The next morning hit pretty hard, and to make matters worsethe bed which I had slept upon did nothing to cushion the blow, the springs podding me in the backwith intent to ache. With thoughts thinking of nothing but breakfast, I slid off my slab of rock and towards where I door should have been were I not entombed within a caravan. In the next room over I heard James brushing his teeth, and wandered over to push him out of wat counted for the bathroom.
We didn’t stay long after that. After playing with the brief idea of heading towards the beach one last time, it was unianimously decided that it would be beter if we had headed off, whatever enthusiasm my companion had the reviosu day now having ebbed to mere cnders, were to play further but lacking the enrgy for it. I too had no other reason to stay, save for the presence of Mr. Beterman.
After packing up and fixing up what little we could of the our temporary den, we went to drop off the keys and finish up whatever trivials we needed to get done. James had just said that it would be okay if we left the key and got out of there but I had wanted an excuse to speak to the absence bounty. After drudging through what felt like an acre of squelching mudwe approached the onlynon wheeled housing in the park and entered to find no one there.
Whilst seeming a little odd for a Saturday during the tourist season, we simply figured them to be gone elsewhere and after ten or so minutes of waiting, departed the way we came, leaving the keys for whoever to pick up and an impression of ‘screw you’ if there were any problems we had forgotten about.
The garage returned this to us in kind.
“Though a little old miss, your car’s’s pretty much in erfect condition,” the large, round man with enough mass to his bulk to make me wonder however he got under the car said. “You might have to get your suspension tweaked closer to your MOT. Looks like it’s going that is.”
I know I hadn’t told him anything in regards to bugs, cameras or whatever other paranoid paraphanalia may have been placed on my car, but I was a little disappointed to find him mention nothing to me that sowed it.
“Nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever?” I inquired.
“Well, if you want to not mention the note you pushed into the interior of the driver’s doors,” he said with a chuckle as he produced a sheet of paper, then all I could say is that it’s just the suspension that needs looking at.
At least that confimed he looked in the interior for me, I noted, taking the scrap of paper on it with the words ‘Can you find me?” scrawled upon it. In all honesty I expected the man to have just tossed it aside should he find it, but luckily he seemed like the playful type himself.
Though on the other hand, this produced an agony for me that I could only begin to comtemplate. However, at the time I thought of relief, as it seems I might have been able to toss away the theory that I was being watched as part of some social experiement. After paying the man on my Maestro card, we departed with the car safely, with an apparent bonus of a free oil change that I didn’t notice in the slightest as thanks to aying him so much in the first place.
“So they’ve fixed it then?” James asked with disillusionment as we started away from the garage. Being right outside a slip road we were able to get onto the duel carriageway pretty fast and I was soon speeding passed all the slower vechicles that kept themselves in the left hand lane.. Soon I had woken up I noticed that the boy seemed a little off. He had become a lot quiter that he was yesterday, booming with excitemeny like he had just been prmotoed to leader of the earth. Now it wqas if he had discovered that th whole reason for thatwas because the real ruler wished to remain in the shadows after news of an assassination attempt and he could only do his job half heartedly.
I didn’t feel like pushing him to provide entertainment today. I was prettyout of it myself. Though it had suggested a few things to me, the trip overall had been a bust. I never met elusive Mr. Betterman and the people at the garage had found nothing.
This last bit meant nothing thogh. I had only sent my car to be looked over by specialists because I lacked my own knowledge in the field, but that didn’t mean that any cameras may have been in the car in the first place. Even worse was the fact that they may have just been paid off by whatever mastermind was behind this.
Woah, I stopped that line of thought right there, the more rational art of my mind grabbing the reigns before the part that looked fantasy went ravid over the possibilities. I was beginning to think that this was some psychotic mastermind who had spent years of planning to cook up such a scheme. I even think that part of me wanted it to be like that, so I would at least have an excuse to kick his ass should I ever find him at the top of his ivory ower. But no, that was foolish to mak that jump. I should try to think this through more carefully, this time without jumping assumptiuon.
I slowly went over what I knew, James’s playing around with the radio stations distracting me very little, even as he failed to decide between the classical station and the station that might put something good on iffwe gave it long enough.
The envelope came though my door with regular post, and was postmarked to have come from Sheffield at around this time, so that didn’t help. The instructions inside suggested that the ‘game’ occurs all around the United Kingdomm this…wasn’t helping at all. I needed some other kind of clue to jump at me, sme sign beyond my own little suspicious to help clarify the path that the envelope was forcing me to tread.
The method wasn’t exactly being helpful in determining anything, but the motive had seemed transparent. When trying to dfetermine if something had been planned by another, one shuld always checked how something benefits a person. For example, if a person who had received a lot of complaits recently about the state of their work from other employees, one should question if this is actually te result of another employee wishing to undermind the other in the eyes of a manager who may be looking to promote somebody. Since I was being made to walk, wander and drive over a hundred miles in circles just to figure out what was going on, it made sense to see who would benefit from this.
The only answer,anyone who had found it amusing to watch.
I don’t have any major commitments at the moment, no grand tournaments to participate in, or work schedule that means anything to anyone (though if somebody else wished for my job as an administrative assistant, they were more than welcome to take it. Hell, I’d lay out a royal welcome for them, even get a red carpet out of my large sum of money for them to pose on as they take my desk. No one really needed to play me about.
The only other real theory was that someone was trying to play a game against me, testing my skill and wits against theres, which sort of went along the same lines as someone finding it amusing.
That was unlikely though.
Thre was never anyone around who actually did that sort of thing.
Everyone would be afraid of the repercussions if the other person took it too seriously.
And the ones who wouldn’t would be too stupid.
Damn! Hy can’t the intentions just be said at the beginning. I know it would make it too easy, but it’s not like I have access to great resources. I can only figure out so much. Should I have the enveloped dusted for fingerprints and DNa sampling, use my newly aquired wealth to bribe a policemen to check it out for me. That wouldn’t be such a bad idea actually. Maybe this person’s some crazed nut who likes to play mindfucks with people.
No, even then I’d be taking too much of a risk. For starters I don’t actually know any policeman, or anyone who could give me such information, and if I start maintaining the stereotypical view that policemen exist in these situations to be bribed for info then I’d probably end up be using that money to pay for bail.
I probably should have just played along. Stalked he caravan park alone without James and pounced the second I saw anyone resembling Mr. Betterman’s picture, getting ready to rceive thetorrent of headless cameramn and anorexic television presenters jumping out of the bushes with evertyone in the entire universe behind them screaming along as the camera pans in their direction, my closest friends (most of whom I never heard of) ready to spill the beans on all of my former ex lovers and bondages fetishes.
I sighed deeply, spinning the wheel round a roundabout. That better not be what this results in. I have enough problems in my life without people making stuff up.
James exhaled besides me, pretending to be asleepto avoid me, his own boredom cancelling out any ability to engage in meaningfull conversation. He was such a child at times. He lost every card game to me last night nd spent the rest of the dark time moping about and not really wanting to do anything. He should be glad I was paying for the trip.
With that, my thoughts stopped so hard that I nearly pulled the car into an emergency brake, the person behind us nearly colliding head on into me like we had invited him for a discussion on the finer points of head trauma. Luckily, he merly dipped around us, blaring his horn as hard as e couldand shooting off into the distance as I tried to get back on course.
“Fuckin’ idiot,” James exclaimed as he got a rough idea of what’s going on. “what’s up with hiom?”
“Wouldn’t let him pass,” I quickly mumbled, as I searched desperately for signs to a service station.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive?” James insisted for the second time as I strode out of the car, my eyes glancing round sharply, as if trying to pick a rabbit out of a large field.
“Yeah, maybe,” I said grudgingly, not really caring at the moment as my eyes centered around it. “we’ll see in a moment.” I shot off, leaving him on faithful guard duty without a musket or locked door.The only thing I can think of at this point is the intense need to check it out. There was no way it could have happened, but it seemed to be going that way.
I had paid with the Maestro.
It was another one of those ‘Link customers must pay a toll’ machines. Thi one sat outside and displayed its services prominently, waiting to sucker all customers in to get that bit of extra cash off of them.A fine example of skimming off the top really. I would hve questioned just ow much they made on these thigs were I not currentlyslamming my pin number in.
I waited and hit balance.
I hd paid the guy at the garage with my Maestro ard. It was instinctive. But I had just transferred the entire contents of the account mins tqo pound just the other day. I had no overdraft.
You can withdraw:
“No no no.” The words were coming ou of my mouth, though couldn’t say I was listening to them right out. I was etting the machine to spit my card back at me as ungratefully aas it wanted for me not letting it take a bit of my account for itself.
A swift switch around later, and my other card was in, the Visa. I had to make sure.
Ninety thouand two hundred and fifty pounds and fifty six pence. I was now, parrantly, that much.
Unfortunately, I was ow stinking rich.
Slamming the side of the machine, I turned to see if there wa anyone watching me, before kicking it again. What did this mean? Unless I had forgot to leave a note out for myself last night, I hadn’t killed anyone. I hadn’t even met the one I was supposed to kill, hadn’t spoken to him, hadn’t learnt how to play crazy golf off of him, let alone snuck into his house quietly after stealing the key earlier on, approaching his bedside and forever quietening him with his own pillow. How could I be richer?
Nearly ripping the pocket out of my coat, I yanked out my mobile phone, I should still have the number of the caravan park stored in memory. If I ring it up now…
Part of my mind asked whether I should have been doing that at a petrol station, but it got shut up quickly as I waited for it to ring my own heartbeat completely out of rythym with the bell in the background.
“H-hello,” the voice of the other Mr. Betterman answered after none or so rings.
“Hello, Mr. betterman, it’s Gemma Maguire. We spoke yesterday. I was staying in lot 45a with my friend.”
“Oh..” he said, sounding far too worried than one should be when a previous customer calls.. “H-how can I help you?”
I don’t have a clue what I am going to say here. I can’t even say why I ushed to make the call. All I knew is that I had to ring him.
“Are you… Are you okay, Mr. Betterman?” I found tumbling out of my mouth. “You sound awefully upset.”
“I’-its nothing,” he insisted, sniffing loudly to himself.” Part of me felt the boom in the distance as my entire world darkened. /The other part carried on the conversation.
“Are you sure, Mr. Betterman?” I pushed. “You sound like you’re on the verge of tears.”
“W-we’ve just had a little incident, that’s all,” he relented. “On of my family members has just been killed.”
“Oh that’s dreaful,” I replied, amazed my throat let my words out as he continyed talking.
“Yes, it was my brother Frank. I- I believe I spoke to you yesterday about him. He was killed by a drunk in a hit and run accidentlast night. I can’t believe it myself He was just coming back after being away from the day, and in the car park to a Burger King, he…he.”
I hung up, my finger trembling against the buttonas I closed the phone. Now aware of a loud beeping, I looked to the cash machine to see it was inststing I take out my card. With a swipe I pulled it back into my purse and did my best to keep standing.
Part of me felt an uncontrollable urge to run, to just pick a direction where the cops would never find me and head down it for eternity. He was dead. The man who was my bounty was dead, roadkill with a cheeseburger and fries scattered in front of the main entrance, a careless driver already screaming off into the distance. How could this be?
And why am I getting rewarded for it?
Thirty Nine thousand. There was no doubt. It was the bounty reward I was to receive if I had decided to killmy target, minus current expenditure, the cash incentive to commit the unforgivable that I questioned how many would take up no matter what the reason.
I hadn’t been the killer.
Hell, I didn’t even know which Burger King it was. He could have been halfway down the motorway when it happened for all I know.
In fact, I was the one person it couldn’t have been. With James as my witness, there was no way I could have commited the murder. Even if I were to kill him, I figured I would hav done it by proxy.
The printed death note in my mind, I saw that rule shine above all the others, that little specification that truly made it a game. The golden rule that earlier I had praised for its flexibility.
If a bounty is removed from the playing field at any time during that HuNTer’s time period, then the point of that bounty is rewarded to him and the HuNTer receives an additional amount as designated on the bounty’s profile.
It was during my turn.
Therefore, it was my kill.
Therefore, I am now a murderer.
With this settling itself heavily on my mind, I walked into the petrol station, my eyes squinting towards the camera and immediately turning away, as if every moment I was now filmed was evidence to be used against me in a court of law. I wandered over to the counter, the teenage clerk string me down like I was about to rob the joint. With haste I quickly bought five pieces of choclate, including a large slab of milk chocolate, paids for them and quickly left.
James drove the rest of the way back, happily tking the wheel for me it exchange for some caramel. As I cracked into the large slab, I relished in its goodness, savouring the taste as it travelled acrss my tongue, the succulent sweet liquidising under my heated breath and travelled down into my throat. I biut into it again, the cracking against my teeth feeling like agame to see which would break first. In truth it was I who was now breaking I heard the policemen already knocking at my door, wishing to question me over my usupicious absence and work and my arrival into Scarborough, using a fake name at a caravan site and my real one at a nearby garage for some meaningless work that wouldn’t be explainable to people who actually knew how cars work. And then would come the curiousity as to why I would have such a substantial sum of money delivered to myaccount a day after the murder, and just why I travelled up there in the first place to see…
This wasn’t right. Wasn’t it weird? Of all the times to get into a hit and run, it just happened to be when I was assigned him as a bounty during a game I never agreed to play. What were the chances of that? I was more likely to cause a tidal wave in Switzerland just by leaving the tap on than that happening. Well, maybe that’s a bad analogy, but it’s unlikely. And yet just convenient enough to make me start thinking this was all real.
Was this still part of the trick
My bounty dies, without me ever seeing or hearing from him. Withut so much as a hello or confirmation of his existence.
And then this brother just so happens to die at around the same time I would be a huge instant beneficiary should he so happen to do so for whatever reasons, if even those reasons weren’t to include me.
The money isn’t proof.
As far as I can tell, no one’s actually died yet.