Hey everyone, today’s Sandbox assignment was to re-write a scene/chapter from our novel project. Here are parts of chapter 1 and 2 of Four Rules of Murder, re-written as a short story from the Babysitter’s perspective (Derik Scott). To see the original chapters, check out the chapter index, and if you need the password for the novel project, see this post again.
Thanks. ‘Fore you go on, let me just say… I loved Derik a lot more after writing this. Babysitter, you rock.
What do you do when your job and your feelings get in each other’s way?
You let your feelings run wild and hope you don’t get fired.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Derik Scott hated this part of his job. It was boring. When he’d joined the Group twenty years ago before any of the Tetrad had been recruited, he had always imagined being part of high-action missions, exhilarating car chases, suspense-filled break-ins. What did he get instead? An online babysitting job, where he monitored four little specks as they moved around the globe to kill people. Four lonely little specks in a big, wide world that knew nothing of their existence.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
If he was honest with himself, he knew he could never pull off what these kids did. It took guts, lack of conscience, years and years of training. He would have been shut down by now, but not them, not the ones he had helped to raise, those little kids who had had such bright eyes back then who now could shoot a person in the head without blinking.
Oh, what have I done?
His job, that was what, he thought as he zoomed in on Number 3’s screen to see the red dot speeding up over the map of the airport. He must have boarded his plane now. The other Tetrad were already at the apartment, since Numbers 2 and 4 had returned earlier in the week and the Ace had come in a few hours ago from her trip to Guatemala.
Derik fidgeted with his headset and leaned back in his office chair. The sun was beginning to peek through the blinds of his spacious office/bedroom, and he let out a yawn and stretched his arms out, running his hands over his smooth, bald head. Well, one thing was for sure: if he couldn’t handle the killing itself, he definitely wouldn’t be able to stand the international flights the Tetrad constantly went through. Even sitting around in an office chair all night wiped his energy.
He checked the clock. The plane should be cruising by now. Derik had nothing else to do, so why not? He twisted his headphone mic into place and switched it on to channel three.
“How’d it go?”
There was a static sound, and Seth swore. Did he learn that word from me?
“Rule number one,” Derik sighed, twisting the headphone cord around his fingers.
“Rule number five,” Number 3 snapped back.
Derik felt like he should know what was coming. The kid had always been smart – maybe too smart for his own good sometimes, which made him sarcastic to any sign of possible stupidity; which, for Number 3, meant constant sarcasm. Or did he learn that from Derik as well?
“There is no rule five.” Derik pulled out a bag of chips and ripped it open.
“I just made it up. ‘Don’t be like Derik Scott.’” How original. “I already finished cleaning.”
“Good. Any gory details I should know about?”
“How about I think you’re a jerk.”
“We’ve settled that before.” Derik stuffed some of the chips into his mouth and continued, “For such a good people-person, you’re pretty mean when you wanna be. You know that?”
“What don’t I know? Now shut up and let me sleep.”
Derik clicked his tongue as best he could with a full mouth. “You know me. Just checking in on my kids.”
Seth snorted. He was obviously exhausted; he always got harsher when he was tired. Derik took the hint, and he offered to pick Three up from the airport before cutting off the conversation to let the teenager sleep.
Imagine Number 3 sitting on a plane filled with so many normal people, Derik thought. It was almost funny.
Later, when Seth returned and the Tetrad all lay asleep in their beds, Derik walked restlessly around the apartment. He normally stayed in his own apartment a half hour drive away, but he kept a bedroom in their “home” for whenever he wanted to stay the night. Now he creaked open the doors to their rooms, checking up on them like a father would on his children. He liked that, thinking of himself as a father to them. There was something comforting about seeing their peaceful forms, about hearing their soft breathing, about knowing they had lived another day and were safe for now.
Standing at the side of Seth’s bed, Derik paused, gazing at the dark hair resting over the slightly furrowed brows, at the bare arm outstretched on its own, covered in scars. He had known this kid for fifteen years, ever since Seth was… two? Back then he was so tiny and dependent. Seth had come to him before any of the others; Derik had known him for almost his whole life, which gave the seventeen-year-old a special place in the man’s heart.
How time flew. The young man here was his boy who used to cry himself to sleep at nights when training left him aching all over. The little child who showed his every feeling toward every little thing until he learned to numb his heart. The toddler who used to look up to Derik like a father, who wanted to hold his hand, who ran to him when he had nightmares, who fell asleep in his arms after an exhausting day. Now look at him, flying overseas alone, sleeping all alone, living life alone, doing everything alone.
He had turned so cold. Was this what it was like to have a child?
No, Derik had to be careful. The Head had warned him what would happen if he showed any sign of attachment to the Tetrad; he would undoubtedly be fired, maybe imprisoned to keep his mouth shut. But what idiots would give a lonely widower four dependent children to look after and train? These were the children he had raised with his wife before she had been killed. These kids were his family, his life.
Derik loved them. He ached for them. He wanted to protect them, help them. Yet they kept going on these suicide missions, and all he could do was sit behind these monitors and watch the little blinking dots put their lives on the line again and again.
Four specks on a screen. Four little pawns, that was how the government saw them. But they all thought differently, all killed differently, all came from different backgrounds. And there was one thing they had in common, one thing they lacked: three little words in their childhoods that would have made all the difference in their lives now. Three words that had never been said enough, that held the weight of worlds for hurting children who were expected to reach perfection. Just three words.
“I love you,” Derik whispered to the sleeping figure. “You might never know it, but I love you, Seth, my son, my child… stay alive a little longer. Just a little longer for Daddy, okay?”
He stroked the black hair gently off the pale face, then leaned down and pressed his lips against the warm forehead. “You never mourned your loss of innocence… but I do. I do for you children. You should have stayed young instead of growing up too quickly like this.”
He pulled away and took a deep breath. Wiping his eyes, Derik took one last look at the sleeping boy, readjusted the covers over Seth’s shoulders, and quietly walked out and closed the door.