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 awoke the next morning, early. She and Mitchel had fallen asleep on the couch around 7:00 the night before. Her mother had gotten her into her bedroom around midnight when she came in with Seth. He had been harder to find than they had thought he would be.
She shuffled down the hall and peeked into the guestroom. Mitchel and Seth were both asleep. She pulled the door closed and continued down the hall toward the kitchen. A light was on in the living room. Melanie stepped down each stair trying to not make any of them squeak.
Jennifer was curled up in the corner of the couch with a white fleece blanket wrapped around her and Austen nestled in the crook of her knees. She set her book down and looked up at Melanie.
“You’re up early.”
“Well I went to bed early.” Melanie sat on the couch next to her mother.
Austin stretched his long lean grey legs out and arched his back tossing his tail in the air. After his stretch, Melanie held up her finger to him. He sniffed it and rubbed his face on it purring. Melanie smiled at him and plopped him in her lap.
“Where’d you find Seth?”
“Asleep in his truck outside of a bar in Breck. His truck is still there. We’ll have to go get it today.”
“How is he?”
Melanie ran her hand over Austen’s soft fur. He tilted his head turning his pale blue eyes on her. “Did he find their dad?”
Jennifer shook her head no. “Probably a good thing too.”
Melanie nodded and looked out the front window. Slivers of yellow and pink split the sky over the mountains. Dawn was breaking, Melanie hoped it wouldn’t bring more bodies. The Justice Law went into effect six days ago, and four bodies had turned up so far. It must be a slaughter in the bigger cities and towns throughout the United States. Things had been so busy Melanie hadn’t had time to watch the news or read the paper.
“Have they found Evan?”
“Not yet,” Jennifer said. “They had deputies at the house all night, and Richard’s militia has been looking for him. Sheriff Tom says that Anna’s death is murder not a justice killing and when they find Evan he will be charged.”
Melanie yawned. “How’s the rest of the world fairing?”
Jennifer pointed to the paper on the table. “Not well. There have been shootings at hospitals. President Vick has declared hospitals and medical facilities, where research and medical procedures are conducted, safe zones.” Jennifer shook her head and took a sip of her tea.
“You want me to warm that up for you?” Melanie asked.
Melanie took her mother’s cup into the kitchen and stuck it in the microwave. Melanie walked back into the living room with it and a cup of coffee for herself.
Jennifer’s cell phone vibrated on the table. She jumped up to grab it.
“Hello.” Jennifer mouthed thank you and took the tea from Melanie.
Melanie could hear that the caller was a male, but she couldn’t make out the words.
“Where?” Jennifer set her tea on the table and covered her mouth with her hand.
“Oh my god.” She made the sign of the cross on herself.
“Thank you, Sheriff. Yes, both Seth and Mitchel are here. They are welcome as long as they want to be here.”
Jennifer set the phone on the table.
“They found him.” It wasn’t a question, Melanie asked. She knew. There was no other reason for Sheriff Tom to be calling at this hour.
Sheriff Tom found Evan’s body in the church’s gated courtyard around two in the morning. He had been dead a few hours. He was butchered, slit open from groin to Adam’s apple. His internal organs spilt upon the slate stones. His SAFE chip had been crushed inside his arm while he was alive. There was no information on the National Cybersecurity Protection System about who had killed Mitchel and Seth’s father.
Evan had at least had the foresight to pay for their burials in advance. Seth and Mitchel stood side by side at the head of the open graves watching as the caskets containing their mother and father were lowered into the ground.
They were orphans now, with no family to care for them. Their father had run all the family off a long time ago, both his own family and their mother’s.
Melanie walked through the courtyard after the funeral. Blood still stained the stones. She was waiting for Mitchel and Seth. They wanted to be alone for a while, Melanie understood all too well. She glanced up and Father Chris stood in the archway leading into the Cathedral. She took a step back.
He ran toward her. His black cassock thwacked tight against his legs with each stride. “Melanie, this wasn’t me. I swear it.”
She could feel the heat of his body next to hers. His hands rested on her shoulders. She drew her gun and pushed it between them and into his soft belly. He flinched and released her shoulders.
“I don’t know what to think Father.” She pressed the barrel hard into him, and he stepped back.
He closed his eyes and his head sank until his chin was on his collarbone.
“If this is your doing Father, prayers won’t help you.”
“Why would I desecrate the house of God?”
Melanie didn’t have an answer for that, but it didn’t matter. She knew he was a killer. She knew Evan had deserved what he got, regardless of who had done it.