Chapter 63

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Zandra finds herself alone in the hallway between the two green rooms. It's feels emptier than that, though, like the floor and walls are missing data. She drags her bad ankle toward Dvorak's green room. Clomp-drag. Clomp-drag. She uses the wall to balance herself, her hand brushing over a box. It's red with a white lever.

A fire alarm.

She waits a moment.

Is this what you want, David? Do I pull it for you?

Her hand doesn't wait for the reply. She pulls it. The hallway, and the rest of building, erupts in flashing lights and an inescapable siren. She feels the vibration of hurried feet coming from the auditorium. It also comes from inside Dvorak's green room.

Zandra watches as grinning Dvorak's miscreants file out of the green room and head away in the opposite direction. They're too caught up in their conversation to notice Zandra watching them leave. It's like she's invisible.

Thank you, David.

All but one exits the green room, and it's the one Zandra most wants to see. She shuffles through the door, closing it behind her. The green room is stuffed with computers, blinking distractions, pizza boxes, empty soda bottles and a bald man dressed in black fixated on a laptop. His back points toward Zandra.

"I don't know why you guys bailed. It's probably someone tripping and falling on an alarm. With how many people are around, the odds are good," Dvorak says without looking up from the screen.

"No, Dvorak, the odds aren't good," Zandra says and locks the door behind her.

Hello, asshole.

"Wait, what?" Dvorak says. He shoots up from the laptop and spins to face Zandra.

Zandra swears she can hear someone whispering in her ear. It could be from the ventilation. Or it could be something else.

Tell me what to do, David. Tell me what to say.

"You think you can just accuse me of being a murderer and walk away?" Zandra says.

Dvorak raises an eyebrow and looks at Zandra like she's joking. "As a matter of fact, yes. Too bad there isn't a statute of limitations on murder, huh?"

Zandra's eyes scan Dvorak's body and surroundings for any weapons. She sees nothing but tech and pizza crumbs.

"What you don't understand is that if this town wants me to be a murderer, it will make me into one. Perception is reality. You accusing me is all they need," Zandra says. She watches Dvorak's hands.

"I can't tell if that's a statement or a threat. You'll be turned into a murderer? So it's someone else's fault that you killed your husband?" Dvorak says. He crosses his arms and laughs. "You're even more pathetic than I gave you credit for, Zandra."

Zandra starts to say something, but she hacks into her sleeve midway through the first word. Her eye catches a glimpse of something resting on a pizza box. She didn't notice it before. It's almost like some supernatural force placed it there for her in the moment.

The lawnmower knife. You can't be serious, David. Is that what you want?

"So what now? To prove you're not a murderer, you're going to murder me?" Dvorak says.

There's something about the way he says those last two words that sticks out in Zandra's mind. "Murder me."

I'll do it for you, David.

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