I had taken a train ride to go back home after winning another case successfully.
“Excuse me! Do you mind if I sit here?”came a husky voice from behind. I turned around to see a tall, handsome man probably in his late twenties dressed in black jeans, a casual graphic T shirt with a red flannel wrapped around his waist.
“Oh, Not at all. Why should I?” I replied politely, flashing a sweet smile.
He gently took the seat in front of me, reciprocating the smile.
“Thank you for the space. By the way, I am Noah Potter,” said the young man while extending his hand.
“It wasn’t a problem. Nice to meet you, Noah. I am Natallie Evans.” He looked pleasant to talk to. We started conversing. The chat continued for a decent amount of time and part of me got distracted more and more due to his charming personality.
I didn’t even realize when the enchanting glorious crescent had replaced the ball of fire with assistance of its tiny tinkling friends.
We both had the same destination California. He attributed his visit to reasons that were personal which he didn’t disclose.
Once, we were drained of words, we soon got busy with our own work. He had scooted towards the window while reading an old murder mystery while I opened a case file for my client’s court hearing. The challenging case had engrossed me so much that I got to know of arrival of my station only when Noah informed me.
“It seems like our journey ends here. It was pleasure to meet you.” I said while picking up my luggage. “The feeling is mutual.” He chirped while putting his novel in the duffel bag. We both got off the train together and walked towards the main exit. We parted ways and I called a taxi.
As I was waiting for the cab, I noticed Noah frantically running his hands in his pockets. He looked frustrated with the mixed expressions of disappointment and anger.
“Did I also see him smiling?” I wondered. (Being a lawyer has its own benefits.)
But before I could ponder deep, I found a hand move up and down, one inch away from my face. It was Noah breaking me out of my trance.
“What happened, Natallie? You looked completely zoned out for a while.”He seemed concerned.
“No nothing, I was just thinking about something.” I tried my best to hide the fact that I was watching him.
“Oh….. Ok. Well, I have an issue. It seems I lost my wallet in the train. Unfortunately, with that I lost my credit cards and cash. Now, I have no place to stay. Do you have any solutions?” He rambled.
I don’t know what prompted me to say that but I offered him to stay at my place till we could arrange for some cash! (This was completely against my cautious personality and I know you must be cursing me for believing a stranger . But then I am a smart and empowered woman too!)
He was quite taken aback on hearing my invitation. Even i was a bit amused but now I didn’t have the guts to sound indifferent nor could I rescind.
After a while, he spoke, “This is the second time you have accommodated me today. I am grateful to you. But I assure you I will soon arrange the things for myself.” He was visibly overwhelmed while boarding the taxi.
“No big deal Noah. Frankly speaking, I have judged you and hence wished to assist you.” I was candid while following Noah into the cab.
We talked all the way to my place at countryside which was almost an hour journey. It didn’t appear that we met for the first time! I tried to make his stay comfortable in the guest room. The journey had been really exhaustive which had worn the both of us out. Soon enough, exhaustion got the best of us and we dozed off in our respective rooms almost immediately.
Next morning, I decided to get up quite early in order to unpack my luggage so as to settle down after yesterday’s tiring journey.
As I was almost done, the light of dawn found its way into my room. I rubbed my bleary eyes and walked to the window. The rising sun cast a rosy hue across the morning sky. Golden fingers of sunlight lit up the scene. The view of the lake was mesmerizing as I saw it glisten with shades of pink and purple! The dawn chorus of melodic bird song drifted in. I gazed at the scenic view one last time before walking off to get ready.
I was happy dancing my way to the kitchen. The yearning for chocolates this early in the morning earned victory over my conscience that forced me to eat healthy. I began to heat the pan to make pancakes. Assuming that my guest Noah must be getting ready for the day, I decided to make him breakfast as well. (Somewhere inside, i loved him being around me.)
After picking the ingredients from the cupboard, as I turned back, I spotted Noah leaning against the door. But he looked weird! The soft and mischievous glint in his azure eyes was replaced by a glare. He spinned a razor sharp Afghan metal knife in his hand. His orbs pierced through mine.
“Good morning Natallie,” he uttered but I felt odd. His chiseled face looked devilish now. As he started walking towards me, his footsteps echoed threatening me with every movement. The sunlight bounced off the glassy texture of the blade threw shadow on the sidewall.
“Hey, stop. Don’t come near me,” I screamed while taking steps backward. I tried to sound strong but the fact was that I was super nervous! My breath hitched as I realized that I was backed up against the kitchen island.
Suddenly, he cracked up. The expressions his eyes held moments ago had rejuvenated to their perky self! I let out the breath I had been holding but still maintained the distance. After all, he was a stranger and I didn’t want to let my guard down until he stated his logic behind this nonsense act. He mocked my actions and burst into laughter.
“I am sorry friend. I was just preparing for a role-as-a–killer-for-a-movie-audition.” He laughed hysterically.
Though I despised his prank, I must admit that he was quite impressive with his acting skills. The incident felt too real to be a lie yet I pushed the suspicion away into the back of my head vowing to never reflect this experience to my untrusting professional self.
“Ok Noah, enough. This wasn’t a good joke and don’t ever repeat this. Anyways, all the best for your audition,” I replied firmly.
I was balanced steadily on my hammock at eventide waiting for Noah to return from his tryout. My day had been a hectic one and I was trying not to think about those court proceedings. Not so long after, a silhouette came closer. It was Noah. He was extremely satisfied with his audition. I wished him all the best and soon we called it a day.
The next day went quiet. In the evening, I decided to step out and go by the lake. Few minutes outside, I heard rustling of leaves. I looked back and there he was; Noah holding a dagger!
Before I could react, I fainted. Perhaps from the chloroform soaked cloth he had put on my nose.
I remember waking up in a small isolated area, as dark as night itself. With my hands tied, I looked around and saw him sitting staring at me.
He chuckled, “It took you longer than I thought.”
“Son of a b****, why are you doing this to me?”I screamed.
“Well, I do owe you the truth. I am a contact killer! So naturally, someone has offered me a contract on you,” he replied casually.
“Contract? But why will someone do that?”I fumbled.
“Well it doesn’t matter, there are enough families from whom you have convicted someone wrongfully,” he smirked.
Seeing me scared, he continued, “I thought you to be better when I asked for your help at the station. You could have simply offered me some money to go to the nearest bank. But it’s not your fault; most girls are not able to resist my charm. And I wasn’t going to decline your invitation since I was going to follow you to your home anyway to find where you stay.”
“Staying with you was going to make my work easy, since I could finish my work quicker. And I was going to the kitchen, but you caught me and your shriek would have echoed in the whole neighborhood, so I was left with no choice but to improvise.”
“You know I don’t have that much experience under my belt, and I am still learning. And in fact I feel we are not much different from each other. You kill for money and I am doing the same. Just our professions and ways are different. Don’t you agree?”He screamed.
As I whimpered and sobbed while making best efforts to free myself from the handcuff, he ordered me to stay silent. The flimsy wooden floor creaked under my foiled attempts.
“Enough of drama, let’s get over with this,” he smirked slyly. Slowly, he brought a blade close to my neck and gently slit it open.
Suddenly, the knife was pushed back and it was followed by a loud shriek.
I gazed angrily at Noah. He was dumbfounded, since it was he who was taken off the guard as I had stabbed him with his own knife!
“I am always prepared, Mr. Potter. Sadly, you were not totally acquainted with my talent and definitely not with my past. Damn it! I have been playing so cleverly throughout my career. Now in view of your inevitable death, I will tell you something. Since the beginning, I have been the best lawyer and the most in demand. You know why? It is because I always ensure that for every crime, there is someone to pay,” I told him tranquilly.
I derived the pleasure as his expressions were filled with pain and consternation. Suddenly, I felt a sting in my neck yet I continued.
“Don’t get me wrong. I am not a murderer, I am just ambitious. No one could ever know who was behind all those unsolved murders for which innocents were convicted?”I winked at him.
Watching him flabbergasted, I enjoyed even more revealing further.
“My plan was to execute those killings and then stage the scene to have someone else sentenced by me. I could think of only this as the way to build my presence quickly!”
My friend, I am sorry. I had started liking you but you ditched me. So you have to die. I haven’t taken any lives so far for saving myself but then this is necessary.” I jabbed him hard once again.
Now in consideration of the fact he was dead, my excitement level had subsided. I was about to dump the knife when the throbbing pin in my neck increased manifold.
My hand was all smeared with blood as I pressed the area. Noah had slashed much deeply than I expected. I noticed that the ground was covered with not just the blood of Noah, but also from the one dripping from my neck.
Anxiety rushed all across my body. Alarmed chills went down my spine. My sense of euphoria had gone haywire. My delighted heart was now drenched with terror. The pain gushed at the speed of light, amplifying with every single second of time. The horrified faces of all the people I had wiped out resurfaced in front of me. Affliction and regret soared through me at the same time. Yet I did not want to give up.
I didn’t know where was I standing? But I knew I had to rush to the nearby hospital. I dashed, without knowing where to go? It was a race against time. I didn’t know whether I would be able to make it …..!
Team : Voyagers
Writers: Pooja Gupta and Saumya Dwivedi
PC: 123 RF copyright- Jean Marie Guyon