The names, places and minor details of this story have been changed to protect the identity of my passenger. The bones of the story are real, and they are chilling.
Gifted to me by the trembling hand of a young woman named Hillary on a sweltering Summer’s afternoon in Glebe, came a note. Folded neatly in two on a sheet of glossy, white, A4 paper and typed in a sinister font unknown, the message was clear: I WILL KILL YOU – STUPID BITCH. The font was deliberate. I imagine the notes author sifting through the long list of options on Microsoft Word, casually skipping past Comic Sans and Georgia, before smiling with a snarl when landing on this, the most menacing font they could find.
“What is this?” I whispered to Hillary, instinctively aware any loud sound or sudden movement could startle the wilted flower on my passenger’s seat.
“Showcard Gothic, I think?” Hillary whispered back, clutching her brown, leather handbag to her chest for comfort.
“No, not the font,” I replied with a hushed chuckle, “The note, what is it? Why do you have it?”
“Oh, yes, the note. It’s not the first, it’s the fifth actually,” said Hillary opening her handbag tentatively and retrieving a stack of notes bundled together with an old shoelace.
Hillary is one of my regulars. I have been driving her to her job as an executive assistant at one of Sydney’s leading investment banks twice a week for the past four months. Our professional friendship was conceived on a dreary, rain soaked morning back in August when Hillary shared with me photos of her beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback, Marigold. The seventy kilogram beast was laying on her back in the mud, smiling in pure elation, as the rain pelted her from above. Marigold is the pooch with a predilection for beaches, bays, rivers, lakes, creeks, fountains, bathtubs and even kitchen sinks. “She dug a hole in the middle of our backyard to create her own pool,” said Hillary on that morning back in August, beaming like a proud mother showing off fridge-worthy Kindergarten paintings by a precocious child.
There was never any empty space with Hillary. No dead time thinking of the next interesting topic to broach. She was sharp witted and had a thousand stories to tell. So on this sweltering Summer’s afternoon in Glebe the static, the crickets in my car, the deafening silence, it alarmed me. I watched on nervously as Hillary delicately untied the notes; her wavy, shoulder length crimson hair swaying in the ice cold stream from my air-con. She unwound the bundle of hate, paused for a moment, then looked up at me with her emerald green eyes, before saying, “This was the first.” She handed me a strip of white paper and again I saw that angry, dark font glaring back at me. The note read;
“DID YOU FORGET ME HILLARY? HOW COULD YOU FORGET?”
I read the note over in my head three times before looking back at Hillary and shaking my head with mouth gaping. She responded, “I found this in a pot plant in my backyard about three months ago. I thought it was just Andrew playing a trick at first,” said Hillary, staring down at the note I was holding firmly with both hands. Andrew is Hillary’s husband. They married last year on her 25th birthday in The Hunter Valley. Marigold was the ring bearer. Hillary continued:
“When Andrew said it wasn’t him we thought it must have been friends of ours. No one owned up, so we thought it was just neighbourhood kids bored in the school holidays playing a prank. Then, two weeks later, I found another note. This time taped to my bedroom window.”
Hillary handed me the second note. The message was typed in the same font but only bigger….. louder. It read:
“AM I INVISIBLE TO YOU? DO YOU NOT SEE ME WITH YOUR PERFECT GREEN EYES?”
Hillary let out a deep sigh when I finished reading the note. She looked up at me timidly before handing over the third:
“IT’S GETTING CLOSER TO THAT TIME OF YEAR. WILL IT BE ME AGAIN?
The fourth note, with the exception of the fifth, was the most troubling. It was a poem:
“ALONE AND COLD I WALK TODAY
WILL I MAKE YOU BEG AND PRAY?
YOU TURNED MY SKY FROM BLUE TO GREY
IF ONE COULD SPEAK, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?”
I could see the dark thoughts swirling around in Hillary’s mind as she tied the notes together and put them back in her bag. A single tear rolled down her lightly freckled cheek. She let out a sudden gasp and said, “The last note, the threat, was tied to Marigold’s collar.”
Hillary then sat up straight, wiped away the tear from her face roughly with the back of her hand, gritted her teeth and said with confidence, “Please take me to the police station. I’ll find the bastard who touched my dog!”
The second part to this story will be posted tomorrow.