It took us almost five weeks to find Gail. Some hikers stumbled on an abandoned cabin deep in the woods, with an airtight box inside. The coroner confirmed it was her, and that she died the same night as Toni did.
I arranged her funeral, as I did for Addison, and my sister, and my nephew. I made sure she was laid to rest in peace, in the same cemetery as the rest of my family.
My mother and father left the city the day after my father killed Toni, and once I knew, deep down that Gail was already dead. I was so angry with him. So broken inside that yet another person I cared about, was dead. After we got into an argument and I hit my father in a drunken haze, they left for Europe, like they planned to for a while.
Facial recognition finally brought back a result, and we found out that Toni, was, in fact, Karl Tobias Midrow, an ex-software developer from New York, who after making a bunch of money on a security system he created, was fired due to mental instability. He was locked away in an institution for four years before he forged his own release papers and erased all trace of himself online.
He moved to Portland six years ago, and after his then-wife, Lucy, left him, he snapped and began killing. His mental state deteriorated rapidly. A year later, he killed his first victims. The F.B.I got back to us, and in an interview with Gail’s friend, he told me that the obsession started when Karl went back to the scene of the crime, in a more lucid state and saw me there.
From that moment, his obsession and fixation was all aimed at me. Then when Lilly got away, in Karl’s mind, it was like a piece of code that needed to be fixed. Deleted for the system to run.
I went to his state-funded funeral. Eli and I were the only ones there. I needed to see him buried in the ground. To put it all behind me and move on.
I sold my house, for what little it was worth, and decided that Lilly and I need to make a new start, somewhere as far away from Portland as we could get.
Tom didn’t take the news well, but he understood. I worked out my two weeks notice with Eli, thankfully with nothing big coming in, and when it was time to leave, I packed a U-Haul, loaded Lilly inside, and drove the three and a half thousand miles to Bay Harbour in Maine. It took us almost three weeks, stopping at every tourist site we could think of along the way.
Tom put in a call and got me a job with the Sheriff’s department in Bay Harbour, and I found Lilly and I a small home, not far from the ocean.
Months passed, and life started to feel normal again. I had a new partner, a kid named John Wilcocks. Fresh out of the academy and eager to learn from a big city detective.
Lilly loved her new school, making friends and enjoying the peace this small town offered.
I loved being home every night to play with Lilly. To tuck her into bed, and drop her off at school in the mornings. We spent most weekends together, enjoying the seaside, or climbing the mountains.
My days consisted of sitting at the station, watching sport on TV while drinking coffee, or running down a lead as to who threw toilet paper on grumpy Mr. Kowalski’s house.
I still had days where I thought about Addison and Gail. Nights I woke up in a cold sweat thinking Toni was back, but as the months passed even they grew fewer.
I went on a few dates, but all of them ended the same way. Me pushing her away because of fear. Fear that anyone close to me will end up dead.
It was on a summer’s day, sitting on a bench with Lilly, watching the waves lapping at the beach and eating ice cream when my phone rang.
I pulled it out of my pocket and saw John’s number displayed.
I answered it, “John, it's my day off-”
“Paul, you need to get to the station as soon as you can. Something just happened and you are the only one who has dealt with this sort of thing.”
I sighed and gave Lilly an apologetic smile.
“It's ok, Paul. We can go. I wanted to go play at Karla’s house anyway.”
“You sure, baby girl? I promised we would spend the day together today.”
She smiled up at me, “Its fine. Karla and I have to practice for the talent show anyway.”
I nodded, “Alright, I will drop you off at her house. Stay there and I will come past and pick you up when I’m done.”
“Can you pick me up at eight?”
“Eight is bedtime,” I said, raising an eyebrow at her.
“Please, Paul. Please, please, please, please-”
“Ok! Fine, eight,” I said with a laugh, “But not a second later, got it?”
She nodded with a wide smile and stood.
After I dropped her off at her friend's house, I made my way to the station.
I went in and John and three other officers stood in a group waiting.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
They turned to me and John spoke, “A call came in about two hours ago about a body that washed up on the beach. We haven’t been able to make an ID yet, but I thought you might want to see this.”
He handed me the photos, and I flipped through them until one caught my eye.
I stopped on it and frowned, as my heart raced, “Where is the body?” I asked looking up at John.
“In the morgue, at the hospital.”
I tossed the photos on the desk and ran out.
I drove to the hospital and hurried to the morgue in the basement.
Dr. Elizabeth McGregor greeted me as I went in, “I knew you wouldn’t stay away for long.”
“Beth, where is the body that washed up this morning?” I asked in a rush without bothering to be polite.
“It’s in here,” she said with a frown. She led me to one of the metal drawers and swung it open. She pulled the slab out of the draw and flicked the sheet off.
I shut my eyes and looked away as I shook my head.
“Didn’t peg you as the squeamish type, Mason,” she said and covered the body again.
“I’m not,” I said, swallowing.
“Then what has you so green?”
I turned back to her, a tear falling from my eye, “That's my father.”
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