"Let's go for a walk." Those words alone wouldn't sound so threatening if they weren't accompanied by Fish Ryan's cold stare and misleading smile. He had a reputation for being charming - and of course Maya could see it - but it was a ruse. And she'd fallen for it.
Maya smiled back, forcefully. "Sure. Why not?" She tucked away loose brunette strands behind her ears and stood up straighter.
As they began to walk, Fish began to talk. "Do you know why I've been trying to get you out here?" He gestured to the forest around them, tall, lush trees with damp, leave-covered soil below them. It was located just a short walk from their high school and was commonly used as a makeout spot. Not that Maya knew from any experience, just gossip.
"To murder me?" She joked, but the way Fish smiled in reply only made the lead feeling in her stomach sink deeper. She thought back to the mysterious murders shown all over the news recently. High school students, around her age. She'd posted the murders on the school newsletters, and now everyone in her year was talking about them.
He shoved his hands in his pockets as they walked, leaves crunching under their shoes. "No, Maya, not to murder you." Fish glanced at her, eyeing her up and down. "Have another guess?"
She began to sweat, beads slipping ever so slowly down the side of her forehead. Licking her lips and trying to look unbothered, she stared at the beaten down path before her. "Well, uh, the forest is a known makeout spot…" she trailed off and then looked back at him for confirmation.
"Yes," Fish agreed. "It is."
Maya chuckled, "Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not interested."
Fish sighed, but not in disappointment, in irritation. "That's not why we're walking down here either. I really thought you'd be smarter than this, Maya." Now, he did sound disappointed.
"W-What?" She stuttered, brows knitted in confusion as Fish came to a sudden stop beside her.
He crossed his arms and stared at her with an indecipherable look. "You gossip with all the girl's in our grade. You run the school newsletter. So, tell me, what do you know about me?"
"That's what you dragged me out here for?" She asked, eyebrows raised in disbelief.
Fish leant against a tree, "Answer the question, Maya." He said, seriously.
She swallowed, taken aback. "Uh, okay. Let's see…you're the most mysterious guy in school. All the girls are obsessed with you because of that. Uh, you're in the year above me. You transferred from a school no one's ever heard of a few months ago and you're called Fish by everyone on your rugby team and they won't tell anyone why. It's kind of caught on now though, and pretty much everyone calls you Fish now."
He looked almost impressed. Almost. "They call me Fish because my little sister's name is Ocean." He explained, staring at Maya to see her reaction.
Her eyes went wide at the familiar name. "The Ocean from my year?" She asked.
Fish pushed himself away from the tree and stepped closer to Maya. "Yeah, the same one from your year level. The same one who was murdered."
"I didn't know she was your sister." Maya said, "She's always gone to our school."
Fish chuckled humorlessly at that. "Split parents. I moved here to spend more time with her. But then she was murdered." He spat, taking a closer step to Maya.
"I'm sorry for your loss." She apologised, because that's what you do when people die.
"Are you?" He asked, a genuine question in his eyes. Maya nodded. "Because I don't think you are. Or you wouldn't have done it, would you?"
Maya was startled by the accusation, taking a step back and almost tripping as she bumped into a tree. "I- I didn't kill her! I would never do that!"
"You run the newsletter," he said suddenly, head tilting as he stared at her. "That's how you messed up."
Tears started to form in her eyes, "Please, Fish. I'm not a killer."
"Your articles never got much attention before the murders, did they, Maya?" He asked and she shook her head no in reply. "Funny how you seem to have so many friends now that those articles have been printed out."
"No," she sobbed out, "No, no, I would never. I-"
"I know you did it." He barked out, pulling something from his pocket and holding it up to her neck. Maya didn't need to look down to know it was his signature red pocket knife. The girls often ogled him as he flicked it open and closed during lunch time. He then smiled charmingly - the same flattering look he gave all the girls. "At least, that's what I'll tell everyone after I kill you."
Maya's eyes went wide and she tried to choke back her sobs. Head tilted up, she looked down at him with horror. "You."
"Me," he replied, a smug look of satisfaction on his face.
"But you - your sister. Why would you -" the pocket knife pressed harder against her throat, cutting her off.
Fish scowled at her. "My pathetic little sister was a nuisance. She got all our parents' attention, even after they split. All our mother talked about was how she couldn't wait for Ocean to visit on the weekend again." He shook his head and sighed. "And then," he bit his lip and looked at her manically. "I got a taste for it. All those girls, all the staring and flirting and small talk. All I could think as I listened to them talk and talk and talk was god, I wish I could just strangle you. And one day I finally realised, I could."
"You're insane." Maya gulped against his knife. "No one will believe you."
Fish shrugged, "Maybe not. But I guess you won't be around to find out, huh?" And with that, Maya felt a sharp cut sliced through her.
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Ooh creepy! Poor Maya, too bad it's not a lesson learned that she can use in the future. This was an intriguing story, Jasmine! Thanks for submitting it, and good luck this week. Welcome to Reedsy!