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Whispering Lake

The ear-shattering blasts from the barrel muffled CJ’s screams. Flames exploded each time the bullet hit its target: one—two. His body collapsed to the floor. A cloud of smoke hung in the air; the smell of gunpowder permeated the room.

Dressed in her plum cocktail dress, CJ fell to her knees, dropping her .22 caliber gun on the carpet. Holding her face in her hands, she sobbed not watching the blood seeping from Duncan’s body, a pool of red on the cream-colored carpet. A little after midnight at the end of July, her nightmare was finally over.

CJ, numb, struggled to stand. Duncan’s body blocked the path to her bedroom door, causing her to squeal as she guardedly stepped over and around him. Once at the door, her body fell forward as she grabbed for her home phone to call for help.

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

“He’s dead. He just kept coming at me. I had to stop him.” CJ’s voice was filled with trepidation.

“What is your address?” an efficient female dispatcher requested.

CJ’s voice cracked as she said, “He broke into my loft.”

“Listen to me. Breathe and tell me your address,” the dispatcher instructed with extreme calm.

CJ returned, slightly steadier, “1505 Blake Street, number 403, Denver.”

“Good. Is there anyone else in your loft?”

CJ didn’t respond.

“Are you still there?”

CJ heard sirens in the distance. She almost whispered her answer. “N-no, it was just him.”

“What is your name?”

“CJ Reece.”

“Are you hurt, CJ?”

“No.”

“CJ, I have units heading your way. They will be there within minutes. I want you to stay on the line with me. Do you understand?”

CJ didn’t respond.

The dispatcher pressed, “CJ, did you hear me? Are you still there?”

The sirens grew louder. CJ’s voice wavered, “I’m sorry. Yes, I’m still here.”

Red, blue, and white lights swirled around outside her window, reminding her of the bomb popsicles.

“I think they’re here.”

“Yes, they let me know they’re on their way up to your loft. You can hang up now.”

CJ did without saying a word.

“Police, open up!” A loud bang shook her door.

CJ opened it slowly and stared out, dazed. There were three officers and two paramedics standing in front of her. The female officer crossed the threshold first and asked CJ where the body was. CJ pointed toward it as the others rushed past her. The female officer took CJ to a chair, and finding a blanket on a couch, wrapped it around her.

The officers, brandishing their guns, approached the bedroom cautiously. They carefully peered into the room and saw Duncan’s body face down on the floor, his right hand holding an eight-inch bowie knife. A few feet in front of him was a gun. The officers deftly picked up the weapons and placed them into evidence bags, then motioned to the paramedics it was safe to approach.

The two paramedics slowly rolled Duncan on to his back, his white t-shirt, now stained red, stuck to his broad torso. One paramedic checked for a pulse and breathing. He looked to his partner. “Radio down for the stretcher and oxygen. I have a pulse, but he isn’t breathing. Tell them to hurry.” The paramedic pulled out his mask and placed it over Duncan’s mouth. Pinching Duncan’s nose closed, the paramedic began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Out in the main room, the female officer’s radio squawked with the command and CJ’s eyes widened in terror. The female officer took her hands, “You’re all right. Nothing is going to happen to you.”

The stretcher arrived rapidly with two more paramedics. The female officer pointed them in the right direction. Once in the bedroom, they placed the stretcher close to Duncan’s body. It took all four of them to heft the man onto it. While one paramedic inserted an IV, another placed the oxygen mask on his face. An officer moved into handcuff Duncan to the stretcher. Duncan still wasn’t breathing. They hurriedly moved him out of the bedroom and, as the stretcher passed a few feet away from CJ, she stood to look at his lifeless body.

The female officer’s voice was filled with confidence, “It’s over. He’s in custody now and can’t hurt you.”

Stammering, CJ replied, “You don’t understand. He’ll find a way. He always does.” She dropped back into the chair.