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After forever, p.20
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       After Forever, p.20

           Krystal George
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Seeing Red

  By: Krystal George

  ©2014 by Krystal George

  My brother was a cop. My father had been a cop. My grandfather had been the sheriff before he retired. With all things considered, I should have known what I was getting myself into… but I didn’t sign up for this.

  The floor was sticky with blood. The walls were splattered with it. The bed that most of the victim had been found in was drenched in it. It was the grizzliest scene this small town had probably ever seen, and if it wasn’t, I was thankful that I hadn’t been around for anything worse. As it was, I couldn’t help running outside and taking a handful of deep breaths just to ensure I didn’t throw up the entire contents of my stomach.

  “You okay there Rookie?”

  I looked up at my partner, Cragger. For all of the nonchalance of his words, he was looking a little green himself. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I told him.

  He clapped me on the back. “I bet you didn’t think that you’d be seeing something like this during your first few months on the job.”

  “I bet you didn’t think you’d ever see anything like this in Evergreen anyways,” I answered back. We both turned back toward the house and Cragger shivered. “Who made the call again?”

  He nodded toward a young girl sitting on the edge of an ambulance with a blanket around her shoulders. Although she was visibly shaken and pale, there appeared to be no other sign that anything was wrong with her.

  “The victim’s granddaughter. Apparently she was stopping by to check on her and found her like this.”

  I inhaled sharply, “that’s kind of a sick messed up way to find your grandma.”

  The current sheriff, Sheriff McNaley, walked up behind us. “You boys okay out here?” When my father was alive, Sheriff NcNaley was his partner. I always wondered if he hadn’t passed away if he would be the one wearing that shining star.

  Turning my thoughts away from things in the past, I turned toward the sheriff. “Who could have done this to that poor little lady?” I asked him.

  He shook his head sadly and looked up at the darkening sky; it was going to be night soon. “That’s what we are going to find out Nate.”

  He walked a little ways down the wraparound porch and studied the granddaughter with a curious expression on his face. Something about the way he was watching her made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. “Cragger, why don’t you go on down and see if the granddaughter knows anything more or has any suspicions,” he said finally… only Cragger had his head hanging over the porch railing and was busy spraying the yard with whatever he had eaten for lunch today.

  “I’ll do it, sir.”

  He eyed me for a second and I wondered why he was so hesitant to send me over to her. Finally he nodded, “see what you can find out.”

  When I walked toward her, she was alone. Since she had no real injuries, it was more imperative that the crime scene was secured and the victim’s remains were gathered. There was something eerily familiar in the way she watched me. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but the awareness was there. She was young; probably around seventeen and there was a tiny spark of recognition in her eyes when I stopped in front of her.

  “Didn’t we go to high school together?” She asked.

  Taken aback by her question, I stared blankly at her face trying to process what she was saying. Finally I answered her, “it depends. How old are you?”

  She smiled slowly, despite the current situation, and shrugged, “I think you were a senior when I was a freshman.”

  I nodded, “I guess that’s possible.” I scratched at my face absently and looked back over my shoulder. “Look, I’m really sorry about your grandma. No one should have to live through something like this.”

  Her jaw tensed and I saw a flash of pure rage in her eyes. “There are a lot of things someone shouldn’t have to live through,” she mumbled.

  I frowned, but some sort of commotion going on behind us drowned out her words. I turned fully toward the house just in time to see one of the EMT’s running around the side of the house. He was screaming and pointing behind him.

  “What the hell is going on?” McNaley called from his perch on the porch.

  “It’s… I mean… there’s…” he stuttered, pointing to the back of the house where the forest swallowed it up.

  “Take a deep breath, son, what happened?”

  I took a few steps toward them then, so that I could hear what he said. Most everyone had gathered round at his panicked screams and terrified glances back the way he had come.

  The EMT, I thought his name was Brandon, gulped down air the way some people gulped down water. “There’s something back there… in the woods. I heard it.”

  At first the crowd around the house was extremely quiet and then all at once people began shouting suspicions and orders. It was almost chaotic the way the stumbled about at Brandon’s exclamation. McNaley stood there, though, calm as if he was standing in church and just chewed on a toothpick contemplating Brandon’s claim.

  “It’s a forest,” he said finally. “There are lots of things ‘back there’”

  Brandon shook his head. “No, sir. I grew up here, I know what the forest is like.” He looked behind him in terror, “this was something else.”

  The girl inhaled sharply and I turned back toward her, “don’t worry miss, we are here to protect you.”

  “It’s not me that needs protecting,” she mumbled under her breath.

  I couldn’t be certain, but it almost seemed like her eyes darted toward the sheriff when she said it. There was an edge of tension in the air and I cleared my throat trying to get a solid hold of the situation again when all of the sudden all I wanted to do was back away from this girl and get the hell out of here.

  “What’s that supposed to mean?” The cop in me asked instead.

  I stared into her eyes, mesmerized by their strange shape and color, while she answered. “There are things about this town that you don’t know about, Tanner, things that could get you killed.”

  I frowned. Her voice had gotten so soft that I was sure no one else had heard her, but I still couldn’t help looking behind me to make sure no one was paying attention to us; no one was. “I don’t understand.”

  She put her hand on my arm and pulled me to the side of the ambulance, out of the view of anyone around. Her grip was surprisingly strong and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I had this eerie feeling that something else was going on here; something that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

  “I’ve always kept an eye on you,” she said softly, “I didn’t want you to end up like your father.” That caught my attention and my breath caught, but before I could say anything, she held up her hand to stop me. “I was there that day. You wouldn’t have seen me, not in the way you see me now; but I was there.”

  I shook my head, “my father died in a car accident. There wasn’t anyone there, no witnesses. It was a hit and run.”

  She smiled sadly. “Things are seldom what they seem in this world.” She looked back toward her grandma’s house and her jaw clenched. “But I’m going to make a difference this time. He took things too far.”

  I turned to see what she was looking at, but all I saw was McNaley and Cragger standing on the porch, both of them looking unconcerned about Brandon’s accusation. There was something… off… about the whole scene and I suddenly felt like I was watching a horribly written horror flick. I wanted answers. No… hell, I needed them. But when I looked behind me, the girl was gone.

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