Carmen Stevens: Before the Night is Over

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Carmen banged on Elle's door for the second time. Her neighbour always kept herself to herself. She very rarely left her house, as far as Carmen was aware, so the fact that Elle had witnessed Carmen disposing of her brother's body was an insane stroke of luck.

Carmen didn't know anything about her neighbour. She just knew she was a middle-aged woman living next door. They had never had a conversation before. In fact, they had never even said hello to each other, ever. The only reason Carmen knew her name was Elle was because her mother told her the day Elle moved in. She never complained, though. In some ways, she was just like Elle.

There was one occurrence when Carmen was much younger, about two years after Elle had moved in, where Carmen had wanted to be a spy and snooped out of her bedroom window. Using the telescope, she saw a man come to the house and Elle let him in. She could see into the living room. She saw Elle hit the poor man. He was defenceless and she was hitting him extremely hard. He ran straight out of the house and Carmen never saw him again. When Elle almost saw her through the window, Carmen made a deal with herself to never look through Elle's window ever again.

The sudden memory made Carmen more anxious than she already was. When Elle opened the door, Carmen had a vision of Elle randomly slapping her. Elle was much bigger than Carmen in both height and size. Even though she was stocky, Elle was still fairly pretty. Her hair was straight and boring, her face absent of make-up. She did have the remnants of red lipstick on her front tooth; she must have forgotten to wipe it off when she removed her lipstick.

Elle clung onto her dressing gown tighter when she looked down at Carmen. "What do you want?"

"I need to talk to you," Carmen said desperately, taking a step forward. Carmen hinted to be let inside, even though a part of her screamed for her not to. She didn't want to go inside the cold house she passed on her way home every day, but she didn't want to discuss Rhys out in the open. "Just know I won't hurt you."

Elle peered hard into Carmen's eyes. "Fine. Come in."

"Thank you," Carmen let out a sigh as Elle took a step back and pressed against the wall of the dark hallway. Carmen squeezed through, and got out of Elle's way as she closed the door. She turned the key in the lock. Carmen gulped and looked at Elle helplessly.

"The first door on the right is my living room. The fireplace is on. Go in and sit down. I'll get you a drink."

"Okay," Carmen agreed and followed Elle's orders. She wasn't in a position to argue. All Carmen wanted to do was tell her a small story, then leave. Carmen opened the living room door and stepped in the doorway while Elle continued down the hall into the kitchen. "Oh, I don't want you to go to any trouble, I just want to talk."

Elle smiled. "Sure," she said sweetly, then followed Carmen into the living room. Elle sat in an armchair closest to the door, while Carmen slowly walked over to the settee. Avoiding the coffee table in the middle, she sat noisily on the seat, squeaking beneath her weight. Elle scrunched her face.

For at least a minute, the pair sat in silence. Carmen wasn't sure of how to start the conversation, and Elle was refusing to break the ice. She had a quick look around her surroundings, noting the open window as a potential escape route, just in case. She always scouted the area she was in for escape routes, just in case she ever got into any trouble, or there was a zombie apocalypse, whichever came first.

Carmen set her eyes on the jug of water on the coffee table. "Would you like a glass of water?" Elle offered, standing up and walking towards the table. Carmen was about to tell her she wouldn't, but Elle had already picked up one of the glasses off the table. She didn't want to seem rude.

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