Chapter Four


Away rom the city, away from the congestion, it was amazing just how much one could forget England could be nice and relxing.


In Nottingham, it felt like there was never really a moments rest. There was no such thing as a quiet street there, with taxis full of students driving down every which direction at all hours and drunkards skittering the streets after coming out of the night clubs. If there was a quiet place in that city, I’ve never found.


And compared to these roads, where the fields of green and yellow just seem to soak up all vibrations, even the mostrelaxed deaf person in the city would feel silenced. Even driving down the A roads like this in my humming Astra was a lot more relaxing than any place I had been back at that place.


The person snoring next to me was reminding me of it a lot though.


Little James, though he was now taller than me by a clear foot and pretty much always had been, sat with his forehead pressed against the window, noozng away as the summer rays bounced upon his face. He had already been yawning before we had even set off and now his consciousness had finally left him just as we pulled onto the motorway.


I elbowed him awake, annoyed that I was giving him a free trip with me. I admit it didn’t matter so much since I had recently become stinking rich, but the road was beginning to get boring and I didn’t want to die peacefully in my sleep just yet.


“Wake up,” I commanded him once again, making sure he stayed up this time. “your whole purpose on this trip, nay, your whole existence, is solely to provide me with entertainment while I’m forced down here. You’re going to stay awake and dance for me whether you like it or not.”


He grumbled to himself, trying to shake himself awake as I passed over the roundabout. “This is still stupid,” he complained, thogh the smile on his face showed he didn’t care either way.


“Tell me about it,” I replied. “But the car needs fixing.”


“Couldn’t they have just shipped the parts out.”


“They told me the guy needed to look at it specifically or something. I don’t really know.”


“Should have taken it to Spencer’s,” the boy continued, keeping his eyes closed. “He always handles mine fine. That can’t have been that much of a problem with it.”


“You’re getting a free trip,” I gritted, full of angry sarcasm. “Sit back and enjoy the ride.”


“Well, that’s true,” he said, apparently content. I didn’t really like lying to him, but the alternate would have just been a cheap laugh.


“Hey I’ve been entered into a survival game with overly dramatic and self contradicting rules, and it turns out I may have to kil this guy in Scarborough. At first I thought it was just some dumb prank played by those with less intelligence than you but then I got fifty k in my bank account and now I can’t tell. And since the whole event is turning me into a deranged paranoid nut, I’m getting a total stranger to check my car for any bugs or camera just in case it’s all one big reality television prank. Don’t you worry though,’ I’d say with a reassuring grin, ‘I’ve already transferred the money across banks so I don’t get screwed and am certainly not going to Scarborough to kill the man in question.”


…Though James probably would react by launching himself out the car dor. That alone would be worth it…and then I don’t have to worry about witnesses either.


Seriously though, I chose a garage in Scarborough as an excuse, to see if this man really existed.


Was I also plotting on killing him?


Of course, I’d like to say it was just stupid, but I think a part of me would like to consider just how far I could get. The idea of stalking into that caravan park that Mr. Betterman owned, engaging in a friendly chat with him in the afternoon and stealing away to his bedroom at night. I could get in by procuring the spare key from when I was talking to him earlier and make notes on all the sounds in the house that might wake him up. There, upon ditching James, who’d make a nice alibi if I leave him when sleeping. I could get into his house like I owned the place and tiptoe my way into his room, just to see if I could get my hands round his neck, watch as his eyes bug open and he tries to hit me futilely in his half awake state, before the life slowly passes from him and that money becomes mine.


What would I do then? Would I just leave him there, replace the keyas if it were never gone and walk out of the house. Perhaps I’d hide it somewhere in his house, to make it look like he lost it and couldn’t lock it that night. Maybe I’d sneak the body into my car, drive it down to the ocean and let the waves take care of the rest. I’d have to weigh the body down I guess. Maybe I could steal a boat and bring him as far out as I could, before using whatever items I could find in his house and weighing him down with them, casting him to the bottom of the sea for no one to see.


I guess I could do that, not that I was actually plotting to kill him.


We drove the rest of the way peacefully, discussing the merits of the balance system on members of the Futabatei tribe.




After leaving the car at the garage, we wandered through the town of Scarborough for a bit. Here, we look like any set of tourists that were dangling about the area. I always wondered if the townsfolk could actually tell the difference between natives and tourists. I suppose it’s a lot harder here than in Hawaii, where the newbies are covered in white skin, but they must be able to tell by the way we get lost easily.


The garage guy must have thought I was nuts now I think about it. I had told him to pretty much rip the car up and put it back together again, leaving out anything that shouldn’t be there. This wasn’t some airfix kit, after all. The only reason he was willing to do something that cracked up was because of the large pile of cash he received doing it.


Which meant we now had a whole day to burn away in the resort town. I was glad t get a day off, even if I couldn’t afford to waste it, but this may have been more important than other things. It was just a good job I had some company this time.


“So where d you wanna go?” James asked me, already eroding an ice cream cone with his tongue, attacking those white cliffs of cream with centuries of torrented in an instant.


“I guess we should head for the caravan park first,” I said, playing with my own twister. “Well dump whatever we don’t need and then find something to do.”


“Fair enough,” he replied far too easily, and we set off down the town sights of scarborough, which were a lot less interesting than the sites of China, Russia pr even Majorca when I got dragged along with my parents lat year. Whilst their streets bore a suprising similarity to this English market streets, it was just made that extra bit interesting by the building architecture and general differenceness of it all. This was like being in town on a market day, though I guess Nottingham didn’t have market days. The only difference was the arcades that James might pull me into if I let up for one moment.


“No,” I replied, before he even got chance to open up his mouth. “We can go play in there once we get to the caravan site.


The caravan site was about two miles away from where we were, and by the time we got there I was about ready to insist that James carry me, knowing full well that with his skinny legs he would snap if so much as a slight breeze passed his…


“well, hello there,” I forze as I heard the voice coming from rounds the corner, apparently this one was of those people with x-ray vision I had heard so much about, or perhaps it was just obvious when people came in. “Pleased to meet you, I’m Mr. Betterman.”


The man standing before me is not Francis Betterman. This guy has black hair (which looked natural) and what I think are hazel eyes, though definitely not green. Even on the off chance that he might have dyed and completely changed his style before popping in some contact lenses, his face was all wrong, and a few years youngers.


“erm…” I began muttering, immediately feeling suspicious of myself. It would look bad if I told him he was not Mr. Betterman, but what do you say to the person who is clearly not who they say they are. “I could hardly point at him with an accusatory finger, rip off his mask and say, “you’re not Mr. Betterman. Youre the guy who runs the amusement park: Mr. Werewolf.’ Hell, that’ll just be weird.


“Hi,” James continued for me. “We’ve booked a caravan. Under Conno…”


“Maguire,” I quickly interrupted, confusing the James Irons next to me. “I put it under Maguire.”


“Ah yes, Ms. Maguire,” he confirmed, checking the register, apparently not noticing the misinformation between me and James. If you’d just like to sign here…”


I did so, with a signature I spent a little time at work forging yesterday. Withou a day inbetween the practice session it ddn’t come off as smooth as I liked but he seemed satisfied with it. “Do I pay now,” I said, pulling out my card and hoping in the same moment that he doesn’t check the name on it. With asonding luck  found he had no need to and the bill was out of the way straight away.


“So, are you two here for the weekend then?” he asked us jovially as we wandered in and out the haphazardly placed caravans, swarms of children and old couples occasionally passing us as the people in the middle did the smart thing and move very little or reveal how drunk they got last night.


“Ah yes, something like that,” I mumbled, trying to think up some question to ask him that might explain what was going on here. I admit it wasn’t too much of a priority, but I would like to confirm that the man in the picture existed before I went back home. “Is it a nice area?”


“Scarborough?” he asked confused, making me regret phrasing it wrong. “Yeah, it’s not bad. I’ve lived here all my life really and…”


God, that must be terrible for you.


“…I’d say I’ve always been happy here. There’s plenty for you to do, that’s for sure. What are you into?”


Almost answering truthfully, I realized he meant holiday preferences and decided mainly to mention arcades. There was nothing really here that I was concerned about.”


“Ah, plenty of those. You’ll find them scattered all down the coastline and everywhere you go. Anywhere else?”


Feeling like I was in an RPg and speaking to the funny guy who stands at the front of every village I tired suggesting things to him that might make him mention his family, but it seems that the man was too ritualized around the holiday guests and mentioned nothing about himself. Instead my ears were force fed a ton of tourist spewage that obviously wouldn’t fit in the tiny ear drum holes and fell right back out. This wasn’t what I needed to know. Didn’t they say this was a family run business? Maybe he was elsewhere.


“Do you play golf yourself?” asked James, huffing and puffing and feeling lonely at the back with all our luggage, despersately trying to remain in the conversation.


“Not so much myself,” replied Mr. Betterman, after a few seconds of careful, unnecessary thinking. “Golf’s always been my brother’s thing. He’s crap at it though, can only do the crazy gold things.”


“Really?” I replied, glad that James had earned his keep from me in just one sentence. “Do you think he could teach me how to play. I’ve never been that good.”


“Well, he’s on his way back tomorrow, so you might get a chance if you’re lucky…”


I didn’t have any intention of being here that long tomorrow thinking about it. My main aim was to leave as soon as I had the car checked out and be back in time for the role lay session. But if I stayed for just the morning… I doubt the man had any intention of asking his brother if a random nobody wanted a golf game with him but it would nly require that I meet up with him and…


I stopped talking as we reached the caravan.


“You say he’ll be back tomorrow?”




Well, at the very least, if he’s back by tomorrow I won’t feel any major compulsion to kill him tonight. That was definitely for the best.


Accrding to the envelope, the turn ended tonight at midnight. I hadn’t thought about it much but the possibility of Mr. Betterman being away because he was ALSO participating in the game had occurred to me.


If this envelope game thing were real, to the point where other people besides myself were getting envelopes pushed through their doors by reality television producers, it wuldn’t be too impossible to assume that some of them would be tempted by the money, or made curious by the suggestions and had stole away from their families and friends to commit the unforgivable.


In all seriousness I had no intention of trying it out. The last thing I wanted was to be seconds away from making the biggest mistake of my life only to have the aforementioned morons of tv pop out and humiliate me in front of thousands, though I would get a chance to test out my theory that the amera turns innocent cilivians into deranged, high pitched screaming bisexuals that were ‘up for anything’ and were ‘right bitches’ every time it was panned in on them and transmittered to the channel four television station.


Of course, if that did happen, I would no longer be able to care about it, my IQ reduced to single digits in microseconds.


But that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t. A human has the foolish ability to be capable of anything, given enough time or effort, and to be convinced to do anything through careful rationalization. ‘Just how many people received envelopes?’ was one of the first thigs I thought. If it wasn’t just me, how long before someone gives themselves the answer, “It could be hundreds doing it, and they’re all out there killing. Surely if I’m smart I’d get away with it.”


And with that excuses, that pitiful rationalization that has made men into everything from top scientists to child rapists, they all stroll out, one by one, to kill on another.


Maybe even telling themselves it’s not what they want to do. That they’re just going to check it out. See if this person really exists. Maybe they thought that they’d talk to the person, see if they had received a similar envelope and I am clearly thinking of myself when I go along these lines of thoughts… That’s kinda scary.


I wonder, how much would it take me for me to kill someone?


Wuld I even kill someone for money? It’s not like I went nuts buy stuff for this trip.


“And it’s still your move,” James cried out, modulating his voice in that annoying manner he had mastered since the day he popped out of the toaster. “what are you so nervous about?”


“Oh… it’s nothing,” I said, looking away to the cold hard floor of the caravan. The table had been too small for our decks, and since we weren’t a rocking caravan, it was suitable for getting a full game in before we retired for the night.


James seemed to bug out for a second, shifting his own body and trying to get more comfortable. He was eyeing me strangely now, as I went for my next three cards.


What was he thinking? I wasn’t that suspicious with my actions was I? I had thought about telling him of the game from the beginning, as I’m pretty sure James was one I could trust with keeping I a secret, but I had abandoned that when he agreed to go on the trip with me. No matter what reason I had for this, there was no real reason for him to come down here with me, unless of course he was in on the joke.


The reality television theory was sounding more and mor stupid now i went on with it. Pretending to send people into space was one thing, but this could have an unprecedented reaction if done wrong. All it took was a psycho looking for a reason and enough cunning to stay one step ahead of the television crew and they’d be a national scandal about how channel four were paying people to kill. I know they love how easy it is to make these shows and how theidiots flood to found out who’s having drug infested orgies with which terrorist, but murder should have been out of the question.


“Are…you thinking what I think you’re thinking?” he asked, looking down.


“If you’re thinking that I’m planning to utlize the Doppler effect to replicate the train cards, then you’re probably wrong,” I replied, intending to do just that and being curious now in seeing if I could get away with it.


“Oh…no,” he repelied, staring hard at his cards. That’s weird. He only does that when he’s not actually looking at them. “So you didn’t…” but he trailed off and I grounded myself for whatever wordplay he was trying on with me, preparing my thundering effect for the nex turn.