The sky was a dank gray that seemed to suck the life out of everything beneath it. A torrential downpour rattled the city, soaking and flooding the streets and anyone who may have the misfortune of being outside. Civilians scattered left and right, trying to avoid the drenching rain, only to be caught in the wave caused by a car driving much too fast through a deep puddle.
Mina Carson was not one of these unfortunate people. Rather, she sat inside, wrapped in a blanket and observing the chaos below. This was how she preferred to do many things; standing aside, safe, as an observer, instead of being in the action. This rule constituted her everyday life; staying out of the way and drifting, like a ghost, unwilling to interact.
Mina's cell phone sat on the table beside her, blinking a notification that her friend, Rachel, was calling. Mina let it ring through.
A moment later, a voicemail notification popped up on the screen. Mina reached over and tapped "Listen", switching her phone over to speaker.
"Hey, Mina, it's Rae. Justin and Kayla are having a get-together tomorrow for lunch, and I just wanted to see if you'd come? Text me back. Bye."
Rachel's unconventional send-off, the "text me back", was a staple in her voicemails to Mina. Mina never liked calling people, and her closest friends were very familiar with the ritual; they would call Mina and leave a voicemail, and she would text them her reply.
Mina twirled a strand of chestnut hair around her finger, thinking. She didn't really want to go, but Rachel had invited her, and would be upset if Mina didn't show. It probably wouldn't be that bad, if Justin and Kayla were hosting the get-together, Mina could count on a small, close-knit group of friends.
She took a deep breath and sent Rachel a quick but reluctant reply; "Sure! I'll be there."
With another sigh, she tossed the phone back on the table, bothered by its constant communication. She turned on her side and reached one thin arm out to the table, where a small black remote sat. She hadn't bothered with subscribing to a cable company and installing a television when she moved into her apartment. Instead, she invested in a remote-controlled stereo with radio, which was much more practical to her means. With the click of a button, classical music flooded the small living area.
Mina changed the station, looking for weather reports. The dreary weather outside showed no sign of letting up.
An all-business voice reported traffic incidents all around; downtown, traffic was at a standstill, and people had even started leaving their cars in the road and seeking shelter. While there were only a few wrecks, and it seemed nobody had been hurt, the weather and traffic was so bad that emergency services couldn't hope to make it through.
Mina turned the volume down and pressed her forehead against the window, watching as a middle-aged woman in an awful orange suit dashed underneath the awning of the grocery store across the street. A little ways away, two school-aged boys sprinted in the middle of the rain, splashing each other as they went.
The storm, which had started early that morning, had not let up all afternoon, and everyone within the city was subject to its thunderous pounding against the buildings. The constant white noise had long ago finished being bothersome; in fact, she found the noise comforting. As she rested her head against the glass, her eyes drifted shut, and the rain's song lulled her to sleep.
She awoke a few hours later. It had gotten much darker outside, but the rain had not ebbed. In fact, the nearly-muted voice of the announcer proclaimed even more traffic incidents than before.
Noticing the clock on the wall, which read eight o'clock, Mina rationalized that she still had time to cook a small dinner. Groaning, she unfolded herself from her position on the sofa and stumbled to the kitchen.
It was the moment she reached her refrigerator that she heard it. A loud bang came from the front door.
Mina's apartment had no doorman; the front door opened straight to the street. That meant that she had considerably less security than those who lived in a building with a doorman.
She reached to the kitchen drawer, where the knives were kept, and pulled out the largest object inside. With the cool, smooth handle of the blade snug in her hand, she took a deep breath and crept slowly to the door.
Since Mina had moved into her one-bedroom apartment to start her sophomore year of college, she hadn't had any visitors. She always insisted to her friends that she would visit them, and it was fairly common knowledge that her apartment was off-limits. Even her family understood that they needed to call before they came.
Which meant that she didn't know who could be at the door.
When she reached the short hallway leading to her front door, she bent low to avoid being seen through the windows. Like a spy in a movie, she moved rhythmically across the floor until she was right up against the door. She peered out of the windows, checking to see if anyone was outside.
She couldn't see anyone.
With a great sigh, Mina slackened her grip on the knife. Realizing how silly it was to be holding such a dangerous weapon without a real threat around, she placed it on the table in the entrance hall.
Though she had no reason to be scared, Mina could still feel her heart pounding. She took a few calming breaths, before deciding to completely quell her fears. She reached to the drawer of the table and pulled out a key, so she unlocked the door. A shaking hand clutched at the doorknob, and she turned the object until she heard a click.
She didn't need to pull the door open; a force from outside beat her to it. Mina let go of the doorknob as the door opened inward and a body slumped inside, landing on the floor by her feet.