A Vigil for Justice: Episode 15

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

A crowd of people was on the City building steps, another crowd was on the courthouse steps, and another on the church steps. Melanie jerked the car over to the curb to find out what was going on. She expected the streets to be filled with dust devils and tumble weeds on J-day, with people peeping through blinds and the barrels of shotguns poking their black eye through boarded up windows.

Melanie unbuckled her seatbelt. Her mom had put up a minimal protested against her leaving the house today. She hadn’t planned on going out, but Sam fell from the table while doing a pirouette and hit her forehead on the end table. She needed butterfly bandages and there weren’t any in the house.

“It’ll only be a small scar. It’ll be fine,” Jennifer said holding a wet washcloth spotted with blood to Sam’s head.

“She needs stitches mom. Butterflies are the next best thing. If you’re not going to let me take her to the doctor, then I’m going for the butterflies.”

Tears ran down from Sam’s red-rimmed eyes.

 

Melanie reached for the shotgun on the passenger seat of the car and slid it into the holster on her back as she got out of the car. The 9 mm was at her hip and she had throwing blades in her boots. The people at the back of the crowd turned toward her as she approached. One after another, they stepped aside, allowing her to move to the front of the crowd. As she made her way forward, she locked eyes with those who had a bulge or oddly gathered clothing from a possible concealed gun. Something Jake had taught her.

“It’s harder to kill someone who looks you straight in the face. Eye contact humanizes the person.” The book, The Gift of Fear, had said something similar.

Tacked to the doors of the church was a list of names, all the people who had not signed the No Kill Petition. Melanie clenched her jaw. This was her mother’s doing. Richard Stein’s name was there along with several other people she knew who had decided not to sign her mother’s wretched petition.

Her hand hit the door, flat fingers splayed wide. A few of the women around her jumped and stepped back another step. Melanie closed her fist, ripping the paper down. Her nostrils flared. She took a deep breath and continued to ball the page up in her hand until it was the size of a shooter marble.

No one said a word to her as she turned around and stalked back to her car. Her tires chirped as she flipped the car around and took off in the direction she had just come from. Was her mother trying to start a slaughter? No, she just wasn’t thinking outside of her pony and rainbow land.

She pulled the car over at the curb of the courthouse. She marched up the steps and again the crowd backed away allowing her to the front. She ripped the page down, turned, and marched right back to her car. She tossed the crumpled wad onto the floor. She made a stop at the City building next, with the same results.

“Are there more?” she asked the wide-eyed people. They looked to each other and then their eyes moved from her shotgun, to her 9 mm, to her face. Each one shook their head in the negative.

“Segregation has never helped make a bad situation better. Never.” Melanie got back into her car.

She tried to calm herself down, so she could speak with her mother in a rational way when she got home with the bandages for Sam. After her father died, her therapist taught her calming techniques. They had never really worked, but she went through them anyway. She took several deep breaths with her belly, she counted to ten, and took some more. She visualized a peaceful place. It did little to dampen the fire that had roared to life.

She stopped the car on the curb in front of her family’s home. The dark green ivy wrapped itself like a blanket around the side of the house. The home her father had made their sanctuary from the chaos after WWIII.

She slid the shotgun into the holster as she climbed out of the car. She scanned the yard and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

She knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” Jennifer’s voice came through the steel door.

“It’s me, mom.”

The deadbolt hammered back. Melanie pulled the door open and stepped inside. She pushed past her mom and kneeled before Sam who was sitting on the couch with ice on her head.

“Let me see.” Melanie reached up and took the ice from her sister. “The bleeding has stopped so we need to let it dry so the butterfly will stick.”

Sam nodded sending her braids bouncing. Melanie gave her a crooked smile.

Melanie set the ice on the table and pulled the plastic bag with gauze, medical tape, and the bandages toward her.

“How was it out there?” Jennifer asked. She sunk onto the couch next to Sam.

Melanie glared at her. “Your little notes have caused quiet the stir.”

“People need to know who is safe to be around and who is not.”

Melanie opened the box of Band-Aids. “No mom. You created an enemy. A target.”

“They made themselves targets.”

Melanie pulled the plastic off the back of the butterfly Band-Aid. “Relax your face Sam so I can put this on right.” Melanie placed two of the butterflies on her sister’s forehead. “I’m going to put gauze and tape over that just to protect it a little more, so hold still, ok?”

Sam nodded.

Jennifer sat in silence while Melanie finished with Sam’s head.

“There you go. No more dancing on the tables.” Melanie patted Sam on the knee.

Once Sam was out of the room, Melanie turned on her mother. “A piece of paper has never stopped anyone hell bent on killing another person. Women get protective orders against their abusive husbands all the time and the next day they’ve got a piece of lead buried in their brain.”

Jennifer stood up and put her index finger in Melanie’s face. “Don’t you talk to me like that young lady.”

“This world steals what you love most and leaves you an empty husk. All you can do is protect yourself and move on. There is no gold at the end of the rainbow. There never has been. It’s a graveyard of dead dreams.” Melanie snatched up the garbage from bandaging her sister. “You’ve started a war.” She turned away from her mother, but then stopped.

“I’m going to Holly’s to cool down.”

“No you’re not. You will not go to that house. Richard Stein is a killer.”

“What are you talking about? I would put my life in his hands before I would even consider yours!” Melanie pushed past her mother. “Don’t leave the house.” Melanie slammed the front door sending the pictures on the wall rattling.

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