Confident and determined, Beatrice marched herself up to Arthur’s front door. But just as her fist was about to meet the door, the door swung wide open, Arthur standing on the other side. He was dressed in a crisp, white button down with navy blue pants and wing tipped shoes. He was freshly shaven and smelled like a clean load of laundry. He looked entirely unsurprised to see Beatrice, gesturing for her to come in.
Beatrice sauntered into the apartment, surprised that, with the exception of her and Arthur, it was empty. There were no team members bustling about, typing codes and shading in maps. The computer screens were dark and the only sound was of a fan buzzing lightly in the corner. The whole apartment was remarkably clean. Too clean. Beatrice felt as if she’d just walked into a doctor’s office, sterile and unwelcoming.
“Arthur, where is everyone?” Beatrice asked, confused and frightened.
Arthur stood silently, staring at his shoes to avoid making eye contact.
“What’s going on? Arthur! Talk to me!” Beatrice said, her words edged with panic. “Where’s Bobby? And Sydney? Did you figure out the cousins’ plan?”
Beatrice moved closer to Arthur, but when she reached out to touch his arm, he pulled away. He looked up suddenly, and Beatrice saw in him something she had never seen before. He looked nothing like the Arthur she knew. He was cold and unfeeling, the smile on his face was not of joy, but of sadism.
“I’m sorry it had to end this way, Birdy,” he said, without sounding the least bit apologetic.
“What are you talking about? ‘End this way?’ What’s going on?” Beatrice questioned, backing away from Arthur. He was blocking her way to the door. She tried to think of a way out, but her mind was clouded with confusion and fear. She tried to stay calm.
Out of the corner of her eye, Beatrice saw something- or someone- move. She turned quickly, just in time to sense movement again from just beyond her vision. She felt as if she was spinning in circles, searching for something that was always just out of reach.
Everything was a blur. Beatrice heard Janelle’s voice in the distance, and realized that she was surrounded by people. They were on all sides of her, whispering. She couldn’t tell what they were saying. Beatrice thought she felt Pepe nipping at her toes, and she could have sworn she saw her mother, her face stained with tears. Beatrice was suddenly aware of her breathing, surprised that it was normal. One breath in, one breath out. She could tell her heartbeat was slowing, but she didn’t feel it. It was as if she was watching her body from the sidelines.
Everything went dark. Then silent. The last thing Beatrice felt was a familiar arm catch her as she collapsed to the ground.