I can see the sky growing lighter. The rays from the sun somehow find their way to my dungeon-like room. My neighbors from the building across have finally gone to bed. I can tell because the lights are out. Finally. This means I can smoke in peace, without the peeking and the muttering. Sometimes I think I should light my room in red and chant devilish verses in unholy voices into the night. Maybe that would stop their constant surveillance and gossip. Or it would get me thrown out of this apartment, which I really can not afford.
I sigh. The relief is undeniable. Another night is over. I'm still here. I'm a wreck and the place is a mess, but I'm still here. I stand up, slowly, so as to not upset the papers spread out before me. It took me a long time to finish this set of calculations, and I do not have the energy to do it all again.
I know the routine. In a few minutes I'll have to go looking for water. The water-purifier on this floor is probably busted again, which means another trek to the next building. The night-watchmen, which I don't know how my aunt affords, will give me their curious stares as I hurry past in the same black dress I wore to the party last night.
On my way back, I'll run into the other "inhabitants" of this building as they wake up to the "new day". Even though the place is falling apart, it still has some of the "original" and "respectable" residents haunting the floors. From the old days when my aunt first bought the property, waiting for the promised sky-high rocketing prices. Of course, that was before the string of murders and the Court case. Now it's worth nothing. That, undeniably, has worked out perfectly for me. Thanks to the "arrangement" between the remaining family I have and myself, they can feel sufficiently guilt-free for giving me a place to live in and I get to stay at a semi-decent place for next to free. Perfect. Except for the stares I get.
At first, the parents studied me with barely disguised curiosity, wondering what 'someone like me' was doing in a 'place like this' in the first place. By now they're used to me and my seemingly planned descent into blatant decadence, though I can tell they don't approve by the way they panic if one of their kids starts up a conversation as I duck past lit corridors on the rare occasions my music player doesn't have enough charge to politely discourage any interaction. And by the way they glare when I light up a cigarette. I can tell because I can see them shaking their heads in pity and compassion. I'm obviously "too young" to be staying by myself and stumbling home drunkenly at bizarre hours. Some nights I imagine going up to their doors and knocking softly with the gun clenched tightly in my hand. Once in a while I even imagine doing the maniacal laughter bit as they cautiously open their doors. But being the sane and reasonable person that I am, I do nothing of the sort.
Suddenly remembering the weapon, I spin around and reach under the pillow, sighing in relief as my fingers find the cold steel. I make my way to the window once again, studying the sky. Not much longer now.
(to be continued)