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Crime Fiction Thriller

11:59  

I shoot straight out of bed to an ear piercing alarm right outside my door.  The walls of this room are a dull white.  Every day that passes it seems as though those walls are closing in on me.  The bed feels as though I am sleeping on just springs.  The only other items in this room are a sink and a toilet.  The door, my only release from this hole, is so thick a bullet would not even pierce it.  There is a small window in here, which is more just a tease than anything else, showing me green grass for miles.  I have had to look at that and this depressing room for nine years, only leaving when I have a visitor.  Today though is different, today is the day I die.  This place is hell, this place is death row.  Every single day of my miserable nine years here, which is exactly 3,287 days, I have looked back at what got me here and thought about my life before I was sent here.  Today is no different. 

***

I pull into the garage parking lot after a hectic day at the office; I had to arrest two parents for dealing and cooking meth in the same house they were raising their daughter in.  Then on top of that I had to put their daughter into the god awful foster system.  After this day from hell I just know I am in need of holding my own kid and seeing my wife.  I walk up the stairs to our 13th floor apartment.  When I get to the door, I don’t hear anything, which is strange since normally Emma, my 8-year-old, has one of her television shows like that annoying Hanna Montana blaring so everybody in the building can hear.  I jiggle the key in the door of the apartment, which is in serious need of an update, and push my way in the door.  Right about now is when I normally start smelling the lingering scents of fresh-baked herb chicken or barbeque pulled pork that Tara, my wife, has made, but today nothing.  Once inside, Tara and Emma are nowhere to be found, but the house looks like a tornado destroyed everything.  

I reach for my gun which is still in its holster on my side, from my day at work.  “Tara, Emma, you guys here?  Are you guys okay?”  I could feel my voice starting to shake and my heart starting to race.  Walking through the living room trying to avoid the glass and debris on the floor, I push through to the kitchen. The water has been left running in the sink, which adds to the aching feeling something is wrong.  I start making my way through the swinging kitchen doors to our bedroom.  I see my wife and daughter laying face down on the bed covered in blood, dead.  The comforter which was once white is now soaked in blood; the walls and ceiling have blood splattered across them.  

I let out a sharp scream, which Edna our nosy neighbor across the hall hears.  I turn around to hear her scream and scramble for the phone to dial 9-1-1.  Her voice is shaking as she pleads into the phone, “Send police now, there are two people dead.  It is a mother and daughter.  The husband is here now, he is a detective, but I am not sure what he is going to do, please hurry!”

***

I hear a knock on my door, which jars me back to reality for a moment, followed by Nick, the guard who works weekdays in this hell hole, yell, “Coming in!”  That is all the warning you get here; there is no ‘are you decent,’ nope just ‘here I come!’

Nick is one of the friendliest guards here; we have had a few conversations since I got here 9 years ago.  When he speaks he raises his voice at the end of every sentence as though he is trying to make a point.  “Brad, it’s time to take you to the final holding cell.  Your attorney is already waiting there for us.”  My attorney, if you can even call him that, could not care less whether I live or die.  “Once we get to the cell I will be the one to take your order for your last meal.  Have you thought about what you may want?”  

“Nah, not really.  I hear most people say steak, so maybe that.”  All I can think about is my wife and daughter, so eating is not a priority.  We turn down a hallway with brick walls on both sides painted this dreadful blue color that makes you cringe.  As we walk all the way down to the end in silence, which seemed to take a good five minutes, Nick stops in front of a cell tucked away in a corner, opens it up, and motions me in, where I see my attorney sitting.

“Now Brad, I will be back in an hour to write down what you would like to eat, so start thinking about it.”  Nick walks off, which seems to make me sad.  He is the only person I have had constant contact with in the past 9 years, so I guess I have become attached to him.  As I look around this cell, I see my attorney, who has not stepped a foot in this place since I got sent here, staring at me blankly.  The last time I saw him he was still wide eyed, fresh out of law school and shook every time he would speak to me.  Now he is the number one defense attorney in the New York City area, I guess I was his practice case.  He is now wearing an uptight, I have more money than you, suit and bowtie, not a tie a bowtie.  He smells as though he has just eaten a pizza with the works.  My sense of smell has improved a lot since I have been in here.  I guess not being able to eat that kind of stuff makes you realize it when you smell it.  

 “So Brad I am supposed to go over with you what is about to come, since you were on the force for 10 years, you probably already know, but as your lawyer I am obligated to go over everything with you.”  Even though it had been 9 years since I last saw him, his voice was still shaky when he spoke, like he was talking to Hannibal Lector or something.  I guess this is because I am the only case he has ever lost.  

“Don’t worry about going over all the details with me Jackson, I already know that at 12:01 I will be dead.  There is not really anything else that I need to know.   You can just go now and leave me alone so I can enjoy my last day.”  Jackson doesn’t say anything; he just picks up his leather briefcase, puts on his poindexter glasses, and leaves my cell.  The quietness is rather soothing.

I hear keys jangling and footsteps, which can only be Nick.  He stands in front my new cell, “So Brad, have you decided what you want for dinner?”  

“Honestly Nick I was thinking about some barbeque pulled pork, the thing I want more is to have someone to actually sit here and eat with me.  Can you do that?”

I see a look of relief fly across Nick’s face, “Of course I can.  Normally I don’t get close to anyone on death row, but your story just touches me.  I am actually going to miss getting to talk to you every day.”

Nick is my last real connection to this world.  I don’t have any family left, so I want to ask him if he will come tonight and sit in on the family side so I can see him before I die, but I decide not to ruin the moment and just keep it to myself.  There is a clock on the wall across from the cell so that I know what time it is and exactly how much time I have left which is six more hours.

***

Everything around me is a blur, police and detectives are all over my apartment.  I can hear them saying things, but all I am hearing is muffled noises.  I feel a hand on my shoulder, look up to see my captain looking at me with that face that I have used many times in my career when I had to inform a family that their loved one was not coming home.  The drooping eyes, the upturned face, and the nod of the head, these are actually taught when you enter the police academy.  This look instantly makes my stomach feel like it’s going through a spin cycle.  He turns and starts walking out of the apartment and gestures me to follow.  As I am walking, I can’t even feel the stairs beneath my feet.  

“Brad I am so sorry for your loss, but as you know I have to take you down to the station for some preliminary questions.”  The captains’ voice is normally stern, but today it’s more soothing and comforting.  I nod my head, because at this moment if I try to speak, I will get sick.  

Sitting in the back of the squad car, the captain is talking to me.  I can’t make out a word he is saying, because I am too busy trying to remember the last thing I said to my family, but I just can’t.  Walking into the squad room, which I had done every day for 10 years, was completely different this time.  This time I was going to be the one behind the two-way window, getting asked the alibi questions.  Of course I know that my alibi is solid because I was here all night, so the question period is extremely short.  

I begin walking out of the interrogation room with a plan already in mind. I start to search for Bethany, my partner of the last eight years.  On the way I run into Bethany’s boyfriend Logan, which she has not told the department about because they would force one of them to transfer.  “Hey Logan, do you know where Bethany is?”

“Yeah, I was just with her in the break room.  Man, I am so sorry to hear about your family.  I want you to know I am in charge of this case and am going to do everything in my power to bring these bastards to justice.”

“Thanks.”  Normally I am friendlier, but I am in search of Bethany, she is my answer to everything right now.  I walk off past the elevators, which are making that body cringe dinging noise for every floor, then into the break room, where I catch Bethany’s eye.  She motions me out then joins me.  She gives me one of those I don’t know what to say hugs.

She is not allowed to work on this case since she is Emma’s godmother, but since Logan is working on it, she can find things out.  “Bethany, I need you to use your connection with Logan and keep me informed on any leads you may find in the investigation.”     

“Brad, you know I will do anything for you, but what you are asking me may cost me my job.  I can’t even imagine what you are going through right now, but you need to think about what you are asking me to do.”

 “I couldn’t care less, Bethany.  I know this is highly unethical, but this is my family we are talking about.  I need to know what is going on.  Is there at least something you can tell me, something small, or just anything?”

She grabs my arm and pulls me away from everybody past the desks and ringing phones to a small quiet place in the corner, “Now what I’m going to tell you is probably going to send you more over the edge, but I just talked to Logan and he said he got the medical examiners report back, and there are signs of sexual assault on both Tara and Emma.  The Medical Examiner says there were three assailants.  They were able to find fingerprints in your house and we are running those as we speak.  Hopefully this is not these idiots first offense and their fingerprints will actually be in the system.  I want to help you more, but you know I can’t tell you the names of those guys if they get a hit on the prints.”  She starts looking around, and then reaches out to hand me a manila folder that has all of the reports.

I look down and whisper, “thank you,” put the folder in my jacket and walk out of the station house, all the while knowing I will find out who those men were and I am going to hunt them down myself.  Prison is not punishment enough for them.  Prison is not torture, so therefore the punishment is not enough.  I will take care of that.    

***

The clock now says 11:30, can that be right?  I hear more footsteps coming down the long hallway getting louder and louder, this time I know it is the prison commissioner coming to get me for my execution.  

“Come on Brad we have to get you into the room and get everything set up.  Once we are in there we will also go over how everything will work and where everybody will be sitting in the witness room.” 

I have not said anything the entire walk there; I guess there really is nothing to say.  I am about to face the inevitable.  As the commissioner is going over all the boring details of how the execution will work, which I really don’t care about, I am thinking about Tara and Emma.  I am just ready to see them again.

“There is the slight possibility that there could be a call seconds before the execution takes place giving us a stay of execution from the governor which you probably already know is when he decides to review your case further on appeal.”  Shivers instantly start crawling down my back.  In my mind a stay of execution will be the worst thing ever.  It would be something else that would get in the way of me seeing my family again.  

Even though the curtain is over the window showing through to the witness room I can still hear muffled voices of the people arriving.  The time has come for me to lie down on the table and let them strap me in.  I hear a clock ticking so I begin looking around for it, 11:57, here we go.

The curtain is drawn back and I look around the witness room, seeing my attorney in his cheap looking Armani suit and the district attorney.  Then I see the families of the three men I killed.  Do they even know the gruesome details of my crime?  Do they know I didn’t just kill them?  I tortured them.  In the far right corner I see Nick standing there.  This calms me.  At least when I die, I get to be around someone who actually gave a damn about me.  The executioner asks me, “Are you ready?  We will be administering the injection in one minute.”  For some reason the thought of leaving Nick here in this hell hole makes me uneasy, makes me want to stay here for him.  Then I see my family again and a sense of ease engulfs me.  As the clock strikes 11:59, I am prepared for what is to come.

March 11, 2022 17:27

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3 comments

Mark Linsky
23:04 Mar 24, 2022

Krystal: Good use time-skipping between the murders and the execution. And great touches about the relationship between Brad and Nick, and Brad's observations about his attorney. I do think you need a twist, I kept thinking it unlikely a judge/jury would apply 'special circumstances' here...but what if you added a crime lab scene (no finger prints) and total reliance on one tech who makes a terrible DNA mistake and leads you to kill the wrong folks? Not far fetched, we had something like that happen here in San Diego. Keep writing! M.

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Luis Cruz
15:10 Mar 24, 2022

Good story, very intense, dark. Well done! I think the intensity could be dialed up with some editing. Shorter, faster sentences, will speed up the read, and put the "action" at the front of the readers attention. Here's a brief example from the opening paragraph of your last section: (Original: "The clock now says 11:30, can that be right?  I hear more footsteps coming down the long hallway getting louder and louder, this time I know it is the prison commissioner coming to get me for my execution.")   My take: The clock says 11:30 — can ...

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Okashi Kashi
23:12 Mar 19, 2022

Oh my. OH MY. This was brilliant! The jumps between present day and the past were genius. Honestly, you threw me off between the first couple of time jumps, props to you on an engaging and twisty plot. I think this story nails the prompts as well. A character (Brad) forced to give up something important (his LIFE) for what they believe in (justice, in a sense). Very extreme (not a bad thing.) I'm also a sucker for stories with very gray moralities, so I thank you for this. The writing could be better. Some critiques from the first paragrap...

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