A Vigil for Justice: Episode 12

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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.

Melanie sat on the table in the courtyard of her high school eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She watched as Holly moved in a box formation blocking, punching and kicking. Holly extended her limbs with concentrated deliberation expelling a hard breath with each imagined impact. Melanie knew Holly wouldn’t last three seconds in the boxing ring even after a month of Taekwondo classes.

“What belt are you now?” Melanie asked combing her hand through her long hair.

“High white. My teacher said I moved up faster than anyone he has taught.”

“That’s good, right?” Melanie watched a few other students drift in and out of the courtyard. She handed Holly her hoodie and picked up her backpack to go back inside.

The brightness of the sun made you believe it should be warmer outside than it actually was. The distance the heat waves had to travel was still too great to warm the earth. High wisps of white were strung through the pale blue sky.  Red and white tulips stood beneath the branches of the maple tree grove in the center of the courtyard.

The locker-lined hallways of Summit High were easy to navigate given the reduction in bodies flowing through them. A severe decline in attendance is typical during the last week of school, especially for the seniors who have been dying get out into the world for nine months.

“We are going to be the only students on campus by Friday.” Holly opened their locker and exchanged books.

“Mitchel said he would be here too.” Melanie gave Holly a wry smile. “This could be our last week of normal. I’m not going to miss it.”

“Normal? Is not being here.”

A quarter of the population of Blue River had decided to go back to Mexico. The cartel was a more appealing type of vigilante government than whatever was going to spring up in the United States. Familiarity, regardless of its awfulness, is sometimes better than the unknown.

“We don’t have to come Friday, I guess.”

Holly raised her eyebrows and laughed. “We’ll be here. Are we going to the firing range again today?”

Melanie nodded. “My mom is going to the council meeting, and I’m picking Sam up from dance. So I have to go right after school.”

 

Melanie held her 9 mm out, emptied the magazine, and reloaded in less than a minute. She was getting faster and more accurate. She didn’t flinch at the now familiar sound of the shot and impact of the recoil. The smell and weight had become comforting. The gun was an extension of her hands. The sight of his little angel with a death stick attached to her hands would have made her father sick. She pressed the button bringing the man shaped target to her. If her father were still alive maybe, none of this would have happened. He would have convinced them the Justice Law was a bad idea and to give the SAFE chip more time. Two clusters of holes pierced the heavy paper in the chest and head area. She pulled it down smiling.

It was 10:00 p.m. when Jennifer slammed the front door of their house. Melanie raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips.

“Bad night?”

“I just don’t understand why they won’t sign the No Kill petition.” Jennifer tossed a stack of stapled papers toward the coffee table. The pages flipped and pulled at one another.

Jennifer stalked into the kitchen and slapped some cold turkey and cheese on two slices of bread. She rips into the sandwich.

“I just don’t get it. It gives everyone more security.”

Melanie had heard why people didn’t want to sign the petition at work. People talk of everything at coffee shops. Most, didn’t think a signature on a page meant anything and it was a farce they didn’t want to promote.

“We should work on our food storage this weekend Mom.”

Jennifer stared at Melanie she looked confused by what Melanie had said. Jennifer burst into tears and covered her face with her hands.

Melanie scrambled to her feet and ran over to her mom.

“What’s wrong?”

“Everything. This is not the life I wanted for you and Sammy.” Jennifer choked on her words.

“It’s not your fault mom. We’ll be alright.” Melanie rubs her mom’s back.

Jennifer wiped her face. Her crying had stopped as suddenly as it started. She nodded her head.

“We’ll go get food storage tomorrow afternoon.”

Her mom dumped the half-eaten sandwich into the garbage. “Good night Mel. I wish things were different.”

“I know mom.” Melanie watched her mom climb the stairs. Melanie picked up her book on surviving in the wild, turned out the light, and followed her mom up the stairs.

The morning sun warmed Melanie’s back through her bedroom window as she sat on the edge of her bed. She pulled the laces tight on her running shoes and rubbed the mound that was Daisy under the blankets.

She walked to the calendar she hung on the wall. She put a big red X through May 23rd. One week and one day.

“Let’s go Daisy.”

She unstrung the leash from her doorknob as Daisy snuffled her way out and plopped onto the floor. Daisy shook off the remainder of her dreams from head to tail, and her big brown eyes settled on Melanie tail wagging.

They ran around the neighborhood. Melanie didn’t want to take Daisy too far. She had to build up Daisy’s miles the same as she would her own. They didn’t need to be able to do a marathon, ten miles would be enough.

When they got back to the house, Melanie loaded Daisy into the car and drove to the boxing gym.

Daisy bounded through the doors of the gym and clobbered Jake who had crouched to greet her.

“She’s getting huge.” Jake laughed and picked up his cowboy hat from the floor. He dusted it off before setting it back on his head.

Melanie walked up to the SAFE scanner, but Jake just waved her into the back.

“Someday Jake, I will have to pay.”

“We’ll see.” Jake handed Daisy a chew toy. She took it and darted to a pillow in the corner.

Jake had her warmup on the punching bag. Melanie and Jake ducked and jabbed at one another in the ring. She didn’t cringe each time his fist came flying at her face. If she couldn’t move, she would throw up an arm to block bracing for the impact. He got her once with an uppercut to the ribs, but she had returned the favor.

She wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her glove. She pulled her glove off and pulled out her mouth guard. She blinked a few times to get the burning sweat from her eyes.

“Are you staying to lift today?”

“Yes, of course. Have you seen these guns?” She pointed to her biceps.

He laughed.

“Come on then, we’re increasing weight today.”

 

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