That note, that list of names, that sick offer to play an even sicker game that held nine unknown lives at stake. It was proving almost impossible for Tony to push it all to the back of his mind. Even stretched out on the sofa watching a thought provoking film like Fight Club, or concentrating hard at work, it was always there. He had long since disproved the theory "out of sight, out of mind" - his mind was more crowded with things that were out of sight than ever.
He'd thought maybe the reason it was bugging him was because it had distracted him from ordering his desk right after he was done using it, or perhaps because the list was written in a seemingly random order. So, he had folded it away in his empty diary, shoved it in a drawer and ordered his desk. Then rewritten the list in alphabetical order by last name, and put it away again.
And it was still bothering him.
Perhaps it was because it lacked a better place to keep it?
He hauled himself up off the sofa, away from the reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, and wandered lethargically into his study. Pulling an empty folder from the bottom drawer of his desk, he labeled it ‘The Game', reminding himself of David Fincher's film that went by the same title. Shaking himself as he remembered the events of the film, he slotted the note into a plastic wallet and filed it away on the shelf above the desk. He stared at it for a moment. The black folder, instead of blending in with the rest of the dull files, seemed to stand out. Putting it down to it being a new addition to the row of folders, he shook his head and dismissed it as his mind playing tricks.
For a moment, he was satisfied that the note would stop bothering him, now that it was reordered and filed away the way he liked things to be ordered and filed away.
But as he turned away to return to his television, he realized it wouldn't stop annoying him for a very long time. It had dawned on him that the obsessive compulsive lifestyle he had given himself, the solid routine he had created to make up for Karen's absence... it wasn't as solid as he thought - in fact, it was frighteningly fragile, and always had been.
And that realization, along with the possibility of being reunited with Karen, had been the big fat brick through the window behind which he had been living his life for the last five years or so.
On impulse, he pulled the file down again and flipped it open on the desk. He tore the note out of the plastic wallet and stared at the names on the list for a moment, frozen.
1. Michelle Sanchez Bogdanov, Alexi
2. Godfrey De Vries De Vries, Godfrey
3. Elias Heikkinen Heikkinen, Elias
4. Kamali Ncube Hitomi, Ebisawa
5. Ebisawa Hitomi Mei, Yu
6. Alexi Bogdanov Ncube, Kamali
7. Yu Mei Sanchez, Michelle
8. Thiago Torres Torres, Thiago
9. Vahide Younan Younan, Vahide
Part of him wanted to burn the letter and forget about it, to dismiss it all as a hoax -a cruel one at that - and to repair his broken window. Yet there was another part of him that wanted to venture out and walk through the broken glass, exploring the possibility this ‘game' offered him. He could always retreat and repair that window if he didn't like what he found, after all.
Surprised by himself, his eyes widened and he dropped the note back into the folder with a disgusted grunt. He snapped the folder closed as though it contained some kind of dangerous insect.
After half a moment's hesitation, he swept the folder off the desk and into the waste basket.
It was time to finally let go. The note, the hoax, the so called game had made him see this.