Of Innocence and Guilt (part 1 of 14)
Of Innocence and Guilt (part 1 of 14) postapocalyptic stories

ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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The investigation begins and the Mayor of Hope pays a visit to the Devil's Own camp.

The collaboration between Hyle and myself continues, with Hyle starting off the story from the viewpoint of Mayor Troy.

Of Innocence and Guilt (part 1 of 14)

It was around two in the afternoon. Hyle was leaning on the edge of her desk, looking out of her office window. Her office door was closed and the blind was down.

She had left explicit instructions with her staff that she was not to be disturbed.

From her window, Hyle watched the usual groups of mothers and some fathers making their way to the school to collect their children. There was a difference though.

On any other given school day there would be gaggles of two to four mothers waving at similar groups, smiling and chatting with each other,

some wheeling their younger progeny in strollers as the school day's end approached.

Today however, the groups numbered anywhere between ten and twenty, each one as sombre as a grey November day. Heads were bowed, the chatter gone, replaced by close conversations. Inaudible.

There was fear. From her window Hyle saw it plainly.

Hyle's arms were folded tightly across her stomach, she felt sick, empty. Her body rigid, her jaw clamped.

Her mood swung like some mad pendulum from anger to deep sadness, taking in disappointment, hopelessness and sheer frustration within its arc.

How could this have happened, in her town, in Hope Springs, in this age!?

Shadwell had answered the door that morning before the hammering of the constable broke it down, Hyle had heard a breathless frantic report from the policeman, Shadwell calling upstairs,

'I have to go, something's happened'.

By the time Hyle made it to the hallway he was about to leave, pulling his jacket on, and about to join the impatient looking constable who was waiting outside.

Hyle's questioning look stalled Shadwell a moment, he explained in short order. "There's a body. Back of The Waffelhus."

Before Hyle could even draw breath to ask, the door slammed and he was gone.

By the time, and it was not long. But by the time Hyle reached The Waffelhus a considerable number of townsfolk had gathered behind some blue tape that the police had strung out as a barrier.

Hyle barged her way through and ducked under the tape. She noticed Theis. He was sitting on the steps to the back door of The Waffelhus with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders.

He looked grey. He barely acknowledged Hyle with reddened eyes.

Seeing a person beyond the tapes, a constable made to stop Hyle but thought the better of it as soon as he realised who it was.

He stepped back and nodded, allowing Hyle past to the rear of the building, to the trash bins.

What did stop Hyle's march was a glance from Tuki, a glance that said clearly, 'Don't come closer.

' Despite slightly reddened eyes, Tuki was in full 'professional mode' Her medical bag by her feet and a notepad in her hand.

Beyond her, Shadwell was peering into the bin, equally engrossed I his work. He looked up for a moment then spoke to a constable by his side.

It was the constable who filled Hyle in with the details so far as they were known at this time.

So, it was Magrat. The enthusiastic medical student to whom only yesterday, Hyle had presented with a diploma in recognition of her progress and the work she had done for the town.

The bubbly fifteen-year-old who had proved herself and now had a bright future ahead of herself.

The outsider who despite the stony welcome from some had brought smiles to most of the people she had met in the last month. Magrat, now lying broken in a waste bin. It was beyond belief.

Mayor Troy, despite her office, was surplus to requirements for the moment. This was a police and medical matter.

Hyle sat with Theis on the steps by the rear door of The Wafflehus, consoling him.

As she sat with her arm around her cafe manager, Hyle looked at the faces behind the tape. Winnie Barrow, red faced, red eyed, weeping, surrounded by her circle of friends. Evan Stanton.

Wide eyed, swallowing like a beached fish. Some faces shocked, some shaken, others nodding, others shaking lowered heads. The background noise was only low mutterings.

Somewhere in this sea of faces... well... someone, perhaps. Were they among the crowd?

In time, the body was lifted from the trash bin, more observations taken, more photographs.

Magrat's remains were then wrapped and escorted by Doctor Troy and a couple of constables to Haven for the autopsy.

Hyle took Theis home then returned to her office.

The tapping on her office door shocked Hyle back to the here and now.

"I thought I told, No interrupting!" Hyle snapped as the door opened behind her.

"Hyle." It was Shadwell's voice.

Day 2

Hyle looked in the mirror, the bags under her eyes were evidence of a sleepless night.

Her mind had been full of the previous day's events and the fact Shadwell had been out all-night investigating did not help.

He had called home the previous evening. Hyle had been sitting on the sofa.

"I think there's something in the fridge for your dinner," she said.

"Are you not eating?"


"You should."

Hyle just shrugged, so Shadwell squatted in front of her, put his hands on her knees and sought her saddened gaze, knowing his silence would elicit some response from her. She sighed.

"Any news?"

Shadwell shook his head still holding her attention.

"Still waiting for the autopsy. When I get that we should have something more to go on. My guys are taking statements around town. I'm going to speak to Theis as soon as he feels better."

Hyle leaned to one side and took a sheet of paper from her rear jeans pocket, she opened it and gave it to Shadwell.

"Here are a few names, people who complained or threatened about Magrat."

Shadwell looked.

"Yeah, I read the reports. They're going to be interviewed tomorrow." He folded the sheet and pushed it into his pocket. Hyle resumed her silence, although she held his hands.

She lifted her eyes from his hands to his face.

"I'm just empty. Magrat seemed like a success. Now, I just feel like a year's work has been torn apart.

Why do I bother when someone can just ruin everything with such a cruel act?" She felt him squeeze her hands.

"Because that's what you do." He smiled softly, "One or two individuals do not make the whole town, Hyle. Everyone else is relying on you, me, The Constabulary, to find the answers. And we will.


Hyle nodded slowly. "I am so tired; I can't find 'Mayor Troy' within myself."

Shadwell stood up, pulling Hyle gently to her feet.

"Get some rest. I'm going to have a good look around. Maybe send up the drone to see who's around. You know what they say..."


"That the guilty always return to the scene."

Hyle huffed a little.

"Maybe they did, I was looking at the crowd thinking that someone among them could be the killer."

"Maybe they were, but I'm going to find out who."

Shadwell gently pushed her butt towards the stairs. "Get some sleep. 'Mayor Troy' will be waiting for you on the doorstep in the morning."

Hyle took a deep breath before turning away from the mirror, straightening herself and her clothes. She went downstairs and paused as she opened the door.

The morning was bright, like any other, her car waited as it always had.

Mayor Troy closed the door behind her and started her day.

Hyle paused before she got into her car. She retraced her steps back to her house.

Reaching, she picked out a couple of stems from the julestjerne from the pot by the door before returning to her car.

The police had extended the cordon from where it had been yesterday. Hyle parked her car as close to The Waffelhus as she could. She took a deep breath and summoned Mayor Troy.

There were a few townsfolk standing in respectful silence by the cordon. She noticed Winnie Barrow stooping to add a spray of flowers to the growing pile near the door to the diner.

Hyle knelt added the blooms she had brought from her house to the numerous tributes already lying there.

"Poor girl. Such a crying shame." Winnie was standing beside Hyle as she stood back up. "Is there any news, Miss Troy?" She asked hopefully.

Hyle turned to Winnie with sympathy.

"Not that I can say at this time unfortunately, Miss Barrow, you understand. But I can assure you that the constabulary will not rest until the truth is known. I promise."

Winnie nodded. One of her friends, equally silver haired, linked arms with Winnie and they moved slowly away down the street, deep in discussion.

Hyle watched them go and walked along the cordon as it flapped gently in the breeze. She looked out across the valley in the direction of Haven.

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