The dingy old sign hanging crooked on the chain-link fence read "Boat Owners Only" in faded black letters, but the stranger hunched over one of the posts didnt seem to care. He had kicked the gate open and pulled his great black case inside; the deserted aging dock greeting him with a groan when he lay his weight upon it.
The grasses around the wooden dock were long and pale, the landscape bleak and overcast under a misty fog. The last of the late-winter's snow clung to the background, mixing with the dull grey-brown of the early-spring mud. One set of footprints made its way accross the grey wooden planks- his.
It was a small, church-going town he was in, and today was Sunday. The chances of being seen were slim.
He carried his weight awkwardly, as if he were carrying some great piece of furniture on his back. Leaning against the post, breathing rather hard, he drew out a length of rope from his pocket, tied it around the handle of the case he gripped tightly in his right hand, and strung the other end around his neck. With a quiet mumble, he leapt off the dock, crashing through the thin ice, the black case still held in his hand.
The town of Bellington was awake sometime between ten and eleven at night with the sounds of commotion coming from the old dock. Police cars flashed the red, white, and blue onto the surrounding homes and boathouses, and screaming people filtered between them. A mother held tight to her husband, as the man who had dove in after her young daughter gasped for breath.
"Did you find her? Did you see her?"
"I didnt see anything, Marna. I cant find her anywhere. I’ve searched the bottom of the lake in this area all over the place. Im... Im sorry."
"No! I saw her fall in right there... Right THERE. What do you mean you cant find her?!" The woman screamed, her tears drowning her face. Her hands where white, clutching at her husbands jacket. He held his arms slack to his side, the look of anger and of frustration passing over his face. "No," He murmered. "Ill go in- Ill find her!" He threw his wife’s arms aside and pulled off his jacket, ripping the seam in his eagerness.
The officer put up a hand to stop him. "You’ll only disturb the water, making it harder for us to see. Just let us take care of this Mr..."
"Jamison, David Jamison."
"Mr. Jamison, the best thing you can do to help right now, is calm down your wife. Go sit down over there and let us do our job."
Two white orbs of light flooded the scene, then cut. A dark figure stepped out of the car, his long coat and fedora hat hiding any profile the other lights would have given.
The police officers parted to let him through. Two, who were already in the water, and one holding the bright spotlight on the water, did not stop to acknowledge him. He just stood there, his eyes glinting under the brim of his hat. Although Marna and her husband did not look up to take notice of this man, the other onlookers wondered about his presence. He pulled a hand up and into his pocket, revealing a suit and a gun holster. Time was passing, and he made no move.
One of the officers let out a strangled cry and called for the light. He had found the girl, floating face up underneath a dock, knocked out. He pulled her to shore and the other officer caught her arm and hoisted her onto the dock. The ambulance was waiting for her, and as they administrated mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, everyone thought the excitement was over. Marna and David scrambled up the hill to the ambulance, she crying and he trembling under her weight, and the whole town scattered to let them through. But still the man did not move.
"Look! Theres something else in the water!" cried someone from the hill, after the roaring siren had left the scene. "Look!"
By now, the only one standing on the dock was the man. He threw his coat onto the grass, and stepped closer to the shining light. A black cloth floated in the water, bits of frayed, moldy rope, and a body. In the disturbance of the water it had floated up to the surface.
The officers looked at the man in dismay.
"The DNA test matches results to a Franklin Leonard Elterlyne. Dissappeared in 1956... according to this he was a university professor for awhile before retiring in ‘53 at the age of 65. No family, never married. He was an orphan, both parents died before he turned 3 years old."
"What’d he teach?" The man’s name was Justin Mathey. He held his hat by its brim in his right hand, and his black overcoat slung over his left. Walking the halls of the FBI offices in New York City was normal for him during this time of day... but today’s lunch break conversation wasn’t the typical topic-of-choice.
"What? Oh, he taught Behavioral Psychology for thirteen years and then was moved to the history department and co-taught the Civil War History class with a woman named Marzy De’Loung. She died two years ago... at the age of 72. Cancer." She added, before he could ask.
"Overall, drowning is the cause of death, and the reason is not known. But, tell me, Justin... what does a guy like you have any interest in a guy or even a case like this? What are you up to?"
Justin threw his eyebrow high into the locks of his brown hair and smirked. "Right now? I don’t even know. Just fascinating. Thanks for the details. Ill, stay in touch, Laylie."
"For the last time, when will you stop calling me that insufferable childhood name? Its Kaylie, like everyone else. I don’t call you Juschin, like I did when we were five. Who do you think I am?"
Justin shrugged and let a kiss fall on her cheek, turning on the spot and walking away. "Nice to see you, Laylie. Talk to you later, Laylie. Ill miss you, Laylie."
"Oh, brother, Justin. Just lay it off."
Justin pressed the down button and shifted his weight from one expensive shoe to the other. The elevator doors opened with a ‘ding’ and he stepped in. Another man was inside, and motioned towards the floor numbers, asking where he was going.
"Ground. Thanks." Justin placed his hat on his head and slipped into his coat. A serious expression was back, tightly clung to his face. Thoughts infiltrated his mind, questions dancing across his mind.
The man pressed a button and stood quietly. The doors opened shortly after and Justin, without looking, walked through them. Behind him, he heard the man get off as well.
Looking up, he stared. They were in the basement, the stone bearing walls of the building bare and cold against the dim, flickering light. Surveillance cameras were perched on the corners of the hallway before them, leading out from the elevators down behind the man holding the gun. The gun pointed at him.
"Don’t worry, I know people can see this. I want them to see this. This is what happens to someone who meddles with the affairs of Thomas Chaining."
"I don’t know what you’re talking about." Justin held up his hands, thinking fast. "I don’t know what your saying. I didnt do anything to a Thomas Chaining. I didnt do anything..."
"The man you pulled up from the lake in Pennsylvania? Don’t know about that?"
"That was alittle domestic assistance. I didnt-"
"How did a man from New York just happen to be in Pennsylvania when a little girl falls into the lake? How did you just happen to stick around to see the man floating around in the water, and just happen to be there when they pulled him out. How did you happen to be the one who suggested transferring the custody of the case to your sister who would just happen to work for the FBI, and oh, yeah, tell you everything about him? Just a coincidence.. I think not."
"Now I don’t know who you are, or what you want... but cant we negotiate?"
"No. I know you and I know what you’ve done. I don’t care about negotiation. Thomas was told to disappear, and he did. He was told to never come back, and he didnt. Youre way in over your head. Way over your head."
The gunshot wasn’t heard by anyone upstairs, but security scrambled out of their seats and rushed to the basement... to find Justin Mathey dead, and the man who killed him- gone.
The news of the Mathey twin’s murder swept the building like wild fire. Justin, shot. Laylie by poison in her coffee. Who? Why? The questions were innumerable and all unanswerable. The confrontation by the mysterious man from the elevator never was caught by the security cameras, or the footage was cut from the database and deleted. The poison was untraceable, and the reasoning behind the murders- intent, motive... were all up in the air. Something creepily mysterious was happening, and no one knew what it was or what it’s power held. No one spoke openly of the incident, but quietly in everyone’s minds, the inquiry was "Who was next?"
The only thing the Mathey twins had in the world was each other. Their parents had died in a car accident, and they had no other siblings. Other than a couple of great aunts and an uncle, family was nonexistent. Friends gathered around their grave sites and mourned their loss, as the graveyard workers lowered the caskets into the ground. Tears were many. Who would do such a thing to such two great people?
Although no one knew it now, and most would never know, the mystery behind the deaths of these two particular people was not just coincidental. A long story, of intrigue and reveal, brought about this. These two were merely pawns in a game... a game of life and death, purity and corruption- The Game of Existence.
Such a game merits an ending like this...