The Very, Very Unlucky Day by Ashley Pannell

Something is very, very wrong.

 

That was the first thought running through my mind.

 

Nothing had seemed very wrong with the day to begin with. It had just been a very, very bad day.

 

First, I woke up with my alarm clock blaring in my ear, those annoying red numbers telling me it was 9:32 am and I was very, very late.

 

Then, after I somehow mange to gather all my stuff and get dressed (no breakfast for me today) and after running for nearly ten minutes in the pouring rain to catch the next bus to work, I miss it at the last second.

 

And if that wasn't bad enough, a car had drove by a puddle and splashed it all over me.

 

So, yes, arriving at work covered in dirty puddle wet and having my boss yell at me for being late wasn't exactly the best start to the day.

 

Oh well, I thought at the time, at least it can't get worse.

 

How very wrong I was.

 

After a tedious morning filled with getting people coffees (with Dave accidentally spilling his all over me) and photocopying boring pieces of paper, I reach break time in a slightly (but not by much) improved mood.

 

All that changed when I laid eyes on Jane.

 

Jane was a good marketing person, always the one coming up with the best and most innovated ideas. She was usually quite reserved, always put together and had a quiet, unassuming way about her. When I first became secretary of this hellhole three years ago, Jane was a welcome sight, and while I wouldn't call us friends exactly, she was a nice person, and as such, I was nice to her.

 

But something's has been very... off with her lately. Jane thinks no one's noticed the bags under eyes, her pale and thin face, the way her clothes slightly sag on her frame and how she ever so slightly jumps anytime someone drops something.

 

And for the most part, no one has noticed. Except me, of course. Secretaries notice everything.

 

At first, I had assumed it was a guy or girl, but after asking (interrogating) her, she told me she'd been single for 7 months. And whilst she could be lying, I decided to take her word for it at the time.

 

This led me next to money problems. But after a brief investigation of her bank account (I have better than average computer skills and am way too nosy for my own good), I saw nothing which would point to debt. Nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever, other than a large withdrawal of money every month.

 

Some people might assume drugs or gambling, but I know Jane and I know she wouldn't do that, which led me to my current line of thought: someone, for whatever reason, is blackmailing Jane.

 

But the question is: what could Jane have possibly done that would be worth blackmailing?

 

As I've said before, Jane is a very reserved person, who doesn't seem the type of person who would be involved in anything scandalous. Then again, everybody has a past...

 

A sharp ringing breaks me from my train of thought and I look up to see Jane reaching into her bag, her face paling when she sees who's calling.

 

She quickly rushes out if the room and I follow at a slow pace, making sure to stay within earshot. She comes to stop at a lonely corridor, looking around to confirm she's alone, before answering her phone.

 

"What do you want?" She all but yells into the phone, her worry evident in her body language.

 

The person on the phone speaks, and Jane pales even more, if that were possible.

 

"Today?!" She whispered, frantically. "I- no -I-" The person speaks again and Jane says, "of course I don't want that but - I don't have the money with me, I-"

 

The person on the other end speaks once more and this time, I can see Jane visibly shake.

 

"Alright, alright! I'll meet you at my work at 7 tonight. But this is the last time." The person on the other line is talking again and I can only just hear them say, "You better be there," before they hang up and Jane is left staring at her phone as though it were the object of her demise. 

 

It's at this point I realize enough is enough. Before, I had been investigating this out of pure boredom and nosiness, but now that I know someone is blackmailing Jane - threatening her, even - I realize I have to do something.

 

Knowing this could either go really well or horribly wrong, I take in a deep breath, before walking into the corridor.

 

"Hi Jane," I say, quietly, in a bid to not startle her. 

 

It doesn't work. She jumps at the sound of my voice and futility tries to compose herself, to no avail. "H-hello. What are you doing here?" Her voice quivers with fear.

 

"Jane, I know you're being blackmailed." No point in beating around the bush. "And I want to help."

 

She laughs, and it sounds so forced, so fake, I have to resist the urge to heavily sigh. "What are you talking about? I-"

 

"Jane, don't bother. I know."

 

She looks at me the, wide eyes filled with tears and despair an her shoulder slump. "How much do you know?" 

 

"Enough," I tell her, "And like I said, I want to help."

 

"No, you can't! There's nothing you can do. Nothing I can do!" She seems so hopeless that I feel a wave of sympathy for the kind woman standing in front of me.

 

"We can go to the police, we can make sure whoever's doing this stops," I try to reason with her, but she's already shaking her head.

 

"NO! No-one can know about this!"

 

"But Jane-"

 

"NO, nobody is going to find out!" A fiery look has entered eye that took me by surprise. She vehemently shakes her head. "No-one."

 

She takes in a deep breath and starts again. "Look, I appreciate your concern but, I can deal with this. Nobody has to find out."

 

She starts to edge away to the door. "Just - just forget about it, alright? Please?"

 

I start to speak. "I-"

 

Jane gives me a pleading look which sent a shot through my heart. "Please?" So panicked, so desperate.

 

"Alright," I whisper, "Alright."

 

She gives me a weak smile before leaving the corridor, back to the office.

 

"But, please, Jane, go to the police, okay, they'll be able help, please?" I try one last time, when her back is to me and she's opened the door. 

 

She swallows, hard. "I'll - I'll think about it. But, please, stay out of it." And then, she's gone. 

 

Now, I may be sneaky and conniving and a little dishonest, but I don't break my promises. I promised Jane not to look into this and not look into this I will do.

 

That doesn't stop me from staying late tonight, though.

 

And if I just happen to leave at about, say, 7pm, well, that would be just be lucky, right?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I lie in wait, hiding behind a building, waiting for Jane to meet up with her mysterious blackmailer, hoping that they would show up.

 

I was not to be disappointed.

 

Jane has just entered the car park, looking around nervously as a man walks up to her in dark clothing.

 

Luckily, I'm within perfect hearing range, and so I can hear every word of their conversation.

 

"You're here. I didn't think you'd show up."

 

"Yes, I'm here. And I'm telling you that I'm not paying you anymore."

 

"Oh?" I can hear him smirk. "Keen for people to find out you're a murderer?"

 

I feel like the wind has been kicked out of me a little. Jane killed someone? Out of all the things I thought she would've done, that had never been one of them.

 

I can see Jane's eyes widen. "I told you, it was an accident!"

 

"An accident which ended someone's life. I wonder how the police will see it."

 

"So did I, which is why I called them and told them everything. They're coming here right now."

 

"WHAT?!" I jump at the volume of his voice and I can see Jane do the same. "No, you stupid cow, what have you done?!"

 

"I'm not your cash cow, John, and I won't let you treat me as such anymore. The police know everything and there's nothing you can do to stop them!"

 

Suddenly, I get a very bad feeling in my stomach.

 

Something is very, very wrong.

 

This is intensified when 'John' speaks again.

 

"I could kill you," he said and pulled a gun out from his jacket.

 

My mouth falls open as I stare at the deadly weapon, now fixedly pointed at Jane. Jane, who's now shaking with fear again.

 

"WAIT!" Dammit, why do I always interfere?

 

I give away my position and slowly start walking towards the pair. Both look enraged and confused at my presence.

 

I sent him a calming look. "Look, you don't have to do this, okay?"

 

"Who are you?!" he yelled, waving the gun back and forth between me and Jane.

 

"Doesn't matter. What matters is that you're about to make a horrible mistake," I try to reason with him, but, like with Jane, it falls on deaf ears.

 

"You told her?!" Suddenly, he points the gun at Jane and pulls the trigger.

 

"NO!" I yell and dive in front of the bullet. 

 

The bullet hits me and I hit the ground. I hear Jane let out an awful cry and the sound of police sirens fill the air but...

 

I can't focus on any of it.

 

It all just seems so... far... away..  

 

I see Jane, sobbing in front of me, mumbling incoherent apologies as people rush around me.

 

"It's okay, " I try to say but it doesn't come out right. I just feel so tired.

 

The last thing I think before I succumb to the darkness is...

 

What an unlucky day.