The opulent home office of Summer Diamond is an homage to her acting career. Stunning black-and-white beauty shots, and vivid photographs of her on movie sets through the years line the cream-colored walls. Included with them is the glorious moment she won a Jorge for Best Actress in the movie Redemption of the Accountant. The dramatic male statue stands proud, polished and golden on the fireplace mantle. Resolut stares at it. Yes… I can feel it. There will be more. Everyone will experience me everywhere, forever! Summer told Resolut backstage that night. He knew she would then and thought the same now.
Blood. Three months pregnant.
Calm. Stay cool. Resolut cautions himself, running his hand across his chest. Beneath the hoodie, long scars stretch across his skin where flesh was cut open, insides tainted with foreign objects by the blood of the woman he loves. Did they do this to her? On top of a glossy white desk, Resolut finds Summer’s daily planner. “This agenda says she was due on set at 4 p.m., and her driver would pick up at 3 p.m. Last message I received from her was this morning.” Frowning, Resolut squints at the computer screen. Sarush stops on the 2:28 p.m. marker.
“The footage is ready.” Sarush rises so Resolut can look. “This is what the guys found.” He presses play. “Look close.”
Interior Camera–Master Hallway: Summer enters her bedroom and closes the white double doors.
“Keep watching,” Sarush whispers.
Resolut’s eyes burn into each second.
Interior Camera–Master Hallway: The screen turns black, but the time rolls on, followed by Summer’s screams ending at 2:31 p.m.
“What the fuck — is that it?”
“Yes. There is no other footage after.”
“Wait. The camera built into the grapefruit tree out back… That one has a shot of her bedroom window from outside.” Resolut holds his breath, clicking back to 2:28 p.m. marker.
Exterior Camera–Tree: Summer enters her bedroom and sits at the vanity, solemnly braiding her hair. She stops every so often, wiping her eyes and cheeks.
Guilt consumes Resolut, recalling their heated argument the day before. She messaged me all morning, and I avoided her. The video flickers and the camera points in a different direction, followed by Summer’s screams ending at 2:31 p.m.
“Fuck!” Resolut booms. “What happened?” he shakes his head. “This is too convenient.” He seethes and faces the window, staring at the silent ocean in the distance. Everyone’s a suspect. We can’t tell what happened after Ben came in.
At the door, a knock. Sarush answers, another guard. “Photos of the scene,” he says. Sarush takes them. The guard looks at Resolut. “Those are the originals; all copies destroyed. Emprise network has complied and stopped broadcasting them as well. For the bells, we have classified their ringing as a test of the Aeterna Armed Forces and a matter of coincidence considering what took place here.”
“Bring Ben Kelleher to me.” Resolut orders. The guard nods and turns on his heel fast. Sarush closes the door and hands Resolut the folder. He shuffles through the photos and slams it shut. “It’s Summer, but I don’t see Ben anywhere. He said he saw a flash. Where’s he at? His ass should be here, too.” Resolut fumes, pacing the room. “I said I wanted all the photos!”
Sarush whispers into his wrist. “Done. Waiting for a response.”
Another knock, louder this time. At the computer, Resolut minimizes the security footage, then brings up the live Master Hallway camera outside Summer’s bedroom. In his peripheral, Sarush opens the door of the office. He hears Ben talking. Resolut looks up—Ben’s head explodes open. Sarush lunges for the shooter—a rogue guard, wrestling him for the gun. It fires twice into the ceiling. Resolut ducks and sees Ben dead on the floor. He looks up to movement on the screen.
Live Interior Camera–Master Hallway: September runs down the hall into Summer’s bedroom.
Resolut grabs the screen. “Father?” He looks up, facing the barrel of a gun. Sarush wrestles for it but it fires, shattering the glass window behind Resolut—he ducks from the shower of glass. Both men crash onto the desk, sending stationery and girly desk trinkets flying. Resolut crawls across the floor finding Sarush’s dagger, then sees the computer screen. He can’t see September. “NO!” Sarush yells. Resolut looks up as the rogue guard runs for him, gun in hand. He fires, grazing Resolut’s cheek. Sarush kicks him in the back and retrieves the dropped gun, holding it to the assassin’s head.
“Who sent you!” Resolut growls. The man spits on him, a direct, slimy hit on Resolut’s other cheek. He smiles, wipes his face and backs away as Sarush holds the man’s head in position. Resolut lunges forward, plunging the dagger in and out of his face and neck at piston speed. Like trash, Sarush flings his dead body aside. “Find out who this fucker was.” Resolut says, inspecting the eye hanging from the dagger’s tip. He throws it aside. “September’s here, let’s go.”
Outside the office there’s dead guards everywhere. Sarush and Resolut agree. Neither heard any commotion and unsure what happened. They run to the Master Bedroom. Resolut kicks open the door. “Father!” he yells as September dives into the blood, vanishing beneath. He runs over, shifting his hands through the blood—it’s sloshy carpet beneath. “Father, no!” he shouts. “NO!” He digs his fists into the floor.
“LOOK!” Sarush yells. Resolut looks back up at a hand rising from the blood. He lunges forward, grabbing it. He leans in more, almost falling in himself for a better grip. “Pull!” Resolut shouts, pulling backward as Sarush pulls him. Coated in blood shades from head to toe, a body emerges. They drag it across the floor to safety. “Summer!” Resolut lays her down. Where’s father? He looks at the blood and back to Summer, passed out. “Hand me that blanket.” Sarush rips the blue-gray knit blanket off the bed. Resolut takes it, draping it across her nude body. Sarush runs back to the puddle, watching it.
“Res…” Summer tugs on Resolut’s hoodie. He smiles. Seeing her face is a sunrise on the darkest day. Slowly coming to, her smile fades, as if she recalled something of importance. “He took her,” she whispers. “He’ll take them all!” Summer’s hands trail down to her belly, lined with rough cuts across it, like Resolut’s chest.
“Who, Summer? Who did this to you?”
“Your father!” Resolut steps into her ocean-blue eyes and drowns in sadness. She can’t mean September… She melts in his arms, sobbing. “We’re cursed…” He hugs her tight, uncertain what she meant.
“HANG ON!” Sarush growls, clutching another hand.
Resolut rises to help. Summer pulls at his joggers, stopping him. “No Res! He has September! The crow’s down there!”
He frowns, leaving anyway. Together they pull with all their might, yanking the stubborn body free. “Gods he’s heavy!” Sarush yells. The man’s eyes are closed, his once navy suit is crimson, and no hint of his unique skin. Sarush leans over, tapping both of his cheeks. “Advisor Velia! Can you hear me?” He looks up at Resolut, shocked. Summer faints, hitting the carpet with a soft thud.
September’s black eyes open and he comes to. “This pool of blood…” he mumbles, his voice a whisper. “I came as soon as I saw the photos on the news. We got here just in time. Your other father had a signature style of torture, always blood or bone related, and someone to clean up any loose ends.” September whispers.
“The one who did that to our King’s face, and the others.” Sarush says, looking at the open wound on Resolut’s cheek.
September nods. “We interrupted his plans, it appears.”
“Wait… So, you’re saying Barasa Crow returned? He did this? I don’t believe it. This is… no. He’s dead. He’s not… no,” he paces. “H-How did you get out? There was nothing but solid floor beneath!”
“Only I can move through existences, or so I thought. It appears Barasa can too, and he does not want your legacy to continue after the theft of his reign.”
“The theft of his reign?”
“Correct. I had him killed… so you could become King.” Resolut stiffens. He has words but listens first. “I gave the order,” September continued. “It doesn’t matter who did it. But… this vengeance from beyond the grave. I’ve never seen this before. Whatever he’s become in death… I’m afraid this isn’t the last of him, especially now that he made his mark.” He looks over at Summer passed out. Resolut is back by her side, holding her in his arms. “He took what would’ve been your daughter, a Princess only three months new inside Summer’s womb. Any child you have with her will belong to him.” His head drops. “I’ve failed you again, my son. I was too late… I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
Resolut’s eyes slam shut. He opens again, looking down at Summer in his arms. “No, Father. You were where you needed to be. You always have.” He looks at September. Tears stream down his face, but Resolut keeps his chin up. He had to be strong for Summer, September, and himself.
No one can have that control over us, not even dead kings. Our legacy will continue, here, with the living, forever. I’ll see that it does.
“I love you,” Resolut says, whispering in Summer’s ear. “No one will hurt you or our children again, I promise.”