Silence mingled with traces of gunpowder in the aftermath of the errant gunshot. Jeff had wiggled himself into a sitting position and slumped against the wall, his hands still bound behind his back.
Jeff broke the silence. “Dolly, give me the gun. We both know this isn’t you.”
“You wrecked our family. The accusations ruined my parents’ marriage. My mother died alone because of you.”
Jeff smiled, as if recalling a fond memory. “She wasn’t alone.”
“What are you saying?”
Jeff hesitated, glancing at the gun. Darlene removed her finger from the trigger.
“The only person who loved your mother more than you is me.”
“You went to college with my father. You were business partners. I was raised to call you ‘uncle.’ How could you…?”
“All I sought was the truth. I’m still trying to find it. Your father is a dangerous man and I’ve got proof, if you’ll let me go.”
Darlene jabbed the barrel of the gun toward Jeff. “No! No! You’re trying to infect my memories of my father with lies. I won’t let you do this.”
“Your father doesn’t deserve vindication. He hasn’t even talked to you for over eight months.”
“How did you know that?” Jeff’s crooked smile made Darlene shiver and the realization settled deep in her stomach. “You know where he is…”
Jeff shrugged. “Sometimes disappearance is permanent.”
“Or the dead can rise,” Darlene said flatly.
He narrowed his eyes. “So are you going to shoot me?”
“You’ve already been declared dead.” Darlene furrowed her brow. Maybe her father was alive. Jeff knew. Her shoulders slumped. “You should die,” she muttered.
“But you can’t pull the trigger.”
“I’ll let the police have you.”
Darlene wanted to grab the rest of Scott’s files, but didn’t want to risk walking by Jeff. She’d have to come back. She slipped her cell phone from her pocket. Two signal bars. She dialed 9-1-1 and an operator answered.
“I have an intruder in my home. Please dispatch a deputy.”
INFECT: (a) contaminate, corrupt <the inflated writing that infects such stories> (b) to work upon or seize upon so as to induce sympathy, belief, or support <trying to infect their salespeople with their enthusiasm>
NOTE: this is a community-voted challenge, which means that when the challenge closes at 8PM Eastern time on Thursday, voting opens on Trifecta’s site for twelve hours so you can vote for your 3 favorite responses. Check it out if you can (click on the tricycle picture to go to their site) – you’re bound to find something you like :))
This continues Darlene’s story (if you haven’t read the other parts and are curious about what has transpired so far, here are the links:)