By Ellie Wendell
I’m weightless for just a moment.
Then, I crash down into the freezing cold river.
I can’t hear anything but fast, splashing water. I get pulled along the current, I don’t really know how fast I am going, but I know it will be fast enough to be dangerous. I can feel myself being turned around, I don’t really know which way is up, so I try to swim. I was trying to swim against the current, but it was too strong.. The current was going faster, I breached the surface, took in a huge gulp of air, and was pulled back under. I crashed into a rock, I could feel my spine cracking with the impact of the stone.
I hit another one, my head striking the hard stone with such an impact the last thing I felt before I blacked out, was my skull. Throbbing with such pain I thought I would die.
When I woke up, I heard whispering all around me. At first, I thought there were people around me, talking to me. I tried to open my eyes, I tried to get up. I could not move, I could not speak.
After about … I don’t really know how long, but I opened my eyes. I saw the sky, gray and bleak. Again I try to stand up, to see where I beached on the shore of the river. My back is in so much pain, I very slowly stood up, and looked around. I am on a stone beach, the river looks very shallow from here. It looks like I drifted pretty far from where I fell. I don’t know how my unconscious body managed to get enough air to survive.
As I try to figure out how I am alive, I hear movement on the opposite side of the bank. As fast as I could, I ran for cover in the forest. I slowly looked out from where I was hiding, and there he was. Standing twenty feet away from me was the man that tried to drown me, the man that pushed me off of the cliff.
Suddenly a flood of memories comes back to me, a body lying on the ground, blood pooling around their head. Seeing the life drain from their eyes as they die in front of me. Having to leave my home. This man was responsible for all of my suffering, for everything!
Before I knew it, I was running at him, with nothing but my bare hands. I wanted to make him pay for what he’d done. I wanted to kill him.
I was running at the man who destroyed my life.
My name is Harper Dean. And this is my story.
Okay, let’s start back in 1972, when the police named a triple homicide a cold case. They couldn’t find the man that killed them. They had him cornered in a warehouse, all exits were covered. He just … disappeared. They searched every crack and crevice. But he was just gone.
Thirty years later, it’s 2002.
I was looking through all of the old police files in my dad’s basement, fluttering through all of the pages. I know I shouldn’t be down here, but I just get so BORED when I am home alone. They really interest me, seeing all of the unsolved mysteries of the city. I hear the soft thump of the front door closing. My chest tightens. My dad is home.
I run out of his office and into the bathroom. If he finds out I was in his office, he will be very very mad. The last time he caught me in his office, I was grounded for a month. Apparently, fourteen is “not old enough” for crime scene photos.
I hear the footsteps of my dad’s work boots on the wood stairs. I hear him walk past the bathroom, and into his office. I quickly open the door and bolt upstairs into my bedroom. My heart is thudding in my chest and I can hear the blood roaring in my ears. The pure adrenaline of it all, it is just thrilling.
“Harper?!” I hear the shouting of my dads’ voice.
“HARPER GET DOWN HERE!”
I slowly walk down into the basement, the creaking of the floorboards under my feet. I can taste bile in the back of my throat. The small voice in the back of my head told me I shouldn’t have done it, I shouldn’t have looked through his old case files.
My head is pounding. My throat feels dry,
“Yeah dad,” I say.
“Were you looking through my old files again?”
“Yes,” I look down, ashamed.
“You knew what I said Harper.”
I knew what was coming, the ‘personal space’ talk. I have listened to this talk for hours before.
“You need to stop looking around in my things.”
Yep, heard all of this before.
“You need to respect personal space, But there is something I need to tell you.”
Oh, this is new.
“One of my cold cases, the triple homicide. We think that the murderer is going to resurface soon.”
“I know this will come as a shock to you, but we think he is going to come back.”
I could feel the tension in the air between us, I felt my gut tighten, my breaths came, low and ragged.
“He … He is back?” I managed to get out.
“Yes, but sweetheart we will get him, don’t you worry about that.”
“We have a spy in on his murders. He went undercover two weeks ago, we know where his hideout is.”
I know he was trying to cheer me up, to assure me that we will be alright. Frankly, I didn’t believe him. I hear ringing in my ears, I feel like I am going to be sick. Everything that we were hiding from, everything we ran away from.
My father was on the case forty years ago. It was his first big murder case, he had all exits covered, all possible escpe routes had guards on them. He had no way out. Somehow, he disappeared, he vanished. My dad worked on the case for nine months. Never found the guy. It tore him apart.
His first big case, and the murderer disappeared.
The worst part is that my mother was also a detective, and she got shot, by the guy that disappeared after he resurfaced and just to shoot her. She died later that night. My dad named the case cold after that. He didn’t want anything to do with it.
I looked at my dad, he seemed as upset as me that he resurfaced.
“It’s going to be okay dad,” I say, trying to calm him down.
He pauses for just a moment, “But what if it is not, what if it isn’t okay?”
I am surprised by his words, he usually is not this grim.
“What if he comes back and shoots me? Or shoots you?”
I pause for a moment, thinking about what he had said.
“Then we will heal,” I say. “Listen, I know that sounds cheesy, but this guy, he will be in his late fifties, you are in your early fifties.” I giggle a little as I say it, but it was true. The criminal was like twenty when he started out. Now thirty years later, he is bound to be like fifty nine or sixty even.
My dad looks at me like I am crazy.
“This isn’t funny, we could be in danger.” I instantly stop laughing. My father was never a very serious person, I have never seen him act like this before.
“Who ever he is, we will be safe.” I try to calm him down.
He shoots a look at me that could break glass.
“How do you know?” He hisses.
“Ummm … I … I …”
“EXACTLY, WE COULD DIE!! HE COULD BE HUNTING US RIGHT NOW!!” He screams.
I was taken aback by his words. I take a few steps backwards and stumble. I fall onto my back. I struggle to get back up again, after I am on my feet. My dad is throwing things around the room, destroying everything.
I try and hold him down, but he is so much bigger than me. The only thing that is stopping him from destroying the whole house is me. The fact that I wouldn’t have a home. He threw me off of him and I knocked into a shelf.
My weight must have been enough to move it, because it started leaning in my direction. I rolled away just in time, when the second after I moved the hundred pound shelf crashed into the ground.
I get up and swiftly run up stairs and into my room. I slam the door behind me and leaned against it. Over the sounds of my dad destroying his office I start to cry, my chest heaving with every breath.
Salty water pouring out of my eyes. Landing onto the carpeted ground.