The Case of the Manila Envelope--Epilogue

by HA

The residence of Dr. and Mrs. Blanchard was rather lively that Monday night, for the couple had invited all their close friends to celebrate a momentous occasion. If outsiders had come into the large apartment, they would've assumed from the lively chatter, the assortment of extravagent and delicious dishes, the banners declaring "Congratualtions," and the clearly happy couple being the center of attention that it was a celebration of a wedding anniversary. However, the occasion for the party was repeatedly stressed whenever Dr. Blanchard held up a news clipping with the headline "Doctor found not guilty in viral murder." In addition, Mrs. Blanchard told her friends about how staunchly loyal she was to her husband despite the fact that his mistress, whose toddler son was killed thanks to the virus that infected both of them, testified on the stand about the affair that had produced the deceased child. Some even mentioned how it seemed Mrs. Blanchard flip-flopped on the stand, but she simply dismissed it with a smile and a laugh and encouraged them to enjoy themselves.

As the party continued, Mrs. Blanchard took her husband aside and whispered to him, "After this, we'll need to discuss a few things regarding your conduct, dear," she said in a voice peppered with sweet venom.

Dr. Blanchard frowned at his wife, and he turned away from her to see his gathered friends celebrating his acquittal. However, to his astonishment, he saw only darkness. "What the hell...?" he said.

He felt his wife grab his arm tightly. "Wh-wh-where is everyone?" she asked, her lip trembling as she too beheld the darkness.

Then, around them they heard a soft malevolent giggle. Finally, they heard a voice from the darkness. "Time to play a game," it announced softly.

Both of them found themselves holding each other when they saw the pair of yellow eyes appear before them. Seconds later, a Cheshire Cat-like grin formed underneath the eeriely glowing orbs.

* * * * *

George Shutton looked around his current surroundings, and then into the mirror before him. Despite hating the sweaty, wart-and-boil-filled face topped with wisps of hair he saw in the mirror, he couldn't really frown at his reflection since his mouth was gone. He gulped, but no sound came out, and he shakily moved around the room.

Thanks to some key evidence that mysteriously materialized at his apartment, he was once again going to trial on the murders he had thought he would get away with. He recalled how the judge ruled that he would be retried for his crimes, and now that he was rendered hideous, he doubted his chances of acquittal were good. His own lawyer, who was working pro bono, had encouraged him to plead guilty based on the evidence and informed him firmly that the prosecution was not willing to cut a deal with him. Shutton had stubbornly refused, and so the trial would commence in a few days. He also blamed his current physical condition for his denial of bail, although it was more likely the judge was correct in assuming he would be a flight risk.

However, that wasn't what was worrying him at the moment. The strange girl had taken the envelope and its contents from him, and he knew the consequences for that. He wasn't even supposed to have it, but self-preservation had motivated him to take it. His own skills at persuasion had kept him out of prison, so he kept the envelope as a last resort to bargain for his freedom someday or a way to make some money on the side. It wasn't like he owed them anything; all they did was discover him one day and offered him a job. It wasn't like they gave him his abilities; he had always felt that he took after his smooth-talking father. Daddy had always used his good looks and smooth tongue to charm people to get what he wanted, and he felt fortunate that he looked like him. Still, he knew that even if he had his good looks, nothing would save him.

Therefore, despite not having the envelope in his possession, he had his lawyer tell the assistant district attorney that he had information of the utmost importance to communicate to him. His lawyer had followed his instructions to the letter (in fact, Shutton had written them down for him and had him deliver his words to the prosecutor), and he reported back that a deal could be made in which Shutton would plead guilty to manslaughter. Apparently, when Shutton's written request mentioned them, the prosecutor was more than willing to listen to him, for he had Shutton moved to a solitary cell under heavy guard and a video camera to ensure his safety. Still, Shutton doubted that it would be enough, and he wished that the assistant D.A. would hurry up to the prison so that he could tell him all he knew. His skills proved to be effective against the general populace, but they seemed to be ineffective against them.

Disgusted with his face, Shutton looked away from the mirror and fidgeted in the middle of the room. He breathed deeply and exhaled through his nose. Still anxious, he even resorted to prayer to will the assistant D.A. to come quickly. He had employed it once to con people out of their money while posing as an evangelist, and his skills had kept them from testifying against him.

He almost jumped when he heard the cell door unlock, and he turned around to find a single guard coming in. If he still had a mouth, he would've said "Hey, you scared the living hell out of me" as he clutched his rapidly beating heart. He was about to go to his bed to fetch his notepad and write out whether it was time to see the assistant D.A. when his eyes widened at the guard's face.

"Dostvedanya," the guard said grimly with an accent.

Shutton immediately recognized the voice. The guard raised a hand, and a few seconds later, the light bulb lighting the room shattered along with the camera monitoring the cell. Shutton found himself moving away from the falling shards of glass only to move towards another spot in order to avoid the falling remains of the camera. Soon, all he could make out in the darkness is the figure of the guard.

Despite his fear, the prisoner's desire to live made him swing at the guard. His fist passed through a small breeze, and when Shutton turned around, the guard was standing behind him, and his eyes spotted the clawed hand ready to strike. Seconds later, he felt something sharp cut against his face, and in his mind, he screamed as he felt another slash against his chest.

Later, the assistant D.A. followed the guards as they ran to Shutton's cell. Not only did they find the door ajar and the camera shattered into pieces, they also found Shutton on the floor. When everyone came in for a closer look, they saw that although his face was still ugly and marked, he had gotten his mouth back.

It matched the nine other deep slash marks on his face and chest rather nicely, especially with the blood streaming out of them.