Chapter 25

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"Did you hear?" Grace asked as she burst into Mason's office. The sergeant looked up from his computer, surprised at her sudden appearance, but not overly shocked.

"About Stevens?" he responded. "Yeah, what a tragedy."

"Coincidental, right? That just the other day, I was talking with him about Scott Campbell. And now he's dead."

"Yeah, coincidental is exactly what it is, Grace. Coincidental."

"So you accept the official story?"

"Of course, I do, because it's the only story. The jail made some kind of administrative error, and Stevens was accidentally released into general population. Somebody there decided that they did not like him—I dunno, maybe their cousin worked at the Pottery Barn—and decided to do society a favor. Yeah, I'm sure that the ACLU and the DOJ are going to be looking into this, but they're the only ones who care. Even Stevens's mother didn't seem interested in pursuing the issue much."

"And conveniently, they haven't found the killer."

"No, and all the inmates are pretty closemouthed over it. It's that code they hold to, you know. Never rat on a brother. Especially this guy, whoever he is. Pretty much everyone in jail—and out of jail, for that matter—probably considers him a hero. In any event, like I said, he did society a solid here. No more wasting money on that piece of shit."

"So that's it, huh? We aren't going to pursue this any further?"

"The investigation looks to be a dead end. Oh sure, some heads are gonna roll over in corrections. Maybe a supervisor will be demoted, or someone will be transferred to some other facility. Someone might lose their job, but I kinda doubt it. Other than that, it's over. Done. Fini. Got it?"

"Mason, Scott Campbell was involved in this. I know he was. Come on, can't you see—"

"No, Grace, I can't see. It's over. Your interest in Scott Campbell is over. You are not going to push this issue. You have some actual crimes to solve and real bad guys to put in jail. I suggest you stop wasting taxpayer money and do your job. On second thought, that's not a suggestion. It's an order. I do not want to hear the name Scott Campbell coming from your mouth again. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir. Clear. I won't pursue the matter further."

"Thank you! Now, get out there and do the job you do best: putting real monsters in jail. Okay?"

Grace left the room, still in a mood. She walked right by Kevin, who had been standing outside Mason's office. She was so upset that she didn't even notice him there. Kevin pulled his cell phone from its belt holster and dialed a number.

"Yeah, you guys really don't need to worry about Montoya," he said into the phone. "They're not paying any attention to her crazy theories. And she's on a shorter leash now. If she pursues this further, I'm sure there will be internal ramifications. I'll keep an eye on her, but I'm telling you, she's going nowhere."

***

"Did you hear?" Irene called out from the kitchen Scott sat in his room, reading some ancient forbidden vampire text (which he found quite dry and rather boring) in preparation for his trial. He figured cracking the books for a little study session might not be a bad thing in light of his upcoming ordeal.

"What?" Scott answered as he walked to the kitchen where his mother was sitting watching her small TV set.

"About that Stevens fellow? The man at the mall whom you stopped from killing everyone?"

"What about him?" Scott was immediately worried that Ralph might have changed his plea.

"He's dead."

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