if he would be heading my way. This wasn’t just another pathetic
attempt at getting out of my work. I’d already finished reconciling myself to
the fact that I would be making spreadsheets until the world ended or my
fingers were too withered to type anymore. I was expecting a letter any day,
and now was as good a time as any.
It had been three weeks now since my Uncle Andy’s passing. He
wasn’t really my uncle – he was my great uncle, my grandmother’s brother.
Still, we’d been very close, and I already knew that he would include me in his
will. It was unthinkable that he wouldn’t leave his favorite great-niece
without a little something to remember him by. I wasn’t asking for money –
Uncle Andy had always been very serious on the subject of everybody having to
work to earn their bread. I just wanted to know that he had remembered me in
some little way. So here I was, ears pricked, waiting for the mailman to bring
me a letter.
Except he didn’t bring me a letter. He brought me a package.
“Miss Amanda Taylor?” he confirmed with me, his eyes twinkling (he
knew I’d been on high alert for mail for the past couple of weeks). “Here’s a
package for you, miss.”
“Thanks,” I said, grabbing the little rectangular package quickly
and shoving it under some files so that my nosy co-workers couldn’t get their
eyeballs all over it.
“Have a nice day, miss,” the mailman grinned.
“You too,” I murmured with an absent smile. “Have fun delivering
“Always do, miss. Always do.”
As the mailman walked across the room towards another lucky
recipient of his services, I made a quick survey of the room: Daisy’s ample
bulk was shielding the photocopier, Kyle and Jill were flirting like crazy in
the cubicle opposite and, from the gentle snores coming from the cubicle next
to me, I figured that David was probably taking his customary day-long nap.
Those were the worst gossips accounted for – I would risk my other coworkers
and open my package now.
With slightly trembling fingers, I took the little package from
its snug nest of month-old files. It was addressed to me in Uncle Andy’s
elegant, precise handwriting. Although the sight of his writing tugged at my
heart a little, I knew there was no danger of tears – I’d already cried all my
tears at his funeral; there was only so much salt water a human body could
produce, especially considering the chronically under-seasoned fare available
from the company cafeteria. Besides, I’d never cry at my office. It had been my
number one objective never to be the subject of lunchtime gossip and so far,
the conversation over limp chicken salads and tasteless quinoa had been
With one last glance around the room, I deftly opened the little
package, lifting off the wrapping with care. Inside, I found a book and an
envelope, the book wrapped in crinkly white tissue paper, and the envelope,
with its typewritten address and little plastic window, looking very much like
the bearer of bad news. I opened the envelope first, pulling out a very
official looking slip of paper from Williams, Williams and Slopey, my uncle’s
lawyers. A quick scan of the paper told me that it was about his will. At least
I wasn’t in any kind of trouble.
I started over from the beginning, the part where it said ‘to whom
it may concern’ instead of my actual name, and tried to separate the details
from the lawyer-speak. After a few minutes of intense struggle, I surmised that
my uncle’s will was going to be read and that I was supposed to be present. The
details of the place, date and time were all there – a huge, fancy building I
had never so much as set foot in before. I decided to worry about it at a later
date. I’d probably have to go in wearing a full suit and some shiny court
shoes. Well, if it was what Uncle Andy wanted, I would be there.
Laying the envelope to one side, I turned my attention back to the
“package” part of the package. Tearing off the thin layer of tissue paper, I
carefully lifted out an old book, dog-eared and careworn, the spine slightly
cracked and the pages discolored from years of use and multiple re-readings.
While the letter had failed to raise much interest, this book more than made up
for it. I remembered the book well.
, by Jack London, a book I had read
countless times. Not just any book either – this exact copy. I could remember
Uncle Andy lending it to me for the umpteenth time, his lips quirked into an
indulgent smile as he gestured to his vast library. “You know where it is,
Amanda – you read it frequently, after all. Why you don’t invest in your own
copy, I’ll never know…or has your copy disintegrated?”
“I dropped it in the bath,” I answered glibly.
“Well, you’d better be careful with this copy, young lady. It’s a
first edition. It won’t react well to bathwater.”
Despite my previous certainty that I would remain stoic, I felt
tears pricking in my green eyes. Before I could get weepy, though, I was
distracted by a piece of paper peeping out of the book. I drew it out, and read
what was written in Uncle Andy’s writing:
follow your dreams, Amanda –
dreams are what make us alive. Uncle Andy.
I smiled fondly as I recalled his dry, pleasant voice telling me
exactly the same thing almost every time we parted. He had always believed
strongly that everyone should have a dream and pursue it with all their heart
and soul, just as he had. He had built himself up as a successful hedge fund
manager from a modest background, believing in himself and his ability to be
I looked back down at the book. Somewhere, almost lost in the
sands of time, it had been my dream to be a writer like Jack London. I loved
this book so passionately, was so inspired by it, that every time I turned its
pages it felt like I was reading it for the first time. It was the first book
which had made me think that one day I would like to be a writer.
Where had that dream gone? As I looked down at the book, I
recalled how strongly I had wanted to write, to let my feelings and emotions
pour out onto page after page of creamy white paper. I had dreamed of sitting
outside with an empty journal and a fountain pen, creating masterpieces as
other people worked away indoors, processing meaningless data and dealing with
belligerent colleagues and aggressive customers. I would be free to let my own
creativity flow, crafting my own worlds and writing as the mood took me.
Looking at my partly-finished excel spreadsheet, I smiled bitterly
to myself. Follow my dreams? I couldn’t imagine anything farther from what I
had imagined back in my youth. But that was reality for you. Uncle Andy may
have succeeded, but for most people, the things they dream about as children
and teenagers are just that – dreams.
Putting the book and the letter into my desk drawer and throwing
the wrapping paper into the bin, I pulled in my chair, took a deep breath, and
began tapping away at my keyboard again.
I was sitting in what was certainly the most opulent office I had
ever set foot in. The conference table had feet – actual feet – made out of
some kind of very shiny wood, probably carved by blind Tibetan monks or
something. A circle of plushy armchairs which looked too heavy to even move
were arranged around the table, full of well-dressed people who obviously
changed their outfit twice a day and spent their lunch breaks ironing their
ties. I was sitting like a schoolgirl, my hands in the lap of my grey suit
pants – which I now realized were speckled with lint – and trying to
concentrate on the will which was being read in pompous tones more suitable for
a coronation than a will reading: