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Second Chance Slaughter

15

Chapter 15: Thief!!!

9

 

 

Sheriff Davis scrutinized the folder on her desk, its contents spilling out in a mess of profiles. Her brow furrowed as she flipped through the pages, comparing them to the previous case files strewn across her workspace.

 

“This looks similar to the one we received before, but something’s different about it,” she murmured, her tone laced with frustration.

 

She glanced up at Deputy Jenkins, who stood at attention by the door. “Is Billy Johnson awake yet?” she asked.

 

“Negative, Sheriff,” Jenkins replied, shaking his head. “He’s still out cold.”

 

Sheriff Davis sighed, leaning back in her chair and rubbing her temples.

 

“What the hell is this person trying to tell us?” she muttered, more to herself than to Jenkins. “The last folder they sent us was a complete dead end. Do you think we’ll actually get somewhere this time?”

 

Jenkins, who had already skimmed through the files before handing them over to Davis—a small breach of protocol he knew she wouldn’t mind—shifted uneasily.

 

“The profiles in this folder aren’t all from Third Street,” he said, his voice cautious. “There’s more variety this time.”

 

Davis’s eyes narrowed. “Go on,” she prompted, sensing that Jenkins had more to say.

 

“I did a quick search online,” Jenkins admitted, scratching the back of his neck. “One of the profiles marked as ‘assigned’—there’s a post from the daughter of one of the missing people. She’s been looking for her dad.”

 

Sheriff Davis’s interest piqued. “Another case of missing people?” she echoed, leaning forward. “This can’t be a coincidence. What else did you find?”

 

 

Avery’s phone buzzed, just as the news broadcast about William Hansen’s death was wrapping up. He glanced at the device, recognizing it as the phone of the now-deceased cleaner. Without missing a beat, he opened the app that Twitch had installed, and activated the voice-changing feature.

 

The screen flickered briefly before a distorted voice emerged.

 

“This is the Whisperer, Cleaner 8827. It seems there has been an...incident in your jurisdiction,” the voice said, calm yet demanding.

 

Avery took a deep breath, steadying his nerves. “I understand,” he replied, modulating his voice to fit the cleaner’s usual tone. The voice can be replicated, but the shift in tone might be different “I was about to report it, but I have some urgent matters at hand.”

 

The Whisperer’s tone sharpened. “More important than the death of an Artist? It seems you’re taking your duty lightly. Should I report this oversight?”

 

There was no point in lying; the organization would see through any deception.

 

“On the contrary,” he said smoothly. “I’m the one who put down The Night Stalker.”

 

There was a brief pause on the other end, followed by a note of intrigue.

 

“Oh! That is indeed interesting. But killing an Artist falls outside your jurisdiction. Such tasks are typically assigned to the Butcher.”

 

“Under normal circumstances, yes,” Avery acknowledged, maintaining his composure. “But I discovered that The Night Stalker was creating his so-called “masterpieces” outside of the sanctioned cycle period. As the cleaner managing this territory, it was my responsibility to ensure everything remains...pristine.”

 

The Whisperer’s voice hummed with consideration. “I see. And you’ve ensured that no loose ends will lead back to the Night Gallery?”

 

“Absolutely,” Avery confirmed. “Authorities will be preoccupied with identifying The Night Stalker’s victims. They won’t have the resources or insight to trace anything back to us.”

 

“Submit a detailed report of the incident by the end of the week,” the Whisperer instructed, a hint of satisfaction in their voice. “The Sentinels will want to verify that everything remains in order.”

 

“Copy that,” Avery responded. The line went silent, and the call ended.

 

Avery exhaled, the tension easing slightly from his shoulders.

 

He glanced at the time on the phone. He quickly slipped into a fresh set of uniform—it was time to return to his work.

 

“It’s not easy juggling multiple lives,” he muttered to himself. He had taken on roles and identities, each one becoming more perilous than the last.

 

 

It was another ordinary day at the convenience store, the kind of day that blended into the next without much fanfare.

 

But for the employees, Fridays were anything but mundane. It was the busiest day of the week, a flurry of restocking supplies and handling the steady stream of customers eager to start their weekend.

 

Avery was on mopping duty, gliding the mop across the tiled floor with an easy rhythm. If anyone saw him now—whistling a cheerful tune and cleaning up after customers—they’d never guess he was the same person who had taken down the infamous Night Stalker.

 

The calm, almost mundane, setting of the convenience store was worlds away from the shadows and violence of his other life.

 

He was lost in his thoughts when a group of kids burst into the store, their laughter echoing off the walls. One boy, brandishing a slingshot, accidentally stepped onto the freshly mopped floor, leaving a streak of dirt in his wake.

 

Avery watched with mild amusement as the boy froze, looking guilty.

 

Mina, scowled at the commotion. “Hey, kids! Your big brother here is cleaning that side of the store. How is he supposed to finish if you keep making a mess?” she snapped, her hands on her hips.

 

The boy with the slingshot lowered his head, his face a picture of remorse. “Sorry, Big Brother,” he mumbled, shuffling his feet.

 

Avery’s expression softened. He crouched down to the boy’s level and ruffled his hair. “It’s okay,” he said warmly. “Just be careful next time.” The boy’s eyes lit up, and he beamed before darting off with his friends to the other side of the store, their previous transgression forgotten.

 

Mina shook her head, her annoyance shifting to Avery. “You shouldn’t let them off so easily, you know,” she chided. “They’ll just get used to it and keep causing trouble.”

 

Avery gave her a wry smile. “Is it that time of the month again?” he muttered under his breath.

 

“What did you say?” Mina snapped, though she hadn’t caught his words. She continued her mini-lecture. “Anyway, I’m just saying—”

 

“Mina,” Mr. Takeda interrupted. “Could you take over at the cashier for a bit? I need to check on the delivery.”

 

Mina huffed but complied,”Sure boss” before giving Avery one last admonishing look. “Seriously, don’t be too nice to the kids. You’re just encouraging bad behavior.”

 

As she walked away, Avery couldn’t help but smile.

 

To him, these kids were just being kids. When else would they have the chance to be carefree and mischievous if not now? He watched them do their antics, their laughter ringing out in the cool afternoon air.

 

Avery’s thoughts drifted back to his own childhood, a stark contrast to the carefree lives of the children he now observed. His early years were far from innocent. Sold into the brutal world of human trafficking, he was groomed for a life of violence.

 

By the age of eleven, he had made his first kill, his innocence stolen and replaced with the cold efficiency of an assassin.

 

If only he could have experienced the joy and freedom these kids took for granted. He envied their ability to play without a care in the world, to enjoy the simple pleasures of life that had been denied to him.

 

 

“Thief!” Mr. Takeda’s voice rang out.

 

Everyone turned to see a man sprinting away, clutching a small box of instant ramen that had been snatched from the delivery truck. By the time Mr. Takeda noticed the missing box, the thief was already several yards away, darting through the parking lot.

 

From a distance, Avery watched the scene unfold. Catching the thief would have been easy for him, given his past life’s honed skills. But he knew better than to risk exposing himself.

 

Displaying such abilities would surely arouse suspicion among the store's regulars and his co-workers. Instead, he saw Mr. Takeda take off after the thief, surprising everyone with his speed.

 

Avery’s eyes widened as he watched Mr. Takeda, who, despite his age, moved with the agility and speed of an Olympic runner. It was almost comical—this older man, usually so calm and composed, now sprinting with surprising vigor. But the thief had a head start and was about to turn the corner, slipping out of sight.

 

The commotion drew the attention of everyone nearby, including the kids who had been playing earlier. Mina’s gaze darted around frantically until it landed on the boy with the slingshot—the same one she had scolded earlier.

 

With a determined look, she grabbed the slingshot from the boy’s hands, armed it with a small pebble, and pulled the rubber band back as far as it would go, taking careful aim at the fleeing thief.

 

“Whoosh!”

 

The sound of the slingshot's release cut through the air. Everyone held their breath as the pebble soared through the air, striking the thief squarely on the back of his head. He stumbled, his momentum faltering as he lost his balance and crashed to the ground, the stolen box of ramen spilling from his grasp.

 

Mr. Takeda was there in an instant, pinning the thief down with a surprising amount of strength. “Got you!” he panted, his face flushed with both exertion and triumph.

 

The crowd that had gathered burst into applause, cheering the unexpected teamwork that had brought down the thief.

 

The kids jumped up and down, their eyes wide with excitement and admiration for Mina’s quick thinking.

 

Mina stood there, a smug smile spreading across her face. She casually handed the slingshot back to the boy, who looked up at her with awe.

 

“Nice shot,” she said

 

Avery blinked, still processing what he had just witnessed. His co-workers, who he had thought of as ordinary, had reacted to the situation with surprising efficiency and bravery. It was a side of them he hadn’t expected to see.

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