A Vigil for Justice: Episode 18

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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 pulled her black hood up around her face. She shouldered through the picketing crowd of people around her best friend’s house. Hot anger burned in her cheeks. She clenched her fists. The crowd had surrounded Holly’s house for the past forty-eight hours, night and day. This was her mother’s doing, all because Holly’s dad wouldn’t sign that stupid no kill petition.

If Melanie was choosing teams, Holly’s dad would be her first pick. Melanie shook her head, this was getting out of hand, but she had known that it would. A law like the Justice Law doesn’t pass and cause ripples among the sea of people, oh no it’s a freaking tsunami.

Melanie kept her head down as she approached the door. Her mother was home with Sam, but she didn’t want home to be a war zone too.  She pulled her phone from the back pocket of her jeans and sent a text to Holly.

“I’m at the door.” She waited five seconds and then knocked. The deadbolt hammered back and the doorknob clicked. The handle turned in Melanie’s hand and she went inside, opening the door just enough to pass through.

She pushed her hood back, and Holly hugged her.

“Is your dad here?” Melanie hugged Holly back.

“Of course, it’s hard to go anywhere with all of them on our ass everywhere we go.” Holly took Melanie by the hand and led her up the stairs and down the hall to Richard Stein’s office.

Holly squeezed Melanie’s hand before she went into the office. “I’ll be in my room when you’re done. We can have lunch. Mom’s making club sandwiches.” Holly raised her eyebrows. She knew Melanie loved club sandwiches.

Melanie smiled and knocked on the dark walnut door to the office.

“Come on in,” called Richard Stein.

Melanie placed her flat hand on the door and pushed it open.

A huge mahogany desk occupied half of the room. The glassy eyed heads of an elk, deer, and mountain lion stared at Melanie from above the gun cabinet that stood against the wall loaded with various long guns.

Melanie had been in the office before, but now it felt different. Mr. Stein sat behind his desk typing at the computer. His black Stetson hat sat on the corner of his desk.

“Miss Craig, you are the last person I thought to see in my office.” He turned to her with a broad smile that lifted the corners of his blue eyes. “How can I help ya?”

“I’m here to sign up for the Watch Dog militia.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes sir. I’m proficient with both a shotgun and a 9 mm. I’m trained in hand to hand combat including various take down methods with armed persons.”

“Melanie, I’m aware of your training. Does your mamma know you’re here?”  He held up his hand and looked down at his desk shaking his head. “Don’t answer that.” He looked back up at her.

Melanie stood straight with her hands clasped behind her. Her 9 mm was concealed beneath her hoodie, but the shotgun was strapped over the hoodie on her back. She held his gaze. She had thought about this for a long time, since he had first put the militia together. The dead boy below the flagpole had solidified that decision. She would not stand around doing nothing.

“Truth is, I could use you. Most of the members are not well trained. I’d make ya a leader of about five others. You think you can handle that?”

Melanie stifled the grin of pride. “Yes sir. I would appreciate the opportunity.”

“I can’t believe, I’m letting you do this.” He shook his head and opened the top drawer of his desk. “This here is the oath all Watch Dogs must take.” He held it up to her. “Read it over. If you can uphold those rules and regulations, sign your name.” He slid a blue fountain pen across the desk.

Melanie read the document. She picked up the pen and signed her name along the black line at the bottom. She handed him the paper, and he slid it into an olive green file folder on his desk.

Richard pulled a roll of paper from another drawer. “I’ll need you here tonight to meet your team. You patrol the mile surrounding the church every other night. You’ll meet your co-team commander tonight as well. If you ever need coverage you’ll call him first.”

“Who is my co-team commander?”

“Peter McGraph, he leads the church choir.”

Richard stood and walked over to a square extendable table. Extension pieces stood in the corner. He spread the paper on the table. It was a street map of the area around the church.

“You’ll have hand held radios to communicate with your team. These red lines are the boundaries of your area.”

Melanie nodded her head. “Who has this area here?” She pointed to the section to the west of the church.

“Jake Simpson.”

Melanie nodded. It would be good to have Jake close in case she needed back up. She could bounce ideas off him. She trusted Jake with her life.

“And here?” Melanie pointed to the south of her area.

“That’s mine. And to the east of you is Sheriff Tom, and to north is Mitchel.”

Melanie’s head popped up. He hadn’t told her he joined the militia.

“He joined about a week ago. He didn’t tell you because he didn’t want you to join up and he knew if he did you definitely would. That boy cares a lot about you.”

“I know.” Melanie closed her eyes. Her most trusted friends surrounded her, at least that would make her mother happy once she found out. Jennifer would find out. Melanie was not naïve enough to believe that her mother would not know, eventually. She would try to keep it from her as long as she could, but she wouldn’t lie once her mother asked.

Richard walked over to a closet and opened the door. Melanie stayed at the table studying the map. She knew the area well. She ran there frequently with the high school cross-country team and on her own. Maybe that’s why he gave it to her, she knew all the side streets.

Richard came back to the table and set a tazer in front of Melanie. “We use non-lethal force first.”

Melanie picked up the tazer and holster and slid it into the front pocket of her hoodie. “Seven tonight?”

Richard nodded. “Your mamma is going to kill me.”

Melanie smiled. “She can’t. She signed the no kill petition.”

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