The Vanisher: Stray

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The Vanisher returns in this sequel to help the MCU on a strange case.
With new dangers lurking everywhere, no one is safe.
With Campbell gone, a new threat has come to Brimswood, and no one knows how to stop it.
A mystery causes people to break apart, for an end to trust, and death to arise throughout the city.
The Vanisher, almost a year later, has returned to solve the case, and the one respinsible comes as a shock to all.

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17. James

I walk up the stairwell to my apartment.  Jones gave me the rest of the day off because of what I have to do:

Tell Tim.

I only met James a few times.  He played football and basketball for Brimswood High.  He was really good, actually.  At the games, Tim would scream for his brother and whenever James got a point or did something well, they'd give each other air high fives from wherever they were.  

They were really close, only a year apart in age.  James would sometimes come over and hang out with Tim and me.  I really liked him, he was a good kid.  Not the best student, but he was dedicated to what he did.

I sit on the couch cross-legged and stare out the window.

How do I tell Tim that his brother is dead?  How can I?

I feel so completely useless.  

The door to the apartment opens and Tim enters.  He sets down his keys and his backpack.

"Ragan," he says, surprised, "you're home early." He smiles.  I give him a half smile.

"Hey, Tim." He walks over to the fridge and pulls out a soda.  

"I passed that test today.  Totally thought I was gonna fail.  Screw science, cramming does work." He jokes.  I walk over to him.  "Also, having breakfast with you also put me in a good mood.  Maybe you're my good luck charm."  He winks at me and takes another sip of his soda.  He sets down his can and looks at me.  "So, did Jones finally decide you needed a break?  Because you totally deserve it."

"Well, uh, yeah sort of..."

"Great.  I don't have any classes tomorrow, do you maybe want to go catch a movie or something?"

"I don't know.." I say, looking down.  Tim stops smiling and looks at me.

"Is something wrong, Ragan?" He asks, concerned.  I glance up and meet his eyes for a second before I have to look away.  If I look at him, I don't think I'll be able to tell him.

"Tim," I start, "I have to tell you something, and you're not going to like it."

"What?  Do you have to work late again or something?  I hate it but I can live with it."

"No, it's not that.  It's about last night's murder." I stop and look at him.  His head is tilted sideways and he looks puzzled. 

"What about it?" He asks, furrowing his brow.  I walk up to him and grab his hands. 

"Tim, the kid,it" I take a deep breath, "it was your brother.  It was James." I look at his face.  Tim stares back in disbelief.

"What?" He struggles to get out.  "What do you mean?"

"James-"

"James was at home last night he...he doesn't have late practice on Thursdays, he wasn't out."

"Tim, James-"

"No." He lets go of my hands and walks away from me.  "There's no way."

"Tim-"

"You're lying-"

"Tim, James was murdered last night on his way home from the Senior Night meeting.  It was bumped from today to last night due to Parent-Teacher conferences-"

"I'm not listening, he's alive, you're lying, Ragan, and this isn't funny!" Tim raises his voice.  He walks into the living room and I follow him.

"Tim-"

"I'm calling him right now-"

"Tim-"

"You're wrong, Ragan!"

"Tim, your brother is dead!" I scream at him.  He stops and looks at me, tears in his eyes.

"He's not dead!  He's gonna answer his phone any second now and you're going to be sorry-" he puts his phone up to his ear.  I walk over to him and touch his arm. 

"C'mon, pick up, pick up!" Tim mumbles over and over.  I hear the answering machine pick up and grab Tim's hand, ending the call and setting his phone on the table.  Tim looks forward, unseeing.  

"He didn't pick up." He breathes.  "He didn't pick up.  He didn't-" He looks over at me.  "He always picks up."

Tears run down his face and he walks over to the sink and leans over it.  I follow him and grab his shoulder.  He looks down so I can't see him crying and I lift his head up.  He looks away from me, his lips trembling.  He buries his face into my neck and heaves.  I wrap my arms around him tighter and rub his back.  Tim's legs give out and we fall to the floor together.

I sit there, holding him, my own tears rolling down my face and onto the back of his shirt.

And stayed that way until morning.

 

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