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Not A Chance

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The unquiet life of Raquel Klimt is about to turn into a waking nightmare. Her sanctuary has just been invaded - by both the living and the dead.

Horror / Thriller
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Late, again.

Raquel nervously sipped from her beloved “World’s Best Mom” mug. She worshipped her Keurig, a Christmas present from her husband Kenneth, but even the readily available caffeine in the mornings didn’t help her move faster. Quickly peering back at her children buckled in their seats, they met her eyes with judgmental stares, their small eyebrows raised.

“I’m going to get lip from Mrs. Bellvue,” muttered her eldest daughter Eleni, a tall, coltish beauty of fifteen. “She only has one pet peeve in the world, and that’s students who are late for homeroom.”

“I’ll explain to Mrs. Bellvue, hun,” Raquel replied. “I’ll tell her I had car trouble.”

“You already used the car trouble ‘scuse last week,” pipped her angelic six year old, Maisie. “If Mrs. Bellvue knows you told Mr. Wolfe the car was broken last Monday too, then she’ll know you told a fib.” Maisie pronounced fib as if her mother had just robbed a bank, and Raquel sighed tiredly.

The world-weary soccer mom pulled into the student drop off lane as the mini-van brigade of parents were pulling away. She flicked her four ways on and rushed her two daughters into the building as the third and final bell screeched a harsh warning. The teachers slammed their classroom doors shut. The school secretary, Sister Ignatius, walked out of her office, pointedly glancing at her watch. Her lips pursed as she focused her wet, beady eyes at Raquel.

I pay 100,000$ in tuition a year for St. Mary’s, she thought, but at least they’re aiming all the Catholic guilt toward me.

After apologizing profusely to the pickle-faced Mrs. Bellvue and the patronizing Mr. Wolfe, Raquel slowly headed down the school’s white, glaringly bright hallway. She was annoyed at herself for running late and absently mindedly bumped her shoulder against a hand crafted, wooden crucifix. The religious idol jumped off the wall, and slid downwards; Jesus’ tormented eyes cast upwards at Raquel. The artist had even painted tiny drops of blood, adoring his forehead and palms. A wave of nausea rushed over Raquel. She dashed into the girls’ bathrooms. Leaning over the sink, she began to vomit.

Please God, don’t let me be pregnant.

Raquel laughed at her silent prayer. How ironic to ask such a thing in a Catholic school bathroom. It was not unlike the school she had attended as a young girl. She wanted to send Eleni and Maisie to public school – no uniforms, no nuns, no guilt. But Kenneth insisted on a private school education, and St. Mary’s was the only game in town. Her ex-school girl rebellion rose suddenly, and she looked up, glancing at the petite, brunette reflection in the year. Dark circles under her red eyes; she hadn’t been sleeping well.

I’m not pregnant. I’m on birth control. Take that, Sister Ignatius.

She heard a loud, single knock. A tall, gaunt blonde clad in white khakis and a pink cardigan sailed into the bathroom. The thin woman paused at the sight of Raquel hunched over the sink, and flashed a wide, toothy smile in her direction. She smelled faintly of Aqua Net and Red Door.

“You’re Eleni’s mom,” she purred in a velvet-lined voice. “My daughter is Misty. Misty Myers. Eleni is one Misty’s little…classmates.”

“Hello,” Raquel said, vaguely thinking she had seen this woman at some point in her life. A school fundraiser, a dance? It didn’t matter. Raquel hadn’t been a people person in years. Somewhere along the line, she had tired of humanity and only socialized when necessary. Raquel preferred books and films, where drama was fleeting.

“I see you’re not feeling well,” cooed Misty’s mother. Her eyes gleamed, and she leaned in, hoping for a grand secret to be revealed in confidence, as if they were the best of friends. Later she would use it at Starbucks, with the Fifty Shades of Dull groupies crowded around her, hoping to trade gossip.

I ran into Eleni’s mother at school today, of course her daughter isn’t in Misty’s social circle, but I’m sure she knows who Misty is, being the class vice president and all – well, the poor woman was out of her mind and vomiting non-stop in the bathrooms. Late dropping off her kids as usual. She just couldn’t keep it in any longer, she told me she’s been drinking to access lately and if you ask me someone should intervene with that family –

“I’m pregnant,” Raquel said suddenly. Shuddering at her own bizarre lie, she backed away from the viperous woman. The chilled porcelain sink pressed against her body, numbing her spine.

“Oh,” said the blonde, obviously disappointed. She brightened after a moment. “I know the best OBGYN in town, you must use him. All the mothers do, his name is Doctor –

“Excuse me,” Raquel said. “Excuse me, I’m late for an appointment.” Raquel shouldered past her, and stumbled into the hallway. Feeling faint, she rested her head against her hand, and walked towards the exit.

Sister Ignatius rose from her desk as Raquel walked by the front office. “Mrs. Klimt, are you all right?”

“Yes, yes, I’m fine. Just under the weather today. Thank you.” She picked up her pace, hurriedly rushed to her car, and drove to work.

Parking in the lot of the Wellswood Public library, Raquel grimaced at her mug. So much for being St. Mary’s Mother of the Year. She brushed her long, brown hair and applied lip gloss to her pale, bow shaped lips. She was a petite woman, with a heart shaped face; a 1920’s silent film actress. Her intense expressions could say it all, there was no need for the spoken word. Raquel picked up her purse and started for the door of the library, eager to distract herself with a day of shelving books and assisting patrons.

Raquel’s boss, Franny, met her as soon as she sat down at her desk. Franny looked hopeful. “Any chance you’d be willing to stay late tonight? Believe it or not, I have a date.” Franny was a 76 year old widow.

“Sure, Franny. Kenneth is picking up the kids from school, so I’ll close up tonight with Len. You have fun.”

“Thanks, dear,” Franny said, and wheeled a cart of returned items down a corridor. “Wish me luck.”

Raquel left her husband a voicemail. He was impossible to reach during the day, but she knew he would help the girls with their homework and start dinner. She hoped he would be awake when she got home, but she didn’t mind the thought of pulling a blanket around her husband, asleep on the sofa, and sprawling out on the bed. Maybe working a few extra hours would help her sleep. Raquel picked up the mail from her desk, and glanced at the Wellswood Evening Oracle. Typical fluff; the main article on the front page was about a dog show. In the right corner, however, a bold, gruesome headline caught her eye.

Murder who Burned Victim Escapes from Wellswood County Prison

Convicted murderer Mark Tennel, escaped Wellswood County Prison last night. Tennel was present for scheduled kitchen duty at 7PM. He was asked to retrieve bread from the freezer. When he failed to return in five minutes, the supervisor notified the guards, who discovered Tennel had opened an air vent in the wall. The prison and police believe he had assistance from an accomplice or accomplices once he reached the prison yard, and are questioning all the guards and staff members closely. There is a statewide manhunt for Tennel, and anyone with information is asked to call the toll free tip line 818-945-2000. It is fully staffed by law enforcement officers, 24 hours a day.

Mark Tennel is sentenced to life in prison. His victim, Victoria Lender, was a 17 year old high school sophomore. Her family described her as a sweet, trusting young lady. Victoria had lasting disability from a childhood illness and attended Wellswood School for the Hearing and Visually Impaired. Tennel worked as a janitor at the school. He invited her to the movies after school on November 12, 2013. He drove to the former site of the Wellswood Drive In, which had burned down sixteen years prior. When Victoria demanded to be taken home, Tennel brutally sexually assaulted her, strangled her, and set her body on fire. Her parents had called the school when Victoria failed to come home, and a student in an after school program told the director Victoria mentioned she was going on a date. The police were notified, and began a five day search for Victoria. They found her body on November 17, 2013. Tennel became a suspect when a teacher mentioned during routine questioning she had seen him speaking to Victoria several times during the day of her disappearance. The police found DNA evidence in Tennel’s truck of Victoria’s assault. He first denied any involvement with Victoria Lender, but when notified he would be tried for the death penalty, he admitted his guilt and was sentenced to life in prison. When asked by the judge why he committed such a vile act, Tennel said, “I just wanted her to be quiet. She kept screaming at me, and I truly didn’t mean to kill her. But I did.”

Raquel looked at the picture of Victoria. Tall for seventeen, long, dark hair, her eyeglasses filled up her tiny face. She smiled shyly in the black and white photograph. Victoria wore a Peter Pan collar blouse and a black skirt. Angelic and hopeful, she was only two years older than one of Raquel’s own daughters.

Life in bloom.

Raquel pushed the newspaper away, disgusted at the thought of the ethereal child being harmed. Grimacing, she leafed through the remaining mail. Her coworker Len, carrying a stack of magazines, noticed Raquel sitting quietly, and stopped at her desk. He sat on the edge, and smiled at her. Raquel didn’t understand Len. He was ten years younger than her, and a social butterfly of a man. And Len loved to talk. He would talk about anything, the weather, politics, pets, you name it. Raquel had opinions, but she liked keeping them to herself. Len liked the world knowing he was an “OK Guy.” Raquel could care less what other people thought about her.

“Hey Raquel,” Len said, his blonde hair falling in front of his eyes. “Burning the midnight oil, huh?”

“Yes,” she replied, her eyes on a suggestion letter from a patron. They had written in about starting a Jane Austen society, and Raquel thought it sounded like a lovely idea. She picked up her pen and wrote “Show Franny” in red ink across the top.

“We’re a team tonight. What a pair – Len and Raquel. We’ll impress Ol’ Franny so much she’ll be begging us to close every night.”

“I don’t think so,” Raquel said.

“I wouldn’t mind,” Len said. “It’s nice to have company. Especially company closer to my own age.”

“Ok, Len,” Raquel said.

He gave up and shrugged. Len sauntered away to the magazine racks, whistling the tune of “Buffalo Gals.” Raquel rolled her eyes and glanced at the clock on her computer. 7 PM. Only two more hours of ignoring Len, and she could go home.

Raquel set the “ring bell for service” sign on the desk, and grabbed a cart of non-fiction returns. She walked down the ramp and glanced down at the books. Lots of biology books. The county science fair had just ended. She began shelving the books back into the 500 section.

Raquel heard a large thud in the computer room. Worried that someone had fallen, she abandoned her cart and walked quickly toward the sound. On arrival, she found computer room was empty. Several patrons had left the computers on, and the screens glowed with a dim haze. Raquel shut them down, and switched off the light. The thud sounded again, sudden and weighty. Raquel gasped and turned the light back on. All of the computers and chairs were in perfect order, and she didn’t see any books piled on the desktops or the carpeted floor. She walked nervously toward the spot where she had heard the sound. Touching the wall, Raquel remembered there was a small utility closet around the corner.

Something’s fallen there. I should go check. Safety first, right?

Raquel headed down the hall and made a sharp left. Opening the closet door, she walked in and scanned her surroundings. Everything was lined neatly on the shelves. Nothing out of place. Shrugging, Raquel turned to leave. The door abruptly swung shut in her face. She cried out as she was slammed against the closet shelves by an inexplicable gust. The cleaning supplies, light bulbs, and boxes of computer paper began raining down around her.

“Ouch,” she whimpered, as a bottle of Clorox slammed into the back of her head, and rolled on the floor. The lid popped open and bleach began to spill.

The foul-smelling chemical pooled along the floor. It began to bubble and form jagged waves that licked at her feet. The bleach sizzled and stretched. It took a misshapen, grisly humanoid form, larger than Raquel. Blank eye sockets blinked luridly and focused on Raquel’s face. A fluid, ghastly hole resembling a mouth opened.

“Help me,” the creature burbled.

Raquel closed her eyes. “This can’t be real. Dear God, don’t let this be real.”

“In the room,” it said. “You saw me in the paper today. Now look and see him.”

“Go away,” Raquel said. “I was hit on the head and the fumes made me sick. I haven’t been sleeping or eating well, and the bleach has done a number on my mind.”

“I’m warning you, Raquel. We’re here with you, so you don’t end up with us. We’re all here for you.”

She closed her eyes and waited for the terrifying vision of the murdered young girl to pass. After a few moments of silence, she opened them and saw nothing. Raquel reached a trembling hand out and opened the closet door. The hallway was gone. She was presented with yet another door, the knob’s golden paint peeled away. Perplexed, Raquel cocked her head and stepped back.

She frowned as a faint whirring noise came from inside the door. After fishing a large piece of broken glass from the wet closet floor, Raquel slowly ventured towards the unfamiliar entrance. She turned the knob and walked into a poorly lit, musty room.

It was filled with decrepit microfilm machines. One machine was on, the film spinning as articles were rapidly reeling on the viewer. Raquel moved towards the screen, and the film abruptly stopped. A lone article glowed:


Mark Tennel and Glen Belkin, both 18 years of age, were arrested March 18, 2004, for attempting a robbery of Faulker, CO gas station. They pulled a gun on the cashier and demanded cigarettes. When the cashier put the cigarettes in a bag, Tennel said he was “just kidding”, and told the female cashier to follow him into the employee office while Belkin locked the door. The cashier had hit a hidden button under the counter to alert the police, and they arrived quickly on the scene. The cashier remained unharmed. Tennel and Belkin tried to leave through the emergency exit, but were quickly surrounded. They surrendered, and were charged with robbery and attempted assault. Tennel was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and Belkin was sentenced to two years of probation.

Raquel glanced at the photo. Her mouth dropped open in shock. Standing next to the escaped killer Mark Tennel was her coworker, Bigmouth Len. Raquel stood up and backed away. The microfilm began to turbulently spin, and the screen went black. Raquel kept moving away until she found herself back in the hallway. She swallowed thickly, and jogged up the long, red ramp to her desk. Looking around for Len, she picked up her phone. Raquel grabbed the Oracle, and began to dial the toll free number.

A hand reached out and fixedly hit the end call button. The phone glowed red, and Raquel looked up into the dark, twinkling eyes of Mark Tennel. They reminded Raquel of an onyx. Polished, slick. Taking the phone gently from her hand, he cradled it back into the receiver and opened his jacket. He watched her eyes land on his massive barbed combat knife. Tennel smiled and winked with a sense of familiarity towards Raquel. She felt her throat fill with distaste.

“Where’s Len?” Raquel squeaked. She hated the way her voice sounded. Weak and frightened. A little mouse without a hole to scamper in; she never played the damsel in distress well.

“He’s locking the door,” Mark replied. He spoke in surprisingly calm, genteel manner. Tennel was at least 6 foot and a half, towering over the diminutive Raquel. He kept glancing at her like she was an amusing commercial on television; sixty seconds of the evening’s entertainment.

“Are there still people in here?” She whispered.

“No,” he said. “Glen swept the library. Just the three of us, now.”

“Screw you,” she said.

“In due time,” Mark said.

Len jogged in and noticed her glaring hatefully at Mark. “I’m sorry, Raquel. I owed him a favor.”

“A victim, you mean,” Raquel said.

“I said I was sorry. Look, it could be fun for you, too. Just be quiet and cooperate, and we’re not going to have any problems here.” He moved closer, and tried to rub her arms in comfort.

Raquel spat in his face.

“You’re always such a little bitch, Raquel. You think you’re so much better than everyone else, don’t you?”

“I know I’m better than you.”

“I hate to interrupt your little love spat,” Mark said, “but I’m getting antsy. Come on, sweetheart. Let’s go find your favorite reading nook.”

Thinking of the janitor’s closet, Raquel blinked and cleared her eyes of emotion. “Fine. I just want to get out of this mess and go home. You and Len can disappear and never bother me again.”

Mark grinned. “You’re quite a gal, Raquel. Len told me you’re quite the ice queen, but I believe you’re full of surprises.”

He severely pulled her by the arm and started down the ramp. Len began to follow, but Mark shook his head. “No,” he said. “You need to stay here. You’re the lookout.”

Len’s face fell. He was obviously the weaker one of the pair. He sat down at her desk. Raquel looked back at him as Mark dragged her away, and he winked at her, and began to whistle. She turned her face away, and her cheek muscles twitched uncontrollable.

“What?” Mark asked.

“Nothing,” she said. “My head.”

“Mine’s not all there, myself,” Mark said, grinning. “Computer room?”

“The closet’s better,” Raquel said. “Just around the corner. It’s darker in there. It’s quieter.”

“I like you, very much,” Mark said. “You have no clue how much.” He shoved her forward. Raquel’s hip banged into the doorknob. “Open it.”

She turned the knob, and Mark pushed her in. He wrinkled his nose. “This closet’s been wrecked. This won’t work.”

“Yes it will,” she whispered, and forced herself backwards into the broken shelves, catching him by surprise. The remaining items toppled forward. Mark tried to steady himself and dodge the falling supplies, but he slipped on the wet floor and lost his balance. Raquel pushed him into the pile of broken light bulbs. Mark yelped as shards of glass pierced his legs and arms. Raquel briskly picked up the large, hard bottle of Clorox off the floor, now half-full. She hit him across the face. The liquid forcefully spurted out, flying into his eyes. As he screamed in fury, Raquel dodged past him and ran.

She desperately looked around for a place to hide. Raquel remembered the phone in the conference room. Running further down the ramp, she entered a narrow room and locked the door behind her. Grabbing the phone off the table, she attempted to dial out. Greeted by silence, she tapped at every button, but the phone remained unusable. Tears streamed down Raquel’s cheeks. She sank down into a hard, wooden chair, put her head down on the table, and tried to breathe.

A high-sounded beeping jolted her from her moment of rest. Raquel glanced towards the phone on the table. It was flashing green. She scooped it up. “Hello,” she said. Her voice was ugly and unrecognizable.

“Hello, Raquel,” said Len. “I warned Mark about you. He should have let me come along and keep an eye on you. I get how you think.”

“You don’t know anything about the way I think,” Raquel hissed.

“Oh, but I do, Raquel. I know more about you than you know about yourself. I know why you’re so driven to keep everyone away. You’re so tired of pretending to be a good person all the time that you can’t even sleep at night. I see it in your face. If you were allowed to be honest, you’d tell the world what you really thought. I have a feeling there’s some dark things going on in that head of yours, Raquel. Do you want to know why Mark and I are such a great team?”

“No,” Raquel said.

He ignored her. “Because I know how he thinks. And I like it. He’s a vicious person. And so are you. Mark’s honest, however. You…not so much.”

“I’m going to kill you,’ Raquel said bleakly. “How do you like that for honesty?”

“There’s only one of you and there’s two of us. While you’ve hurt Mark a little, he’s not out of the race yet. Wounds can heal. So can hearts, I’ve heard. Our minds…well, it’s a bit late for us, wouldn’t you say? Why don’t you come on out of the conference room, and we’ll spend a little time together. Just you and me. You never talk to me, Raquel.”

“Then let’s talk, Len, Glen, whoever you are. You know why you and Mark make such a good team? Because whatever you two were into back in your Colorado hooligan days got a little out of hand, and you two weren’t just playing games anymore. You started to want to rob people. You were hurting people, and who knows, maybe even killing people. How many girls? Or was it just poor Victoria? I bet you couldn’t stand her. All that goodness and sweetness, someone so trusting and needy, and she didn’t want you. Or Mark, because she was smart, and no one planned for that. So what was your connection to Victoria? Mark found her, and you promised to find the next one?”

Len remained silent.

“We’ve talked now. Good enough for you?”

“COME OUT OF THE ROOM,” Len screamed, and the phone went dead.

Raquel slammed it down, and sat back in the chair. She saw smoke creeping in the space under the door. She frantically bit at her lip.

They’re going to burn this place down. But not without a fight.

She grabbed her seat, and unlocked the door, using the chair as a shield. Swinging it violently in the fog of smoke, she felt herself losing her grip as she was yanked backwards. Raquel gasped for air as she was thrown into a shelf.

“That didn’t take long,” Len said. “I told you I know how you think. You were afraid I was going to burn your precious library, didn’t you? The only place you don’t feel like you’re going mad anymore. It was just a little trick.”

Raquel said nothing. She glanced towards Mark, who was holding a wet rag over his eyes and savagely clenching his fists. Len laughed, shook his head.

“Still fancy him? I would give him some time to cool down if I were you. He’s a bit angry right now. In fact, if I hadn’t ask him nicely, you’d be missing a few limbs.” Len smiled triumphantly. “So let’s take this time talk, Raquel. How did you know about Colorado? More importantly, how did you know about Victoria?”

“She told me,” Raquel said.

“Victoria’s dead,” Len said, frowning. “Have you been checking up on my background?”

“I found out through the microfilm,” Raquel said.

“What?” Len laughed. “There’s no microfilm. We switched everything onto computers years ago.”

“I found a room,” Raquel said. “It had an article about you.”

“Take me there,” Len ordered. “Mark, you stay here.”

“Like hell,” Mark said. “You’re not in charge here, Glen. You still owe me, buddy. You owe me big time.”

“All right, all three of us,” Len said, impatiently. He wrapped his hands around Raquel’s wrists and dragged her close. “A-hunting we will go. Lead the way, Raquel.”

Raquel squirmed in his grasp, but saw he enjoyed her struggling. She gave up and led him to the closet. “It was in here. At least I thought it was.”

Len rolled his eyes. “Raquel, this is just the janitor’s closet. That trick won’t work twice.”

“It was here,” she insisted.

“Wait,” Len said, glancing closely at the small space. He stepped forward, dragging Raquel with him, and pushed on one of the walls with his shoulder. “This wall looks different…there’s something back here.”

“I think the room is outside the closet,” Raquel said.

“No…no, I hear something. It sounds like someone digging.” Len dropped his hold on her arms and roughly shoved the wall. It fell away like cardboard, and revealed a large, dark passage. “Raquel, what the hell is in here?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “This isn’t the room I was in.”

“Well, let’s find out,” Len said. “Mark, are you coming?”

“Just hurry it up,” Mark said. “I can’t stand another minute in this funhouse.”

“Go,” Len ordered Raquel, and she stepped into the tunnel. Looking all around, they made their way through the darkness into a tiny square room with a dirt floor and stone walls.

Raquel looked at the large, gray rocks surrounding them, squinting at the names carved in stone. “She said they were all here with me…” She pressed her hand up to the wall, tracing them with her finger. “Roxy. Delia. Sammy. Patti. Victoria.”

“This can’t be,” Len whispered. “They can’t be here.”

“They are,” Raquel said. “They’re all your victims’ names, aren’t they?”

“This is bullshit,” Mark said. “Glen, this chick is nuts. We scattered those ashes in the wind. We need to get out of here. Either take care of her now, or bring her with us for the ride if you want her that badly. But we’ve got to go.”

“They’ve come to protect me. But I don’t think they’ll let you go, now that you’re here…” Raquel said.

“Just shut up, Raquel.” Len said, nervously running his hands through his blonde hair.

Raquel shook her head as the ground started to shake. The dirt burst in all directions as five angry spirits rose furiously from the ground. Their giant, gnashing teeth made of mud, stone, and earth, reaching toward Len and Mark’s throats. Raquel, watched as Mark and Len sobbed and pleaded, and fell to their knees. Their bodies were drained of blood and bone as they pulled into the ground. Their former victims recreated into soil and dreck, joyously ripped apart their innards and forced them into their sinking, devouring mouths.

Detective Glass set a bottle in front of Raquel. She thanked him and sipped at the water. The police found her in the library, attempting to fix the phone in the conference room. Len had hidden the keys and override the electronic system, and it took the police over an hour to break down the library doors.

Kenneth called them when Raquel didn’t come home. Due to Mark Tennel’s prison break, they responded to his call, and found Raquel’s car in front of the locked library. Detective Glass insisted on breaking into the building. He had been on the force for seventeen years, and when he had an uneasy feeling, it was usually right. He hated those feelings.

Raquel Klimt gave him a bad feeling, too. She had been over the events that took place at the Wellswood Public Library, and while it all made sense to the rest of his team, Detective Glass felt on edge. She was a quiet, small woman; an unapproachable angel. Raquel was hiding something, and he didn’t know what.

“I just need to ask you, Mrs. Klimt. It’s the last time, then we’ll release you. Can you tell me what happened after Mark Tennel forced you into the utility closet?”

“He wanted to leave because it was messy in there. I pulled away from him, into the shelves. My fall forced the closet supplies off the shelves. I had been in there earlier, thinking I heard a noise. I stumbled in the dark the first time I was there, and broke some light bulbs. While Mark was distracted my fall, I pushed him into the broken glass and ran for the conference room. I locked myself in there, and didn’t come out until you found me.”

“The noise you heard earlier – was it Mark Tennel?”

“I don’t know,” Raquel said. “I guess it could have been. It was a loud thump.”

“It could have been a book falling,” Detective Glass said. “What do you think it was?”

“I don’t know what it was,” Raquel said.

“Where do you think Mark and Len went?”

“I don’t know,” Raquel said. “They only talked a little bit in front of me. I think they were planning to kill me, so they didn’t seem to care if I heard. They said something about Colorado. I didn’t know Len was from there, but I didn’t know him very well. We only worked together for a few months.”

“People say he was very popular at the library,” Glass muttered. “He used to work in a school’s braille library program. Tennel worked at the same school. I thought that was how they met, but maybe it goes back further than that.”

“I don’t know,” Raquel said again. “I’m very tired, Detective. I want to see my husband and my kids. They’re worried about me and I’m worried about them. Am I free to go?”

“Certainly. Thank you for your help, Mrs. Klimt. We’ll catch these bastards and put them away for good. Don’t you worry, we’ll keep an eye out on your house. I know what you had to go through was a frightening ordeal, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“Thank you,” Raquel said. She picked up the bottled water to take with her. Detective Glass noticed she had dirt under her fingernails. He stood, opening the door for her. Glass ushered her out in the waiting room, and watched her lovingly embrace her family.

“Good night,” said the burly Detective. “Sleep tight.”

“I will,” said Raquel.

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