Rain pattered on the street, making the townspeople seem eerily quiet in comparison. Dark clouds loomed overhead and seemed to be threatening never to reveal the sun again. But to the progressing of the storm outside, Lillian was oblivious. Her mind, it seemed, was two miles away over dusty roads and past old buildings with ever-curious shopkeepers. Her eyes carried a distinctly thoughtful look though they focused on nothing with their queer grey-green hue like a troubled ocean frolicking with Death. Life stopped for no one, it was apparent, and it especially displayed no courtesy to Charlotte.
Three hours and forty-two minutes prior Lillian had strolled down Thorbursh Alley without really seeing her surroundings, subconsciously taking note of the smell of fresh bread probably being carried out of Sebastian's Bakery, hearing the angry butcher having to once again barter his price with Mrs. Allicon, and realizing that the heavy air meant rain was soon due. She was in a fairly good mood, as she was on her way to see her lovely sister, Charlotte. Lately the woman had been entertaining notions of moving away. Moving away to a far away town, where frequent visits were impossible. Her sister had stayed, though. Moreover, she had stayed without breaking up their relationship, without blaming Lillian for her doubt on leaving town. And so Lillian was in a fairly good mood.
Upon arriving at the fair woman's house, something was immediate notices as seeming drastically wrong. She knocked, to no answer. She called out, to no answer. Finally, she took out her own key and entered, to no answer. Slowly, her vision blurring with each step at the atrocious scene, she walked in and stood. Taking an impossible while, by touch, sound—or lack thereof—and smell, she came to a conclusion and with this conclusion became irrevocably upset. Life stopped for no one, and Time continued on, as Charlotte had evidently reached the end of her allotted time on Earth.
So as moonlight and sparks from planets galaxies away invaded the night, Lillian sat, and sat in though, and thought and slept. The day had become something wholly unexpected. Someone had a life's purpose, she felt, to rip completely down her world violently smash it to bits. Lillian prided herself on her acute observation skills, and now she wished to sink into a blind darkness, to be empty, just to not feel. One thing she was sure of, however, was that whoever had wreaked such havoc in such an undeserving life would be found, and they would pay.
The object of this focus had, that evening at six o' six, sat down for a dinner of pork and bread. He contentedly lied down to sleep at eight thirty-two and dreamed, or rather entertained the notion, of how wonderful his life was. Jack did, after all, have a wonderful life.
That day the man with dark hair, dark eyes, and a dark personality had woken up with a smile on his face. New to town! The exhilarated thought popped up, New to life! For his previous town hated Jack. He had been criticized. Avoided. Treated like the worst thing alive with a disease that would spread just by seeing him. This was not how Jack was to be treated. I am brilliant, his mind confirmed as it cringed in retaliation of the memories, Not a common fool, I'm a master, a king of the world.
Jane Pettrack had been a very beautiful girl. Nevertheless, Jane Pettrack strove for college; she belittled men and argued women's place in society. Jane Pettrack had had to be removed. Sissy Marlane used to have much talent but no looks. Sissy Marlane had been a book critic under a male penname. Sissy Marlane had also criticized Jack in her column of the paper. Sissy Marlane was a blemish on society; the effect was her disappearance. Isabella Findle had an exceptional figure. However, Isabella Findle ignored her figure by wearing slacks; she attended lectures and tried to be a scholar. Isabella Findle would no longer harm society. Marlene Hind had the prettiest eyes. Marlene Hind used her eyes to read and write books. Marlene Hind's membership on Earth was revoked. Jennifer Waltrouth was an heiress and a grand woman. Jennifer Waltrouth funded science and was a philosopher herself. Jennifer Waltrouth could no longer be found among the living. Charlotte Macintosh had lovely waves of brown hair. But she never wore her hair properly and wrote for the local paper. Today, it was Charlotte Macintosh's turn.
Vicious? Horrible? Atrociously unfeeling? Jack was not these accusing, meaningless names. He'd come to this little town, Tamberlin, yesterday and had observed Lillian in the daily markets. Then he had found all information about her and decided on his course of action. This town was nice, indeed, and Jack felt a tinge of sadness that morning, as he knew that afterwards he'd have to leave. Maybe he could stay a day or two, a week at most, but just like all other unreasonable sites he'd stayed in, he would soon have to take his leave for self-preservation.
Philip awoke with a start in the early morning. The floor outside his room had creaked. Someone was here. For the hundredth time in his life, he cursed the blindness, the darkness, the disability. Creak went the old wooden boards again. Heart pounding, Phillip kept his eyes closed and strained his ears to hear as much as possible. The wind howled outside. The rain had stopped. He tried to detect any foreign smells. His house always smelled of cinnamon and good books. There was a sweet smell now, like apples. Perhaps this all was nothing. Perhaps Phillip was paranoid. He certainly had reason to be paranoid.
There were a few creaks at once. Many men? A troop of murderers?
Then a small creak. A child playing a prank?
The wind began to die. Phillip laid awake, eyes wide open though this did not especially help anything. Hours seemed to zip by, but in reality, the clock on his bedside table had only moved its handles from five thirty to five thirty and a half. Perhaps the squeaks of the boards were just the house in reaction to the forces of the wind. During the last storm a fortnight ago, his house had certainly howled back at the wind. That must have been it. He was too nervous; he had to calm down.
"Phillip," the whisper in the night made him ump, made him leap from the confines of sane rationality.
"Get out of my house. Now," was his snarled response barely hiding the culminating fear.
"It's Lillian, must I go?" His face blushed and the heart-pounding episode made him weak. She helped their father at the shop, which would explain the apples. How had he not recognized sooner that it was she?
"Sister, you frightened me so. Why come at this hour?" He got out of bed, grabbed his robe to pull around his long johns and nightshirt, and went to sit her down at the table, knowing his house so well it was as if he had perfect sight. So together they sat, Phillip having heard the news of his older sister's death earlier the already previous, moist day. They sat for a while, the silence wrapping each in reassurance and resolution. Then talk of who and what and how commenced. The determination to stop this human became even greater as minutes passed on, though they could not really consider suspects as they lacked much information. Eventually Lillian exited the comfortable little three-roomed house back to her own smaller sanctuary.
As the glittering sun banished the night for another day in its evolving past, Phillip eased back in to sleep. His life was at a standstill now. His family dissipated with the passing of his father only a fortnight prior. His last book had been deemed "unorganized and unappealing to the modern public," condemning it to a life at the landfill. It had been a murder mystery. How ironic. Maybe he should switch professions from author to something else. With this thought and a shake of his head, he slipped to unconsciousness.
Jack did not wake up with a smile today. Charlotte's imprudent sister had come to her earlier than expected. Lillian had raised the alarm ahead of schedule. He would probably be investigated today, being the newcomer in town. Jack would have to leave soon. Most reasonable he should leave now. Jack liked this town, though. He would stay.
He considered what attractions would fancy him today. A walk through the market? A game of chess in the lobby of the inn? Perchance look through the local museum. Stop by the common places to be in this little place. Today held quite a few possibilities for Jack.
During the toils of these people's lives, Sherriff Malcon had been busily investigating this case. The last time a murder had occurred in little Tamberlin, nineteen years ago, it had been between two cobblers who thought they were being defrauded by each other. A fight had followed and guns had been found immediately, probably each of them was carrying one. One of the men had lost. End of case. No confusion, but much heartache and repentance, especially from the man locked up.
The case of Charlotte Macintosh was disturbingly different, however. No murder weapon was found, though he was sure it had been some kind of knife. The scene had been tampered already, he hated the fact that the first man there had to be a woman who had the urge to investigate the victim, scattering evidence. Slowly the Sherriff reviewed his possible suspects. There was, of course, Lillian- first on the scene, no alibi beforehand. In addition, there was Phillip- Charlotte's blind brother. Then he thought of Mr. Salisbury- he'd said she owed him money for shoes weeks before and tended to dislike all people, as he was a recluse. Allimer Thomson, the man she refuted, was also a suspect. Last was the new man in town. He had arrived the night before the murder at nine thirty and had changed his reservations yesterday to only two days rather than a week. This man had only gone by Jack, a red flag right there. "No last name?" Malcon had stared incredulously at the clerk.
"No, sir, none that 'e gave" was the hasty reply. Jack indeed. He was placed at the top of the list.
Thirty-three minutes later, seven twenty-six in the morning, Sherriff Malcon sat in the same brown chair. Its warn wood, next to a worn table, a worn room away from a worn bed, was surrounded by old walls in a tired house. Pictures of the past, there were none, were unnecessary reminders, wasteful of his time. He lived a lonely life, no family, hardly any sincere friends. This did not bother the Sheriff, however; he liked his peace.
No conclusion had yet been reached but the plain yellow pad of paper had marks scratched up and down it, abused by the quick thoughts and careful observations Malcon did not want to forget. One of the few things in his life he did not want to forget. He had his suspects. He needed more of their alibis, their interviews, their points of view on the matter. Lieutenant Buckley would be assigned to the task of collecting this information. Malcon stood up slowly; he'd been sitting far too long. As his steps thundered to the door, for he was not a light many by any means, he paused. Jack. There was that Jack. He would handle Jack. This man, he had an unusually strong suspicious for a person of logic and reason, had much to do, too much to do, with this case. Jack. With that thought, he rumbled out sure of his tasks for the day.