A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fourteen

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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 sunk her hands into the warm soapy water in the kitchen sink. She fished around until she found another dish. The bubbles clung to her forearms and hands as she pulled a plate out, scrubbed it, and held it under the running water. She set it in the dish drainer.

She grabbed the frying pan off the stovetop and it disappears below the surface of the water like a boat going down.

The news was on in the living room. The Justice Law goes into effect tomorrow. J-Day, they were calling it. It was a far off hope that it would be repealed at the last moment, but if it happened, she wanted to know.

“This just in, Safe Zones, on the eve of J-Day.” The male news broadcaster said. “Congress has been in special session for a week on this one piece of legislation titled, Safe Zones, which was proposed shortly after the announcement that the Justice Law had been passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

“Mom, you want to see this,” Melanie called up the stairs. She stood in the doorway to living room with a dishtowel in one hand and the frying pan in the other. Soap bubbles dripped to the floor. Melanie looked down at the soapy pan.

“I’m busy Melanie what is it?” Jennifer said.

“Safe Zones. You want to see this.” She held the pan beneath the running water.

Hurried footsteps come down the stairs.

The screen switched to an image of the Whitehouse.

“Turn it up,” Jennifer said. She ducked passed Melanie and sat on the coffee table in front of the flat screen television mounted in the wall.

With the towel and pan in one hand, Melanie turned and pushed the volume button on the wall next to the couch.

President Vick stood at the chestnut podium with the American flag fluttering behind him. He adjusted the microphone attached to the lapel of his sharp black suit. “The states of Oregon and Maine will be safe zones. No guns will be allowed within their perimeter. Anyone who is seeking admission into a safe zone will go through a screening process. In order to be admitted you must not have any Justice kills, no felony convictions, and no illegal drugs in your system.” He looks out across the crowd of reporters. The camera scans over them and then returns to the president.

“The Safe zones will be secured by Homeland Security. All boarders will be patrolled. Anyone who kills within the safe zone will be put to death by lethal injection after a trial.”

Jennifer clapped her hands like a child who sees a pile of birthday presents labeled with her name in bright pink.

“All residents now occupy the safe zones who do not qualify for admission within the safe zone must vacate the safe zone. You will be provided with similar accommodations outside the safe zone, including housing and employment.”

Jennifer jumped up and grabbed Melanie by the shoulders. “Can you believe it? Someone has sense. This is just the beginning. The whole law will be abolished soon. The safe zones will spread.”

“Shhhh mom.” Melanie knitted her brows and waved her mother away.

“Visitation areas will be set up for immediate family members who are expelled from the safe zone. It will take time for the safe zones to be established and cleared of anyone who is not eligible for residency.”

Melanie rubbed the dishtowel around the rim of the pan. “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” Her mother’s mind always went the rainbow and roses route.

Jennifer didn’t say anything to her, just continued to watch the screen without blinking.

Melanie finished drying the pan and walked into the kitchen to put it away. Safe zone. I’m not sure safety is what they will find there, at least not within the first year. We can’t go to the safe zones. I’ll have to convince her of that. Melanie looks through the doorway at her mother perched on the edge of the coffee table.

It will be a blood bath at the border, everyone fighting to get inside. There is only so much space for people to live. Medical treatment, food, and other necessary items will have to be brought in. Melanie shook her head and hung the towel over the handle on the oven. Those inside will be trying to hide their ineligible loved ones. A modern day witch-hunt.

Tomorrow will be different, even if everything looks the same. It will feel different like waking up and not knowing where you are or that out of body sensation where you see the world, but you are so emotionally distant from it that you almost don’t exist within it.

She doesn’t want it to be that way, but how else do you deal with every person being a possible threat to you or someone you love. Behind each set of eyes, lies the ability to decide whether you take your next breath, or caress the one you love one last time.

Melanie took a deep breath, expanding her chest. She closed her eyes and held it until it burned. She let it out slow like breathing through a coffee straw.

The last rays of the setting sun fell over Melanie’s face. She opened her eyes. The mountains like black teeth were devouring every morsel of the remaining day. It was impossible to know whether being swallowed by this valley would be better than running in the open streets anywhere else.

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