Jenn sat in the police precinct, utterly silent. She did not shift in the cold, hard, plastic chair she had been escorted to, and her blank gaze did not move from where it had landed a half hour ago, reading and re-reading the same 5 words on a certificate hanging on the wall. A foil emergency blanket lay loosely around her shoulders, placed there by one of the faceless EMS who had arrived on the scene. Dried blood still streaked her face in some places, seemingly a product of a large, hastily stitched gash at her hairline.
She had already given her statement. That car had been new, bought a week ago to get her to and from the veterinary school that Dr. Green had offered to pay for, if she would work for him for five years after she graduated. Coming back from the night class, she’d been tired and more than ready to get home, but even at 12:30 am she was careful to obey the laws. She’d only been driving 5 miles above the 40 mph speed limit.
Jenn closed her eyes. The dark of midnight washed the back of her eyelids, and she took a deep, shuddering breath.
The light was green and she smiled to be so close to home, enjoying the cool rush of night air on her face as she accelerated through the turn. Her high beams lit on a figure approaching too quickly, and with a sound wrenched deep from her gut Jenn stepped as hard as she could on the brakes- and met no resistance. Her blood turned to ice in her veins. A split second later and she had already traveled 66 feet, barreling towards the defenseless human still standing in the middle of the road. Choking on a scream, Jenn yanked the steering wheel to the right, tires squealing, but the world had no mercy. The initial sound of impact was dull and wet, and then destruction followed on light feet. As her car spun out, headed irreversibly towards the banks of the Rainbow River, she knew that if she lived, as long as she lived, she would remember the glassy, empty eyes of one Rory Langely.
The squeal of a door and quiet footsteps did little to rouse Jenn from her reverie. “Miss Sonyac?” The policewoman’s voice was gentle. Jenn slowly turned her head to meet the woman’s eyes, her movements wooden. “I’m Danica Jules, police chief here.” Chief Jules waited for a second, to see if she would get a response. Jenn said nothing. If she tried to speak, she would cry again, and she physically had no tears left. “We’ve finished the preliminary investigation of your car, Miss Sonyac.” Chief Jules’s face twitched, as if she were going to attempt a reassuring smile and though better of it. “I have good news and bad news. The good news, is that you will not brought up on any charges relating to this tragedy.” Jenn startled enough to snap partway out of her fearful daze, the devastation about Rory and what had happened clearing somewhat in her head. “You were not at fault, Miss Sonyac,” the chief explained, “your car failed. My next question, though, is extremely important, so I need you to think very carefully about your answer.” There was a pregnant pause, and Jenn sat up a little straighter, necessity stabilizing her emotional state.
“Do you have any enemies, Miss Sonyac?” Jenn blinked, opened her mouth, shut it again, and settled into watching Chief Jules for a beat. That was the last thing on this earth she had expected.
“I’m sorry?” Jenn needed to make sure she had heard what she thought she’d heard.
“Do you have any enemies, Miss Sonyac?” Chief Jules’s face was grim. “Your brake lines were cut, ma’am, deliberately made to leak fluid until you could no longer stop and would inevitably crash. The murderer got Rory, but make no mistake about it. The original target was you.”