An Acquiescent Facade

I flash a grin at the doorman as he throws out an arm to stop my entrance. “Ticket?” he asks. I turn to the man on my arm. He produces two golden papers with a flourish. The guard nods and I breeze past him with another flirtatious smile. The party is tumultuous. My partner and I slip through the crowd, moving as though dancing. We reach the door, which I ease open without the notice of anyone else. My partner stays where he is, whilst I make my way through the house. Sticking to the shadows, I watch, noting everything. It takes an agonisingly long time, but I finally reach the library. I stop a few feet away and behold my target in all its glory. The Book seems to glow slightly, and I can't help my gasp. Carefully, I slide it from its pedestal. Suddenly, the door bangs open, startling me. I drop the Book, broadcasting my presence. I don’t bother looking as I sprint to the nearest window and throw myself out, landing lightly and continuing to run. I soon see a familiar figure– my partner. “Avelin!” Rhys shouts. He opens a car door and I jump in without hesitation. But then hands wrap around my wrists and something is covering my face. There’s a sickly sweet smell that makes me nauseous. I thrash around. “Shouldn’t she be out by now?” a voice asks as the car starts to move.
“It doesn’t work like that, you fool!” another says, annoyed. “It’s so she can’t talk.”
“It works in the movies!” the first argues.
“This is real life!”
Having moved away from the sick smell, I mutter, “You guys sound unprofessional.”
The attention turns to me. “You got caught,” a third voice says. I recognise it with crushing certainty. “That’s what’s really unprofessional here.”
“You betrayed me,” I snap back to Rhys, my former friend and partner-in-crime. I pull away from my captor enough to see and lock eyes with Rhys. “That’s not very professional. What will Sam think?” Rhys stiffens. “Are you going to tell him you betrayed his sister? Or are you going to tell him you escaped by a hair’s breadth?” Rhys doesn’t deign to reply. A long minute passes before the car halts and I’m yanked out. A short glance tells me I’m far underground, too far down for anyone to hear my screams– if I get the chance to.
Rhys looks at me for a long time. “You aren’t going to tell Pollo. If you do, you won’t see the sun again. You’re going to work for me. You’ll do as I say. You won’t complain. If you do, we’ll… correct-” he sneers the word- “your behaviour. Understand?”
I have no choice. I nod my compliance. Soon, I vow mentally, soon I will get my revenge. Be it this life or the next, I will not stop until you are ended. That’s all I manage before I lose myself within an acquiescent facade.


23 was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
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