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.
Minutes passed while Melanie and Mitchel clung to one another. They had no idea how long. The sun was cutting through the slit between the block out curtains. They heard a light knock on the door. They didn’t move. The knock came again but loud and sharp.
Mitchel let go of Melanie. His eyes met hers. She still had his shirt clutched in her fingers. He brushed her hair back from her face and she let go. She stood with all her weight resting on her left as he walked closer to the door.
“Who’s there?” he called through the door.
“Security.” It was a deep rumbling male voice.
Melanie relaxed a little knowing it wasn’t Seth.
“Then you should have a key,” Mitchel said. He drew his gun and Melanie did the same. It was cold as always in Melanie’s hand as she raised it aiming about head height at the door. There was a beep as the person slid the key card through the slot. The door opened slowly.
“We’re armed,” Melanie called out.
“Got it,” said the man as the door opened to reveal his face. Both his facial features and his body were a chiseled boulder. His rifle was in his hands but pointed at the ground.
He held up one hand letting the gun lower even more in his other. “I’m Captain Jackson. I understand you entered the room down the hall. Mind if I come in and talk with you about that?”
Melanie lowered her gun and shook her head. Her shoulders slumped and she thought she was going to crumble to the ground again, but Mitchel was there beside her. He helped her slide up onto the bed.
“I need to get you some ice,” Mitchel said in a whisper.
Mitchel looked back and forth between Melanie and Captain Jackson.
“I’ll be fine,” she said patting the gun laying on the bed next to her.
Mitchel turned toward the captain. “Her ankle is swollen. I need to get her some ice.”
Jackson held up his hand and then turned pulling the door fully open. “Carter, get me a bag of ice.”
“Thanks,” Melanie said, as Mitchel walked over to her and picked up the pillows. He motioned for her to turn so he could prop her foot up.
Carter came in with the ice a few minutes later and handed it to Jackson.
“All clear?” Jackson asked the young guard.
Jackson nodded and Carter left the room closing the door behind him.
Jackson handed the ice to Mitchel.
Mitchel gently arranged the ice around Melanie’s ankle.
“I’ve already spoken with Jennifer and Sam. I’ve got Seth holed up in his room with guards on the door. I’ll be speaking with him next. So, I want you two to tell me what’s going on here?”
Mitchel looked to Melanie eyebrows drawn together and lips pulled down. Melanie averted her eyes finding the ice more to her liking than the unasked questions in Mitchel’s face.
Mitchel turned back to Captain Jackson. “We arrived in town yesterday evening. We went to the safe zone but Sargent McCall told us we needed to wait 24 hours so he could do the background checks. He suggested we stay here because of the security provisions you have. We came here, got rooms, and went to sleep. Melanie and I awoke to screaming and ran down the hall. You know what we found there.”
Jackson paced the length of the room three times.
“How many are traveling with you?”
Melanie answered, “My mom, Jennifer, my younger sister, Samantha, and Mitchel’s twin brother, Seth.”
Jackson stared at her. “That’s it?”
Melanie nodded slowly, why would he think there was someone else with them?
“Where are you coming from?” he asked.
“Originally? Blue River, Colorado. But most recently Ogden, Utah. We’ve had problems with my mom’s van and my mom was shot in Denver so, it’s taken us a really long time to get here. I’m not even sure how long at this point,” Melanie said. She stared at her hands resting in her lap. She didn’t want to look at him. She was afraid he would see she knew or at least suspected more than what she was saying.
Mitchel stood and paced between the end of the bed and the bathroom. “I’m not sure what you’re implying here Captain Jackson. Can you just be straight with us?”
Jackson’s brown eyes studied them. Melanie could feel his eyes on her, even though she wouldn’t look up at him. His hesitation made Melanie think he was considering his words carefully. Her mom probably said something about the trail of bodies following them all along their route and the similarities in the way they were found. Her mom wasn’t stupid, but sometimes she didn’t see what was right in front of her, especially if it was bad. And this was real bad.
Captain Jackson took a deep breath through his nose. “Alright, Mitchel, let me be straight with you. Melanie’s mom, Jennifer, showed me on a map the route you have taken from Blue River to here. I’ve got a few friends here and there. One such friend called me up a few days before you arrived and told me about a mutilated body that turned up in his area. So, before coming in here to talk with you two, I made a few more calls to Homeland Security along your route. Guess what I found?”
“More bodies,” Melanie whispered. Her head still bowed.
“That’s right. Lots more bodies in the same damn condition as what we got here.”
Melanie lifted her eyes and fought back tears. He was going to contact Sargent McCall and tell him everything. They would never get into the safe zone. They would never be safe. Melanie’s chest began to contract. Her heart was crashing against the inside of her ribcage. Her thoughts continued to consider the possibilities of not getting in, of not being safe. Never safe. She couldn’t breathe.
Captain Jackson was watching her and Mitchel turned his face to her. She was trying to calm herself. Trying to breathe.
“Mel?” Mitchel asked.
She reached for him. The sides of her throat reached for each other.
Mitchel ran to her side. “Breathe, Melanie, Breathe.”
Mitchel looked at Captain Jackson and then back to Melanie. “She needs help.”
Jackson pulled the door open. “I need a medic in here, now.”
Melanie’s world began to blur and rotate. Mitchel’s hand rested on her back. He was speaking to her, but she couldn’t make out the muffled words. Then they became clear.
“She’s pregnant.” He said it over and over.
Melanie’s world faded and burned into the back of her eyelids it said. The baby. Never safe.