A Vigil for Justice: Episode 23

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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 smiled and brushed her hair behind her ear. Mitchel lay sleeping on the couch. He had woken her up when he couldn’t sleep haunted by nightmares about the horrors his mother had suffered in her last moments of life at the hands of the man who was meant to protect her. Melanie wished should could take the hurt out of Mitchel and bury it into her own heart. He looked calm and relaxed while he slept, but his eyes shifted beneath their lids. In less than a week, their lives had descended into chaos. Even with all the preparation she had done, it hadn’t been enough for this.

The sun was just breaking through the shadows of night. The stairs creaked. Melanie looked up. Sam drug her blanket behind her as she tottered down to the main floor. She climbed into Melanie’s lap pulling her icy toes in to her Hello Kitty nightgown.

“Good morning,” Melanie whispered tucking the blanket around Sam.

Sam snuggled into her. “Are Mitchel and Seth going to live here?”

Melanie kissed her sister’s head. “For now.”

“I’m hungry.”

Melanie chuckled. “How about waffles?”

Sam shook her head up and down and slid off Melanie’s lap.

Melanie went into the kitchen and started going through cupboards getting everything out she needed. She glanced out the front window. Richard Stein’s huge black truck was parked at the curb. She leaned over the counter peering around. There were cars and trucks lining the street.

The doorbell rang.

Sam’s bare feet patted on the floor.

Melanie’s breath caught in her throat. She dashed toward the living room. A pan clanged to the linoleum floor. “Sam, don’t open that door.”

Her hand closed around Sam’s wrist just in time to stop her from opening the door. “Go get mom.”

Sam scrunched up her face.

“Hurry.”

Mitchel sat up and rubbed his eyes. “What’s going on?”

“Not sure,” Melanie said.

A few seconds later, Jennifer was coming down the stairs in her bathrobe. She cast a glance at Mitchel who was now on his feet and alert.

“What is it Melanie?”

“I don’t know. There are a bunch of people out there.”

Jennifer pursed her lips and pulled her eyebrows together. She peered out the spyhole. “Richard Stein.” Jennifer set her shoulders and straightened her spine.

“Just give me a minute before you open that door mom.”

Jennifer nodded.

Melanie ran to her room. Mitchel was right behind her.

As she came into her room, she scooped up her holster and slung it over her shoulders. Melanie sank to her knees at the edge of her bed, and began fishing under it with both arms. She pulled out her lock box. She took the key from around her neck and opened it. She slid the compact nine into the holster.

She heard Mitchel’s footsteps cross the hall to the guest room. She grabbed an extra magazine out of the lockbox and clipped it into place on the holster strap. She got to her feet and snatched up her shotgun and .22 from the closet.

Mitchel met her in the hallway armed as well. “Seth is getting his stuff together too. He’ll be down in just a second.”

Melanie nodded and bounded down the stairs.

The doorbell rang again.

Jennifer’s eyes grew wide as she saw the two of them, armed to the teeth, trot down the stairs. Melanie turned to the footsteps behind her. Seth, shirtless and rubbing sleep from his eyes, held two shotguns as he came down the stairs. He had to two shotgun slings full of shells crisscrossed over his torso.

“Good morning,” he said with a grin as his feet hit the last step.

Melanie set the .22 against the wall behind the door.

Someone pounded on the door.

“Jennifer, we just want to talk. Open the door.” It was Richard. Melanie looked at her mother and shook her head no. Richard didn’t sound angry, but that didn’t mean the people behind him were not angry.

Jennifer put her hand on the doorknob. “Sammy, go upstairs in mommy’s closet. Stay there until I come and get you.”

Melanie slid a magazine for the .22 into her mom’s back pocket. “Keep your body behind the door as much as you can mom.”

Jennifer turned the doorknob and pulled the door open about three inches.

“What can I help you with Mr. Stein?” Jennifer asked with only a slight vibration in her voice.

Melanie stood behind the wall, between the front window and the door. Her left hand wrapped around the cool barrel and her right supporting the butt. Seth was in the kitchen at the front window. Mitchel stood behind the wall at the other side of the large front window.

“We just want to talk Jennifer.”

“Well go ahead.”

Richard took a deep audible breath. “I understand the Bateman boys are staying with you?”

Jennifer said nothing.

“Look Jennifer, we don’t want any trouble, but all these people, they want the boys to leave town.”

“That’s ridiculous. They’ve nowhere to go, Richard. You know that.”

“I tried to explain to everyone they are over reacting and being irrational. I know these boys and their good boys—”

“Then why are you here?”

“To keep the peace.”

“They are giving the boys three days to be out of Blue River.”

“And if they don’t leave?”

“I don’t know how far they will go Jennifer. I can’t talk any sense into them. They think the boys will turn into their father sooner or later.”

Melanie cast a furtive glance at Mitchel.

His jaw clenched and his knuckles turned white around the black barrel of his shotgun.

“Well thanks for the information Mr. Stein,” Jennifer raised her voice, “now if you and the rest of the riffraff would be so kind as to get the hell off my property.”  Jennifer shut the door and leaned her back against it sinking to the floor.

Seth came in to the living room.

“I’m so sorry,” Jennifer said looking up at Seth and Mitchel.

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