Author: Stacy Steele
I woke up to an uproar of voices. Usually it’s so quiet here, which is why it startled me. Initiation day— the day where we accept prospective members into our guild.
I pulled my hair up into a sloppy ponytail and lazily changed into my wrinkled uniform. I could have looked more presentable, but I never joined to impress people.
There is so much commotion between the current members and the prospective members. It was quite entertaining. The prospective members wailed that they were blindfolded and the current members, annoyed, explained that blindfolding them is part of the process.
No one can know where our hideout is, unless that person is a full fledged member. This time, we had around a hundred children perform the ritual in hopes of being selected. But our leader, Enzo, seemed to only bring in twenty or so. The last I heard, the ritual consisted of catching a crow and cutting off its wings and glueing the wings to a street lamp without anyone noticing that it was you. This can happen at any point during the year as we can take notice of these things.
Since we’ve been doing this for a long time, city officials have their eyes open for anyone who is applying to be an Aurora Angel.
Morgan, a fellow original member, lined the prospectives up and took off their blindfolds. Their curious eyes roamed the room in awe, some even staring at us. If any perspectives were here to gather information on us, they couldn’t give the city officials much.
For one, our uniforms consist of covering our faces so no one can identify us. We also have voice alteration technology so we can’t be identified by our voice. And two, we have our older members who can drive a vehicle and transport our potential members on a long route that includes circling around the hideout a few times. Now getting the children into our hideout is no easy feat, as the entrance is a stone trapdoor that runs deep underneath a stone cave.
“Everybody quiet!” Enzo demanded. Everyone fell silent fast. “We will be doing this process slightly different. Instead of training the prospective members first, we will instead send them in Whisper Missions to see how well they can handle the pressure. How they handle the mission will deem them eligible to continue. There have been too many cases where we train a prospective member, and they take that knowledge and use it to benefit themselves without having to commit to the guild. And I’ll say this now so no one forgets: Betray the guild, and you won’t live to see another day. You can try to run, but we’ll find you. So before we continue, I’m giving you a last chance to back out of this contract. Because moving forward, you have to fully commit to this guild until you are either accepted or rejected. I rather you leave now than to wimp out of me halfway through.”
They looked nervous.
“Since you chose to stay, you will be assigned to assist one of our current members as I assign out Whisper Missions,” Enzo announced. A Whisper Mission, publically known as Aurora’s Whispers, is when someone indirectly contacts us to complete a task that they cannot or will not do. They pay us a lot of coin to make it worth our while. I don’t exactly know how we get contacted, I’m just given missions to complete and keep my share.
“You, with the unnatural red hair. You go with her,” Enzo said as he pointed at me. The red haired boy nervously made his way towards me. He looked about twelve.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“You don’t need to know right now.”
Enzo gave me my Whisper Mission shortly after. The red haired boy tried to peek at the paper as I scanned through it.
“What does the paper say?” he said, his eyes following the paper. I pulled it away from him. He subtly peered over my shoulder so I had to walk away from him so I could read it without him snooping through it.
“It’s called a Whisper Mission. And I’ll give you the details if you will even need it,” I told him. He seemed disappointed but I didn’t care.
“Can you at least tell me what kind of Whisper Mission we are going to complete?” he asked.
“We almost never know what kind of mission it will be until we come in direct contact with the Whisperer. Therefore, it’s important that we are adept in many skills so we can take whatever different variety of missions are given to us,” I explained to him.
“So how are we going to get in direct contact with the Whisperer then?” he asked.
“We have one of our adult members transport us to the place of contact if we can’t transport ourselves.”
“You have adult members? I thought this was a children’s guild!” he exclaimed.
“It is,” I assured him.
“Why is it even called an Aurora Whisper? Who even is Aurora?” he asked. I was getting kind of annoyed with all the questions.
“I’ll explain it once we get a move on,” I grunted. I handed him a temporary uniform to borrow so he couldn’t be identified. I searched for Jez as I usually team up with her to transport me places. I blindfolded Robyn and the three of us got inside her car and I gave her a copy of the directions to the destination.
“So about Auora’s Angels and the Whisper Missions?” he continued to ask.
I groaned, “Aurora is the name of the girl who started this guild. She was one of those natural born leaders and she created a group of us to be able to complete tasks and favors the neighborhood moms wanted us to do. Word slowly got around past our neighborhood to more people in the city. People thought it was cute and smart to have a little clique doing small jobs. Other people started having us do small things like water their garden or walk their dog, and they would pay for it. We became referred to as Aurora’s Angels since she was the leader of the group we were thought of as little angels. Well about a year later, someone hired one of the young teenagers to do a thieving job, and she actually completed it. Of course the police traced it back to her, and she got arrested. More and more people hired us ‘Angels’ to complete more crime tasks, which ended up making us look bad. Aurora demanded that we don’t accept these jobs, but many refused as they got paid good money for it. She got upset and tried to kick people out of the group, but the guild seemed to stop listening to her. I’d even done a couple thieving jobs myself. Some of us were in too far. Frustrated, she abandoned the group, and we went into a chaotic period, which resulted in new jobs asking us to kill people. Some of the older children, excited by a chance to earn more money, completed the tasks. Once we started doing more assasination jobs, the police had to get more heavily involved. A lot of us left publically, while secretly still remaining members of the guild. My name was on a wanted list which left me no choice but to constantly hide out like many other members of the guild. That’s when we discovered a place that we can call our hideout. People still contact us, but do so quietly. The public knows that these interactions still continue as they named them Aurora’s Whispers. Most of the missions we do are crimes. We live in dark times now,” I explained. “Now someone else runs the guild and pretty much listens to what the majority of the guild wants.”
“So why are there adults in the guild if it’s supposed to be a children’s guild?” he asked.
“Will you just stop asking questions!” I snapped. I feel like I’m being investigated or something, and it’s making me uncomfortable.
“I guess you got stuck with an annoying initiate,” Jez laughed.
“I’m just curious,” Robyn said quietly as his shoulders slumped.
“Okay, but this is the last question I’m answering. The adults are mostly criminals who were caught commiting hefty crimes and happened to come across our hideout, while others grew up in the guild and chose to stay with it. Others fled the country and adopted a new identity in hopes of having a fresh start,” I answered. We pulled up to an abandoned shack.It was worn down and rusted. Lost and forgotten. I peered through the broken window to see if I found anyone. Jez searched our other surroundings to make sure we weren’t being spied on. More often than not the missions are traps, so we have to be careful whenever we can. We casually walked around the block before we entered the shack. I peered inside to see one person inside. I looked outside again to make sure we weren’t being watched. Jez showed me her hand signalling that she will be back in five minutes. Robyn and I slowly entered the shack.
“Two of you this time?” the Whisperer said, shocked. “Must be the Aurora Ceremony time again.”
“Make it fast,” I warned the Whisperer. I don’t understand why the city must slap Aurora’s name to everything we do, but it happens. The Whisperer took off their hood, and I recognized her as one of my old classmates. One who I wasn’t particularly fond of.
“Well to make it simple,” she started as she pulled out a picture, “I want this girl dead.”
I peered at the picture and immediately froze. It was me.
“Her name is Alexandria. I know this girl used to be a part of your group or whatever but I heard she left many years ago. Well last week I caught her running out of my house holding some valuables. So I guess she’s returned to town. Will that be a problem for you?” she said pettily. I had been caught. It was windy one night, and I should have pinned my hood to my hair but I had been too lazy. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t think anyone prepared what to do if someone specifically targeted one of the members of the guild. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before.
“Well?” she said impatiently.
“Uh, yes we can complete this task for you,” I said quickly.
“Good,” she said as she gave me a small bag of money. “You’ll get the rest when you complete the job.”
“I nodded as I hurried out of the shack. I turned the corner to meet Jez early. We got in.
“So what’s the deal?” she asked.
“I’m the target,” I said.
“What do we do?”
“I don’t know.”
“We should ask Enzo what to do.”
“Yeah we should,” I agreed. When we got back, we presented the problem to him. I remembered to leave Robyn behind in the Grand Hall. He wasn’t happy about the situation as it’s something he hasn’t ever dealt with.
“Well maybe you should have been more careful!” he said, frustrated. “We’ll have no choice but to kill you right?”
My heart beat a little faster. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t want to die.
“I mean I think she’s overreacting when she says she wants me dead. I mean why not go to the police?” I asked.
“Probably because they’ve never been able to get a handle on us,” Jez pointed out.
“Well the Whisperer is going to exprect proof that we completed the job. And that money is how we support ourselves,” Enzo said. He grabbed my arm, “you know what we have to do.”
“You don’t have to do this,” I said frantically.
~ To Be Continued ~