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Three disturbing stories.WATER. In the evening, but an entire building remains in the dark. No light turns on. It seems that the inhabitants have disappeared. Claudia, returning from work, finds herself having to accompany the police in the exploration of what was her home, now transformed into a graveyard without graves. What happened to all the inhabitants, but above all what happened to her husband?LIZARD. Capturing a lizard is a harmless game, especially if it is a child. But it can also have unpredictable and terrifying effects.SENSES. He lost everything, every single thing. He does not see, he can not move, he knows he is a prisoner. Of someone who has become his master, on whom he depends completely. He also lost his memory, but he is struggling to remember. Although later it will only be worse.
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Illusion Short Stories # 2
Original title: Acqua
Translated by Talida Mantegna
Original title: Lucertola
Translated by Cinzia Albanese
Original title: Sensi
Translated by Cinzia Albanese
© 2018 Illusion
© 2018 Stefano Pastor
Graphics: Angela M.
It was not yet eight o’clock, and now darkness reigned over the city, the lanterns wrapped up everything of a sad yellow aura that the shops’ signs broke at times, throwing bright spots on the street still wet by the afternoon downpour.
I came back home, like every night, and I was tired, only dreamed of the moment I would sit down and Guido was waiting for me, his caresses, the little gentleness he spotted me and I could not do without them anymore. I was glad that Guido worked as translator and had the opportunity to work at home, this made our life much easier and, in the last few days, he had become a fantastic cook, much better than me.
As soon as I turned the corner, I noticed a discordant note: something strange was happening in front of the building I was living in. A tiny crowd of curious people fluttered, there were also two police cars with flashing lights, but no ambulance. I hurried, worried.
There was no agitation among the present, it seemed to reign over curiosity more than fear, more than anxiety about anguish. I looked in the faces of some of my knowledge to ask for explanations. There was Mario, the grocery store greengrocer in front of the shop, and in the end, I could take his attention. He was a big guy, always good and joking, I’ve been in his shop for years and had a formal, but friendly relationship with him, while I had never tied up with my neighbors, Guido was holding contact with them.
The greengrocer lighted up recognizing me.
“Mrs Landi, I’m so glad you’re here, so glad.”
It seemed as though he was crying; This raises my concern.
“What happened? Was there a disaster? Is my husband doing fine?”
I could not answer, he just shook the head.
“I do not know, nobody knows. We have no idea what happened there. Come with me, I have you talk to the police, maybe they’ll be able to tell you more.”
He grabbed me by an arm and I felt dragged away from that worried man who was shaking the crowd with his considerable weight, repeating the same phrase continuously, aloud.
“Let us pass, the lady lives here.”
He repeated it to the policeman who blocked us from the front door of my house. I found myself frightened and anxious as never before. I looked around: there was nothing to let anything to do with anything unpleasant. The illuminated, deserted door, the lit lanterns, the well-groomed hedge, the open gate, no broken glass, no traces of any kind. Then I looked up to the facade: everything seemed normal.
Too many, maybe.
I realized with amazement that all the shutters were open and the lights in the apartments were down. It was very strange, at that time of the year the darkness was already at six o’clock in the afternoon, there should have been lights lit everywhere and for hours. I thought instinctively that the current was missing, but I immediately broke the idea, the entrance was illuminated and, through the windows, you could see the soft yellow light of the stairs. Without being able to find a rational explanation, I felt that my apprehension was growing.
Instinctively, I pulled out the door key and stepped forward to the entrance.
One hand grabbed my wrist, making me jump.
He was a bourgeois man, but I had no difficulty identifying him as a policeman. He had to have my age and was robust and athletic. His face was anonymous, not expressive. I felt uncomfortable under his gaze. Behind him, another burial policeman appeared, younger, and an old uniformed officer.
Mr. Mario immediately thought.
“She’s Mrs. Claudia Landi, she lives here.”
The policeman came up.
“I am Sergeant Andrei and this is my colleague Spini.”
The younger agent greeted me with a nod. He was tall and blond, a slim, dry physical and a disarming smile that women love. He did not seem very smart, but generally those with a look like him did not feel too much the lack of intelligence. The old man in uniform had not been included in the presentations.
“Do you live here, confirm me?”
The man glanced at his notebook. I tried to peek, but seemed to be covered with hieroglyphs.
“Mrs. Claudia Landi, apartment 4B. On the fourth floor, right.”
I absented with a head movement.
“She does not live alone. Can you tell me if you planned to find someone at home on her return?”
I kept my mouth open: the coldness of that question had paralyzed me.
Mr. Mario came to my aid.
“But I told him! Mr. Landi almost never leaves. She works at home and at this time she should be upstairs, as always.”
I felt a shiver running along my back.
“My husband. Something happened to my husband! Please tell me, please!”
The agent seemed embarrassed.
“We do not know. Not yet, at least. It does not respond to the intercom or telephone call. And the door is closed.”
I was astonished.
“You did not even go to see!”
The agent shrugged. The colleague came in his aid. “We could not. There was no complaint, the door was closed, and we could not break it without a mandate. There is nothing to indicate that a crime is being committed.”
I wondered if they had not become all crazy.
“You could make it open by a neighbor! Ask some of them to go see!”
Andrei answered cautiously.
“You do not understand, ma’am. None of the inhabitants of the palace answered to the intercom and when we tried to call we could not talk to anyone.”
“Nobody? But at this time the house should be full of people!”
“Sixty-five people, more or less. Six floors, eighteen apartments. So at least the other inhabitants of the street told us.”
“And did not you come in? It’s crazy!”
I was furious.
“It’s not so easy. As I told you, there is no evidence that something illegal is happening. If someone wants to stay in the house in the dark and refuses to answer the phone, well, it’s certainly not a crime. They could have been out for some reason, maybe a trip, a condominium meeting…”
“At eight in the evening? Are you crazy?”
I realized that the agent hid his irritation with difficulty, but the idea of hurting his feelings even seemed attractive to me.
“We are trying to get in touch with relatives to have permission to enter. But it’s not easy.”
“I’m here and I want to get in. This is my home and I have the keys. If you want to follow me, the better. Maybe you will not be able to enter the other apartments, but in my house, I will gladly invite you.”
The agents seemed to wait for nothing else. Spini nodded and immediately four policemen were at their side.
Andrei came to me, almost murmuring, not to be heard by the curious.
“So, let’s go right away. But, I recommend, let us go first and, for God’s sake, do nothing impulsive. If I give you orders I want you to run execute instantly, without thinking. Just remember that it is for your good, I don’t want you to run unnecessary risks.”
Spini was giving the latest guidelines to his men.
“I recommend, do not let anyone go and for no reason, until we come back.”
Despite everything, I felt encouraged to have such a stock.
“Give me the keys, I think I’ll open, she’ll stay behind, with Agent Spini. Let’s get in us first.”
He turned the key and the door opened with a click. Everything inside was quiet and peaceful. The police first came in and I was last. The door closed with a tear behind us, making me jump.
“Who deals with lighting in the stairs and in the entrance when it is dark?”
I tried to remember.
“It’s automatic. There’s a timer in the cellar, I think.”
“I imagined it.”
We walked through the hallway, intact and empty mailboxes, a couple of fat plants, a second locked glass door.
A small place: side by side the elevator door and stairs. Sink on the right, the cellar door. It was all lindy, freshly washed, no grain of dust was visible.
“We take the elevator?”
Andrei seemed to think a moment before answering the colleague.
“I see no reason not to do it, I do not think it’s dangerous.”
He pressed the button and the doors opened immediately: the elevator was already on the floor. The cabin was empty, a mirror reflecting our images. Almost I did not recognize myself: I had my eyes twisted, the expression hallucinated. I tried to recompense.
Spini and the oldest policeman came into the elevator behind me; Andrei, before reaching us, motioned for the other policemen to go on foot.
“It was not necessary, we could do two trips”, I said.
“This is not the problem”, Andrei replied patiently. “Better to be certain that no unpleasant surprise is waiting for us, do not you think?”
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