This story is by A.C. Wolfe and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
There is something about the sound a gas pipe makes when it leaks. It sounds like an angry cat, except it’s more like a tiger because it kills everything in its path.
I guess I’m kind of like a gas leak. I’m a monster, the proof that the stuff of your Nightmares is very, very human. The knowledge doesn’t really bother me.
“Is this Agatha Night?”
“Yes,” I say to the woman over the phone. Agatha Night is a pseudonym, obviously. What kind of normal teen in two thousand eighteen has the name Agatha?
“I want you to run a job.”
“Who is it?”
“Gregory Hills. He’s my husband. 11175 Willowberry lane.”
“I don’t like him anymore.”
“Babe, there are many much easier ways to get rid of a guy you don’t like anymore, married or not. Ever heard of a divorce?”
“Just kill him. You want money, don’t you?”
“Yeah, sure. What’re you offering?”
“It’s a deal.” My average price was around two hundred, but I’d done jobs free and had others pay thousands. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to scam money out of people. It’s also amazing how easy it is to buy a gun with nothing but a fake license and name. Put together, you get Agatha Night, assassin extraordinaire. On the Internet, I’m a woman who’s twenty or thirty. Student by day, killer by Night.
And what a shitty student I am, a below average black kid in a below average black school. I get straight Fs. I’m 15 and still not in middle school. I’ve flunked fifth grade for a record breaking four times, and I’m going for a fifth this year, so it seems. My redeeming quality is hacking and gaming. Computers are my forte. All my friends are eleven year olds who know basically nothing about me other than I like MarioKart 7. I always win, and I’m always Luigi. Because who doesn’t love the underdog whose brother gets all the credit? He’s indispensable, in my opinion, but he’s always second to Mario, who gets a franchise and the girl. Even my name sucks. Anita Grey. Bad names deserve the death penalty more than murder.
My brother’s the Mario to my Luigi. Mark’s in college at 13, two years younger and seven grades ahead. Of course he has a girl. Apparently my parents saved all their brains for him and left my head as empty as our savings. My brother sits destitute in college, while all I can do is hack and kill and make money.
Make money off of killing, more specifically.
I flip the pistol I own over my shoulder and walk out the door. No one looks twice at me as I walk down the street. This neighborhood is a violent place.
My dad’s the fuzz. Ironic, right?
I have to be more careful after I get into the white side of town. It’s insane how many racists there are in the world, and nowhere is worse than Willowberry lane. Now you know why I don’t go to any better schools. My parents are poor and I like it that way. I find the address the woman gave me easily. 11175 Willowberry lane.
I ring the doorbell. A man answers. He looks thirty and has grey hair already.
“H-hello? Mister? Ca-can you help me? I think I’m lost.” This usually works with most people. If it doesn’t, I sneak in their window in the middle of the Night. Those jobs are always fun. (Insert sadistic grin here).
“Kid, no way. Get back home.”
“I-I don’t have a home.”
“Too bad. Beat it.” Well, I guess this going to be one of those “fun jobs.”
I wait for an instant and sneak in to the back of his house. The second floor bedroom is empty, so I choose it as my entry point.
“Who are you?” asks a little girl. I cuss silently.
“I’m just a visitor. I’ll be in and out.”
“Okay.” The girl seems weirdly tolerant, and settles into her bed. I creep out of her room.
“Hello? Daddy?” I whisper in my best imitation of a little girl voice. I hear a groan.
“What is it, honey?”
“I’m thirsty. I want water.” I pull out the gun and aim it at the sink. He walks up, just out of the way, and grabs a cup. He turns, and that’s when I pull the trigger. My gun has a silencer, so it makes virtually no sound. He makes a half turn and the bullet goes straight through his side, punching into the sink behind him. He makes a gurgling sound and spits blood. I walk up to him.
“Man, I don’t think I like you,” I mutter. “But I guess you’re dead now, so it doesn’t matter.”
I unlock the door to my house and walk inside.
“Hey, Mom. When’s dinner?”
“A few minutes. Wash your hands.” I head down to the sink in our basement/storm shelter/bathroom/living room/bedroom. We have four rooms in our house, one of them’s my dad’s office, one is my room, one’s the kitchen, and the basement is everything else. I don’t know why my dad needs an office when he works as a field cop. I guess it makes him feel official, although how a plastic desk, a cheap pencil, and a grimy lamp make him feel official I’m not sure. I’ve learned not to question it.
Dinner is cheese sandwiches. The cheese has gone moldy long ago, but it still tastes fine and it’s apparently “good for you.” (But maybe my parents are just saying that because we can’t get anything else.) I could use my money for something useful, like helping my parents out of this debt hole, but that would get suspicious. Instead, I use it on little shit, stuff you could easily steal from a book fair. And I steal stuff, too, but it’s usually something like a CD player or a radio or a phone, not rainbow pens or erasers or giant pencils that you use once and then break. I have a lot of books, but with nowhere to really store them, I’ve replaced my mattress stuffing with books. I literally sleep with a dictionary under my pillow. It doesn’t seem to make me any smarter.
My stolen phone that no one has caught me for beeps to signal that Miss-no-longer-married Hills has sent me a message.
“Call me.” I pick up my phone and dial her number.
“Hello, this is Stephanie Hills, how may I help you?”
“Oh.” Her tone darkens.
“Where’s the money?”
“You killed the wrong person.”
“You killed Gregory Vance, my boyfriend. You were supposed to kill Gregory Hills.”
“I went to the address you gave me. 11175 Willowberry lane, right?”
“No, you dimwit. I said 11235, not 11175! You killed the wrong guy!”
“Why would you leave Gregory for another Gregory?”
“Doesn’t matter,” she snapped. “The deal is off. I’ll find someone else. I know who you are. You left fingerprints. Prepare for Hell.” She grinned over the phone, I could hear it in her voice. Well, fuck her.
“Stephanie Hills, A.K.A. Demetri Eres, you may have fingerprints, but I have a recording of the call you made me, telling me to kill your husband. And yes, I did get the address right, and yes, I also know where you live. Watch your back.” I smirked. I knew it was pointless to tell her to watch her back. I’d get her anyway.
Her house was not far from where I lived, I assumed she’d made up the bit about Gregory being her husband.
I stopped for a moment and stared at her house. 2266 Redborough street. It was just as dilapidated as mine, the pale green paint was falling off so that the house looked more like the color of slate, but it was bigger. I knew that she’d be in the front door, so I went around the back. Her scared face pressed through the grimy glass. Well, I guess she was in the back, but this meant that she didn’t have a gun. She would look cocky if she had a gun. Instead, she seemed to be paralyzed, frozen in front of me, staring into the eyes of the beast. I cocked and loaded my gun, and she finally moved. I broke through the thin glass easily, marched right in, and shot her in the gut. She made a spitting sound.
“You’re a… monster,” she choked.
“Thanks, Babe. Just remember this: no one scams a scammer,” I whispered, leaning down to where she was slumped against the wall. She spit blood at me, and I wiped it off on my sleeve. I dragged her body into her basement, and dumped her into a chair.
“You’re going to rot down here,” I muttered cheerily. I fired again, between the eyes this time.