Bye Jo, I’m going to miss you I whispered. Too scared to say it loudly in case he heard me! I turned and waved, licking my lips imagining what it would be like to run to him and kiss him just like Whitney did in The Bodyguard. “Oi, you going to stand there staring into space all day? Some of us have a plane to catch” said an old lady who looked like a cross between Mrs Shrek and Nanny McPhee. She was about 5ft tall with a slight hump on her back, skin that looked like a shammy leather, arms like popeye with a red angry boil on her nose. She was carrying two worn out leather bags, one in each hand as she barged past me to passport control.
As I boarded and walked up the aisle to my seat, 53A; I saw the old lady again standing on the seats carefully slotting her worn out bags into the compartment above. She then sat down in seat 53B and looked straight at me with hard dark eyes. As I approached she let out an almighty fart followed by a rumbling burp then popped her teeth out and placed them on the table in front of her. I could not help myself, I started to laugh, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop so I just allowed myself to continue, seeing the way her face now changed to a smashed in prune that looked like it had been punched in the middle.
I sat down beside her, she popped her teeth back in and said “Why are you going to Bali”. “I am going to a retreat to meditate” I replied. “A retreat! A retreat from what? She snapped. “You believe all that mumbo jumbo, spiritual rubbish then?” She said angrily. “Yes and it’s not mumbo jumbo rubbish. Why are you going there?” I barked back. “I have to collect something” she stated. “Sounds intriguing”. I replied. “Well if you call a little black book, intriguing” she said. “You are flying all the way to Bali to collect a little black book! It must be a very special book”. I retorted. “Mmmmm well it’s no concern of yours so don’t be so fucking nosey”. She replied in a menacing tone. “Charming, you’re such a sweet old woman”. I said sarcastically. “I am old and a woman, I don’t have to be anything else” she said as she turned her head away from me and shut her eyes.
I arrived in Bali and spent two wonderful weeks on a retreat, sleeping, meditating, being massaged, fed delicious foods and generally pampered. I dreaded returning home as I knew Jo would be gone and I would be alone. We moved in together two years ago and at first things were perfect but then things started to change, he became withdrawn and after much vocal poking and prodding he confessed we weren’t working and he needed out, reassuring me there was not anyone else.
The plane landed in London and I departed as quickly as I could hoping that Jo would have changed his mind and be waiting for me in arrivals; but he wasn’t. As I turned to make my way out of the Airport I caught a glimpse of the little old lady in the distance, she must have stayed two weeks too. She was pushing a trolley and leaving the Terminal. I wondered if she had collected the mysterious book and what it could possibly contain that made it worth travelling so far to collect.
I made my way home and opened the door and there in the darkness was a note pinned to the hall table. It read “I am sorry, there really isn’t anyone else, I know you don’t believe me. I have been feeling bored with us, I know I should have spoken to you but there was no point. I just want a different life from us. Take care, I’m sorry. Jo”. I felt a stabbing pain in my chest, he never once mentioned there was a problem, how could he have kept his feelings from me. I knew something was wrong but never thought it would be the end of us, how could he be so cruel. As I looked around, all his things were now gone even the old chipped cup he used; which I was always telling him to throw away, but he said it built up a resistance to germs; such rubbish. Here I was thirty seven years old, never married, no children and back on the market. It was a sad day.
I had worked in London for 18 years in an accounting firm, very dull and boring but a great social life and very well paid. The firm was based in a very old building that was built in the 16th century and adjoined another old building that used to be a prison for women believed to be practicing witchcraft. They were burnt alive, thus disposing of their wickedness unleased on mankind.
As I entered the stationary room, which I had done a thousand times before, the fluorescent light was flickering and there was a new cold damp smell; I shivered. I walked to the printer paper area and as I bent down to grab a box, I heard a faint hiss coming from behind the old wooden door in the corner that was always locked. It had never been opened because the key was lost so it had stayed closed for hundreds of years. I turned and saw the door was ajar and a bright white light was coming from inside. I breathed a sharp gasp and held my breath for 5 seconds before letting out the old damp air circulating in my chest. My eyes widened and I could feel my heart pick up pace, I slowly walked towards the door not quite knowing what I would do once I reached it, should I close the door and run, that would be the sensible thing to do but something inside me felt a little excited and curious. I reached the door, I slammed it shut and ran as fast as I could back up the stairs to the office, tripping over my own feet, banging my head against the handrail nearly knocking myself out. I reached the office but no one had arrived in as yet. I went to the kitchen and gulped down some water, breathing heavily from running, rubbing my head where a lump was now appearing. Why did I run away, that is so typical of me I thought to myself. I am boring, that’s why Jo left, I am sure. I decided I wanted to be brave and change my stagnant ways, so I looked in the cupboards and all I could find was a small steel saucepan with a long handle and no lid. I armed myself with it and thought I will go back downstairs and brave the unknown.
As I entered the stationary room once again, I could see the wooden door was still open but this time there was a bright blue light coming from behind the door. Apprehensive and unsure, I walked towards the door wiping each hand on my thigh as I could feel the sweat building on my palms. I gripped the saucepan handle tightly with both hands holding it close to my chest ready to smack anyone who appeared. I walked towards the door, the blue light illuminating the whole stationary room, as I stood there for a few seconds waiting for my eyes to adjust. I could see a very long narrow corridor; almost like a tunnel as the ceiling was quite low and the walls were brown old rotten bricks damp with condensation. There was a very cold breeze blowing through the tunnel towards me. I walked slowly inside still gripping the saucepan tightly, my heart pumping in my chest as the fear built inside me. I could hear the hissing sound once again coming from deep within the tunnel. It was a soft gentle sound that seemed to swirl around my ears as though pulling me towards it. As I drew closer to the sound the blue light seemed to be coming from gaps between the bricks. There was a large wooden door with a big iron handle, I reached out and put my hand on the handle turning it slowly, the lock clicked and the door slowly swung open. Inside was an old desk with an old brass lamp which shone the bright blue light. The room was icy cold and smelled damp, the walls and floor were grey stone. There was a large wooden chair at the desk with a high back and arms to rest on. Sitting on the chair was a small green sack that was tied shut with some rope. I placed the saucepan on the desk and untied the sack, I looked inside and there were bundles of cash, all current legal tender, tied together. I picked up a bundle and it was $50 notes there must have been about $20,000 dollars. I had never seen so much cash, my eyes were almost popping out of my head and my eyelids hurt from opening so wide. I quickly tied the sack back up and picked it up along with the saucepan and headed back along the tunnel to the stationary room carefully closing the door behind me. I walked slowly up the stairs thinking about what had just happened and wondering what I would do with the money, should I tell someone? Would I tell anyone? Whose money was it and how did it get there? So many questions running through my mind. I reached the office and everyone was now in and there was the usual hustle and bustle of people turning on their computers, bosses on the phones or speaking to their secretaries requesting tasks. It was noisy and hectic and no one seemed to notice me. I walked into the kitchen and returned the saucepan in the cupboard, I didn’t want anyone to think I was stealing! I then went to my desk, collected my bag and calmly walked out of the office, with the green sack, not speaking to anyone.
I returned home and sat the sack down on the sofa and just stared at it for what seemed like hours, not really understanding any of this. I didn’t know what to do but I knew I wanted to keep the money. I started to daydream about how I would spend it when I felt my mobile phone vibrating in my pocket, it was ringing, I took it out and looked at it, “no caller id” flashed up. I answered with hello and a woman’s voice said “It’s too late to return it, curiosity killed that cat. Now you will only have two choices but whichever one you choose it will cost you a life. You simply have to decide which life is worth saving”. The woman hung up. “Hello, hello, what do you mean” I yelled. I couldn’t breathe, my throat felt as though someone was squeezing it closed, I could feel the sweat rising through the pores on my forehead. The doorbell rung making me jump so hard, I let out a screech and fell off the sofa. I looked out of the window to see who was there and a courier jumped into his van and drove off. I walked to the door and opened it, there on the mat in front of me was a small square box. The box was addressed to me, I ripped it open and inside were two tiny dolls made of cloth. One had the name JO sewn on to its chest, the other had YOUR BOSS sewn on to its head. I stepped back tripping over the cat, falling backwards smashing my head against the wall. I was out cold.