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[FREEZE FRAME] CHAPTER 25: AFTERMATH

 

“POACHERS CAUGHT IN RANGER DOUBLE MURDER
Duo to be indicted on Fed charges

Upstate – Two poachers have been indited in federal court for the murder of two wildlife rangers in the Thorn Valley wilderness preserve. The two men face the death penalty if convicted.

Stan Wilson, 27 and Ray Parkinson, 45 will be facing several counts including, murder, trespassing, kidnapping, and the attempted murder of photographer Anna Carmichael, who is currently hospitalized in stable condition.

Ray Parkinson will also be facing additional charges stemming from warrants issued in three other states.

It is unknown how long the poachers had been in the Valley before Wildlife Rangers Michael Henderson and Nick Medvale encountered them. Both rangers were shot at point blank range.

The most surprising element of the case was that the poachers were discovered with the aid of two horses and a dog that escaped from their camp.

It was the dog that clued the station in on the whereabouts of missing photographer Anna Carmichael. Wardens had been looking for her as well after she failed to return to a rendezvous point three days after her appointed time.

“These horses just came to the station with the dog on their heels,” stated head ranger James Wilson. “At first we thought it was a joke but when we recognized the horses as our own, we knew we had a situation on our hands. It was Ms. Carmichael’s dog that led us to the camp where we found the two suspects tied and beaten badly.”

No one knows who attacked the poachers and no evidence of other people were found.

Anna Carmichael was a photographer on assignment when it is suspected she was kidnapped by the poachers and held hostage. She is currently being treated at St. Vincents Hospital where she is unable to recall any of the events leading up to her rescue.

“This is very common among survivors of very stressful situations,” her doctor noted. “Usually thhis form of temporary amnesia clears up within several weeks to several months depending on the extent of the trauma. With Ms. Charmichel however, it shouldn’t hopefully be that long. She’s not in as bad of shape as we are used to seeing in similar cases.”

The two poachers deny that Ms. Carmichael was in their custody for any longer than one day and that she had disappeared from their camp soon after the rangers were murdered. Ms. Carmichael was found unconscious alongside the tied-up poachers.

In an unusual twist, Stan Wilson is pleading to the government for leniency in exchange for information that claims the National Institute of Mental Health hired them to poach the Valley.

Although an initial statement calls the claims “unfounded” and “outrageous” the agency has refused to comment any further on the situation.”

The article continued further but Abby chose wisely to not go on with her reading. I sighed loudly as I stared up at the pocked ceiling of the stark hospital room, my mind still in a haze I couldn’t get out of.

“Well, at least they spelled our last name right,” Abby replied with her usual dry tone accented by the natural hoarseness in her voice. No wonder she made a great assistant DA. No one could ever tell when she was joking.

I glanced over at my dark-haired sister whose chiseled features had been made more so with the stress of me being missing and now in the hospital.

The rustling of the newspaper as she placed it on the bedside table rumbled in my hypersensitive ears. I turned the other way facing the window in a weak attempt to block out the noise. My eyes squinted at the sunlight.

“The doctors say you’ll be able to go home tomorrow,” Abby commented. “They say you’re doing fine and should be back to normal in no time.”

I gave a soft snort at the comment. “Normal. Whatever that means.”

I tried to work through the thick fog that was my memory but nothing concrete appeared from the effort. I swallowed hard to keep my fragile emotions in check. I was told I was in the hospital for two weeks yet I only could remember what happened three days ago when I finally woke up.

Abby stood up with restless energy. She paced the side of the bed as she stretched her tense muscles. “I’m going to get something to eat. Do you want anything?”

I shook my head.

Abby stood over me, wiping the wrinkles from the casual skirt and blouse she wore. Even in a hospital she couldn’t get out from her work mindset. “By the way, Jack sends his regards.”

“Thank you,” I mumbled back with a small smile, remembering the disheveled white hair and the childish gleam. I chuckled inside.

Closing my eyes I listened to the sound of Abby’s heels against the linoleum floor and the door clicking closed. Finding myself alone I sat up, the effort sending my head swimming.

The newspaper lay on the table next to the bed. I couldn’t help but poke at it as the headline screamed at me. The muddy gray photo underneath especially caught my attention. Pulling the paper I took a closer look. I stared at the coarse dots forming the faces of two men sitting in a courtroom. My gaze zeroed in on the stitched gash in the older poacher’s chin and my chest tightened.

Tears welled as I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of intense loss. Slamming the paper down I shook my head trying to place it. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way. An entire part of my life was missing and I couldn’t place a single event, a single incident, a single face.

I lurched over nauseous as a loud sob escaped. My entire body shook and I found myself weeping. Weeping for something I couldn’t remember. Something I knew I would never see again.

Weeping for the fact that my heart was broken and I didn’t know why.


[FREEZE FRAME] CHAPTER 26: EPILOGUE

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