I’m not a professional camera person. I take random videos like everyone, but I’m kicking myself for agreeing to help my friend with this gig of his. The business partner he usually brings couldn’t make it, so he bribed me into helping. I’m always willing to take on side jobs to help pay the bills, but I wish I had said no to this one. The family that hired him to capture and direct a “perfect” family memory is way too cheerful for my taste. What’s worse, it’s all fake and over the top. I guess they are nervous about being filmed or something. I don’t really blame them.
I have the camcorder facing the family, with my friend on my left and out of the picture while I’m recording. I can’t remember what park we are in, or even what city, but it is huge and bustling with people. Picnic tables are scattered about, beautiful fountains decorating the landscape between a few trees distributed around the grounds. There’s a wide scope of visitors ranging from businessmen on lunch wearing expensive suits, to carefree individuals playing Frisbee with a family dog. It would be an amazingly peaceful place if the park weren’t surrounded by large buildings with buses and noisy vehicles crowding the street that separates the corporations from the park.
My annoyance for this family, though, is drowning out the other sounds for me, so it’s nothing more than white noise in the background. There are two kids, a young boy and girl, sitting on opposite ends of the picnic table with toys – not paying attention to the three adults between them. A man and woman – husband and wife, and parents of the children – stand behind the table, with another woman to the right of them. It’s the wife’s sister and this is supposed to be some kind of farewell lunch for her. However, my friend has focused more on directing the couple to be cutesy together, so the sister has a scowl on her face that she can’t disguise anymore. I’m not sure how my friend is going to work it so that this turns out to be an actual happy memory for them.
“Now, everyone kiss!” My friend suggests. The wife awkwardly plants a kiss on her sister’s mouth before doing the same to her husband.
“What the hell…” the sister spits, wiping her mouth.
“I’m sorry,” the wife insists, dropping the fake happiness momentarily. “This is your sendoff party and I wanted to include you. He said ‘everyone kiss’…”
“It’s okay,” my friend interrupts. “Part of the job is editing, so the sections you don’t want won’t have to be included.”
He does a great job relaxing the adults. Now I get why he simply directs rather than doing all the camera work along with it. My friend adjusts his footing to give another direction but is disrupted by a commotion at a fountain not far from us.
Before I realize what I’m doing, I’m running towards the growing crowd, the camera forgotten but still glued to my hands. The fountain is near the edge of the park, with a steep, grassy drop-off on the other side of it. Only a small amount of decorative fencing stands in front of a dangerous fall and a busy street at the bottom.
I stop off to the side, the crowd to my left. There are two women and one man backed against the knee-high fencing, looking terrified. There is a second man, relatively short, between the onlookers and hostages, a confident grin on his lips and a large, serrated knife pointed at the small group. None of them look important enough for an assassination, so the scene looks a bit strange and out of place. Similar to a mugging rather than anything else, but the intent on the knife owner’s expression is definitely murder.
Innocent park goers continue to gather – a morbid need to witness this moment compelling them closer. They must think that I’m involved, too, because the crowd stays several feet behind me. I will my feet to step back and join them, but I can’t move. I’m confused. I’m scared of what I’m about to see, but not afraid enough to be frozen. Something unseen is keeping me right where I am.
No one moves or talks for over a minute. Everything remains still. Just a staring contest between the three by the fountain and the man with the knife. I’m beginning to think this is just a stunt when the man threatening the group speaks. He only says one word, but that’s all it takes for chaos to ensue.
“Maeve,” he breathes, barely louder than a whisper.
In the next instant, the girl closest to me, who looked like one of the hostages only seconds ago, abandons her façade by grabbing the unarmed man in a choke hold so tight he can’t move. Even after she begins slicing at him with a switch blade in her left hand and screams emanate from the crowd. The other woman backs away a step, looking even more frightened than before. The one with the knife is swift and precise. There are several cuts along his chest and arms before someone finds the courage to say something and yell.
I look around to see who was brave enough to butt in, but the crowd is staring at me. I apparently said it without recognizing my own voice or noticing my lips move. I remember being terrified that I would be stabbed next, but I don’t remember what it feels like now.
Turning back, the one called Maeve has stopped mid-slice but keeps the choke hold on the victim. None of the four main players look at me. I glance at the leader to see whether it’s my turn to bleed, but the only change his the grin. It’s wider. More sinister.
“Molly,” he orders, in the most calm, collected voice I’ve ever heard. Again, spoken just above a whisper.
Immediately, the remaining hostage drops her deception for a completely blank and emotionless expression. She almost looks bored. A pocket knife in her right hand, she lunges for the apparent target. The girl slashes at his legs several times before digging the knife into his right foot. Still the man says nothing and makes no noise. I look at his face to see his mouth open wide, as if he were screaming, but no sound comes out. Something strange is happening. I’m beginning to realize that this is some sort of statement. One I don’t want to know about.
With Molly’s first slice, the crowd begins to disperse. Screams fill the air, along with parents calling out to their children. A male voice even tries to yell ‘stop’ before Molly stabs the victim’s foot, but it doesn’t work. The onslaught continues unlike when I yelled for the violence to stop. I want to cry out again, but I can’t seem to find my voice this time.
She doesn’t quit. I want to scatter with the innocence and get lost in the chaos, but I still can’t move my feet. Instead, my body falls to the ground without my consent while a scream escapes my lips. Lying on my stomach with the camera stuck to my right hand, I watch the chaos continue while the leader remains calm. I can’t take my eyes off of him.
His height is what shocks me the most. He’s only about an inch taller than me, but looks so menacing with his angrily bored expression. In this type of situation, I have no idea how anyone could look bored. Only his eyes give away his emotions – the anger and want to commit murder. His short brown hair and brown eyes fit his muscular features. Even if he had a small knife, he would be able to do a lot of damage with it.
Still holding the large knife out towards the surrounded man, the leader turns his head towards me. Not a lot, though. He can’t be bothered to fully turn his head towards me, not when his target is standing in front of him. Only far enough to get his eyes on me. His malicious and intrigued glare is the last thing I remember before my memory goes black.