This story is by Jericho Jones and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
No More Games
Beth didn’t know why she played the game.
Tonight, the game was tall, lean and had a beard that followed his strong jaw line. His name was Trevor and he mixed in nicely to Beth’s recipe for fun.
Her game went something like this; First, wear the black dress that hugged her in all the right places. Second, score a few drinks from the weaker men. Finally, take the one she wanted for an evening of fun.
Beth and Trevor got into the car. He smiled at her. Why did she do this? Oh, that’s right- now she remembered. Her shadow.
“How we doing tonight?” said the driver.
“Couldn’t be better,” said Trevor winking at the driver and laughing.
“Uptown Suites?” the driver growled.
The car’s electric motor whirred to life as they pulled onto the road. Beth looked out the window as the city streamed by in a hypnotic river of light. The driver turned on a trance mix that perfectly fit the glowing cityscape. She watched as the lights and music danced. Her mind drifted in anticipation for what was coming next. It was the part of her week she most enjoyed.
She could feel Trevor’s gaze. Beth hated this part. She just needed him to sit tight. No small talk. Once they got to the hotel, there would be no need for small talk.
“So, what do you do?” asked the driver.
“Merchandise,” said Trevor.
“Oh— Buying or selling?”
“Uh— Dillard’s.” Trevor looking over at Beth.
“What about you?” said the driver catching her eye in the mirror.
“I work in marketing. I’m the team leader for the Fit Foot account.”
“Sounds impressive.” Beth laughed. She thought there was something familiar about the driver.
“It’s a job. Let’s me do what I want on the weekends.” She frowned at the driver and nodded her head towards Trevor. They both chuckled.
“What about you?” said Trevor to the driver. “I mean- didn’t know if this was your only job. Not that it doesn’t have to be, but-”.
“No offense taken— I actually do this on the side. I run a consulting practice during the day. Driving allows me to meet new clients.”
“What kind of consulting?” said Beth.
“I help people deal with their— issues. Get what they need.”
“So like a shrink?” asked Trevor.
“More like a life coach.”
“So you’re basically Dr. Phil?” Beth shook her head. She hated shrinks.
“Kind of. But I’ve got hair,” said the driver. Beth laughed.
“So how do you actually help people?” She asked.
“Are you are trying to get a free consultation?”
“No! Trust me.”
“Well, take you two for instance. I could tell you both weren’t planning on getting lucky tonight.”
“Oh really?” Said Trevor. Beth clutched her purse tighter. The small talk extinguished into a delicious dance beat. Trevor’s face glowed in the light of his phone.
She looked at her phone. 1 New Message. She hit play and held the phone up to her ear.
There was scratching noises. Static. A man started counting in the recording. She knew the voice. Beth turned up the volume on the phone.
“9, 10. Ready or not here I come!” the man said.
Rustling noises. Footsteps.
“Ellie? Where are you?” Beth’s stomach dropped. The driver looked at her in the mirror and nodded.
“Elizabeth- Why are you hiding from your Uncle Greg?” Beth felt sick as pressure pushed on her chest. She fumbled for the window control but it didn’t work.
“There you are, Elizabeth.”
“I don’t like this game,” said a little girl.
“We are playing this game first and then we can play your game. Remember we pinky promised?” said Greg.
Beth stopped the recording. The weight of a boat anchor dropped in her stomach. She tried the window again. She didn’t know how, but this wasn’t just some recording, this was a memory.
“Can I get some air back here?”
“Sure,” said the driver. He looked back at Beth with a smile. There was something familiar about this guy. Cool air hummed out of the vents brushing ,beads of sweat from her brow.
“Are you ok?” Trevor asked.
“Fine— I just need some air,” said Beth, with a forced smile. Trevor’s phone vibrated. The music in the car changed to an atmospheric instrumental tune with tribal drums that stirred up inside of Beth an emotion lurking in the shadows.
“You know; I can help you?”
“With your Dr. Phil stuff?” said Beth.
“That guy who called you. Somebody you know?”
“Who said anything about a guy?”
“You know— the guy in the recording.” He grinned and nodded at her. “I’m sorry- just a guess?”
“Uh yeah. I mean it was a guy. I just haven’t seen him in a long time. But I just can’t explain it.”
“Beth— you know how he made you feel. Don’t forget how important the game is?”
“What game?” she was startled by his question.
“This guy, Trevor?” said the driver. “You don’t know him.”
“Hey dude, I’m sitting right here.” Trevor looked up from his phone.
“Trevor isn’t just looking to get lucky tonight, Beth,” said the driver keeping his eyes on her. “You see, while you were listening to that message, Trevor was letting his contact know we were running late.”
“What’s he talking about Trevor?” said Beth.
“You think I know? This guy is crazy!”
“Rocco right?” said the driver. Beth’s eyes flickered to life.
“Are you crazy man?” said Trevor. “You don’t know me!”
“Let me see your phone,” said Beth.
“What?” Trevor snapped.
“If this guy is crazy, then you have nothing to hide. So, let me see your phone,” She put her hand out.
“No. It’s just locker room talk.” said Trevor. “It’s not something you should read.” Beth could feel rage swirling out of the shadows into a whirling dervish. Her shadow wrapped around her now like a warm blanket.
“Merchandise huh?” asked the driver. “Is that what you call the girls? Merchandise?”
“I will hurt you dude!” growled Trevor. “I told you, I work at Macy’s.”
1 New Message
Unknown: Play the game Beth.
Beth slid her hand into her purse. She felt the cold metal gun handle. The driver caught Beth’s eyes in the mirror. He winked.
Then she knew realized who the driver was. He was the reason that she played this game. The one she was looking for. In his shade she was the worthless piece of trash hiding in the bushes. It was her shadow. It had to be this way. Ever since her uncle did what he did to her, she had played the game. In a world that had been so unjust, the game made things right. It kept her shadow away.
“This is your stop,” said the driver. The car pulled up on the side of a bridge.
“This isn’t uptown buddy.” Snarled Trevor.
“This is where I stop.”
“You’re pissing me off! Do your job and drive us to the hotel!” Trevor’s face was red.
The cabin light came on as Beth opened her door.
“Where are you going?!” said Trevor to Beth.
“I’m getting another ride,” said Beth calmly, showing Trevor the app on her phone.
Trevor scoffed and then got out of the car. Before closing the door, he leaned back in.
“What’s your name?”
“Well how’s this for justice, Justice— I’m leaving you a horrible review!”
“Good luck with that.” The car drove away.
When Trevor turned around the gun barrel was pointed at his head. Beth stood up on the walkway near the railing of the bridge.
“What are you doing!?” Trevor screamed. His face was now shiny with sweat and his eyes like saucers.
“Hands up where I can see them!” she demanded.
“I don’t know what you think you heard but he doesn’t know—.”
“Shut up! Against the railing with your hands up.” She commanded him like a dog. The power she felt with the gun in her hands was intoxicating. This was her favorite part of her game.
Trevor stepped up off the road and onto the walkway.
“Hands up!” she demanded. Beth reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. “Password?”
“Look, I think you got the wrong idea. I’m not like what he was saying.”
She pulled back the hammer of the gun. “Password!”
“6969!” Trevor said through a quivering lower lip.
“Typical.” She scoffed.
She typed in the password and she opened his messages.
Trevor: “Hey man I got merch. 5’4 Brunette. A 8 or 9 easy. How much?”
Rocco: “$10K. Where?”
Trevor: “Uptown Suites, 20 min.”
Trevor: “5 min late.”
“Rocco? Rocco is your guy?” snarled Beth pointing the gun at his head.
“Oh God!” Trevor began to shake.
“Answer the question.”
“Yeah. Said he could get me quick money if I brought him a few girls— Look I’m in a lot of trouble.”
“Against the railing! Face me.” She kept the gun on him as he back against the railing.
“Please! You don’t have to— “
She thought about all of the times her uncle played his game with her. All of those Sunday afternoons of ‘hide-and-seek’. The last time, she planned her own game. He pinky promised they would. She hid a gardening spade in the bushes where she was hiding. When he came after her, she rammed the blade into his forehead. She told the detective the truth, it was self-defense.
Beth’s parents wanted her to talk about her feelings with the shrink. Why did they let this happen? She didn’t need them or their stupid shrink. She could protect herself. The game helped her with that. Her only problem was after Uncle Greg was pulled off life support she needed someone else to play with.
“Am I some kind of toy to you?” She swung the gun hitting Trevor on the jaw.
“I owe people. My wife can’t know!” said Trevor. He was weeping.
“Do you think I care? I won’t let you play with my life! No more games.”
She looked at Trevor— except his face wasn’t Trevor’s anymore, but her Uncle Greg’s face. Horror. ‘Ellie’ she heard Greg’s voice in her mind.
Sweat ran down her face as pure rage pumped through her veins. Hate radiated in her heart towards this man. His fat smiling face with cold dead eyes. She gripped the trigger.
She remembered curling up in the garden hiding in the bushes. That scared little girl, alone with her shadow. She could almost hear his feet crunching down on the grass. ‘Ellie.’ He called.
Killing was the easy way. Facing her pain was much harder.
“No more games.” She hissed through gritted teeth. “No More Games! NO MORE GAMES!!!”
“No, please!” Trevor wet himself falling to his knees. Through a red rage cloud, Trevor’s face reappeared.
She lowered the gun, weeping.
“No— more— games.” She whispered through her tears. Her shadow was gone. Beth turned around as a car rolled to a stop on the side of the bridge.
“Trevor.” Beth tossed the gun off the bridge. He looked up through saltwater eyes and nodded. The gun splashed in the distance. “Call your wife.” She threw his phone on the ground and walked toward the parked car where a woman stood waiting.
“Beth Monroe?” the woman stuck her hand out to shake.
“Call me Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth, I’m Liberty.” The women shook hands.
“It’s good to finally meet you.” Beth smiled.
“The police station.”
“Sure? You won’t find Justice in jail.”
“Spent my whole life looking for Justice. I think I was really looking for you.”
According to the police report: Elizabeth Monroe turned herself in to authorities last night. She confessed to murdering 34 men in the last ten years. Although reports are not yet substantiated, many of Monroe’s victims were known sexual predators, including her uncle Greg Monroe.