Chapter Twenty One – Admitted

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Travis left, and Alice was alone with her thoughts barely long enough to wonder what happened to all of her things before another cop came in explained to her that she was under arrest and had the right to remain silent. When the brought her in, she had been choked unconscious, and now they were monitoring her to make sure her throat didn’t close up. Once the doctor gave the all clear, they’d take her down to the station to book her. And then he was gone too.
She had flown in here to take on a job, and from the moment she had landed, everything had gone to shit. She had done nothing but argue with her brother. Janice was dead. She had assisted Esther breaking into a crime scene. She had gotten into fights, had the shit kicked out of her. She hadn’t even finished her burger.
She had known that Travis wouldn’t believe her, but she was still angry. Angry with herself for winding up in custody. Angry with him for believing the comfortable lie, rather than facing the reality of what is out there in the darkness around them. The truth may be ugly, but not believing it won’t make it any prettier. And she was angry because… she didn’t know why. She was just angry.
Alice forced herself to relax. She realized she was straining against the cuffs, and her wrists were chafing. She lay back against the pillow and took stock of her situation. She was in the hospital, not the police station, which meant she hadn’t been formally charged with anything. It also meant that they hadn’t taken her picture and prints and thrown her in a cell to wait for a hearing yet, but that was just a matter of time.
And that effectively meant that she was done here. She couldn’t do anything from a jail cell. She couldn’t catch Janice’s killer while she was locked up. She might be able to find this asshole and make him pay for what he did. Both to Janice, and to her.
Alice felt herself emotionally stumble over the reality that she had almost died last night. She did not want to think about it. She really didn’t want to think about it here, covered in a tissue paper gown with her hands cuffed at her sides. But realizing how powerless she was in that hospital bed only fueled the memory of last night. The cold terror begin to creep back into her, and Alice could feel her face reddening and tears welling at the corners of her eyes.
This was not the first time she had been nearly killed. She cleared her throat and took a deep breath to remind herself that the important word there was “nearly.” She was still alive. She was going to be locked up, but she would still be on the right side of the grass. It also meant she was fired, but it also wasn’t the first time she’d been fired from a job. Either way, she couldn’t protect Esther while she was in jail. Unless Esther got arrested too. She snorted a laugh at her own joke, and leaned forward so she could scratch her nose with her restrained hand.
She felt marginally better, and she forced her thoughts away from the fear of what had happened last night. Still, she knew this wasn’t the end of it. Her experience with processing a near death experience was that it was a sisyphean task; It never really ended, and if she stopped pushing, the boulder would eventually roll down over her.
It helped to have a job to distract her, and Alice figured that until Esther actually fired her, she should at least act like she was still employed. Which meant she needed to figure out what happened last night. She had been attacked, and by a far physically superior foe. She assumed it was a vampire. That made sense, given the oppressive stench and the rotten black blood that came from it.
She shuddered at the thought of it pinning her down, wrapping its hands around her throat, the stink of rotten flesh the last sensory impression she had before everything faded into darkness. She had been attacked for a reason, but there were too many questions around it. Was he just toying with her? Could he have killed her at any point, and was just trying to get her to make a big enough scene first? Why would he do that? Had she actually stood a shot of getting away from him? What if she had run for the door? Alice shook her head. “Get it together,” she muttered to herself.
Her attacker had given her a message for Esther before he choked her out. Alice had to assume that he had left her alive to deliver it. But with where she was, she wasn’t in much of a position to deliver it. She thought about the night before. She hadn’t planned to be at Stip’s apartment. No one knew she was there. Anyone waiting for her would have waited near the Lucas house. So she had been followed.
The message was that he wasn’t going to stop until he got what he wanted. Alice needed to know what that was, and she suspected that was something Esther already knew. If so, then Janice’s death was on her head too. And it was looking like Alice was lined up to be the next casualty. But he hadn’t killed her. He could have. He had killed Janice, presumably as a message. If he felt like the message wasn’t explicit enough, he could have sent Esther a letter. He didn’t need to leave her alive.
There was something here she was missing; she needed more information to piece it together, and she wasn’t going to get it sitting in a hospital. Or in jail for that matter. She needed to talk to Esther. Alice didn’t like being in the dark. She leaned back and thought about her options.
She could try breaking out of custody and getting in touch with Esther. That was a losing proposition. Even if she somehow got the cuffs off and out of police custody, which was far from a sure thing, she’d then be a fugitive. And that wasn’t even considering what it would to Travis. They knew they were related, and he had just visited her. Someone would assume he had helped her. That just wasn’t an option.
She could demand a lawyer, and see if she could get him to pass a message along to Esther. That was probably her best shot. But the film she picked up from the murder scene would go into storage until she was released. And the consequences of that could range from being inconvenient to disastrous. She didn’t know what was on it, except that it probably wasn’t vacation photos. If it went into some storage locker, they would lose potentially useful evidence. If it was developed and had anything related to the murders on it, being charged with carrying an unregistered firearm was going to be among the least of her problems.
Alice looked down at the hospital gown she was wearing, realizing the implications of having been stripped of her clothes in the night. She didn’t have much hope that her flak vest would be getting returned to her at the end of all this. But, looking around the room, she saw one thing that did make her smile. The film canister was in the pocket of her coat. And even though her clothes were gone, her coat was draped over the back of a chair.

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