The bailiff called out, “Order! Order in the court! The case of Melas versus Bassett et All will now proceed! Please rise for the honorable Judge William Hale!”
Lisa, Delron, and Adam stood up as well as the two people in the audience, and Ezekiel roosted on the prosecution’s side. Lisa purposely avoided eye contact with Ezekiel, but Adam sharply glared at him! Lisa would have savored in this show of solidarity, but she was too worried about what fate they would endure as a result of this hearing! With everyone’s predisposition to castigate her for an untrue backstory she didn’t esteem that she would get a fair trial! The further damage to her reputation would have hurt, and she fretted that this misdeed would prompt Melanie to fire her, but neither of those possibilities were even the worst part of this! Her incarceration would free Rebecca to run amok wherever she pleased without interference, and she feared her capabilities without Lisa’s ability to fight back! The only souls who knew of Rebecca’s existence were likely due to get locked up, and she grew frightened by what would wait for them once they got released!
“You may be seated!” a cold voice told the courtroom. Lisa wasn’t sure if his long, black robes simply adorned him in a manner that gave him this appearance or not, but Lisa swore he swooped in like a bat on its hunt! He perched on his bench and studied the court with his small, beady eyes, and his wrinkles became more pronounced as he sneered at the entire lot! Lisa’s trepidation heightened- this did not bode well for their odds of winning! Judge Hale pored over the document that the bailiff handed him, and he banged the gavel to initiate the hearing. “On this twenty-ninth day of October at eleven thirteen p.m., we are here for the arraignments of Delron Faulkner, Adam Farrington, and Lisa Bassett for the charges of trespassing and attempt at burglary or destruction of property.” He put down his paper and addressed Lisa directly, “So, you’re the one everyone’s been talking about! We meet at last!”
“Yes, your honor! But I hope my public image does not bar me from receiving a fair trial!” Lisa expressed as politely as her early irritation with this event would allow her to.
Judge Hale briefly flustered, “Of course not! I only mentioned this as a point of interest. Only direct evidence shall be considered for my ruling.”
Ezekiel objected, “Your honor, the city intends to present character witnesses to testify on the defendant’s criminal intent.”
“Isn’t that highly unusual for misdemeanor charges?” Delron challenged that premise.
“It is unusual for a strict liability case such as this. Unless the prosecution can prove the defendants committed more erroneous offenses, the court cannot permit character witnesses or heresay.” Judge Hale begrudgingly decreed. Lisa began to grow hopeful about their odds of success until Judge Hale stated, “Sheriff Marshal Hopkins saw first-hand that they entered illegally onto property whose owners gave them no permission to do so, so I’m inclined to let the trespassing charges stand.”
Adam protested, “That’s not fair! We didn’t get a chance to defend ourselves!”
Judge Hale inquired, “Did you enter onto Blackthorn Orchards without getting the owners’ permission before doing so?”
“Yes, but-!” Adam tried to fully reply.
“Then I have no choice!” Judge Hale didn’t show an ounce of regret to act upon this obligation.
Lisa detected Peanut barking in the distance, and with Delron’s proximity to the dog, she recalled a vivid detail from their expedition and brought up, “We didn’t want to break into anyone’s land, but we had to retrieve his pet! We couldn’t let him just roam around on someone else’s grounds!”
Judge Hale questioned, “Why didn’t you get the owners’ permission to retrieve the animal?”
“Who is the owner?” Lisa shot back. “No one lives there, so how would we get the dog fast enough to prevent him from wreaking havoc in that territory?”
“Well…” Judge Hale fumbled through some files, and when he couldn’t present an immediate response, he shifted to a different tactic, “You should have contacted the police and let them take care of the matter!”
Lisa folded her arms definitely and probed, “What police officer would have been willing to go onto a haunted property?”
Judge Hale’s frown grew more pronounced, but he didn’t verbally react to the issue she raised. Ezekiel could obviously see his inner turmoil over his legal obligations, so he catechized, “Your honor, what about the scream Sheriff Hopkins put in his report?”
“What about it?” Judge Hale countered. Ezekiel looked as though he had slapped him in the face with that remark, so Judge Hale elucidated, “Do you have any video of that occurrence? Photos of their activities? Eyewitness accounts? Something that proves they were doing something unrelated to dog retrieval?”
“We have theories…” Ezekiel pouted prior to Judge Hale’s reaction to this assertion, and Lisa strove to not appear overly delighted by Ezekiel’s downward spiral in fear that Judge Hale would rescind his lean to reluctantly side with them!
With a heavy sigh, Judge Hale ruled, “The court finds that the prosecution has failed to provide sufficient evidence that a crime took place, therefore, I shall not schedule any further hearings on this matter. All charges are dismissed!”
Ezekiel stormed out without his gaze meeting anyone else’s. The bailiff directed, “Please rise and stay standing until-.” He glanced behind him, and it stunned him to espy that the judge’s bench was already empty! Lisa shook her head at the poor behavior in which her opponents conducted themselves after receiving their loss, but she relished in the relief that she and her allies avoided a disastrous fate! As the officers who escorted them in proceeded to prepare for their exit, Lisa twisted the emerald ring on her finger- she could not wait to take that thing off!
“Here are your belongings.” A female clerk plopped a giant bag onto the counter next to her cellphone and keys.
“That’s not mine,” Lisa informed her.
The clerk gave her a quizzical stare. “Sheriff Hopkins brought this in during your processing; why would he do that if it wasn’t yours?”
Not wanting to explain the insult that Ann pinned onto her or the fact that Marshal further exasperated that jibe with this gesture, Lisa changed her tune, “Oh, I forgot. It is mine!” The clerk still eyeballed her peculiarly, but since she no longer had to make excuses for herself, she snatched her stuff and marched out the door.
It irked Lisa that while the police transported her to the station, no one offered her a ride home! Adam got released faster than her, and he apparently caught a lift to his home from someone who was unwilling to stick around for her. She felt certain that Abby’s cronies had relayed what transpired to her, and she assumed that Abby hovered around the precinct anxiously anticipating the outcome of this judicial entanglement. A pang of jealousy rose up within her, and in that moment, all she desired was to punish Abby for her manipulative efforts to sway Adam’s affections! As she stewed over this concept, she noticed the streetlights darkened from dark clouds forming over her! She glimpsed up at them, and then she focused on that ring. She shook herself out of this vengeful stupor- as much as she disliked Abby, she could not bring herself to enact any sort of horrendous curse onto her! She kept it on to ensure its safe passage to her abode, but she steadfastly refused to let any negative emotions overpower her during her travel! Regardless of what injustice she underwent, she resolved to never let herself become Rebecca Rook!
Delron lived close to that site, and he offered to loan her his bicycle for the journey, but she had to say no because of the bag of clothes forced onto her. She would have loved to have abandoned it somewhere, but she could not risk any other infractions, not even something small like littering, right then! Her studio wasn’t terribly far from there, but it felt that way as she dragged her heavy load down the boulevard! She could still see shadows lingering behind her, and she had no appetite to entertain them! It became especially difficult as she lugged her burden up her staircase- her pants got caught onto part of the railing and created a large hole in the fabric! She gritted her teeth, but she did not relent to her rage!
As soon as Lisa got into her apartment, she immediately wanted to get the ring off! She pulled at the spooky piece of jewelry, but it didn’t want to budge! She absolutely refused to don that accursed object for the eternal period it probably wanted her to, and she yanked at it even harder! All of a sudden, it not only loosened off of her finger, it flew across the room! It landed on the floor with a loud ting, and then it bounced under her bed prior to her being able to stop it! She bent over and aimed to retrieve it, but she couldn’t feel it anywhere along the edge, so she resentfully got low onto the ground. She already felt sore enough from the arduous trek she just made, and it was a total pain to perform this feat now! She turned on her cellphone’s flashlight, and she grew alarmed to find more than merely the trinket beneath her sleeping post…
Lisa squinted her eyes to read what the markings on the wall denoted, but she couldn’t quite make it out, so she turned on her camera feature and zoomed in… She gasped when she saw that the word “witches” lurked next to a set of tallies! It disgusted her enough to tempt her to avert her eyes, but she lingered momentarily in order to take a picture for Delron and Adam. As soon as she snapped and sent the photo, she tore herself away from that visualization! It was hard for her to process that! Whoever originally occupied this space clearly enjoyed watching the bodies of the witch-trial victims getting moved down the river and into the graveyard!
This development stressed her out enough that she pulled up her job search app! She didn’t fancy the idea of giving up on an important goal, but at this juncture, it seemed imperative to her survival! The others could repair the damage done by her accidental contact with the Proctor Bible! She acknowledged that this error released that malevolent essence, and that malevolent essence would undoubtedly destroy many innocent lives in her absence, but if she stayed in Melas, she may not have been able to exist long enough to do much good for the community anyways! She nearly texted Lydia to tell her opinion of this creepy city had been correct all along, but then…
The familiar sensation o a creature brushing against her legs returned, and she ceased her current undertaking to focus on it. “Oh hello, Hester!” The cat’s form appeared in front of her, and initially, she was pleased to get such a supportive visitor, but soon, she recognized that Hester was staring at her with a hurtful mistrust! She couldn’t comprehend why until it finally dawned on her that she probably sensed her intention of departure! “Listen, it’s not my fault!” The feline persisted in its peering, so she amended her sentence, “Well, I suppose I did start this fiasco, but I can’t finish it! I’ve done all I can…” Hester’s stance didn’t bend, so Lisa admitted, “Okay, so I could give the witching bottles a shot, but how can I live somewhere where a vile human being amused themselves with people’s suffering? See what they were doing…?”
She pulled up the image for her, but in this instance, she observed more details beside the witch tallying. There was another count labeled as familiars, and her stomach lurched. “They killed innocent animals too?” She buried her visage into her palms, but she craned her neck back up when Hester emitted a pitiful mew. She gazed at her as though she were striving to convey a relevant message, so Lisa posed to her, “Did they execute you in the witch-trials too?” Hester meowed in a sad fashion and bowed like she was reliving an awful memory, and that was more than Lisa could bear! She could not be quiet with this revelation! Action had to get taken!
Lisa dove back under the bed and swiped the ring back out! She dashed over to the kitchen table where Adam’s witching bottle stood and plunked Rebecca’s possession straight into it! She poured in the cinnamon and salt that the instructions next to her described, and she swooshed it around for about ten seconds. She stuck the cork back into it and proudly displayed it for Hester, and she avidly declared, “You will not have died in vain! I’m gonna catch that she-devil, and once this nightmare is over, I’ll do everything I can to insure that all of the guilt-free souls lost in this atrocity are remembered and get the justice that they deserve!” It warmed the cockles of her heart to see Hester’s warm glow resurface, but as she gawked at the completed witching bottle in her grasp, she became apprehensive that this endeavor would prove easier said than done…