Maggie was nauseated when she awoke with perspiration soaked linens covering her shivering body that Saturday morning. She ran to the bathroom and dry heaved into the toilet. Her wet nightshirt clung to her chilled body as she knelt on the bath rug, waiting for the sickness to pass.
What is it with these dreams? she said to herself. They are so real as if I am remembering something from the past.
She stood up, went to the sink, and wiped her face with a cold, wet washcloth. She had no energy; it was as if she had been awake all night. Even though she did not feel like taking a shower, she turned the water on, got out of her sticky nightclothes, and showered.
When she had finished and dressed, she walked toward the kitchen to brew coffee, stopping when she caught sight of the dining room table where Cory had been. She took a deep breath and walked through the area to the coffee pot.
She snuck a cup of coffee and walked into the office, sitting in front of her computer. There was no one to talk to about the dreams. She no longer considered Jess a confidant, or friend for that matter. Maybe she should send an e-mail to Nora about what was going on, but then she reconsidered, not wanting Nora to think she was crazy like everyone else did. On the other hand, she trusted Nora.
Not wanting Nora to get the message immediately and call her with questions before her brain was fully awake, she took a piece of notepaper from the desk drawer and began writing. She told about the dreams, about Jess and the affair with Cory, the missing jewelry, the altered will, and about the crazy people at Sandpiper Bluff and their false accusations. She mentioned that she would leave the apartment when she got the evidence she needed to defend herself. Until then, she would be there with the nutcases who, for some reason, wanted to harm her. She pointed out that the reason she was writing the letter was so that someone she trusted would have a record of her side of the story because she did not trust the people that surrounded her. It seemed as though predators were ruthlessly pursuing her.
She put the letter in a stamped envelope and took it to the mailbox on her way out to the car. She needed to go back to the apartment and check the camcorder. Hopefully, there was something worthwhile on it.
Once again, when Sandpiper Bluff came into view, a feeling of oppression came over her. She became nauseated and wanted to turn the car around; she did not want to be there. Even so, she parked and walked to the building. The sun that was shining brightly when she left her house was now hidden behind dark gray clouds. The wind blew harshly through the trees and no birds were singing, even the roses refused to release their perfume as if they were afraid to open their petals.
She looked at her empty mailbox and walked inside the gloomy lobby, even the previously shiny staircase banister was dull and in shadow. She looked toward Ethel’s apartment, debating whether to speak with her now or later. Even though the old woman believed in the supernatural, she trusted her. She would talk with her tomorrow before she moved out. Yes, tomorrow she was moving out.
As Maggie walked up the stairs, she felt a pressure on her chest as if she was having angina or a myocardial infarction. But the heaviness passed as she reached the second floor. She looked toward Bruce’s door as she walked to the apartment, hoping he would not poke his damned head out as he typically did. To her relief, no one confronted her as she unlocked her door and quickly stepped inside. She locked it and looked out the peephole, catching a glimpse of Susie walking up the stairs to the third floor with something in her hand that did not look like the ratty teddy bear she typically held.
Maggie turned away from the door and gasped. There, in the middle of the living room, was Susie’s teddy bear. It was sitting up as if someone carefully placed him so he would not fall over.
Her nerves were tingling as if her nervous system had sent out a power surge of electricity to every nerve ending in her body. She stood there listening; hoping whoever had placed the bear for Maggie to find was no longer in the apartment. Other than the wind outside her windows, it was quiet.
Then she looked toward her bedroom to where she had the camcorder hidden. She let out a sigh of relief, knowing she had caught the perpetrator on camera. She walked into her bedroom and took the camera out from under the blankets. She pressed rewind and sat on the bed to view the recording.
Okay, Debbie, now I got you. She pressed play. She watched for someone to enter the door. Someone did . . . It was her. The camera had only recorded her entering the apartment moments earlier.
The windows, they had to have come in through the windows. With the camera in hand, she went into the living room, past the teddy bear, and tested the windows. They were locked as was every window in the apartment. How could that be? The door was locked, the windows were locked, and there was no other way inside the apartment. The camera did not catch anyone coming in through the door. Was it possible that someone came in the door, found the camera, erased the recording, and then reset it? Yes, that was possible but the camera would have recorded them leaving through the door, and there was no such recording.
Maggie got the phone from her purse and took a picture of the teddy bear. It would not show the face of the person who came inside her apartment, but it would show that someone had come inside and sat the teddy bear for her to see when she returned.
She put the phone back inside her purse and began to sob. Nothing was working out. Debbie and Bruce were messing with her and she could not prove it. How could she get proof? If it were not for the accusation of abusing Susie, she would just leave and forget about it. Of course, Susie would know she had not been harmed by Maggie and would stand up for her. Then she thought, Debbie and Bruce probably convinced her to lie and if questioned Susie would say that Maggie had abused her. What could she do? The audio recording of Jess was static and the video camera showed no one coming into the apartment except her. She took the skeleton key from her pocket. Yes, she would use it to go inside Debbie and Bruce’s apartments. There had to be evidence there.