Music: The Automatic - Monster

"What's that coming over the hill: is it a monster? Is it a monster?"

A dark-haired man sat in his office, a telephone pressed to his ear, a dart in his free hand. He twisted the object between his fingers almost menacingly, back and forward...

"I don't care how you approach the matter. I didn't pay you all that money to come back to me with nothing! Who is this boy? Why is he suddenly her best friend?" he hissed into the phone.


"Do you think he'll kill me, Alex?" Lia asked, breaking the silence that had been smothering them for the past half an hour. They were still in the garden, pretending to count shooting stars. Neither of them were going to tell the other what they were really doing, or thinking.

"Who? Ethan?" Alex asked. Without waiting for an answer, he continued. "Not if I have anything to do with it."


"We have to get the boy out of the way. What is the use of him? Why must he follow her around everywhere? If I didn't know better, I'd say that he was assigned to protect her. But who would send a fourteen-year-old boy to protect her?"


"Why do they send you on all these missions Alex? I mean, why not someone older? A black belt or something?" Lia asked, breaking the silence once more. Now Alex knew so much about her, she wanted to know something about him.

"I am a black belt," Alex looked at her, and she raised her eyebrows, impressed.

"Seriously? You? At like, karate?"

"Yes, at karate," Alex laughed. "And they choose me... because they can. And because I can get into all of these places without being too suspicious. If you were suddenly best friends with a thirty-year-old, people might think you were more than strange."

Lia nodded, smiling. "Very true. Although people probably think that anyway."


"It's all very strange. How he rescued her just in time. Like he knew something was going to happen." The man was still twirling the dart in his hand. "I want you to investigate him."

His face shadowed at something the person he was speaking to said. "I don't care how you do it! Just think of something! It's what I'm paying you for!"


"I think it's awesome. That you do all of this. And you might hate it, and be blackmailed into it, but I would have at least demanded some sort of reward. Money or something," Lia said.

"I thought you said money wasn't everything," Alex contradicted.

"When did I say that?" Lia asked, laughing.

Alex shrugged. "Never mind."

"No, you said I said something that I can't remember saying! When did I say that?" Lia asked, sitting up.

"It doesn't matter!" Alex sat up slowly.


"It doesn't matter how you do it. I want him gone. Gone anywhere. Away. I want him gone."


"Yes, it does!" Lia hit Alex's arm lightly. "What are you talking about?"

Alex just shook his head.


"And then I want you to go ahead with our plan, like we planned it. Nothing else will go wrong. Nothing else can go wrong."


"When did I say that money didn't matter to me?" Lia laughed. "I mean, it doesn't, but I don't think I've ever... wait... didn't I say that in an interview once? On Popworld or something?"

Alex shrugged, but was smiling. "I don't know."

"Yes, you do! I did! I said it on Popworld, when that Simon person was interviewing me, and the only way you could know that was if you watched it!" Lia smirked. "I thought you hated me, Mr. Rider..."

"I did. But I used to like watching Popworld," Alex shrugged.

Lia laughed, and stood up. "It's cold, and midnight, and I really think we should go inside before someone locks the door."

Alex got up, and walked ahead of her, getting to the door first. Then he tried to open it; feigning that it was locked. "Uh-oh."

"You're joking," Lia looked worried, and she caught up with him. "You're joking, right?"

Alex nodded, and opened the door. Lia rolled her eyes, and stepped inside, Alex following her.


"Nothing else can go wrong. We kill her, we get the money. Foolproof. Yes. Yes. Get right on it. We'll continue this conversation tomorrow." The man hung up the phone, and placed it back on the body of the phone. They had hit a little bump. A minor bump. It didn't matter. Everything would still be okay.

He twisted the dart in his hand once more, and then flung it at the dartboard on the wall opposite him.

It hit it. Square in the middle. But instead of the usual circle that marked the middle, the dart pierced a picture. Lia Hartford's picture.