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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Inhospitable Place - 6. Chapter 6

“What if it’s Hunter?” Francesca said, and I almost choked on my avocado toast. After he had left for work, I told her everything that was on my mind. And how I realized he’d been distant and cold for a while now.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“The Hartford Menace. What if it’s Hunter?” I waited for a second to give her the opportunity to laugh and say she was joking. But her face remained firm.

“Let me get this straight. You’re suggesting my boyfriend is a serial killer,” I replied, not sure if I should laugh or be offended.

“The murders started out roughly around the same time you moved here,” she began.

“He lives with me, Fran. If he wanted to kill me, he’s only had a million chances to do it already. Hell, with all the pills and booze I’ve been on, I’m probably the easiest target,” I said, poking holes in her wild theory. Her face scrunched up with tension.

“When I said I wanted to see the city sights yesterday, I lied,” she suddenly confessed. “I went to the police precinct and made friends with someone who’s on the case. A Detective Albright,” she said.

“Oh Jesus,” I replied, putting my face in my hands. My sister was losing her mind.

“Of course he didn’t tell me anything, it’s all confidential. I just said I’m a concerned citizen, and that I have a brother who resembles the victims and asked how I could be of help. We had a good conversation. I then read through all the newspapers, and Lou, he fits the description Jason Henders and Aaron Winters gave to family and friends before they were killed. They had both mentioned a new man in their lives a few days before. A Caucasian male, between 6’2” and 6’4”, dark hair, blue eyes. Professional and well spoken.”

“That’s like, 1 in 5 men here,” I protested. Did she not realize how insane she sounded? I knew that mom’s death hit us both hard, but this was on the verge of insane. “I know you don’t like him, but this theory…come on. It’s ridiculous,” I said.

“Obviously I can’t prove it, but…let’s keep an eye on him,” she said. Before I had a chance to tell her she sounded like an ass, she was saved by the bell. A phone call from our dad. I wondered if she told him her crazy Hunter theory.

In the afternoon, I took Bruno for a walk, and stopped by the shelter to bring Derek some cookies I had made with Fran that morning. Tatiana still hadn’t warmed up to me, despite my now frequent appearances. But I did notice her eating at least two cookies.

“Rough day?” I asked, looking at Derek’s tired face.

“Had to euthanize 5 dogs today. One was still pretty much a puppy, but he bit someone, so he had to go. The thing they don’t understand is that given enough time, all the dogs in the kennels become territorial and start biting. It’s a never-ending cycle and we don’t have enough funds to expand and hire trainers,” he replied. I thought about it for a moment.

“What if we try to raise some funds?” I asked.

“A one-time fundraiser won’t be enough,” he replied.

“What if it’s an ongoing thing?” I said, thinking it through.

“What do you have in mind?”

“How about, until I get a job again of course, I start hosting a doggie dance class,” I said.

“A…what?” he asked, confused.

“A doggie dance class,” I stated.

“What…is that?” He put me on the spot. I hadn’t thought that far.

“A class…where people pay…to…dance with dogs,” I replied, as convincingly as I could muster. “Good exercise, and good bonding time. And, most importantly, an opportunity to meet some of the shelter dogs for those considering adoption. The dogs will get more human interaction and avoid becoming aggressive, and it may help increase the adoption rate.” I was sure he was going to say no. It sounded like an absolute disaster waiting to happen. But after a minute of thinking, Derek smiled at me and said, “Let’s try it.”

I came home to Fran cooking dinner and launched into my crazy dog dancing class idea. She laughed and shook her head.

“Should I set a plate for Hunter, what time is he getting back again?” she asked.

“Mmm, probably in an hour or two. I heard something about a construction delay today, so maybe later,” I replied, then clarified since she looked confused, “He takes the train.” Suddenly her face turned as white as a sheet.

“The train!” she shouted.

“What?”

“It’s so obvious. How did I not figure it out before?” she mused to herself.

“Hello, what are you talking about?”

“My guess, Lou. They met him on the train!”

“Who?” I asked, confused.

“The victims!”

“Not this again,” I replied rolling my eyes, but she was already on the go, grabbing her purse from the counter. “Stay here, lock the doors from the inside. With the deadbolt. Don’t let anyone in! Especially not him. And here,” she said, throwing something at me. “Spray generously if need be.” She ran out before I could respond, and left me standing there alone, holding her pink pepper spray.

Copyright © 2021 C. Henderson; All Rights Reserved.
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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

After reading the previous chapter I was thinking along the same lines as Fran, but I’m sure it’s not going to be that simple!

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2 hours ago, Mawgrim said:

After reading the previous chapter I was thinking along the same lines as Fran, but I’m sure it’s not going to be that simple!

Mmm, sometimes I like simple! Haha. But, I'm not giving away any spoilers. 4 more chapters to go.

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I just read chapter five and speculated the same as Fran! It's either a giant red herring, or things are about to get even more interesting! Thanks. 

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7 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

I just read chapter five and speculated the same as Fran! It's either a giant red herring, or things are about to get even more interesting! Thanks. 

Even bigger red herring, having someone called Hunter possibly hunting down victims?

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6 hours ago, Paqman said:

Even bigger red herring, having someone called Hunter possibly hunting down victims?

It's always in the name... 😉

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