The faded fluorescence in the street lights gave off an orange glow in the otherwise dark night. The evening mist looked like haunted fog in the Halloween colored air. I shoved my hands deeper in my pockets as I walked, as if that would help keep them warmer. My head felt like it was on a swivel as my eyes darted around. My mother had always suggested it was unwise for ‘a young lady such as myself’ to live alone in downtown Los Angeles but I knew how to take care of myself.
I rounded the corner onto my street and noticed a dark figure leaning against the junk car that had so many parking tickets it was a miracle it hadn’t been towed yet. As I kept walking the figure started to shape into a woman. Her eyes flashed a crimson brown when she turned her face towards the orangey, cost-effective bulb shining down into the street.
“Evening,” she cooed in an almost seductive tone. Her voice was familiar, as was her smile.
“Good evening,” I answered with a weak smile on the left corner of my mouth.
“How are you doing, tonight, Isabel?” She inquired, keeping perfectly still against the car. I felt the warm, almost tingling sensation of panic rushing through my body as she said my name. I stopped in my tracks, still a good 10 feet away from her.
“Who are you?” I questioned, doing my best to sound demanding and not letting my panic show. She chuckled a bit under her breath and closed the gap between us in just a few quick steps. As she stood in front of me, I noticed it was more than just her voice and her smile that was familiar. There was a look of understanding and sympathy in her eyes, as she brushed a lock of hair back behind her shoulder. “I know you,” I mumbled out loud, barely aware of what I was doing.
“Well, I should hope so. I’m you, just you know… a little farther along,” she explained, keeping her smirk wide across her face.
“What? Like the future me coming back to the past?” I asked feeling stupid even as I said it. She nodded and something more fierce entered her eyes.
“Yeah, I know, we aren’t a big fan of that sci-fi idea, nor how often it’s displayed in story lines but nonetheless, it’s me - or you - here to help you.”
“Help me how?”
“Obviously, I’ve lived this part of life before. I know where you’re at and what your struggles are. Right now you’re feeling the same frustrating thought that will follow you - well haunt you - through your life.” The smirk on her face was gone and replaced with a sense of harsh judgment and disapproval. I felt instinctively defensive.
“What thought is that?” I asked crossing my arms over my chest as if I could stop her from divulging more information about me.
“If you just had more money, enough money, all your problems would be solved.” Her words hung in the air like a dagger threatening to pierce right through me. I could feel the tears - as if on cue - settling into place behind my eyes.
“Not all of them, but it’s a capitalist country. It’d solve most of them. Are you trying to tell me, it wouldn't?”
“I’m trying to tell you, it doesn’t matter. Having ‘all your problems’ solved isn’t the point. But as I am you, I know there’s not much I can do to truly convince you of that,” she held up a hand in preparation for my objection, silencing me. “So here’s how I’m going to help you. You think money will solve it all? I’m going to give it to you. Not only that, but a step by step guide to make sure you never fall into this situation again.”
She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a small box, almost the exact size of bills along with a little black book.
“Really? A little black book?” I questioned with a raised eyebrow.
“Aesthetics, you know?” She shoved them both at me and I grabbed them eagerly. I had never been afraid of doing the hard work, I just needed to be pointed in the right direction. “There’s $20,000 in there and make sure you read that book very closely, every detail matters.”
“Wait, you did all this? All the things in this book?” I questioned, looking at her and her somewhat sadden expression now. She nodded.
Before I could speak again she turned on her heel and walked away from me out of the dim street light and back into the shadows. I gripped the items in my hands tightly, semi afraid they might disappear and I would reach my apartment door realizing that the whole thing had been in my head. But when I was safe in my apartment, the items were still in my hands. I placed them carefully on the table and slowly opened the box. I had never seen $20,000 in my life but it was beautiful. I pulled out the fresh 100 dollar bills and played with them like a little girl in a candy shop.
After a few minutes I sat down at the desk and prepared to open the little black book. At first it looked like an address book but that couldn’t be right if it held instructions for maintaining a life of wealth. I took a deep breath and opened it: each page was filled in like a ledger. Clear and precise, most certainly my hand writing.
The left header on each page was written “Must Live,” and the right header was labeled “Must Die”. I flipped the pages again, confused and a small note fell out. I opened it and read slowly:
To pursue a life of maintaining wealth, you’ll lose all else that mattered. I know you feel as if you can make up for that once you are rich enough to take care of yourself ‘properly’ but learn from my mistakes - that is not the case. Each of these people who must live help you along your path with money and survival. Under their name you’ll notice a method in which you gain from them. Unfortunately, for you to succeed the rest of the people need to die, by your hand. You’ll note the dates under their names. Order is key. Good luck.
She didn’t sign her name but I suppose there was no need. I looked back at the book and indeed there were further instructions with the names. On the left were words like: steal, con, partnership and betrayal. On the left, were indeed very specific dates and times, the first being a week from tonight and I dropped the book to the floor when I read the first name: Daddy.
About the Creator
Hello. Welcome to my page. I have been writing for over ten years & have been published in several different formats including magazine articles, poems & full length novels. I have a BA in English Literature & a Masters in Psychology.