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It was a time between moons, which meant that no judgmental light emanated from the sky to bear witness to the occurrences of the night, though it did little to affect them. Tonight the darkness had little to stop it. It was warded off by the bright lights and busy crowds, but in the places which had neither, it lingered, like an unwarranted and unnoticeable malignant growth. People rarely noticed it until it had crept up on them, tapped them on the shoulder, and, with gaping mouth wide, swallowed them whole with a single gulp, leaving little behind. For every secret there is a protector and every mystery an ever-watchful guard. The darkness was good at what it did.
Tess Mitchell was a journalist, still young and in the early prime of her writing. She was talented beyond her years (that’s what an Ivy League school does to you) and a huge asset to her newspaper. She loved her work and would often stay until long after her coworkers had left and gone home for the day. Tonight was one of these nights, but she did not stay up fiddling with her computer or examining the writing of her competitors. She had a story- a story so big it would send the White House into chaos and the whole world into shock. It was a story that she had not dared to tell anyone- because she wanted this to be her own doing. She wasn’t going to risk some upshot intern stealing her thunder. She still had to cover all her bases, for there was still a lot to be found. It would still be a week of hard and gritty work until it was ready, but nonetheless, she couldn’t stop the excitement. She had a story that was bigger than the Watergate Scandal- one that she would be known for throughout the rest of her life. It was history in the making.
Finally, around midnight, she was ushered out by the janitors and onto the street, and in reluctance she started her walk down the street to where her car was parked. But her mind was preoccupied and she didn’t even notice the darkness creeping up on her. It was there, with a last scream of fear that Tess Mitchell’s talent was extinguished and in the black, a pair of icy eyes gleamed with a terrifying feral intelligence. The secret was buried.
Sam Mitchell took to the news exactly how any hotheaded, idealistic young Democrat would- as badly as bad could be. His younger sister had been murdered and he would not be sent out to pasture on this one. He was galvanized into action by this terrible occurrence and there was no fence in the world that would hold him back from the truth.
“What do you mean by, ‘We seem to be out of luck’?” Sam roared at the detective, whose eye seemed to twitch involuntarily as he took the severe beating. “This had better not be a set-up for some speech about how bad you are at your job.”
“This is not a matter of incompetence,” the detective sputtered, trying, but not succeeding, to placate the democrat, “I don’t think you understand, Mr. Mitchell. The murderer didn’t leave any hints. There isn’t a trace of anything. There are no eyewitnesses. There were no footprints or strands of hair. Our forensics team has been going over and over this time and time again at your demand. There is nothing to be found.”
Sam tensed his hands into fists in frustration. Four days had passed since his sister had been found dead in an alleyway and with every second that these people stumbled aimlessly through their job, the trail got colder. “What about the phone call I got a week ago that I told you about?” He started pacing slowly, “The one I got from Tess. She had a story- a big one. Did you look into that?”
The detective hesitated. Sam, in all the 28 years of his life, had learned that even the slightest, briefest hesitations meant he was about to be severely disappointed. “Yes,” he said simply.
“And?” demanded Sam.
“I found it to be a dead end,” retorted the detective, “And believe it or not, I’m considered pretty good at what I do and you’re just going to have to trust me. So this case is going to have to go unsolved.”
Sam was silent for a moment. He didn’t believe this detective one bit. Something about his eyes when he talked to Sam- there was something wrong here, and Sam was determined to find out what. Finally, he looked up and eyed the detective with steely eyes. “I think you’re not telling me something,” he said abruptly, “You know what? It’s fine. I’ll figure this out on my own. I’m done with you people.” He finalized as he put on his coat. “I’ll figure out what happened to my sister and I don’t need your help to do it.” He was preparing to make his exit when the detective stopped him.
“Just a word to the wise,” his voice was solemn, tone thunderous, and Sam, curious as to the detective’s tone of voice, stopped in the doorway. “Some secrets are better left alone.”
Sam didn’t even look back as he strode out.
The miniscule amount of light the sliver of a moon gave off dappled the fleshy leaves of the trees eerily as Sam pulled into Tess’s driveway of her suburban home. He felt a chill go through him as he stepped out of the car and slammed the door. The early autumn air grew brisk during the night, although Sam couldn’t tell if that was the reason why he shivered or if it was something else more sinister. A foreboding air hung about the night air, and Sam could only hypothesize as to why. Perhaps it was the stillness of the night, or the darkness of it, or maybe it was just that he was going to his murdered sister’s house to find evidence of a cataclysmic secret story. He couldn’t tell.
There were many fences at which Sam might have been forced to balk at had he not wielded the undeniably powerful weapon of knowledge. He had been extremely close to his sister, and therefore knew all of her habits. He knew that the first place to look would be her computer. Tess would often use Microsoft Word or a similar program to type up her articles-to-be. Sam didn’t question it merely because of its nature- It was a Tess thing.
But his search proved to be fruitless. Her computer had no files on any such story, none at all, and Sam felt like tearing his hair out in frustration. He was getting nowhere. It wasn’t like Tess to keep secrets this tightly. She was a journalist- she didn’t secrete things away never to be seen by the public; she thrust them out into the open to be view by all. He searched her office desk in a frenzied panic. But he found nothing.
There was one, last option. But it was one that Sam hadn’t wanted to resort to unless he absolutely had to. There was a record kept by Tess that was always present, since the very first time she decided she wanted to become a journalist. It was so tempting and Sam couldn’t just leave it there. It was her journal.
He could imagine her turning over in her grave as he considered the idea. A pang of loss shot through him as he let his drive fall away for a moment. It was then that he could feel the full pain of losing Tess, so he got focused again, blocking it out.
He went into her room and retrieved it from its hideout under the floor panel. The detectives would’ve never gotten a look at this. He flipped to about a week prior and started to read. As he did, his eyes got wider and wider. He could hear all these voices clamoring in his head all at once, each trying to be heard but none succeeding. The hand that held the little purple notebook up was starting to shake imperceptibly, and then more noticeably, and the words started to blur in front of his face. For Tess to have discovered this secret- such a revelation that topped all revelations… It made it hard to breath. He couldn’t even imagine where she had started. How does one stumble upon something like this? That was when the lights started to flicker- on, off, on, then off again. Sam felt a growing dread bubble inside of him. The detective’s last words to him resonated in his ears, forming a cadence to match his heartbeat. ‘Some secrets are better left alone. Some secrets… better left alone. Left alone. Some secrets… alone. Alone.” Then the lights blacked out. Sam was left in the dark, holding possibly the best-kept secret in the world, with someone or something determined to keep it that way. Had Tess even known she was playing with fire? He started to wonder vaguely in his head, but it was faintly, as if he was detached from his body. What had she thought she was dealing with?
‘Some secrets are better left alone.’
The darkness was closing in now. Sam could feel it. The foreboding air was gone, replaced by tension so thick it could be cut with a knife- the same kind of tension that drapes itself in the air in the calm before a storm. Someone was creeping, sneaking, closing in on Sam’s petrified form with all intent of throwing him aside. He was paralyzed with fear. Ever since he was a child, he had been terrified of all the dark had to offer, but this did not even brush with that. He heard a creak in the hallway.
‘Some secrets are better left alone.’
He wished now that he had taken the detective’s advice into account and actually thought it through. He had been a fool, a blind fool, but none of that would matter soon. There was no exit, no escape, for him now. There was nothing but the inevitable meeting between him and the delegate of the darkness who would never cease to stalk him, never stop hunting him until he was dead. All of this was happening because of the small purple notebook in his hand. The notebook containing the secret, which, once he was gone, would be hidden again.
‘Some secrets are better left alone, alone, alone, alone, alone…” The phrase echoed into the darkness as it finally sounded no longer.
The secret was buried once more.