The first bullet

A mysterious short story about, an unusual even in suburbia, the crime that shocked every one, leaves no one to answer any questions, about what happened or what was really going on.

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1. the first bullet

When the first bullet was fired, everyone thought a car had smashed into a tree, seconds later two more bullets were fired. Everyone’s blood froze as a blanket of ice rested upon their souls, the dinners that were warm just seconds ago looked like they’d been left out in the snow for days, and the daunting fear of the nature of the horror floated like a beach ball thrown across the sea.  Finally like the final stoke of a clock, that symbolises the end of an hour but the begging of a new minute, the last bullet was fired. Slowly like feeble messengers the neighbours and residents of Hollow ale valley filed out of their homes to witness the horror of their lives.

Michael Serman was one of the first people out of his bungalow, and like everyone else on the road he and his family were just settling for dinner.  Michael breathed in the sweet aroma of the crispy roast potatoes and the painfully beautiful spring lamb rolls embedded with spinach and feta, then finally the master piece honey glazed turkey served on a bed of bay leaf with some pear chutney.  His wife kissed his neck as she poured him some wine, he smiled to himself. Fifteen years and they were still going strong. The twins were in deep conversation about the latest scientific equipment they wanted, it amazed him that by the age of 14 Mackenzie and Kayla had already had their fair share of blowing things up.  Michael had sat back, listened and been about to ask how much this new thing they wanted was going to cost him when they heard the first bang. Alice froze with her knife half way through the turkey, her eyes locked on to his and before anyone could say anything two more bangs were herd. Fear danced around the room. “Where…” Alice started “Stay here” Michael ordered as he got up grabbed his jacket, put on his snow boots and headed towards the front door, and as his hand touched the frozen door knob, the last bang was heard.

Sophia Renalds walked towards number 62, the fresh layer of snow around the house had not been disturbed, through the windows she could see that all the lights were on, from a distance she could hear the sirens closing in, she rubbed her hands together then stuffed them into her coat pockets, and it was freezing. From behind her she could hear someone shouting something, probably asking her to stop, but she couldn’t, she had to go in so she ducked her head and sped up blanking out every sound and just concentration on the door. When she got inside she looked around, the house was clean, immaculate, lifeless. Shivers tickled up her spine and her body began to shake. Hold yourself together she thought to herself as she noticed the smell of death that lingered across the house, like thin broken strand of purity exposed within the lifeless cave. Sophia started up the stairs and found that her heart was beating too fast for her ribcage to contain, looking down at her she didn’t know if she imagined her jacket moving up and down like the pulse of an open wound. From the top of the landing she could see that Lexis room was empty, a lump of ice rose to the top of her oesophagus and she struggled to breath. Breath slow she thought as she reached the master bedroom, tears began to pour down her face. Hand clasped too tightly around the golden door handle she could feel her heart in her throat. Then out of strength that wasn’t her own she opened the door. The strength was gone. Her knees gave away; she felt the surge of today’s contents rise with fury, push past the brick of ice that was wedged between her throat and pour onto the carpet. As she fell to the ground she choked on her tears, she wailed, groaned and screamed, the hidden veins of her face rose and burst into flames, every breath was a gulp of thick lava and her existence seemed to melt away. Her body shook violently as she sewed her eyes shut, but try as she might she couldn’t get the image out of her brain. She closed her eyes and slow sobs of defeat drained her, she couldn’t stop the tears. After what seemed to be forever, she felt a pair of arms lift her above the cold ground, her eyes still shut and her head rolled back. She knew when they’d reached outside, she felt the snow land on her face and the cold air rinse out her lungs, but it was too late, her heart had shrivelled and her lungs had turned to dust, and with every landing flake of ice, she felt a new drop of hell land upon her heart.

As a medical examiner Stephan was used to shocking situations so like always he attacked a crime scene with absolute confidence. A few policemen were already taking accounts from the fear stricken neighbours. The place had already been taped off with that neon yellow bandage of shame that always gave him a head ache. He ducked under the tape and headed for the door. He counted 7 steps, took a deep breath then entered the house. “Were up stairs” shouted the lieutenant almost as soon as he’d stepped into the house. Taking 3 swift strides up the stairs he briskly moved towards the room that everyone seemed to be in. At first all he could see was red, and then as the image began to clear he wished that all he could see was red. A simple tear began to prick the back of his eye as his throat began to tingle. Stephan fought back and got professional, detaching himself from his emotions, he began to analyse the room. Two bodies; the first one was a male, aged 45-50, he was well built, dark brown hair, his body was slumped over the bed. Three gunshot wounds one in the shoulder two in the chest. He looked at the second body, a young girl probably about 15-16 years old sitting by a wall, the pistol still in her hand, what used to be the left side of her head and her brains were scattered across the walls, strangely he found himself thinking that the red splattered across the crisp white walls, almost looked beautiful. The thought quickly vanished as he tried to replay the scene in his head- the girl walks in with a gun, shoots her father three times, then turns the gun on herself- it was a possibility, but something kept telling him that there was more to it. Stephan walked to the room that he supposed would be the young girls, on the floor was a broken china lamp, his eyebrows crossed with confusion, then like a caged whisper had told him to, his eyes darted towards the door frame, and he saw the finger nail caught underneath. Heading back to the master room he looked at the girls fingernails. Match. She was trying to get away. Only then did he notice that the draw by the wall the body of the girl was found was open. That’s where she got the gun. “Detective, come take a look at this” He felt the shadow of the large man above him. “I don’t think, this is as simple as it looks, she didn’t come in here and just-“ “listen Steph, the perp and victim are both dead, there will be no trial, there is no family to provide closure for. This is simply an open and shut case, nothing more. I say we get these bodies buried along with the case. End of” There was nothing more Stephan could say, the boss had a point. He stood defeated as he watched the men in white struggle with the beastly frame of the father, he watched them lift and plop him into the black bag of death. As they zipped up, the hand of the father fell out and a thread of crystal blond hair lay woven between his fingers. Stephan could not watch, turning he found himself drowned in the shimmering eyes of the flower that lay dead beneath him. Caught in the electricity of her eyes, those eyes that screamed one word; freedom.

Emilia Renalds had watched the life drain from her daughter, what was left; a moving corpse or a blinking shell of what used to be. On the night that Sophia was brought back into her home, Emilia had panicked thinking her daughter wasn’t breathing. It took her a while to realise that the oxygen merely passed through the ducts oh her lungs and the carbon dioxide was produced in return, it was more robotic than human, as if at any given moment the switch would turn off and her daughter would stumble into the sweet slumber of death. Next Emilia noticed the change in colour within Sophia, her pink cheeks and her deep red lips had turned a deadly shade of frozen blue. The eyes that where once a coral green were swallowed by a thick fog of white, and deep within the rusting cloud of mystery was a dim spot of grey which Emilia learned was her pupils, hidden so far away as her eyes no longer wished to see, as if what she’d seen was enough. For life. Thin strands of her hair stood lifeless, limp like rotting hay. Her daughter no longer spoke, ate or slept; she just sat by the window. It was clear that it wasn’t the garden Sophia was looking into, she seemed to far away. Gone with the wind It killed Emilia to see her daughter like this, she walked into the room and saw the permanent shadow that surrounded Sophia and the everlasting streak of tears that never failed to accompany her frozen cheek. She almost looked like a china doll. Sophia’s father had insisted that it was just shock but Emilia was convinced it was more than that, this was her best friend, she knew and understood things about Lexie that nobody else. She wondered if Sophia had known what was going to happen and hadn’t done anything to prevent the terrible events. Regret? Emilia knew her daughter had a secret. She also knew that not a single word of it would be spoken of. Lexie was lucky that way, she had a great friend.

Emilia silently accepted that she was loosing more of her daughter, each and every day.

So on the morning of January 15th 1995, 3 weeks and 4 days after the incident. Emilia walked into her daughters room to find the shadow had disappeared around Sophia, her head was titled back as though she was looking at the ceiling. Hesitantly she walked to the chair that her baby had only moved from when pried by her mother, and even then she didn’t seem aware of what was going on. Now her darlings face was clay the cement had dried and Emilia knew she was gone. She dropped to her knees and let the grief pound through her body, no longer afraid to hold her daughter in fear she may brake, she cradled her daughter and begun to sing the lullaby of love. And that’s how her husband found her 7 hours later, with her daughter in her arms and the song in her heart. Sophia was gone, along with her, the truth, the lies and the secrets of Lexie Douglass and her father.

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