😀 Thanks! I think this might be that last part for now? It’s getting plotty…
For all that the outside of your sister’s stronghold is a mess–officially a foreclosed warehouse covered in grime and rust–the inside is well maintained and clean. One of the few things that you share. The hardwood floors practically gleam despite the dim hallway lights, not a cobweb in sight even on the obnoxious wall sconces or the pretentious drapes.
The fabric of your clothes may be old and worn in comparison to the luxuries of the place, but there is no denying they’re clean.
As you pass by, you nudge one of the trinkets on display; not enough to push it off the shelf, but just enough to offset it from its original spot. The metal still shines, no fingerprints, of course.
There is another guard standing outside an ornate door at the end of the hallway. You stop before it at the third door from the end, less ornate, but for all the meticulous tidying, the one with the most wears and marks. You knock.
The second guard stares at you, assessing, and does not look away. The first guard was more for appearances, in training perhaps, or your sister’s version of a receptionist. This second guard is tactical. Let her enemies think she is behind the guard, behind the nicest door, they walk right past her and within her second guard’s reach.
Alternatively, the second guard does have a better shot at anyone entering this third door from the end.
You do not knock again. You stare back at the second guard.
After what seems like a yawning eternity, the second guard nods, greets you, “Sweeper,” and walks over to open the door for you.
You nod back. You say, “Thank you, Deuteronomy.” You step through the doorway.
Your sister’s office is a disaster, desk overturned and files flung across the room. Shattered glass glitters on the floor, water and aquarium plants strewn alongside it, but that is not the worst of it. A body lies–blood pooling around it, gone dark and nearly matte with time–on your sister’s second favorite rug.
Your sister, sitting on the floor cross-legged puts out her cigarette on its face. Flings the butt carelessly into the pool, it sticks, tacky. There is no blood on her clothes, but there are still some spatters on her face, her neck, beneath her fingernails in crimson moons. Changed, then, but not showered.
It is quite the mess.
“Sweeper,” your sister says. She does not look pleased to see you, but this, of all things, you do not take personally.
None of your clients are pleased to see you.
You do another scan of the room, lingering on the bodies’ face. Not someone you recognize off the top of your head, but your sister has always been more of a people person, and no doubt she’ll tell you its identity soon enough. You eye the life size portrait of your grandmother, slightly askew from where it hangs on the wall.
“What is it you need swept?” you ask your sister, but you already suspect what it might be; you do not turn away from that askew portrait to face her. Your suspicions are confirmed when she, too, looks to the portrait.
Or, more accurately, to the vault door hidden behind the portrait.