Josh sipped his freshly brewed coffee as she scrolled through the latest news on the net.
Oil price hit lowest in the twenty first century. China’s involvement in the South China Sea… again. US senator Dominic Richardson died of heart attack. US dollar depreciation. Pharmalife’s share appreciation. Resignation of Great Britain Prime Minister.
The world’s going to shit, Josh thought. No, he corrected, the world has been shit all the time. It’s only shittier this time. But it wasn’t like he could do anything about it.
He put down his phone and picked up the dossier on his desk. It was his next assignment. An article for the coming G20 summit and possible implications. He quickly analyzed the needed material for his articles. An economist’s point of view would be beneficial. A statement from the media relations representative of the G20 summit. Possible sanctions on Russia and North Korea. He made mental notes out as he tried to map out the structure of his article.
It was then, his phone rang. He picked it up and frowned. There was no call number on the screen. Only two words – ‘Unknown Number’.
“Is this Josh Mackenzie?” said a female voice.
“Yes. I am.” he said cautiously. Could this be one of those scam calls he had heard some much about a few years back?
“I have a story for you to write.”
The frown lines on his forehead creased even more. Yeah, he had been approached by people whom wanted him to write an article. Hell, he had even been asked to write one for Pharmalife, one of the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. But something about this woman didn’t feel right.
“It will be best if we can talk face to face.”
“Alright, lady. I don’t know you and I feel like this is some sort of prank.” he said.
“It’s not a prank. I’m already at your apartment.”
“What!” he shouted and instinctively covered his mouth when he realized he had the entire office looking at him. He stood up and scuttled into the empty boardroom and shut the door. “I don’t believe you.” he finally said. For all he knew, she could be lying about being in his apartment.
“Your bed sheet is red in color with dark brown strips. Your have a green towel hanging by…”
“Get out of my apartment.” he cut her off.
“I’m not going out, until I talk to you.”
“I’m not going to talk to you. I’ll call the cops if you don’t get out.” he hissed.
“Josh, don’t make this hard for both of us. You will want to hear the story I’m about to tell you.”
“Give me a reason why I will want to hear that story of yours instead of hauling your ass into prison.”
“Senator Richardson. Know of him?”
“He died of heart attack. So what?”
“He was murdered. Have I gotten your interest?”
Josh was flabbergasted. A US senator murdered? This couldn’t be real, could it?
“Motive?” he couldn’t help but asked. If it was murder out of spite then there’s nothing news worthy about it. At least not in Josh’s perspective. But if it was politically motivated? Then it wouldn’t be just a simple murder. No. It would be an assassination. An assassination of the US Senator. And then it hit him like an F5 tornado.
“Pharmalife.” the two of them said simultaneously.
Josh quickly looked around like a guilty criminal whom had stumbled upon a dozen pound of cocaine. “I’ll come right now.”
“That’s what I thought.” Josh could almost hear the grin plastered on her face. “By the way, do you have any condoms?”
“I’m sorry. Do I have what?”
“Condoms. I can’t find any in your apartment.”
Josh didn’t have a girlfriend and he lived his life as conservatively as possible. The days of one night stands had been a thing of the past for the thirty year old now. So, no, he didn’t have any condoms. And why was she looking for condoms in her apartment?
“Go get them. I need them.”
“You need them.” he said skeptically.
“Just get them. I’ll explain later.”
“Any brand in particular?” he didn’t know why he asked, he just did. Perhaps to mock her?
“Get any one with ‘extra safe’ on it.”
The call ended and Josh went straight to his boss to ask for an emergency leave. He seldom took leaves and therefore warranted a curious look from his boss.
“What’s the occasion?” the boss asked.
“Family issues.” he lied and took off as soon as his boss signed him off.
He took the metro to his apartment. Before he went up, he paid a visit to the pharmacy and purchased a dozen of extra safe condoms. He didn’t want to think of sex but he couldn’t find any other explanation why she would want condoms. To chew on? Did she have that kind of habit? He doubted.
What if it was really a prank? An elaborate plan to get him sign off for a leave just so he could go back to his apartment and thinking that he could get laid. Was there a camera team in his apartment right now ready to capture the humiliating image of him holding a pack of condoms while looking like a deer caught in headlights.
The more he thought about it, the more he felt being tricked. He stuffed the box of condom into the deepest part of his bag before riding the elevator. Once he reached his floor, he cautiously checked the hallways and looked for hidden cameras.
Then he felt ridiculous. It was an allegation of the assassination of a US Senator for crying out loud. Would anyone really joke about that? Would anyone really believe that in the first place?
“Fuck it.” he said to himself. He had done worrying. If someone was pranking him, he would break that person’s nose with a solid punch to his face. He opened his apartment door and then locked the door behind him.
“Hello?” he called out. No response.
His apartment looked exactly like when he left. No misplaced objects. No toppled vase or opened cabinets. No raided fridge or overturned furniture.
“Hello?” he called out again.
When there was no response again, he took off his shoes and went straight to the bedroom. He remembered her talking about his bed sheet and it would only be logical to assume that there’s where she went.
When he opened the door, he was stunned to find a woman lying on his bed passed out. Her complexion was pale, almost as white as snow. She was wearing nothing but a thin layer of satin. If this was a prank of a dead prostitute on his bed, it would have been too elaborate. Too elaborate to be funny anymore.
“Hey, wake up.” he shook her by her shoulder.
Her eyelids fluttered open. “What took you so long?”
“What’s wrong with you?” he lifted her until she was sitting straight.
“Nevermind that. I’ll explain later. Did you get the condoms?” The way she asked for it reminded Josh of his cocaine addicted friend.
“This is not some sick joke, right?”
“Do I look like I’m joking?” she hissed.
It didn’t seem like it. She was almost gasping for air, like she was in pain. A sign of withdrawal. But withdrawal from what? Condoms?
“No.” he said. ” Here.” he handed the pack of condoms to her.
She grabbed the box and tore open it. The dozen condoms scattered onto the bed. She picked one from the pile and swept the rest to the floor.
“Put it on.” she handed the condom to him.
“Put it on and fuck me.” She hissed.
“No.” he scoffed. And then he began to laugh. There’s no way this wasn’t a prank. He couldn’t believe he had fallen for it this deep. But he’d be damned to fall all the way. “This is a really sick joke. I’m done. Get out of my apartment.”
“This…is not a joke.” she grabbed his wrist like a vice.
“Yeah, right.” he stood up and went to the attached bathroom. “Where is it?”
“Where is what?”
“The fucking cameras.” he pushed open the door as hard as he could, hoping to knock whomever was hiding and probably sniggering behind the door. When he got in, there was no one to be seen. He checked his closet next. Nothing as well.
“There’s no camera. This is not a joke.” she collapsed back onto the bed.
“Right. A sexy chick, barely clothed, lying on my bed in the middle of the day asking me for sex. How is that not a prank?” he droned as he checked every crack, every drawer, every corner for the hidden cameras.
“There’s no camera. If you don’t have sex with me, I will die.”
He guffawed. That was the most ridiculous statement he had ever heard in his entire life. He was kind of desperate for sex after a couple of years of celibacy. But he was not desperate enough to fall for something this ridiculous.
“No one can die without sex, lady.” he retorted and continued his search.
When he realized the woman didn’t say anything, he turned to her. She was already panting on the bed, and clutching her chest. Her face was paled beyond anything he had seen. He could almost see the pain in her eyes.
“Stop fooling around.” he growled impatiently.
The woman opened her eyes briefly and closed it again. She looked like she was about to have a heart attack.
Having knowledge about first aid, Josh climbed beside her and held her wrist. His heart almost stopped when he took her pulse.
“You are serious?”
“Yes.” she muttered weakly.
Her heart rate was too low. Nobody could fake that. Josh sucked in a breath. She didn’t need sex. She needed a fucking ambulance.
“Where are you going?” she asked when he stood up.
“I’m calling the ambulance.”
“No! Don’t.” she shouted. “If you call the ambulance, they will know that I’m alive. And they will kill us both.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Please. I’ll explain once you have sex with me.” she cried desperately.
Josh grimaced. He didn’t find any camera in his room. And she was clearly in need of medical attention. The plausibility of it being a prank was already diminishing. Hesitantly, he climbed onto the bed.
“If this is a joke, I will kill you myself.” he grabbed her neck.
“Yes, sir.” she purred.