Bohdan stood in the bright afternoon sun as the sheriff attached the chain to the train depot roof support. The other end of the chain was attached to an iron brace that was locked around Bohdan’s neck keeping him from running off. The judge had arrived and his train now sat on the tracks refueling and taking on more water for the steam engine. The whole trial would take place outside in the shade of the depot in three hours before the judge had to leave for his next case three hundred miles away in Garden City.
The judge brought along security, a bailiff, a court reporter, a prosecutor and nothing else. Everything else for the trial had to be provided by the local jurisdiction, including a defense attorney, which Seneca didn’t have.
The sheriff set up a makeshift courtroom with a raised platform and bench for the judge and two tables for the prosecution and defense. The rest of the area was patchy grass covered dirt and a group of spectators who came out for the show. With the depot as a backdrop, the judge donned his robe and sat at behind the bench. The bailiff called out the defendant, most times there were no spectators, but today, there were many.
“Call the case,” the judge said. He was a middle aged man, grey hair and wrinkles with a pair of bifocals he used to read the complaint.
“The state of Kansas versus Bohdan Malko,” the bailiff said. “On trial for the murder of Clarissa, Nate and Sara Rockwell.”
“How does the defendant plead?” The judge asked.
Bohdan looked at his shadow on the ground. He was the only member of the trial left out in the hot sun. “Not guilty, not that it matters.”
“I understand you are a vampire, is that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Under U.S. law, you have limited rights, do you have a lawyer present?”
“No, they didn’t provide me with a lawyer, and I can’t get a fair trial without one. This isn’t fair.”
“These small towns can’t always provide everything we need, so you’ll have to do the best you can. Do you understand me?” the judge asked.
“I’m no lawyer, I don’t know how to defend myself.”
“Certainly you do, have faith in yourself.”
“I don’t know the law, you have an advantage.”
“I’m not your adversary Mr. Malko that is the prosecutor’s job. I’m only here to pass judgment on what is presented.”
“You know the prosecutor, you brought him with you.”
“Don’t assume I have any ties with him, I will be impartial. For all you know, I despise the ground he walks on.”
“Still, the law is his profession, not mine.”
“What is your profession?” the judge asked.
“A long time ago, I worked as a ranch hand,” Bohdan replied. “Then after the war I sold slaves back to the south.”
“What war?” the judge asked.
Bohdan remembered there was no Civil war here. “I’m sorry, I misspoke.”
“I find it interesting you would make up a war to misspeak of. Is there something I should know about you? Did you come from another country? Is there a war in your background?”
“No, I didn’t get much sleep last night, I may have dreamed it.”
The judge leaned over in his chair and gazed upon Bohdan. “Odd dream to have,” the judge said. “Tell me in your own words what happened to the Rockwell’s? If you didn’t kill them, what happened?”
“I have no idea, I wasn’t there,” Bohdan replied.
“That’s your entire defense? You weren’t’ there?”
“According to the complaint, a girl named Anne Rockwell claims she saw you kill her sister, father and mother. How did she get this idea if you weren’t there?”
“I don’t know.”
The judge nodded his head and bit his lip. “I see,” the judge said. “Prosecutor, you have the witness.”
The prosecutor stepped up and addressed Bohdan. “State your name for the record.”
“Bohdan Malko,” Bohdan replied.
“Where are you from?”
“I was born in the United States, but my family is from Romania.”
“Where were you a week ago, the night of September tenth?”
“I don’t recall,” Bohdan replied.
“Were you in fact at the ranch of Nate and Sara Rockwell?”
“I have a witness that will state you were in fact at the ranch on that date. What would make her think you were there?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Bohdan replied.
“She will state that you raped and killed her sister, and then tossed her mother into a fireplace and let her burn to death.”
“How would she know? She wasn’t there.” The second Bohdan said it, he regretted it.
“What do you mean she wasn’t there? Obviously you just admitted you were.”
“I meant she wasn’t anywhere near me on that date. Don’t put words into my mouth,” Bohdan said.
“Tell the court how you raped Clarissa Rockwell, tell the court how you threw her mother into the fire to let her burn alive.”
“You’re grasping at straws, maybe this girl did it and is blaming it on me.”
“That’s absurd, what reason would there be for her to kill her family? And three hired hands as well? She’s only a girl, not capable of committing such a crime.”
“Ask her,” Bohdan replied.
The prosecutor smiled and backed away. “Trying to cast the blame elsewhere is a staple of a good defense. You’re doing a great job for not having representation. But it won’t work. No one, including this judge would believe a girl could or would commit such a crime against her own family.”
“I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time. Ever hear of Lizzy Bordon?”
“Lizzy who?” the prosecutor asked.
Bohdan thought hard and realized that the Lizzy Bordon murders were twenty years off. And in this alternate dimension, may never occur.
“She was a woman who murdered her mother and father.”
“Where did this occur?”
“Back east somewhere, I don’t remember where exactly.”
“Seems your memory is lacking all around,” the prosecutor said. “And I think you’re making up stories to sway the judge. This girl is innocent, she didn’t kill anyone.”
“Do I get to examine her, like you are doing to me?”
“Yes, you get to ask the witnesses questions. That is your right. But it won’t do you any good. She had no reason to kill her family.”
“And I did? What reason do you propose I had to kill?”
“You’re an admitted vampire, what do vampires do?”
“I’m not the only vampire around here, when I came into town, there were three vampires being burned at the stake. Anyone of them could have killed her family.”
“But you’re the one she saw do it!”
“She’s wrong! She made a mistake!”
“I call Anne Rockwell to the stand,” the prosecutor said. There was no actual stand, just a patch of dirt between Bohdan and the judge.
Anne stepped up and took her place on the designated spot. The bailiff swore her in and she awaited questioning from the prosecution.
“State your name for the record,” the prosecutor said.
“Anne Maria Rockwell,” Anne replied.
“How old are you Anne?”
“Twelve years old.”
“Tell the court what you saw the night of September tenth.”
“I saw that man come into my cabin and kill my sister.”
“Did you actually see him kill her?”
Anne hesitated for a moment, she knew she didn’t see Bohdan do anything since she ran out of the cabin before she died, but she wasn’t going to let Bohdan off the hook that easy. “Yes, I saw him do it.”
“How did he do it?”
“He put his hands around her throat and cut off her air,” Anne replied.
“Did you see her after she was dead?”
“Yes, she fell to the floor and wasn’t breathing.”
“Then what happened?”
“That bastard took a knife and cut her open.”
“You watched him cut her?”
“Yes, I was too scared to run.”
“At what point did you leave?”
“When my mother came in to help. She told me to run and I did.”
“Did you see the defendant kill your mother as well?”
“No, but I know he did. Who else would have?”
Bohdan spoke up, “I object! She admitted she didn’t see me kill her mother. That alone should be enough to toss this case out!”
The judge slid his fingers over his chin as he thought to himself. “Sustained, but the case is still on. She said she saw you kill her sister.”
Bohdan knew Anne had left the room when he killed Clarissa, but if he admitted that, it would have been the same as admitting he killed her in the first place.
The prosecutor added, “What about your father, did you see him kill your father as well?”
“No, my father was outside. I haven’t seen him since.”
“Where did you go after he killed your sister?”
“I ran to the woods and hid. I stayed there for a while and came back to see if anyone was alive. When I saw everyone was dead, I left and came back to Seneca and found the sheriff.”
“Was Mr. Malko still present at your ranch?”
“I saw him, and his friends tossing bodies into a pile,” Anne replied.
“Was your sister one of the bodies?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
“Your witness,” the prosecutor said to Bohdan.
Bohdan stepped as far from the depot roof post as he could without pulling the chain taut. He tried to step into some shade but had no luck. He could barely see Anne in the glare of the sun. “Can I get some shade, the sun burns like hell.”
The judge shook his head and said, “Proceed with your questions.”
Frustrated, Bohdan asked, “Why are you lying to the judge?”
“I’m not lying,” Anne replied. “I saw you, you know I was there. You were planning raping us both.”
“I’ve never met you before in my life, are you suffering from a sickness? Are you possessed by a witch?”
“A witch? Are you crazy?”
“No, young girls like yourself are often possessed by witches. Many of you are witches. Did your mother find out you were a witch and that’s why you had to dispatch of her? Where you having an affair with your father? Did she murder him?”
“You are sick, and insane. I would never let my father do that.”
“He didn’t have to, you were after his seed. It was all your plan. You are the witch.”
The prosecutor said, “I object, this isn’t a line of questioning, it’s one lie after another trying to distract this girl from the facts.”
“Overruled, the witness may answer,” the judge said.
Anne looked in horror at the judge. She didn’t want to answer knowing all too well that her father had indeed had relations with her since she was ten. And she was a willing participant.
“Please answer the question,” the judge said. “Did you have an affair with your father?”
“Yes,” Anne replied. “But I’m no witch, I promise you that.”