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Olga Murdakhaev

Grade: 12

Mayfield High School

Instructor: Kari Beery

Dead Birds Everywhere

Novel Writing

Dead Birds Everywhere

Sylvia, I love you

Sylvia and I were finally able to leave the party at half past two, we left her parents waltzing on the middle of the floor, both of them having drank a bit more than they are willing to admit.

"Oh Max! That was such a lovely party!" Sivia says as the two of us head towards our sleeping quarters.

"I'm glad you had a nice night, Beautiful." Sylvia blushes at the compliment but continues to beam up at me. "I actually have a final gift for you," I say, feeling my stomach tighten with nerves. "It's in my quarters. Come, I'll give it to you." I say tugging on our joined hands and leading us in the direction of my guest room. Sylvia let's out a squeal of excitement and tries to keep stride with my much longer legs. Seeing that she is starting to lag behind, I decide to make it easier on her and without any warning, swoop down and lift her small body into my arms and begin running down the hall. Sylvia squeals again and leans into me, closing her eyes in contentment.

I skid to a stop outside of the door leading into my quarters and softly place Sylvia back on her feet. Once I'm sure that she is balanced I turn around and open the door. Yesterday I had asked a maid to light candles around the room, so once Sylvia and I were back we wouldn't have to worry about the darkness of the night. We walk into the room and Sylvia stands twisting her hands together nervously by the door while I make my way over to the bed.

"I know it's obvious, but Sylvia, I love you." I say as I reach into my pillow case and pull out the small black ring box hidden inside.

"Oh Max, you know how I love you." Sylvia says, taking a small step into the room. I walk towards her and we meet in the middle of the room. I take her hand and look into her eyes; the eyes I had fallen in love with from the moment I saw them. Slowly I lower down to one knee. Sylvia keeps her gaze on me all the way down and takes a shaky breath.

"Sylvia Quince," I say, taking a shaky breath of my own. "In the short while we have known each other, I have been the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. We came from such a different world and yet you still saw me as an equal. Your kindness and love, along with the acceptance of your family, have made me a better man than I once was. And I want to continue to grow and live and be happy with you by my side. Always and forever." Sylvia's eyes have begun to water and she lets out a small laugh. There is a huge smile on her face that I know is the mirror image of the smile on my own. I glance down at the box in my hand and open it with my thumb. Sylvia gasps from above me.

"Sylvia Quince, will you do me the honor of-" I look back up at Sylvia and see a man holding a knife to her throat. Her face no longer shines with the joy from just moments ago but is now pale and full of fear. Quickly, I get to my feet and see that the man is just a few inches shorter than me. He has sandy blonde hair and his face holds a snarl.

"Come with me, Estrage." he says, tightening his hold on the knife. I slowly lift my hands up, letting the box with Sylvia's engagement ring fall to the ground.

"You can have me. But, please, leave the girl alone." I say, my eyes darting between the blonde intruder and my gorgeous Sylvia.

"Max. No." Sylvia whispers. I put a hand out to silently silence her and slowly and deliberately walk toward the man. Once I am within arms length he quickly pushes Sylvia away and replaces her with me. The cold metal of the knife burns against my warm skin but I don't flinch, afraid it will cause the blade to cut me. I look at where Sylvia is curled up on the floor, crying into her ripped party dress.

"You can't get me out of here with a knife against my throat. The guards will stop you." I say to the man behind me, he tenses at my mention of guards. "I promise to willingly leave with you. As long as you leave her alone." The man inhales a breath and leans forward.

"Oh are you sure Maxie?" he whispers in my ear. "She really is beautiful. You know, when her face isn't as pinched as it is now. I could probably get a pretty penny for her." He says the last part in a normal tone, causing Sylvia to visibly shudder and cry even harder. Without thinking about the iron at my throat I turn and punch the man in the jaw. He goes flying back and hits the closed door. I turn and head towards Sylvia, but before I can reach her I feel the butt of the intruder's knife hit my temple, knocking me to the ground. I see Sylvia's mouth make the shape of my name above me, but all I hear is a loud ringing in my ears. My eyelids feel so heavy, I am struggling to keep them open. I try to lift myself up but my arms give out underneath me. The edges of my vision start to go dark and the last thing I see is Sylvia, her hair a tangled red mess and cheeks tearstained. Then just black.

I am a Vicious Animal Afterall

"Good work, Marcus." I say rubbing my head where a headache has started to develop. I look up and see Marcus holding a glass of whiskey on ice to his swelling bottom lip. "You did a good job, what with Estrage not being in the room until after the party." I say recalling how Marcus came home moaning about how he had to wait for hours.

"That little shit put up quite the fight." He says glaring at me, as if it were my fault that he can't handle some weak socialite and his weeping lover. I shrug and rummage around my desk for a paper and pen. Marcus moves closer and looks over my shoulder as I start writing.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I have the man known as Max Estrage in my possession. If you, and your daughter, ever want to see him alive again, then you must do exactly as I say in the letter. Come to 1453 Sefron Road at quarter past one tomorrow morning. Come alone. In exchange for Estrage I need you to provide me with four million dollars and a signed contract stating that I cannot be apprehended and charged with the kidnapping of Max Estrage. As a show of goodwill I will bring none of my men with me. If you are late I leave, you only get one chance.

-Black Bird

I place the pen back on the desk and fold the letter. Handing it over my shoulder I say, "Get this to Quince. And don't forget the package." Marcus nods and grabs the small brown box, just big enough to hold the thumb of a man, off of the table. Once he leaves I get up from the desk nestled in the corner of my room and move over to the small window covered by heavy black curtains. I take the rough material in my hand and peel it back just wide enough that I can see Marcus's lean form making its way through the throng of people outside. Only once he is too far away for me to make out anymore do I let the curtain fall back into place, plunging me in darkness.

I watch as the prime minister fidgets with the heavy looking bag he is holding in the abandoned building I requested we meet at. He jumps at even the wind, I make him nervous. Good. I jump down from the railing I had been sitting on on the second floor. I land behind him causing the Prime minister to call out and frantically spin around, holding the umbrella in his hand out like a weapon.

"Are you this easily agitated at all of your business meetings?" I ask casually as I push the umbrella out of my face with the end of my pointer finger. The prime minister sputters for a moment and then seems to remember himself. I see the shift in his shoulders, he's trying to take control of the situation.

"Mr. Maure. You're late" He says with disdain dripping of his words.

"Actually, Archibald, I was early. I just wasn't ready to greet you until now." I respond with equal merth. "Now" I say, clapping my hands together, causing him to flinch again. "Shall we get on with it? I assume you have what I asked you for?" I tilt my head waiting for him to jump in.

"I...I want to see Max first. Make sure he's okay before I do anything" The prime minister responds with a small wobble.

"What, you don't trust me?" I say with false hurt. The prime minister doesn't care for my joking and waits for me to show him Estrage. "Here's the thing Archie, can I call you Archie?" he grits his teeth at the nickname. "I don't have him with me. As a precaution, you see. He will be released back to you once I return back to my men safe. Until then he is being kept and guarded by some of my most trusted people."

"That wasn't part of the agreement." The prime minister yells, taking a step towards me. I quickly pull out my knife, stopping him in his tracks.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you" I say with a growl in my voice. The prime minister stares between me and the knife in my hand. Suddenly he looks behind me and I feel something cold on the back of my neck.

"Drop the weapon" a voice says behind me. The prime minister smiles.

"You aren't the only one who wasn't going to follow the rules. You seriously thought I would come alone?" he says, dropping the bag and umbrella on the ground beside him. The pistol pointed at the back of my head is pressed harder against my skin.

"I said drop it" says the for hire guard behind me. I let my knife slip out of my hand and it clatters when it hits the ground. The man, without taking his eyes off of me, bends down to pick it up. I see another guard walk in from behind Quince; he also has a pistol pointed in my direction. I look between the two of them but don't move an inch.

"You're out of options, Maure. If you tell me where Max is then I'll let you walk out of here alive." the prime minister says, his confidence restored now that he is in charge.

"And if I don't tell you?" I ask, quirking my left eyebrow.

"If you don't tell me then I will have these men get it out of you. Do yourself a favor, pick the easy way." he says, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a cigar.

"Oh Archibald. Haven't you heard? I don't respond well to ultimatums." I say and look at the hired gunman to my right; the one with the snake tattoo. I give the slightest nod of my head and Jordan spins on his heel and shoots the prime minister in the shoulder. The prime minister yells and falls to the floor, clutching his bloody arm. Jordan and Kornell walk over to the minister and point their guns at him, halting his attempts at getting back up.

"You see Archie" I say, making my way over to him. "I knew you had no intention of coming to meet me without armed guards. I am a vicious animal afterall; untrustworthy, and all that. Lucky for me, I have excellent men at my disposal, who are willing to take the oddest of jobs when asked to." Once I reach the prime minister I kneel down and stare into his eyes. His face is red with pain but his eyes are filled with hate as he musters up the strength to say something. Instead of words, spit comes flying at me and lands directly on my forehead. I swipe my pointer finger across my forehead and then stick it ino the bullet hole in his shoulder. The prime minister howls in pain and desperately tries to rip my hand from his body. But I push against his weak arms and twist my finger further into the wound. Once I get tired of hearing his screams I take my finger out and wipe my glove clean on his fancy, Italian made, suit.

"Can I ask you a question, Mr. Prime minister?" I ask as I reach my hand back and take the knife that Jordan is handing me. "Do you know why I chose to meet here of all places?"

"Because….you wanted….me…..alone" he replies between heaving breaths.

"That was part of it, yes" I say and cut a quick slash across his arm, near his wrist. The prime minister hisses in pain and his arms starts to recoil from me. I pin his arm beneath my knee and watch as the blood begins to bubble out of his skin. "But mostly," another cut, a little higher on his forearm. "I wanted you to see how things are here in the slums. Fifteen years ago this building was a school, it used to be a safe place for kids. That is until it was burned to the ground by a gang war and repairs were never finished," a third slash, right on top of the wound on his shoulder.

I wait for his screaming to subside before I continue. "Promises were made that the people who ran this city would make sure we got our safehaven back, but, shockingly, they were never fulfilled. Things only got worse after the fire. Riots in the streets, looters at every store; women and children dying in the crossfire. And in the middle of it all: a young boy, only six at the time. He had to watch as his mother was trampled to death during a riot. He had to listen to the screams of terror that he didn't even realize were coming from his own mouth. And all the while men like you, the men who were supposed to be the good guys, were doing nothing but gawking at the loose animals, freed from their cages. Without the help of the rich the boy had to learn to hunt to survive. Not hunting animals, but people. He paid for life in blood. Until, eventually, killing meant nothing to him, it was just a part of life." I grit my teeth, "Survival of the fittest and all that jazz." I lean down until our faces are right next to each other, our cheeks brushing with each word I say. "Do you want to hear a secret, my friend?" The prime minister lets out a small whimper and gives a small shake of his head. "That boy, the one from my story? That was Max Estrage." I move in even closer, my lips practically touching his ear. "That was me." I pull back an inch and stare at the prime minister's eyes and watch as the truth washes over his face. I wait until the recognition has flooded his eyes. With a smile bordering on insane, I deliver the fourth, and final slice; right across Archibald Quince's throat.