The Color of Murder
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EVERY MURDER HAS A SHADE, BUT ONLY I CAN SEE IT - Veronica Shade.
A hand slid over Lucy Davis’ mouth and her eyes snapped open. She tried to scream but couldn’t generate a single sound.
That’s when she saw him.
Like her, Trevor Davis’ eyes were also wide, and she watched, he brought the index finger of his free hand to his lips,
indicating for her to be quiet.
She opened her mouth to answer, but he squeezed his hand against her lips even tighter. Lucy nodded instead.
Apparently satisfied, he finally released his hold on her and pulled back her blankets. As Lucy swung her legs over the side of the bed, she looked toward the window, wondering if she’d somehow slept in, if she was going to be late for school. But then why did she have to be quiet? Was mommy sick?
The curtain was closed, but they were a light color, and if it had been early in the morning, the sun would have shone right through them.
Her mind began to race.
Was this a game? Her father playing a silly trick on her?
Trevor, or Papa to Lucy and her brother Benny, was always playing games. One time, he’d pretended to cut his finger while chopping onions, squirting ketchup all over the place. Lucy and Benny had screamed, and their mother had nearly fainted. On Lucy’s fourth birthday, he’d treated her, and just her, to a special ice cream desert—his homemade creation: strawberries and whipped cream. She’d looked at her father, looked at his bright eyes, just before taking her first bite.
She should have stopped then. Seeing that look, that half-smile—even four-year-old Lucy should have known to stop and listen to her gut. But, in this case, even if she had, her gut was telling her to eat.
One bite and she desperately reached for a glass of water. Her father had slipped some hot peppers into her desert, disguising them as strawberries. Mom was angry, called him cruel, but Papa just laughed. He never meant any harm and was always a good sport when it came to pranking him. And if Lucy paid attention, close attention, she could pick up the signs that something wasn’t quite as it seemed. Her dad’s eyes were always big and sparkling, his mouth not quite a straight line but not a full smile, either.
Now, with her back against the wall and Papa’s hand gently holding her back as he peered out the crack in the door, she saw no twinkle in his eyes.
And he definitely wasn’t smiling.
He was breathing fast, however, as if he’d just gotten back from a run. But that didn’t make sense. Papa was wearing his pajamas and it was still dark out.
Forgetting Papa’s warning not to speak, she opened her mouth to ask him what was going on.
But Lucy didn’t say anything—she stopped when her brother’s voice reached her.
“Papa? Papa!” it wasn’t a scream, but close. A pained whine.
Lucy instinctively started to move, but her father shoved her backward so hard that she nearly fell.
“Papa!” and now it was a scream. Papa peered out the door one final time then turned to face her.
“Run,” he whispered, looking directly into her eyes. “Run downstairs and out the door. Just keep going—run to… the Johnson’s. Or the Whitney’s. Just knock until they answer. Whatever you do, Lucy, don’t look back. Just run.”
If she was scared before, Lucy was absolutely terrified now.
Once more, Lucy started to speak but her father grabbed her shoulders and squeezed hard.
“I’m going to open this door and you run.”
He gave her no chance to ask questions—Papa just released her and pulled the door all the way open.
Lucy bolted from her bedroom, going straight to the stairs.
She wanted to listen to Papa, to keep going. But her brother…
Lucy didn’t stop, but she did glance over her shoulder.
And what she saw, didn’t make sense. Benny was fighting with a shadow. He was punching and kicking a dark figure that was holding him by the waist. Then the shadow slapped a piece of gray duct tape over her brother’s mouth and his shouts became muffled cries.
It wasn’t a shadow, but a man wearing dark clothes.
“Run! Lucy, Run!”
But she couldn’t. She couldn’t do anything except stand there, frozen, staring at the stranger who was holding Benny.
There was a flurry of movement from behind her and then Papa was suddenly scooping her up in his arms.
Lucy had a moment to register that she was being carried just like her brother, and then they were flying down the stairs. Angling her head and neck, she could still see Benny, his mouth covered, tears soaking his cheeks and the duct tape.
They made it to the bottom of the stairs and were nearly at the front door when panic gripped her.
They were leaving—Papa was taking her out of the house and Benny was being attacked. And Mommy? Where’s Mommy?
We can’t leave… we can’t.
They were within ten feet of the door when something happened. Papa tripped. He grunted and it was all he could do to not land on top of Lucy as he crumpled to the ground. As it was, the air was knocked out of Lucy when her backside and then upper back struck the cold tile floor.
“Papa! Get up!”
But he wasn’t getting up. And he hadn’t tripped either.
She knew this, the second someone grabbed her around the waist and wrenched her off the floor. Someone had hit Papa, hit him hard enough to make him go to sleep, just like in the movies. Hard enough to make blood pool around his head.
Wait, maybe this is a game, she thought. Maybe that’s just ketchup.
But deep down, Lucy knew that this wasn’t the case.
As tape was roughly slapped across her mouth and, like Benny, she started to kick, scratch, claw, do anything and everything to try and escape, she knew that this was anything but a game.