For Fandango’s Story Starter #22, where we build something around the following phrase:
When I looked inside, I saw no sign of life whatsoever, except for…
The tenements are already simmering as the car stops abruptly on the street; it is going to be another sweltering day. In this dead-end, there is no other traffic and the vehicle parks easily at the side of the road. As one, its four occupants emerge. Three men, ranging in ages from twenties to fifties, plus one woman, probably in her thirties, all dressed casually, stride purposefully toward the same goal.
They turn the corner onto a busier street. There are people here, there is a convenience store one block away and there is a bustle of passers-by, eager to be somewhere as the warm day begins.
They are joined by a fifth, a pot-bellied man in his fifties who has been loitering outside one particular building since breakfast. The new man removes a Glock handgun from inside his jacket, and cocks it, ready to shoot.
The five are joined by a sixth and seventh, dressed as construction workers. One of these is already carrying a sledgehammer, the other also draws a handgun.
The sevens’ paths appear to converge on a single brownstone building, and as they draw closer, the loiterer speaks into his lapel.
“Move! Move”, he commands, and as the group reach the open, communal entrance door, two nondescript, unmarked cars speed to a halt, one from each direction, blocking the heating roadway. Eight more people, six men and two women, pour out of the vehicles to join the fray.
In the meantime, one of the older, original men, a wiry man in his fifties, flecks of grey peppering his once-dark hair, emerges as the leader and draws a pistol of his own from out of his red, check shirt. Leaving their colleagues waiting at the bottom of the stairs, he and sledgehammer man proceed to the bare, unpainted door of an apartment on the first-floor landing. Leader nods, and both men silently remove safety glasses from their top pockets.
As the pair ready themselves, the leader speaks into a concealed mouthpiece.
“Alright, boys and girls, are we ready?”
For the first time, it is apparent that the leader is wearing an earpiece.
“Yeah, we’re ready”, comes an immediate response.
“Okay”, continues the leader, “we’re gonna knock on the door”, and nods to his accomplice.
Well-practised Accomplice swings the hammer. It takes just a single blow to smash the inadequate lock, as the door explodes, showering the men with splinters.
As the flimsy door bursts open, Leader cries “POLICE”, before forcing himself into the apartment. His momentum takes him across the hallway and straight into the bathroom, but he is followed by the remainder of the group, for whom the crash was the trigger to join Leader.
Leader quickly regains his footing, and joins the team, who are by now scouring the apartment, guns drawn. He tuns down the dark hallway, which opens out into a brighter lounge. As he looks inside, he sees no sign of life, except for a white net curtain, fluttering gently in the open window.