Number Twenty-Five

Number Twenty-Five crouches over, knobbly spine swaying with the rhythm of the slight breeze. In his hand he holds a pair of scissors; not the kind you’d normally see in the hands of a gardener, mind you.

These are the type of scissors I remembered buying for my son when he started Prep, the ones with thick, brightly coloured, easy-grip handles and soft-curved blades that struggled to cut a single sheet of paper unless you stuck your tongue out at just the right angle.

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I want you to panic

‘When you’re asleep, you lose your sense of smell,’ the firefighter explained. ‘That’s why smoke alarms are important; without them, you won’t smell the smoke. If you don’t smell the smoke, you’ll feel the fire. Girls and boys, if that fire creeps up on you, you’ll be dead. Too late, game over. When you hear that smoke alarm beep-beep-beepin’ – girl, you’d better sit up and take notice before it’s too late. You gotta wake up. Do you hear me girl? You better wake the hell up.’

‘Anna! WAKE. UP.’

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The collapse

There’s something wrong with my ankle.

I know I shouldn’t be able to see the bone. I’m certain the blood is supposed to be inside my body not pooling bright red on the tiles of my kitchen.

I don’t feel anything.

Wait –

I remember everything.

Running into the house, into my kitchen, grabbing the biggest knife I could find but being completely unprepared to use it on the man attacking me.

It was Omar Prasad, my neighbour. He’s a pharmacist.


He was a pharmacist.

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