A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty-Two


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.

Ryan Thunderhawk crouched next to the fire building a teepee of kindling in the hot coals remaining after they had roasted marshmallows. Marshmallow bubbled on the rocks.

Melanie sat in the camp chair watching the flame come to life with her knees pulled up to her chest. Daisy scratched at the dirt, circled a couple of times, and finally laid at Melanie’s feet.

“You’ll be leaving tomorrow?” he asked waiting for the flames to get large enough to place the log.

“You don’t think the fire will wake anyone?” she asked. “I can’t tell you what I have to say if anyone else is here.”

He smiled at her. “Have you ever woken up? It’ll be alright. No one has ever stirred.”

She didn’t like her thoughts. She didn’t want to say the words, but she knew she had to protect her family. It was what her father would have wanted her to do. It was what he would have done.

It felt like she had been hit with a sledgehammer. She fought the urge to vomit. She couldn’t believe she was going to say it, but Mitchel’s rage had shown her it was a possibility.

She stared into the growing flames as they began to consume the log. “We are either being hunted by the butcher or he is with us.”

He didn’t react to her words. His police training. She was grateful for that at least.

“The first one was in Blue River. Mitchel and Seth’s father, Evan, was found butchered in the churchyard after Evan had killed their mother in a rage. I thought it was Father Chris who had done it. I even confronted him. Evan was a sinner. He was a dangerous man and everyone in Blue River knew it.”

Ryan stirred the fire not looking at her.

“The people of Blue River, our neighbors, drove us out of town because my mom took Seth and Mitchel in. She has always had a kind heart, but naïve in her belief that all people are innately good.”

“She reminds me of my mother,” Ryan said giving her a sad smile.

Melanie struggled against the desire to change subjects. Had he meant to give her the opportunity to back out of this disclosure? He had spent the last few weeks with them, maybe he had a suspect and knew it wasn’t them. She wanted to believe it so much, but here chest squeezed her heart. She had been fighting this war within her mind since they left Denver and were stopped by Homeland Security as soon as they arrived in Utah. No, she was too far into this. She needed to finish what she started. Her mom’s and Sam’s lives could depend on it.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, steeling her resolve. “More bodies showed up in Denver. Including my best friend, Holly, and her parents.” She had to stop and swallow the tears as the memories of that day crashed down upon her. Didn’t therapists always say it was good to talk about loss, to get it out and not carry the burden alone? What crap.

Ryan waited, ever patient.

“They were butchered in the same fashion. They were all within a few miles of where we were staying. I didn’t know where either Seth or Mitchel were during the time those people were killed. But Holly…”

She paused again. Lost in the dancing of the flames, she continued.

“They were staying in their fifth-wheel trailer in the driveway of the house we were staying in with my mom’s friends. There were three security guards patrolling the yard. They didn’t hear or see a thing. I hadn’t seen Holly since returning from the hospital, so I knocked on the door. There was no answer. Blood dripped down the walls. We were all questioned for a long time. My mom, her friends, and Sam were released first. But Mitchel, Seth, and I were there for much longer.”

He laid his hand over hers. She hadn’t even noticed that he had come over to her.  She looked at their hands. Her’s was much smaller than his, like her’s and Michel’s.

“And then when we reached Utah, we were stopped by Homeland Security. As if they had been following are movements the whole time. They denied that, but it was too much just to be a coincidence.”

She looked up into his brown eyes. The yellow and orange flames flickered in his pupils.

“Mitchel and Seth grew up in a violent home. Their father was an alcoholic. He beat their mother. He killed their older sister. And he abused them.” Her last words came out as if she were pleading for it not to be true.

“That’s a hard way to grow up,” he whispered.

There it was, laid out before him, all that she knew. It sat between them, a dark churning mass of destruction. She threw up then. Ryan pulled her hair up away from her face and laid his hand on her back.

They sat there watching the sun come up.

The Dreaded Red Light

red light

When you’re running on the roads, do you stop at all the red lights? And if you do, are you running in place waiting for the light to change?

I’m not advocating crossing the road on a red light of course because you could get hit or get a ticket from a well-meaning police officer concerned about your safety and ability to run the next day.

However, I’m also a realist and know that many runners and cyclists blow through red lights. If you are going to run through a red light, check to make sure the intersection is clear. Don’t rely on someone ahead of you to check the intersection. Ever. Check for yourself and make sure you have enough time to make the crossing or that there is no car in sight. Remember to check for those who are making a right turn on red as well.

Runners who run through reds should be well lighted and easy to see regardless of the amount of light out. Wear a reflective vest, day and night. More importantly, wear both a head light and tail light from dusk until dawn. The early morning hours when light is creeping across the sky and the early evening when the sun is going down are the times when the light makes it the most difficult to see as a driver.

Alright, so if you do stop on every single red light, should you stand still or run in place so your heartrate does not drop?

I see runners do both. I don’t run in place waiting for the light. You’re not standing there long enough for your heartrate to drop by more than a beat or two a minute. You’re body temperature won’t drop that much either for those runners who are worried about getting cold in the winter months.

The only time I consider running in place is when it hurts to start back up. As an ultrarunner sometimes it is just hard to get back going. At those times, I will be the one on the corner running in place.

I don’t stop my garmin either. One of my training partners stops his garmin every time we stop running and he forgets to restart it about half the time. It’s silly to stop it to use the bathroom or wait for a light. These things happen during runs and races, so get over it.


To Splash or Not to Splash

river run

If you run trails, you are going to come across rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. Are you a splasher or a rock jumper?

Sometimes there are bridges, but often there are not. Even on the well travel Bonneville Shoreline trail near my home, there are creeks without bridges. At one particular crossing, some caring person has carried cinder blocks up the mountain and placed them in the creek to allow for dry feet crossings.

As I was running along the trail this week and rock hopped across the bridgeless creek, I thought if this were a race I’d just run through the water.

I’m making the assumption that rock hopping or a log crossing is an option. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to dash through the water or attempt to cross with dry piggy’s. These are not in any particular order. If fact you should probably consider six first.

First, do your shoes drain well. If you have good trail shoes, which drain well and dry quickly splashing through the water gets one point in its favor. Let’s face it, running with squishy feet is annoying at a minimum and gross at its worst. Also, shoes that don’t drain well are never the same afterward.

Second, are you prone to blisters if your feet are wet? Some people are more prone to blisters when their feet are sopping wet and squishing in your shoes. If you are running farther than a 10k, you probably don’t want to splash through the water. Minus one point from the water run.

Third, what are the rocks at the bottom of the water like? This one is important. If there are large rounded rocks with slim covering them at the bottom of the water, running through can be treacherous. The possibility of falling or twisting an ankle may not be worth the risk. However, if the rocks are small, you are probably not going to roll and ankle.

Fourth, what is the terrain after the crossing like? Wet shoes can be slippery on smooth flat rocks, actually, on larger rocks in general. If you are immediately headed into a rocky section of trail without any dirt to dry the bottom of your shoes, pick your path carefully.

Fifth, how much time are you going to lose by rock hoping? Rock hopping is going to slow most people down. You slow as you approach and jump across. If you splash through, there is no reason to slow down.

Sixth, how deep is the water? If it is below knee height and you can lift your foot out of the water with each step, running through is a possibility. If the water is above knee deep, it’s going to slow you down. If the water is that deep there may not be any rocks or a log to get across. There may be a rope to hang onto with fast moving water, so watch for that as well.