The Fifteen Minute Novel: Day 85

The Fifteen Minute Novel is a novel written fifteen minutes at a time with each week day’s section starting with the sentence from the previous day. At least it is attempting to be a novel. For now I am just aiming at one continuous story, worked on for fifteen minutes each day. Started Friday January 1st, 2021 (in case you want to search for the beginning. I can’t wait to see where it ends up. It could be good, or it could be a mess. We’ll have to see. For now, here is today’s fifteen minutes.

Day 85: As he turned off the tap and reached for the paper towels, James thought he heard something in the hallway.

As he turned off the tap and reached for the paper towels, James thought he heard something in the hallway. It sounded…off somehow.  Unexpected. He pulled a paper towel from the dispenser, easing it out so as to make as little noise as possible.  His intent wasn’t to hide but to listen.  The sound was not repeated.  He dried his hands and heard doors opening and closing.

Something about it sounded odd to him.  James threw the towels in the trash and moved to the door.  He lifted a hand, but realized his heart was beating faster.  He tried to shake it off, but there was a fear in him.  He wasn’t quite certain where it came from. 

On impulse, he flipped the light switch off and shifted to the side of the door.  If it opened he would be shielded from view, but he wanted to listen, to hear and figure out where this sudden wave of fear came from.

James calmed his breath and waited, trying to hear past his heartbeat.  He heard voices, too muffled to make out, but they raised the hairs on the back of his neck.  He thought he heard movement but couldn’t be certain.  Part of him thought he felt it, like vibrations in the enclosed office space rather than actual sound. 

He jumped, his heart leaping into his mouth when he heard a distinct banging of a door.  There was the click of a lock being thrown.  It sounded like it came from the front of the office rather than the back.  Had Morris left?  Did he think James departed?  It seemed strange.  Morris knew he hadn’t left.  He knew that carton brought him and someone would need to bring him back to his apartment.  Or a cab would need to be called to take him home.  Morris would know James hadn’t left.

James waited but heard nothing further from the hall.  Gathering his courage, James moved towards the door.  His palms were damp as they touched the door handle.

‘Probably should have dried them better,’ he chided himself, trying to blame the sink rather than his own fear.  He eased the door open a crack and feeling silly, yet scared, he waited to see if there was a reaction.  There wasn’t one, but he felt his heart speed up anyway.  A second later, his nose identified the scent that the rest of his body was reacting to.

It was the scent of blood.  It was a faint thing compared to the night the old man was shot, but it was still there, staining the air.  James swallowed hard, but heard nothing moving beyond the door.  He knew he couldn’t stay in the bathroom forever.  He had no weapon other than his bag.  Thinking of the book inside he realized he could at the very least swing it at an opponent.  He eased back from the door and picked up the satchel.  He bunched the atrap in on hand so that it could be swing if need be. 

Hoping to come across something better if he needed it, James once again eased the door open.  This time, he slipped into the hall, gently easing the door closed behind him so it gave no tell tale thump.  Thinking that if someone were to shoot, they would aim for his head, James crouched down, putting his head a bit lower as he crab walked to the corner of the small hallway separating the bathrooms from the rest of the office. He paused at the corner, again listening.

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