You place your last box on the kitchen counter. Finally, all moved into your new apartment, your first on your own! Satisfied, you look around the little bachelor apartment with a smile. You can’t wait to get started unpacking.
Before you can begin, the scrape of paper reaches your ears. You look down at your feet and see a white envelope. Quickly you open your door and poke your head out into the hallway, but nobody’s there. Shrugging, you close the door and turn your attention to the letter in your hands. There is no return address.
Open the letter
It reads, There is a $100 tax to the Oldtown Council, due on the 1st of the month. It shall be collected by assistants.
You frown, confused. You don’t recall the apartment manager mentioning this tax when you signed the rental agreement. Tomorrow is the first of the month. What do you do?
Ignore the letter
You decide to ignore the letter. The first of the month is tomorrow and you just moved in. There’s no way they’d want to collect so soon. You dig a magnet out of a box and put the letter on your fridge so that you’ll remember and start unpacking.
You go to bed excited for your first day in Westmeath. First up, job hunting!
The next morning, you are woken bright and early by a knock on your door. You open it, bleary-eyed, and see a young man. He asks you for the money.
You have no cash on hand and ask for an extension. He says nothing else and leaves. You close your door, feeling unsettled, but ready to start your day.
You leave your apartment and head down the street. A rough hand pulls you into an alley. You get the impression of a large body, larger than any human could possibly be, and you hear a voice growl, “If you cannot pay the Beast, your life belongs to him.”
You feel a swooping sensation in the pit of your stomach, and then know no more.
You have been kidnapped!
Go Look for work
Ask one of your neighbours if they know of a place that is hiring
Walk around the neighbourhood to look for job postings
You head out the door to see if any of the businesses on Gore Line have job postings in their windows. You turn right and see a restaurant called Mortimer’s Diner. You push open the door, a bell ringing overhead.
The door at the end of the hall
You decide to try the door at the end of the hall. A tall blonde white woman in her early twenties with sparkling green eyes answers the door with a smile. She introduces herself as Kennedy Fairfield and suggests you try Oven Baked. She offers to walk you there, as it’s on her way to work.
She grabs her purse and the two of you head to Gore Line, turning left when you reach it. Kennedy works downtown in a boutique lingerie store called Discreet Frills. You’ve only known the young woman for a few minutes, but you can see how her sparkling personality would work well in a sales situation.
She leaves you outside the bakery.
The door beside yours
You knock on the door of the neighbouring apartment to yours. A short wizened woman leaning on a cane that looks like a house with a chicken’s leg answers the door and grins up at you. Apparently she was expecting you and introduces herself as Lydia.
A little unnerved by that, but reassured by her smile, you ask her if she knows where you could get a job for some quick cash. She directs you to The Hawaiian, on the corner of Raglan and Plug.
The door directly across the hall
You knock on the door directly across the hall from yours. A blonde white woman of average height in her mid-thirties opens it. A miniature version of her peeks around the mother’s legs, blue eyes wide. She introduces herself as Michelle Swan, and the little girl as Evanna.
Michelle furrows her brow in thought when you ask about any jobs in the area, and finally suggests Judy’s Butchery, on Gore Line to the left.
You’re willing to take anything at this point. You thank Michelle and head off to talk to Judy.
The Hawaiian, it turns out, is a pizza restaurant, part of a larger building that houses the Oldtown Community Centre. The sign on the outside looks cheesy, but it seems to fit. A large metal pineapple clock continues the theme inside the restaurant.
The assistant manager, a tall classically handsome white man who looked to be in his early twenties, introduces himself as Nick. You explain that you’re looking for work.
A tall thin white man who looks to be in his late fifties greets you pleasantly and introduces himself as Jesse, the owner.
You ask him if he has any job openings.
He doesn’t, unfortunately, and wishes you luck on your job search.
When you leave the diner, you are approached by a man and a woman in purple leather jackets. They offer you a job delivering packages. You’re fairly certain they’re not the reputable type of employers.
The bakery smells amazing, even from outside. Smells of fresh bread and cakes waft over you when you open the door. There are a couple people sitting at the tables, chatting while they eat a quick meal. You walk up to the counter, where a Middle Eastern man with a name tag that reads Sam smiles pleasantly and asks how he can help you. When you tell him you’re in need of a job, he strokes his chin thoughtfully.
While he’s thinking, a teenage boy saunters out of the back. He greets you cheerfully and introduces himself as Carter, the son of the bakers. When he hears about your problem, he has a suggestion. So does Sam.
Hauling meat into the freezer
Hauling unbutchered meat into the freezer from delivery trucks is really hard work. You’re exhausted after the second carcass.
On a break between trucks, you are approached by a man and a woman in purple leather jackets. They offer you a job delivering packages. You’re fairly certain they’re not the reputable type of employers.
Mention the note
While Nick is hesitating, you blurt out the whole story and tell him about the note.
Nick listens patiently, a furrow on his brow. When you finish, he tells you that they’re not really hiring, but one of their delivery people called in sick that morning, and they can use a replacement for today only.
You leap at the chance and thank him gratefully.
On your fifth delivery, to a house on Riverdale St, you knock on the side door of a cute little bungalow, which seems to be the style of most of the houses on this street. A tall, muscular man with shaggy dark hair and bronze skin answers the door. He looks to be in his mid-twenties, and is wearing a sweaty tank top and gym shorts.
He checks the pizza and hands you a wad of cash with a smile. You count it disbelievingly and try to hand him back half the tip. He shakes his head and closes the door, mouth full with a bite of pizza.
You look at the name on the receipt, Jason Johnson, and wonder who he is. His tip puts you over what you needed for the tax.
You pay the tax and are safe… this month.
Padded assailant for self-defence class
Judy informs you that the first class is in ten minutes. You head up to the third floor above the butchery, where her dojo is located. Judy helps you into the padded outfit, securing the straps behind you when you can’t reach. The class seems to be for under five-year-olds. These kids barely come to your waist and you can’t help but find them adorable.
Adorable until one of them throws you across the room so hard that you hit your head against the wall. You’re dizzy when you stand up and Judy examines your eyes with concern.
You have a concussion.
She calls an ambulance and you get taken to the hospital for observation.
In the middle of the night, you feel a presence in your sterile hospital room. You ask who’s there, grabbing weakly for your call button. It’s not where you left it, clipped to the bar of your bed.
“You didn’t manage to collect the fee required by the Beast,” says a soft voice. You can’t tell if it’s a man’s or a woman’s, it’s so quiet. “The Beast grants no second chances. Say goodbye to your life as you know it.”
You have been kidnapped!
While Nick is hesitating, an older, affluent-looking white man comes up beside him. He introduces himself as Claude, the manager of The Hawaiian. He looks apologetic as he tells you that they’re not hiring at the moment.
Take Carter’s suggestion
Carter suggests you head to Judy’s Butchery a couple buildings down. She often gets deliveries and could use the help.
Take Sam’s suggestion
Sam suggests you visit The Hawaiian. They sometimes need extra hands when the community centre, which shares the same building, is booked for an event.
On your way to The Hawaiian, a big guy with a switchblade steps out of an alley. He demands money, which you haven’t got, and you nervously try to figure out how to get out of the situation.
Just when you’re about to run, a shadowy figure in black appears between the two of you. You know it’s not safe to stay and watch, but the figure in black disarms the mugger and has him unconscious in seconds. Then he turns to you. You see that he’s wearing a shadowy domino mask over his eyes, obscuring his features. He introduces himself as The Westmeath Phantom, checks you’re okay, and asks if you’re near your destination.
You explain that you’re heading for The Hawaiian to ask for a job, and he tells you not to bother, that they’re not hiring. Instead, he suggests that you try Mortimer’s Diner.
With that, he hoists his prisoner over his shoulder and disappears.
You blink in surprise. A real-life superhero? Not what you expected when you moved to the tech capital of Canada!
You accept the job from the people in purple leather jackets. They give you a package and an address.
You head off with the package under your arm. A couple blocks away, a cop car stops you and an officer gets out of the car. He asks to see inside the package.
You know you can say no because he doesn’t have a warrant, but you nervously hand the brown envelope over, worried that there might be drugs or something else illegal inside.
When the cop pulls out a rewritable CD, you sigh with relief. It has a crude symbol drawn on it and reads Stargate Season 5.
The officer makes a tsking sound, pulls out his ticketing book, and writes you a ticket for two hundred and fifty dollars for intent to sell copyrighted material.
You return to the people in purple leather jackets and show them the ticket. They laugh it off, but the experience soured you. You didn’t get paid and you’re even more in debt than you were before!
These people look kinda sketchy and you don’t trust them.
You politely decline and decide to try a different method of looking for work.
You decline politely; you’ve already accepted a job with Judy and you won’t leave it half-done. The work doesn’t get any easier, and you’re near exhaustion by the end. At the end of the afternoon, Judy pays you and compliments you on a job well done. You count out the bills, almost crying with relief that you managed to make enough to cover the tax.
Judy is concerned and asks you what the urgency was.
You explain about the letter you received, and she frowns. “I’m going to look into this. If you need money next month, come and see me. I’m not aware of such a tax.”
You pay the tax and are safe… this month.
Want to know more about the people you just read about? Do you want to solve the mystery of the letter?
Read Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers for more!