Rule #16: Teen super-sleuths are all vaguely Christian, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

I sit and stare at the giant tree. Why is it glowing? For a brief moment, I think that maybe it’s on fire, but then I realize it’s just covered with strings of small, yellow lights. It brings on distant memories, memories of happiness and family.

I shake my head to clear it of these distractions. If I don’t focus completely on the task at hand, I’m going to take a bullet. But what was the task at hand?

Her.

A shiver runs down my spine, but it might just be the snow collecting on my shoulders and head.

My fist hurts, but it’s a distant kind of pain. I look down at it. My fingers are wrapped around the handle of a long, thin knife. My knuckles are white. I try to open my hand. It unfurls slowly, and painfully. I must have been holding this knife for a long time. I transfer the knife into my other hand.

The fingers of my empty hand clench and unclench, clench and unclench. I can feel my fingers again. They feel cold, just like the rest of me. I sigh, and a small cloud drifts from my mouth, quickly dissipating in the winter air.

I keep on sitting. The cold wind bites at my exposed face and hands. I’m not quite dressed for the weather. My jacket is a little too flimsy, and my pants are just a little too thin. I briefly contemplate walking away, going somewhere warm. But I can’t. I need to see her, talk to her, stop her from every killing another innocent again.

I wish my brother was here, to keep me company. Stakeouts are much easier with a partner you can trust at your side.

An amount of time passes. It’s longer than a second, and shorter than a day. She walks into view, heading for the tree in the center of the park. I stare at her as she walks. She reaches the tree, then stops. She stands with her back to me, looking up at the tree. She seems oblivious of my presence. I doubt that she actually is, unless she’s lost a step since I saw her last, all those years ago.

I get to my feet, sending whirls of snow into the air around me. My body is numb, but this sensation is almost… comforting. My body feels as distant and disconnected as my mind, and the symmetry of this isn’t lost on me. I trudge through the snow, keeping my eyes locked on her back. On my target.

I walk closer and closer, but she seems to just keep getting farther away. Darkness starts to creep in at the edge of my vision. Suddenly, I find myself falling. The darkness overtakes me before I’m even halfway to the ground.

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