CONSCIENCE KILLER

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7 | EXTERIOR

Three curt knocks resonated through the spacious main room, breaking the silence of the Myers residence.

Hildegard’s heavy lids gradually forced themselves open in response to the continuous knocking against the front door. Her puffy blues shifted to the ticking clock by her nightstand, using her aging bones to sit upright as she double-checked the time; why in the world would someone knock their door, at quarter-past five in the morning?

Sleep had been a luxury the middle-aged woman had been depraved of, ever since Sherrie stormed out a few weeks prior. The lack of rest had left her heavily fatigued, even simple breathing became an arduous chore – however, a surge of energy –a rush of panic- coursed through her frail body as unknown, ominous sensation gripped her heart; Hildegard bolted towards the wooden portal and swung it open.

Her labored breathing hitched in her throat, as she recognized the young man standing at the threshold. “I’m sorry to bother you at this hour, Mrs. Myers.” Detective O’Malley apologized sincerely, an unreadable confession in his burdened eyes.

The knowingness inside Hildegard’s blue orbs made it much more difficult for Elliot to form an appropriate sentence. A familiar wave of melancholy washed over his being, as the distant memory of a similar scene resurfaced from the depths of his mind. It was a moment so identical to the moment, in which he stood at the threshold of Lana’s mother, before he delivered the news of her daughter’s death.

However, the unease he felt wasn’t quite the same.

There was something else to the look in Hildegard’s eyes, something entirely different from the look in Maria’s eyes when she lost her daughter; there was something fucking missing. He could have allowed himself to feel frustrated, if it wasn’t for the matter at hand.

“May I come in?”








The golden flames gradually but hungrily lapped at the wooden fuel, before completely devouring every piece of the chopped timber thrown inside the fireplace. Elliot attentively observed the slow process, as Hildegard returned with two mugs of what he could tell, were of herbal tea. “I added some honey instead of sugar, if you don’t mind.” She said while handing Elliot his mug. He simply nodded; debating what words would sound more appropriate. She took a seat across from him and sipped at her tea, patiently awaiting Elliot to speak and hopefully take his leave shortly after.


“Sherrie had gone missing eleven hours ago.” Elliot declared reluctantly.

What was she supposed to say? How was she supposed to react? Hildegard felt an excruciating sensation clutching her heart, as the possibilities of never seeing her daughter ever again gradually settled on her pathetic shoulders. No verbal or physical reaction was displayed and she loathed herself for it; she wanted –begged- her body to translate the inner-conflict for the world to understand her plight.

Was she supposed to pitifully weep in Sherrie’s tribute? It wouldn’t make sense nor would it be convincing to Elliot if she was to play-pretend in disbelief because quite frankly, she wasn’t at all surprised. Nonetheless, Elliot remained quiet, as if anticipating Hildegard to comment on the matter.

“What’s the reaction or answer you’re expecting, Detective?” a couple of rogue tears escaped her eyes, the emotions lying behind them unreadable and her tone of voice becoming slightly unfriendly. “I apologize if my intentions were vague, ma’am. But we need all the help we can get because Sherrie might not have the luxury of time.” Elliot said. “Then, can you be more specific about how you would like me to cooperate?” Hildegard retorted almost defensively and Elliot took a mental note of her behavior.

“I’m positive you’ve heard of the chain of events, which struck Buckley. The Willows Mental Hospital’s alleged incident marking the first event. The murder of Mr. Davidson had marked the second, the disappearance of a young woman, the death of another and your daughter’s abduction – which, if I may add- had occurred inside BPD.”


He wasn’t entirely certain what –among the flood of information he provided- managed to trigger a response from Hildegard, a physical one, at least. The woman’s muscles appeared to visibly strain with something Elliot was yet to understand, however, she was undoubtedly disturbed to know of the recent occurrences.

“Mrs. Myers?” Elliot snapped her attention back to himself. “I still can’t see what purpose I’d serve to know all of this, Detective; I don’t even think I’m supposed to know such information.” Hildegard managed, shakily sipping on her tea. “With all due respect, ma’am, but if you hadn’t noticed, all of these unfortunate events seem to be connected to the murder of your daughter’s husband – of which, you and your son have clearly dismissed as a tragic incident.”

“I have a feeling you’re not gonna pay the entire neighborhood the same pleasant visit; it’ll be a little time consuming anyways, don’t you think, Detective?”

“Considering how none of them are withholding the info I need; no, ma’am, I won’t be doin’ that.”


Her lips formed a straight, unpleasant line as her jaw hardened and tensed with the loss of words; Elliot was going against mighty tides and his chances were a little too unpromising. The young Detective was well aware of the consequences of his poor patience; however, provocative tactics appeared more effective when it came to the Myers’s, and Hildegard gave a solid confirmation when she directed a questionably aggressive scowl at him.


“You think I’ll keep it to myself if I knew anything? You think I’ll wait for your Buckley’s knights in blue to bring me back my fucking daughter if I had shit to offer?” She acidly rebuked, a newfound –one that Elliot never thought he would witness again- animosity had took the place of the weakness rotting the woman’s being. “Why don’t you tell me?” he shrugged.

Fuck you.”


Well, a confrontational approach might not be as efficient as he anticipated, but it did provoke a side of Hildegard he thought to have died along with her late husband. The unsettling dramatic switch gave Elliot the confirmation he needed to take action, however, Hildegard’s aggressive behavior had stunned him speechless and the strawberry-blonde woman’s scowl stated that she wasn’t done voicing her feelings.

“After everything, you dare come into our home and tell me that I’m withholding info regarding my daughter which –correct me if I’m fucking wrong- was abducted right under your incompetent, abysmal noses.” She seethed venomously, denying her tears of anguish from surfacing and exposing her disadvantage.

“I think you’d be doing the best you can to ensure your daughter’s safety.”

“Get the fuck out of my house.”



Elliot parted his lips to object, however, refrained; the last thing he wanted was to get on the late Sheriff’s wife bad side – even more. Thus, the detective abandoned his untouched mug of herbal tea, and started towards the exit portal. “You can still save this one, Hilda. Don’t throw that away.” He announced over his shoulder, half expecting the hesitant pause from Hildegard.

She paused, not because she had nothing to say. She had a bubbling rebuke in the back of her collapsing throat, yet she remained quiet. As if the mother needed another reminder to her crippling disadvantage; that little voice she kept locked away for a long time, appeared to snap out of bounds and come back to haunt her. That hushed, little voice –she continuously dismissed like a mere headache- Hildegard knew what that voice was all too well and God, how unbearable was that incurable itch it was producing underneath her skin.

It was her conscience.

“That’s my burden to bear.” And she did; with so much weighting her down, maybe this one wouldn’t as much. It was a risk she was willing to take. Elliot wanted to showcase his disbelief and frustration, to the fact that he was well aware of everything unfolding and what had unfolded, yet he was so helpless against the odds.

With an almost fleeting effort, Elliot turned the rusting handle and left the residence for good, leaving Hildegard wondering just how many people had abandoned this house –this designed hell- with no intentions of returning. But then again, it was something she should have started growing accustomed to.


Even the children of these walls couldn’t find the comfort in it, after all.

And Hildegard allowed the event to sink deep into her mind, realizing that Elliot might have taken her last chance of doing what was right along with his leave. It was then or never; it was far too late and the woman began to imagine how the next, long few years would be like as she tried to live with it.

No. You will carry no burden; you did the right thing. It’s for the greater good. She hoped.















- - - - - -














It wasn’t the gruff, insensitive floorboards underneath her battered body, which had inconsiderately smeared its grime all across her skin. It might have been the extreme uncomfortable position her limbs were in for an unknown amount of time – but no; that wasn’t the case and oh, how she wished for it to be the explanation.


It was the constant ruckus of heavy footfalls, making careless and ruthless contact with –considering how easily every little resonance traveled through- timber surfaces; the reverberations shook the wooden walls and flooring, snapping Sherrie out of an almost comatose state. The young woman’s dilated pupils searched her obscured surroundings to no avail, the darkness was relentless and panic was settling into the cracks of her mind.


Voices.


Boisterous, unfamiliar and masculine voices triggered her senses; that place sure as hell did not look like Elliot’s office, which she could vaguely recall falling asleep inside. In additional to all the foreign voices, Sherrie was certain then just how far she could be from Buckley’s Police Department.

As she was too entangled in her own thoughts and alarm, a perilously close set of heavy footfalls echoed outside the walls holding her, reminding her of the unknown she was up against. Abruptly, adrenaline shot through her veins as her hands instinctively began to feel a route to safety; a corner to cower in, a surface to crawl under, a fucking hell she could crawl into before whatever was out there would reach her. Sherrie’s back bumped into a rough surface and her fingers immediately felt the object, relying on her sense of touch in the pitch darkness.



THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.




Sherrie swallowed back a hopeless, powerless sob as she pressed her back against the same object she felt, for she knew that there was no hope; she was brought here by someone – it would be a matter of minutes before she would be found. To her utter surprise, no being advanced through the door despite how close the footfalls were. Instead, a door forcefully being thrown open to what appeared a room located on the other side of Sherrie’s own, inclined her body to rattle with fright as terrorized feminine shrieks resonated violently in her ears.


It was then did Sherrie recognize just how solemn the situation was and that she was far away from home. She clasped her hands around her parted lips, bruising her lower face from the immense force she applied to drown her whimpers of terror. With wide, horror-stricken eyes, she strained her hearing when the shrieking was silenced by a brusque voice.



After managing to control her shallow breathing, she was able to discern a hostile, muffled conversation between two individuals and for a moment, she dared to strain her senses to listen through the wood.


BANG, BANG, BANG!


Sherrie nearly jumped out of her skin as shrill gunshots resonated dangerously close to her, with the blinding flashes of light that bled through the barricaded window of the room acting as a substantiation of reality; only the, did the young widow feel frightened by the notion of death. Shortly after, the same booming footfalls went rushing out of the room opposite from hers, and most likely towards the source of the gunshots.

Multiple voices sounded from beyond the hurdled window, inclining Sherrie to stumble towards it. As she peered through the limited space between the timber planks, she could indistinctly make out a gathering of men – armed men. Sherrie reckoned that the center of the enclosed circle the group of men had formed was perhaps the victim of gunfire.

Abruptly, the small gathering of men was divided almost frantically at the sight of a brunette, tall male. What seemed like the ‘Alpha Male’ leisurely made his way towards what became an organized horizontal row of soldiers.

Eerie silence claimed the surrounding atmosphere; as if the dark-haired man had everything he laid sight upon under his command and mercy. None of the dozen men dared to blink in his presence, each of them standing as stiff as the trees which surrounded the area. While the man with power allowed himself to stand with his thin and long legs spread comfortably, as he clenched his hands behind his straight back; it was the quiet before the storm.

Move.” The men before him obeyed, creating a path towards what they were hoping to hide away from him; it was a woman’s corpse. The brunette kneeled before the lifeless body, reaching to feel a pulse from the dead woman’s neck before rising back to his full height, disappointed. He eyed each man there was like a predator assessing its prey, and Sherrie had a notion of what was to come. It was when her green eyes darted back to the undignified corpse lying on the forest bed, and an overpowering urge to vomit wrenched her insides; because Sherrie could distinguish the untamed, fiery locks of ginger hair among everyone she knew.


It was Samantha.


Sherrie felt acidic bile rising to her throat and she found herself hurled over to the side, where she emptied her insides onto the wooden floors. Samantha’s body acted like some kind of a shock-therapy alternative, because the horrid sight allowed her to clearly recollect the circumstances which led her to wherever she was. The intention to start a new chapter, starting with an afternoon jog, and then stumbling upon her colleagues residence being labeled as a crime scene; that was the explanation as to how she ended up in Elliot’s office.

Before none other than Mitchell Jefferson had finally revealed himself in all his glory of flesh, bone and blood.

The man she presumed to reside at the top of the power pyramid was none other than Mitchell; the man who continued to make her life a living, scorching hell. The inescapable reality made her stomach churn with dread and despair, but she had nothing else inside of her to hurl out, and weeping hopelessly was her only resort. Sherrie no longer cared about drawing attention to her, nor did she care about how crucial it was to identify her surroundings and location.

Despair hadn’t left much room for any hope of anything remotely positive.


Clutching her churning stomach, she rested her back against the boarded window. The outside world was dominated by stillness; in an alternate universe, she could have mistaken it for peace. However, it was anything but.

“Whose gun was it?” She knew that ice cold voice all too well and she felt the urge to heave again. She palmed her mouth as to prevent her violent hiccups from surfacing; it truly was Mitchell. He finally had her in his grasp, in addition to him being the one at the top of whatever this group could be, terrified her beyond words.

“It was mine, Mitch.” As if she needed one more reminder of his name. Sherrie urged herself to peer through the planks again; she wanted to see the face of her friend’s killer. The guilty man stood with a bloating ego, his stance held no remorse for his horrid act. And if there was anything Mitchell hated more than someone disobeying him, it was an ego bigger than his.


“Something is telling me: that wasn’t an accident. Was it, boys?” Mitchell rested his hands on his hips, accusing each man standing with his dark eyes. Either no one had the guts to object or it was something done with intention. All the while, the man responsible eyed Mitchell challengingly. “I reckon she was supposed to be dead, yet she wasn’t.” the man spoke with self-belief, as if he was certain of the righteousness of his act, as if he committed no faults.

“I’m not the guy you should be giving shit to, Mitch; you’ve made a mistake,” he inched his face closer to Mitchell’s. “Again.”

A wide grin broke out across Mitchell’s face, his eyes squinting tightly as he did so. He patted the man’s back rather roughly, declaring the absence of bad blood while Mitchell leaving him no choice but to walk alongside him, approaching the other group members.

“Shawn here has a good point!” the brunette spoke with so much power, it sent chills down Sherrie’s spine; he wanted everyone to listen, loud and clear. “I’ve made all kinds of mistakes, I’ll give you that! And maybe I haven’t been around for a long enough while to make something clear for all you gentlemen, so who the fuck am I to blame you?” He said, retrieving and cocking his own 9mm pistol which was tucked in the back of his jeans.

“I’ll fuck up as many times as I need. You don’t. I tolerate no living fuck’s shit.”



BANG!



Shawn dropped dead to the forest bed, never to defy Mitchell again.

“A’right, nothing to see here, people. Nothing to see. Back to your fucking business.” He ordered, feeling no need to address matters any further; enough was said. For the three hours which followed, Sherrie observed the group of men hollow out the ground, a few feet away from the property entrapping her. Before they installed what appeared to be a medium-sized power generator into the six-foot pit, for what she figured was the purpose of muting its bellowing roars.


For the first time since she regained her consciousness, Sherrie allowed herself to scan the area surrounding her. Tall, glorious pine trees secluded the property from any means of civilization. A pang of despair left Sherrie’s heart drumming against her ribcage, as she realized how far away from home she really was. She began to wonder if she was to ever to make it out alive. She peeled her orbs away from the men outside, just as they started to load their gear into the mucky GMC pickup truck, sliding her back down the wooden wall powerlessly.

Despite what Elliot had done, she knew in the core of her soul that the man might spend his remaining years trying to find her. However, she wasn’t able to keep that little voice in her head at bay, as it constantly reminded her that it might be her final destination.





A sheer feeling of horror gripped the young woman as she heard what sounded like a door knob twisting to open the portal.

The wooden door hung open, an unfamiliar man stood at the threshold. A dim light with a yellow-undertone flooded through the open portal, destroying Sherrie’s chances of recognizing the man which appeared to hold something in his hand. A soft click! resonated in the room, before it was poorly illuminated, and she had the notion that the stingy light-bulb was only there to keep her from going entirely blind, not for illuminations purposes.

Show no fear. Her pride bellowed, and although she had no idea how to oblige, she tried, nonetheless.


The man stepped inside unhurried, closing the door behind him and allowing Sherrie to take in his physical character. A fair, clean shaven complexion was the first thing she noticed. His light-brown hair was grown out in a shaggy manner, with a pair of forest green irises, topped with thin, light lashes and eyebrows. His features though symmetrical and striking, dark bags ringed his eyes giving them a deep-set effect; he must have had a few streaks of bad nights for a while.

She hadn’t realized how close he had gotten to her, claiming a seat on a timber chair that had seen better days.

“Eat.” He ordered groggily, which was a contrast to his physical characteristics. He pointed towards the plate of boiled, bare beans and two pieces of toast with his blank eyes; he really couldn’t bother, could he?

“You’re not supposed to have any food for a few days. Finish up before they notice the missing dishes.” He spoke so lethargically of something that deeply unsettled Sherrie, to the point where her anxious insides turned at the sight of the most luxurious meal. Her doe-like eyes bounced between the aluminum plate and the man before her in confliction, fearing that it might be a cruel scam of Mitchell’s design.

Whoever that man was, Sherrie’s bones knew that his hands were tainted somehow; why in the living hell would he display any form of mercy to her?



No matter the odds and his motives, Sherrie reached for the meal; using the old toast to scoop a good portion of the jelly-like, clearly not freshly brewed serving of beans into her mouth. The bread was beginning to develop mold and the canned beans were most likely expired, but she needed to generate energy if she wanted to pull any stunts.

In a matter of five minutes, the plate was wiped clean of any trace of the sugar-packed ooze of the canned beans and Sherrie shamelessly licked the remnants off her fingers, swallowing the last bite.

The man sat with legs lazily spread apart, with his right hand holding his oval-shaped jaw up as he uninterestedly observed the young woman scurrying back to her previous spot; away from him. Sherrie had no idea how many people resided with her aside from the dull-eyed man and Mitchell, but she figured that the one before her was less likely to inflect any harm out of them.

“Is this Mitchell’s—“

“—no.”

“Why am I here?”


In the span of seconds, the man had his callused hand around her small neck, an unspoken death threat in his suddenly wild eyes. “It’s in my interest to keep you alive, but I’m not your fucking friend.” He spat, shoving the quivering girl into the corner as he abandoned his seat before picking up the empty plate.

Sherrie had always been quick to judge. And that case wasn’t a total shocker to her. After all, one could never assume the best out of anyone related to Mitchell in any way, and she was to blame for the black and blue neck.





But just how valuable was her life to any of these people? What interest would he get out of her?












- - - - -














Mitchell hated following the principles he designed for himself. However, his extreme life called for extreme measures and he never chose it, rather it, him.



No, you’re not gonna blame himthem. He clenched his jaw painfully, hurling the crunching, thick plastic bag into the six-foot hole he had been digging for over two hours. As much as he hated to admit out loud, he wasn’t the most light-handed, swift guy he knew. Nonetheless, it was something he had to do, regardless of the time it took. The 150-pound body bag came in harsh contact with the bottom of the gap, sending specks of dirt to engulf the air, inclining Mitchell to bury his nose in the sleeve of his shirt.

After shoveling the heap of dirt back into the earth he disturbed, he rewarded himself with a Chesterfield smoke. Mitchell held the burning nicotine stick between his thumb and index finger, contemplating when would be the time to fulfill his promise.


That’s ruining your lungs.” He felt his heart flutter; she was talking to him.

She would always tease Arnold with the same words, but she couldn’t possibly think of him the same way, could she? The seat across from him screeched softly against the floor, inclining him to look up from the dying cigarette and meet the brightness her emeralds exuded. She offered a small smile and though he couldn’t find any happiness in him to display, he smiled back.


“Bad isn’t exactly something that happens to me, Summer.” His smile soon twitched into a bitter smirk. “You sure about that?” Sherrie scrunched her freckled nose, triggering a chuckle from the brunette across from her. While Mitchell was entranced by the grey smoke produced by the burning ember, Sherrie took the chance to inspect his appearance more thoroughly without stirring his anxiety responses.

How could she be so oblivious? He managed to perfect his steel exterior throughout his twenty-one-years of the dysfunction of this family, yet it all crumbled at the feet of an eighteen-year-old. It was the excuse he chose to buy; that he had no choice but to let her in, as if she had anything – as if she wanted anything to do with someone like him.

It tore him apart – Sherrie’s purity, authenticity, the ability to forget and forgive. His envy was one of the many things he could never admit, not even to himself, but God knows he died a thousand times to repent for every sin.


Or did he?


Sherrie noticed his decrepit knuckle as he twirled the cigarette between his fingers. God, Mitch, what happened to you? She could only wonder, as she refrained from questioning him. However, her eyes couldn’t help but linger on the blue spots and open, dried skin littering his heart shaped face.

A puff of thick smoke left his split lip before he smothered the finished cigarette. “You definitely don’t see something you’d like. Why’s that stare?” he took Sherrie off guard; he was aware.


“I’m just glad you’re back.”

He abandoned his seat across from the dream he’d never live and strolled out of the residence; away from her. He could no longer bear to gaze through her eyes one more second. He left because he was terrified that the rhythms of his heart would become audible to her.









He lost his fucking mind.
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