A Vigil for Justice: Episode 13

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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 drove into the gas station around the corner from her high school. She pulled three five-gallon gas cans from her trunk and began to fill them. She was going to miss her friends who were leaving for colleges and Universities. The last day of the school year had never been as difficult as todays. Her chest ached. Friends always moved away or they drifted apart over the summer, but now some would be dead. She wiped the tears from her eyes before they ran down her cheeks.

A black Dodge truck rumbled into the gas station and parked up on the other side of the pump. Richard Stein dropped to the ground.

He stepped around the end of the pumps and put his thumbs in his pocket. “Hello Mel, how’s your mamma?”

“She’s doing all right.”

“She still working on that petition of hers?”

“Yep.”

“You sign it?”

She looked up at him. “Yep.”

He nodded his head and took a deep breath. “Holly too, I assume.”

Melanie nodded.

He walked over to her car and lifted the two full gas cans into her trunk. “I’ve got something for you.” He waved her over to his truck.

Melanie finished filling the gas can and hung up the pump. She lifted the last can into her trunk and closed it before following Mr. Stein over to his truck.

“You’re a smart girl, Mel. And the best friend my daughter could have.” He opened the back door of his truck and pulled a long gun off the back seat.

“This is a sawed off shotgun. You carry this and not many are going to mess with you. You fire it within five yards and you aren’t going to miss. It sprays small pellets.” He broke the barrel and showed her how to load it.

“I’ll get you a holster for it. I want it on your back every time you walk out your front door. You can tell your mamma it’s prevention.”

She nodded. “Thank you.” She wrapped her hand around the chilled metal barrel.

He turned and pulled another gun off the back seat. “This one is a .22 long rifle. Won’t kill unless it’s real close, but even Sam could shoot it without much practice. Good for hunting and scaring off people.”

“Mr. Stein—“

“Melanie, I love you like my own. You and Holly have been friends for a long time. I know your mamma isn’t going to do much to protect the three of you and that means the responsibility of all this is falling on your shoulders. Let me help.” His grey eyes and decision were set in stone.

Melanie nodded. She wrapped her hand around the second gun. Its barrel was smaller. He took four boxes of ammunition off the floor of the truck and walked over to Melanie’s car.

“Probably shouldn’t put these in the trunk with the gas.” He smiled at her and set the bullets on the roof of her car. He opened the backdoor and set the ammo on the floor. He took the guns from Melanie and set them on the back seat.

“Probably shouldn’t tell your mamma about this either.”

Melanie nodded. “You think it’s going to get bad here too, don’t you? Once the law goes into effect.”

He rested his hand on her shoulder and fixed his eyes to hers. “Yep, I certainly do. Folks are as dumb as cattle with these sorts of things.”

“I think so too.”

“You’re a fighter Melanie Craig. Makes you different from most folks. Let me know if you girls need anything.”

“Thank you Mr. Stein.”

On Saturday morning, Melanie sat on the kitchen counter drinking coffee and reading the Denver Post. Jennifer stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living room squinting at the bright kitchen lights. The soft sounds of jazz drifted into the kitchen from the dimly lit living room where Jennifer had been drinking her chamomile tea.

“Can you believe that man! He’s doing this just to thwart my efforts on the No Kill Petition.” Jennifer stalked back and forth between the kitchen and living room.

Melanie rolled her eyes. “I really don’t think so mom. It’s two days before the Justice Law goes into effect. You are both doing what you think is best to protect others. His approach is just different, that’s all.”

“He is promoting vigilantism by forming a militia.”

Melanie thought the militia was the best idea yet and wanted to join, but now was definitely not the time to discuss it with her mom. She probably wouldn’t discuss it at all. Another one of those forgiveness over permission situations.

“This says the Pope and other Christian leaders are denouncing the Justice Law. It says, Thou Shalt not kill is a commandment and man cannot change God’s laws. Maybe more people will sign your petition if you take it to the churches?”

Jennifer put her hands on both sides of Melanie’s face and squished her lips with her own. “That is a wonderful idea my girl.” Jennifer turned and walked up the stairs with a bounce in her step.

Melanie pressed her lips together between her teeth. Guess she’ll be watching Sam today.

Jennifer bounded back down the stairs dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. “Can you watch Sam awhile?”

“I can this morning, but I have things I need to do this afternoon.”

“Sam can’t go?”

“I don’t think you want Sam at the gym mom.” Melanie sipped her coffee.

“I don’t want either of you there. I’ll pick her up and take her with me this afternoon if you can watch her this morning.”

“Sure, we can watch cartoons.” Then Melanie would be able to go talk with Mr. Stein about the Watch Dog militia when he got off work. “A bunch of us are going to dinner tonight in Breck, so I’ll be home around midnight.”

Her mom made a face.

“It’s the last weekend before the curfew goes into effect mom.”

 

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