John handed the lengthy contract to his client, Mr. Geoffrey. As Geoffrey read the document, making sure not to skip the suspiciously small print, John reflected on the earlier events of the day. Soon after his breakfast, around 10:00, John’s boss had called him, asking him to rush over to the house Mr. Geoffrey was trying to buy. John was dismayed for he planned to pull off his devious plan that morning.

Through the middle part of the day, John had argued half-heartedly with Mr. Geoffrey about the price of the house, its boundaries, and insurance contracts. Now, after receiving the final scripted paper from Mr. Geoffrey’s stubborn, bulky hands, John filed it in his slick suitcase. He walked out the door, waving a tired good-bye to Geoffrey, who was wearing a black suit and read tie, and flopped into the leather seat of his car.

With the sun setting over the scene, John pulled his blue sports car in the parking lot of the local bank of Shasta View. Shasta View was a small, suburban town near the Lake Shasta Resort. John had lived in this town for many years after he moved from Sacramento for the better real estate job. He fingered the USB and wires in the zipper pocket of his black jacket as he stepped out of the car. He walked past the glass entrance doors without going through them and made his way to the two ATM machines that were on the wall of the bank outside. John turned his head back and forth warily, searching for witnesses in the dark of the night, and when seeing none, he took out his flash drive. He carefully unraveled the wires around it. When John was done, he realized how exhausted and nervous he was; John had never done nor tried to anything against the law before, but now he was. The benefit was too good, and the chances of him getting caught were slim if he was careful. But then again…

“Mr. Williams,” a deep voice bellowed, “John ol’ buddy, where ya been?” Greg Davis, pushing the heavy glass doors open and heading for John, had been one of John’s friends ever since he moved to Shasta View. John gulped in guilt and hid his tools at the sight of his friend.

“Hi, Greg. How are the stocks today?” John asked Greg, knowing his interest.

“Answering my bidding,” Greg joked, and then changing attitude, he asked, “You look like you’ve run a marathon, John! know, why don’t you come over to my place tonight, we’ll have a few drinks and watch the game.”

“Okay, be there, that’s also awfully nice of you,” John consented, but with a tone in his voice that bid Greg gone.

“Sure, just finish Your deposit.” Greg looked at John before leaving, noting the implied message.

But before Greg, got home, John had already committed the crime; by inserting the wires under one of the keys of the ATM, he ran the program from the USB into it, making it feed John $500,000. John stuffed it in his second, empty suitcase and left. as he drove away, around the cordern of where the ATM was, he saw a man that donned black and had white hair. In his guiltiness, John denied himself that the man has seen the offense.

His name was Lark. Lark was always looking for opportunities like this, whether they were morally straight or not. he used this opportunity to blackmail John for yet another illegal purpose: murder.

John opened the front door of his house. His house was blue, but the paint was fading and it was darkened by the elements. The front door was brown. And it was still brown when he walked in his house because he had just given it a coat of paint the other day. John lifted off his coat and hat and set them on the bench inside the foyer of the house. He was tired. He wanted to sleep so he headed for his bedroom. The home team, and also the team he and Greg were rooting for, had lost in the baseball game they had watched. John was slightly disappointed but shrugged it off. It was only a game. John walked into his bedroom and looked out at the view over the pond in an open space. Sometimes he would walk to the pond and look at his reflection when things weren’t going well or he disappointed something critical. He sat on his bed, still gazing at the dark view outside, for it was close to midnight, when he heard the door creak open slowly behind him. John swung himself around to see a tall, elderly-middle-aged man standing in the doorway to his bedroom who had his eyes open wide. He had white hair and was wearing all black and… John remembered! This man, this man was the man John had seen around the corner of the bank he had robbed.

John gasped, horrified and the man greeted him with a wide smile, “Greetings, John,” he paused, “ I don’t think you know who I am. I am Lark. And I might soon become your greatest nightmare. I know this because I have met and dealt with people in the way I am going to with you. But don’t worry, I’m sure you won’t turn out like them, if you just comply and do everything correctly, you will be able to forget all of this, in a while.”

John replied, feeling frightened and caught, “You’re going to blackmail me sir. I know that I’ve committed a sin and now I’m going to pay. Take it, all $500,000 dollars of it. It is cursed to me now!”

“That is kind of you, but I have a deal,” continued Lark. “Give me only one hundred grand and kill this man instead.” Lark handed John a curious picture. It was a man with blonde hair, and wearing a sports shirt and gray shorts. Under the detailed picture was the name “Hank Adams,” and also information about him. When John looked up from the document, the infiltrator was gone.

“What should I do?” thought John. He couldn’t call the police or Lark would reveal his crime. Instead of only losing $100,000, he would lose all of it, plus fines, and he would probably have to go to jail. And that meant his boss would fire him. John thought, “Well, I’ll see what happens and decide later.” He lay down on his bed before even getting undressed to sleep.

For the next few days, John was absentminded about everything. He didn’t answer questions while looking at people, he sometimes ended conversations without a reason. His friend, Greg was getting slightly annoyed. But he was also sympathetic.

“John, what’s the matter?” Greg asked his friend while they trekked to Greg’s office building.

“I’m, uh, just tired,” John mumbled, not even looking at Greg as they crossed the busy urban street of Shasta Lake City, a bustling city near the lake.

“That’s what you’ve been saying for the last week, John! You act like a blank page! Just tell me what’s on your mind, I’m your friend. You make me feel tuned out.”

John just kept walking though, almost as if he hadn’t been listening to Greg. John had been thinking about the night that was a few nights from then, the horrid night Lark had come to his room. John didn’t know what to feel, a powerfully unique and unnerving situation such as this one had never entered his life before. He wanted to give up, but he was afraid of the consequences of obeying the villain. But if he didn’t do as Lark asked, he would certainly reveal his undertaking and get him into distressful trouble with the law. He knew he was completely guilty, and…

“John, watch out!”

Greg lunged at John as he almost stepped into the street at the corner of the road, across of which Greg’s looming office building stood. John felt a sort selflessness as he collapsed into Greg’s arms behind him and was hauled away from the curb.

“What are you thinking!” Greg roared at John as he lay on the ground. “You’re a mindless zombie, John. And an ignorant fool, and you’re neglecting me, also! This is it, good bye!”

Greg stressed the latter two words, as if to force them into John’s confused consciousness, as he marched away. John lay on the ground, and then sat up on elbows and shook his head. He straightened his blue striped tie and walked to his work from there, feeling sad and helpless as he stated at the sidewalk. He bumped into some people as he walked past them because he couldn’t see properly, but he didn’t care. There was nothing he could do, his spirit took too much of a blow from all that had happened to him. And John knew that he would kill Hand, no matter who he was, thinking in a way that made it seem as if strangling him to the floor and fleeing away from the morbid scene would repair his fractured existence.

It was late, dark, and cold that night when John pulled into his driveway. The meeting he had with his associates and boss in the city that day had gone on past the scheduled time. The real estate company he worked for had decided to buy a big chunk of land near the Lake Shasta Resort. The resorts owners were planning to buy the estate from them and expand their premises. They would use the land for more accommodation buildings. Another thing had happened at the meeting. John learned who Hank was. Hank Adams was the owner of the Lake Shasta Resort. Hank had been planning to buy the land, but John’s company had bought it first. They promised John that they would build the buildings there for Hank, for an extra sum of Hank money of course, Hank couldn’t refuse the offer, for it was the only and perfect spot to expand and he had not gotten it before John’s business.

But, John wasn’t thinking about that now. He was tired and he was starting to get anxious to see what might resolve from the blackmailer’s deal. He though “Maybe he’s been caught, and I won’t have to think about him anymore.” But John was wrong.

John set his suitcase down on the counter before his kitchen. He wasn’t marred. He had just huddled away wrapped up in his own life, and never thought about it. John took the different papers and notes that had been accumulated at his meeting and filed them in folders that were in a drawer near the wall of the kitchen. That’s when the screen door opened behind him.

John knew it was Lark even before he turned around. Who else could it have been? Then he spoke to Lark, grieved, “Hello, what is it…,” but before he had finished, Lark had already started to talk to John.

“John, I want to talk of our, arrangement. And Hank, I suppose you have found out about him by now, he is going to be in his office tomorrow night, alone. I want you to meet me at the plaza at 9:00 P.M. tomorrow, with no police, friends, weapons, nothing. You be there and I won’t tell the world your little secret. Do you understand?”

John looked Lark up and down. He was wearing high black boots, a dark cloak, and knitted black beanie. His eyes glared at him permanently throughout the conversation and John answered him, “Yes.”

“Good,” Lark grinned his unusually large smile, “I will see you there and then afterward, all will be well for you, and for me.”

Lark stepped out of the screen doorway and ran through the woods behind John’s house until he was well out of sight.

John went to sleep that night with many unexplainable thoughts, dreams, nightmares, and emotions, but he remembered nine 0’ clock and the town plaza.

John The next day rushed by for John and he dreaded every accelerated moment of it. John had no work to do. Well, he did, but he didn’t move from bed. It felt to John that the world would end for him that night if he complied with Lark. But if John didn’t, he would have to live with everything that had happened for the rest of his nightmarish life. I was the end or a nightmare-for-life for John. He thought of suicide, but that didn’t it to reflect his character. John wanted to go into the situation boldly and embrace everything that was projected at him. John would not be a coward; he would be a homicidal criminal.

It was 8:40 before John could put all of his thoughts together, “Why does Lark want me to kill Hank? What does he have that is so valuable? Why did this have happen to me?”

He trudged to his dull, topless car and drove the ten minute journey to the nearly-empty plaza. As he arrived, he saw Lark leaning against a shadowy tree. Lark didn’t know it was John’s car, but there were crowds of people around and lights to illuminate the scene. He would not just be killing Lark by running into him, but also he would be convicted of it and he would damage his car; John decided not to. John walked from his car to Lark in the light of the streetlights and was greeted.

“Step into my car, John. Let’s go!”

Lark motioned John into the back of his car. There was a metal separator between the back seat where John sat and the driver’s seat where Lark sat, so he couldn’t get to Lark during the drive. Lark stepped into the car and pulled a pistol from his pocket. Even in the dark, John could see the menacing silencer screwed on the end. John’s face turned white at the sight of the weapon. Lark propped it up in something on the dashboard. He adjusted it a few times and spoke to John, “See this John?” Lark asked as he pointed to the gun, “This is pointed straight at you and I can fire it while I’m driving with this switch. Don’t try anything or you’ll have a hole through your head before you can think twice. Got it?” But before John could respond, Lark pushed the gas and sent them through the night. It wasn’t long before they arrived at a tall office building.

John and Lark stood together at the bottom of the building, John having Lark’s weapon in his back. Lark then handed John an oversized, gun-shaped object. “Shoot that at the top story and then fasten it to this harness,” Lark ordered as John caught the dangling harness he had tossed to him. Following instructions, John fired the device and saw a black line soar through the air and latch on something at the top of the colorless building.

He attached the line to his harness after putting it on, and pushed a button on the side of the gun. It pulled him up, faster than John preferred, along the edge of the wall of the building. It became colder, and John looked down at Lark as he walked up the wall. Lark wasn’t too small from John’s perspective when he reached the top; he could see that Lark was looking away for other people that might come by. He took off the rope that was fastened to his harness and dropped into the balcony under him.

This was the room that Lark had indicated. There was no one on the balcony, but there was a light on inside and chairs and a glass table. John looked down at his harness and saw a bundle of red wire. John thought this must be what Lark wanted him to strangle Hank with. Then he thought again of the things Lark had done to assemble this. A sudden hatred flowed through his body and he could only think of it one thing to appease it: violence. Specifically, Lark’s death.

Without really thinking, Lark stepped over to the glass table that was resting on the balcony, heaved it up, aimed it, and sent it hurling down at Lark. John couldn’t believe what he was doing. All the chances it could fail, the wind could blow it, he could so easily miss! But no, it hit with a satisfactory “crack!” on Lark’s sorry head.

John couldn’t really remember what happened after that, but he felt a heavy hand on his back, it must have been Hank’s, and he fell unconscious.

After that, he was questioned by the police, and he confessed to everything, and his trial sent him to prison for a sentence that isn’t remembered. He died in prison, it isn’t known why, but it is proposed that he died of violent and unstable emotions, and a loss of will to live.