Mystery

Death In December by Shonah Stevens

I don’t know how much longer I can keep going. I rang Verity today, but there was a message that the number had been disconnected. When I contacted the phone company, they told me the new number was unlisted and they couldn’t give it to me. Is she trying to avoid me? I must talk to her – try and convince her that it was all lies. A pack of lies.”

James Leibinger knocked for the third time, knowing he would get no answer. He waited a couple of seconds before trying the handle. The door was locked.
He wandered around to the back of the house. Dorian hardly ever locked the place, even when he went out. Sure enough, the bathroom window was open a crack. Leibinger pushed it fully open and heaved himself inside, landing without much dignity in the bathtub.
“Hello Dorian! Are you in there mate?”
The silence echoed back at him; yet, Leibinger had the odd sensation he could feel Dorian’s presence and the cold feeling of dread, which had been with him since this morning, sent tingles of alarm through his body as he made his way towards the kitchen. A stained coffee cup and a couple of plates and teaspoons lay in the sink. Dingy, yellowing, lace curtains framed the view of a small weed infested back yard. Nothing here. He wandered into the lounge. A musty smell assailed his nostrils; the room was dark and depressing. Leibinger pulled back the heavy drapes, letting in a shaft of sunlight. The dust billowed out, causing him to step back hurriedly.
The bedroom was at the end of a long dark passageway. Leibinger moved towards it, reluctance slowing his step. But the room was empty, as was the spare room and bathroom. Leibinger stood for a moment, puzzled. Then, he decided to check the garage; maybe Dorian had gone off somewhere after all.
The car was still there, and Leibinger could just make out a figure in the driver’s seat.
“What the…?”
Impatiently, he strode towards the car and opened the driver’s door. Dorian’s sightless eyes stared into his. Leibinger’s stomach gave a lurch. Dorian’s cheeks were puffy and gray, and there was a smell that Leibinger couldn’t quite identify…
It was the smell of death.

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