After

By IEatBooksForTea

Mystery / Romance

10 - Chris

I adjust back into my seat in the courtroom, Ashley now free to sit beside me and Sam on her other side. The images on that website are engrained in my mind, like the flashes of light tattooed underneath eyelids when eyes are closed. Photos stretching back two years, to when we left the police station at the bottom of the mountain, pictures stacked upon pictures of every moment in my life, and the lives of everyone else. The intimate moments in Matt's life were destroyed by the flash of a camera - moments with him taking a girl to a hotel on a regular bases. It was never the same girl.

I felt guilty just looking at them but my eyes were glued to the screen as Sam swore, glancing around the corridor, desperately looking for the culprit who had just snapped our photograph. It hadn't taken her long to snatch our arms and drag us into a more secluded area, panic rising on her face. It turned out that the area she had in mind was a nearby storage cupboard.

"They even have pictures of Mike here," I had swallowed, racing down the webpage on the phone I'd taken from Sam.

"What if they're gonna kill us?" Ashley's panicked voice had shivered, her gaze not resting on anything until it reached my face.

"They're not gonna kill us," I'd replied, eyes locked on the cell phone screen. Though my voice evidently hadn't been so certain of my words.

"Do you think you'd be able to track the website?" Sam had asked, stepping up to me.

I had shaken my head, unsure. "I can try-"

My words had been cut off by the five minute warning that the court was about to resume.

Mike is currently being interrogated by the prosecution attorney - a broken determined look on his face - but my mind is captured by that web page. The photos are haunting my head, even more so than the wendigos.

The prosecution has already crashed down our one hope of evidence by analysing Emily's bite mark and determining that, although the shape was unusual, the DNA of whatever gave it to her was human.

I had heard Sam scoff at that, not believing that anyone could sanely suggest that one of us had bit her just to cover up the murder.

The defence had brought in a witness statement from a Native American to confirm that wendigos transform from humans.

The jury hadn't taken very well to that, evidently more in favour of the insane than the truth.

I was exactly like one of them before the mountain.

"Did you or did you not," the prosecution eyes Mike as he slowly slurs out the question, "Pull the trigger?"

"Yes," Mike replies as steadily as he can but I can see the guilt hovering behind his eyes. He regrets it - of course he does. He regrets ever shooting Emily; and he regrets that he even feels that way.

"And yet!" The prosecution lifts his arms in fake exasperation. "Ashley has already told us there was information in this diary that the bite - a bite with human DNA," he turns to explain smugly to the jury, before turning back to Mike, "Wasn't infectious."

"Yes, but we found that afterwards," Mike says, trying to steady his voice, his frustration building. I can see his fists clench.

"But we already know," the lawyer groans. "That the diary was just sitting right in front of you the whole time! Do you really expect me to believe that you just ignored it?!"

"Well, you're gonna have to!" Mike snapped, jerking forward in his seat and gripping the railing in anger. "There was no time! I was being pressured!"

"Pressured?" The prosecution asks, raising his eyebrows slowly, evidently surprised himself. "By who?"

He doesn't know.

But I do. Instinctively, I reach out for Ashley's hand, gripping it for my own comfort more than hers. My breathing is unsteady as I watch Mike with narrowed, panicked eyes. Sam's gaze is torn towards me, worry on her features. She knows too.

Mike shuffles uncomfortably in his seat. His eyes flicker to his lawyer who calmly nods, completely prepared for this.

This was planned. This was their secret weapon, their fall back.

My throat closes up. I can't breathe.

Ashley whimpers beside me.

"Who?!" The prosecution snaps forward, demanding the information from Mike.

Mike settles his eyes back to him, purposefully avoiding mine.

Josh knew. Josh knew this was going to happen and he was warning me.

Mike swallows before he opens his mouth and says, "Ashley."

Bang bang Ashley.


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