Approximately four months after the death of the depressed tourist, I received a note that showed up under my door in late December. It was written on a bright yellow sticky note and was written in black pen, taking up as much space as it could.
I know what you did to the tourist. Call me.
And under it, a number. My first reaction was that they were going to turn me in to the police, but they wouldn't have warned me about it if they did. Even with that information, I was scared. No one would use the information of a murder for a good cause. It's used for blackmail. There was just something so casual, something just so not... blackmail about the note that made me think that nothing bad could happen. Knowing that Dad would get home from work soon, I snatched the note up off the welcome mat and ran up the creaky stairs of the old house. Once I arrived in my room, i went directly to the antique wooden desk in the corner of the room. Turning on the desk light, I read the note over once more. Nothing had changed. It was a simple note. I had to call him. The case had been marked as suicide for almost three months. It was strange that anyone had been dwelling on the man's death for so long after the case was closed. I knew it was improbable that the person was a direct relation to the family as their last name was Johnson, unless it was a cousin or they used a middle name.
I brushed the blonde bangs away from my eyes, rereading it over and over. What choices did I have? I couldn't expect the owner of the note to wait patiently for me to respond. I couldn't decline the call, they might call the police and tell them all the incriminating evidence they must have found. Also, I was kind of curious. I wanted to see what they wanted. Perhaps it was money or jewelry or a favor. I shuddered. There's no saying what they want in change for silence.
I ran back down the stairs into the kitchen, note clutched in my hand. Hopefully they don't have a lot to say. I thought. Dad will be home soon. My with my heart beating out of my chest, I dialed the number into the landline and waited as the phone let out an ominous ring. Then, someone picked up. They didn't say anything, static filling my ear. I shook in terror.
"Hello?" I squeaked into the phone. No one answered. Only silence. Perhaps it is a disabled phone.
"Hello, Ruthann." A scratchy voice responded on the other end, confirming that it was not a disabled phone. I couldn't help thinking I was in a horror movie, that I was going to be killed. The plot twist being that I was a killer and someone was trying to kill the killer for revenge.
"Who is this?" My voice was a bit louder, a bit mightier. My stomach turned in my chest.
The man, which I could say was a man then, laughed. "Let me introduce myself. My name is Darcy. I am the leader of a very large foundation called Surmerder. I want to train you to work for us."
I closed my eyes, thinking I'd known what he wanted. This could get me in big trouble. It could ruin my life. "I don't want to be a stripper or a hooker or whatever you call it. I'd rather go to jail. Please just leave me alone. I'll do anything else."
This only made him laugh even more. "Ruthann, I am not a pimp, though it is quite funny you think I am. Would you like to anagram Surmerder for me?"
My cheeks flushed red, though I knew he couldn't see me. I take the note that is crumpled in my hand and write Surmerder on it with a pen from the counter behind me. It takes a few moments for me to realize. "Murderer?" I whisper.
"I want to train you to be a hitman." His tone is serous, but I think he's kidding. He's just so direct that it seems like a joke. No one recruits a 10 year old to me a hit man.
"Very funny man, what do you want from me? Money? Drugs?"
He doesn't respond.
He has to be kidding. He can't be serious. "You want me to be a hitman, an assassin, and kill people?" My stomach twisted. I'd already felt terrible about the death of the tourist. I couldn't kill people for a money, that's sick. Even worse than murdering someone just to see if you could, which I have already completed.
"Yes, you are 10, I believe. What 10 year old do you know that has gotten away with murder?Only the smartest can achieve that feat."
"I don't know any, that's the point. I won't don't. I'm calling the cops. That's sick."
"I wouldn't do that, Ruthann Gardener. I know about your little incident with the tourist and some pretty incriminating evidence to prove it. You basically admitted to it in this call, it's all on recording. Would you like to find your little ass in prison?"
"You're recording this conversation?" My heart thumped a little harder.
"Every. Single. Word. Just in case you pulled something like this."
I didn't want to believe that he was recording it all. Even I knew that was very risky. "Then you'd be turning yourself in."
"Yeah, but I know how to escape."
"You bet." It's almost like he's bragging about it. He was blackmailing me, like I though, but not for something so cruel. he was blackmailing me, the innocent 10-year-old that just happened to be not that innocent. He wanted to have a 10-year-old hitman. It was stupid, but actually kind of genius. I couldn't go to prison that would break Dad's heart,his little girl imprisoned for murder, twice. Dad might even disown me. I wouldn't blame him if he did. I should be enjoying life, playing with dolls, doing sports, hanging out with friends, not imprisoned and disowned or a hitman and serial killer.
I couldn't argue. There was hardly anything I could do. I remembered the promise I made myself, that I would never hurt anyone again. I couldn't keep it. By doing so, I would break Dads heart and everyone else that I loved. I couldn't do that to them. Then, the promise changed to rules, that I would have to keep.
1. I will never kill children
2. I will never kill relatives
3. I will never get caught
Promises are meant to be broken, but rules stay strong.
"Okay," I snarled. "It doesn't seem like I have much of a choice."
"Our first hitgirl." I could imagine a nasty smile in his face. "Welcome to the team."
Then, he hung up, leaving me listening to the endless crackle of the phone up against my ear.