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Monday Muse: Who did it.

Someone is sitting on a park bench reading about a recent string of crimes. This person knows who did it.
-1200 Creative Writing Prompts

* * *

The leaves had long since fallen off the trees in central park, and those leaves had been hidden months ago by a thick layer of white powder. Snow burdened the park, giving its barren trees and empty walkways a heavy, lonely feeling. Alan sat on a park bench just off the path from the chess boards with the paper folded on his lap in a neat, tight rectangle, and he simply stared at the spot where, just a month earlier, Donovan had died.

Simon’s call that morning licked at the back of Alan’s mind until he couldn’t ignore it anymore. The message was only three words long, but those three words were bricks on Alan’s subconscious.

“Read the paper.”

He didn’t need to open it to know what he was going to find on the inside of those black and white pages. Alan’s long fingers traced the edge of the New York Times the way a man could be expected to trace the lines in his wife’s hand in the waiting room of an oncology office. He took a deep breath, closed his black eyes, and sighed against the cold of winter. Tiny clouds of hot carbon monoxide shrouded his black goatee before disappearing into the frigid air.

She couldn’t help but get herself into trouble, could she?

At last, Alan opened his eyes, and the paper, and looked down at the front page. The crime scene stared back up at him from beneath the bold, black words:

FOURTH MASS STABBING THIS MONTH – AUTHORITIES SCRAMBLING FOR LEADS.

Alan’s lids fell again. He rubbed them with his forefinger and thumb. He hadn’t slept since Donovan’s death, and it was painfully obvious to him now as he watched his niece’s body count rise. How many did that make, now? Sixteen, at the last? And that was only the bodies the police had managed to tie to the same assailant–God knew how many others she’d managed to kill without people seeing the connection. New York’s violence acted as a curtain behind which she could hide. Dead bodies showed up all the time.

But not without a cost.

The trilling of his phone broke Alan from his thoughts. He pulled the device out of his pocket to see Simon’s name glaring up at him, as though accusing him of not doing something to make this madness stop. Alan considered ignoring the call, like he had that morning, but he knew he couldn’t avoid this forever. As soon as he answered, the accusations began.

“What do you mean you don’t know where she is?” Simon’s rage was so palpable Alan could sense it through the reciever.

“Mr. Reed,” he said. His voice remained level, even though everything inside him felt so off kilter he often worried he’d find his way right-side up again. “I’m not her babysitter. I don’t keep tabs on when she is and isn’t in the Underground.”

That was a lie, of course. Alan waited up every single night to see if his niece would return to her room. Her door hadn’t opened for nearly three weeks.

“This has got to end,” Simon said. “She’s on a revenge-mission, you know.”

“I don’t know anything for certain,” Alan said. Another lie.

Simon knew it. “Killing them–and their puppets–isn’t going to bring Donovan back.”

Alan’s ribs tightened around his heart at the mention of that name, and he closed his eyes again. He knew that–and she did–but, God, it didn’t mean he wish it wasn’t true. Alan would easily sacrifice one thousand lives to get that one back again.

Unfortunately, he’d long ago learned it never, ever worked out that way. God was a nasty, vengeful bully. His rules weren’t fair.

Categories: Fiction, Martyrs, Monday Muse, Series, Writing

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