File 4: C for Cover


People are so fascinating, thought Catalina. They never see the whole story.

This thought had been sparked by an announcement on the radio about new safety precautions the town would be taking. There was a stream that ran through the town, cutting it almost evenly in two, with a one-foot bridge that went over. The land on either side of the stream just past the shores was several feet higher than the level of the water, and the bridge touched on the higher ground. The land between the bridge and the stream was very steep with many tree roots sticking out of the soil, and it was often slippery. Yes, it was possible that the corpses who had been found in the past few months washed up on the shores of the stream had simply slipped, broken their necks and drowned, but what was the probability of that? Realistically, what were the chances that so many people had accidentally died in the same way in the same place?

Catalina’s theory was that they had all been murdered. Considering the fact that twenty people died of a broken neck by the stream, she thought murder was the likely cause. Maybe it was because she had a special talent for making up extraordinary situations, but she was convinced that there was a murderer running loose in the town.

Still thinking about this potential murder, something drove her to stop her car near the footbridge. She pulled over and walked to the bridge. She stood a few feet away from the structure, thinking first how calm and peaceful it was there at night. Second, that it had been incredibly stupid of her to come to the site of a potential murder with a possible killer on the loose, especially at night. You know, she chided herself, this is how the other people probably died.

Nonetheless, she was drawn to take a few steps closer, until she was almost at the bridge when something shot out in front of her and tripped her. With a gasp and a groan, she tumbled to the bottom of the slope, landing with one arm in the water. That arm hurt a lot, as though she had broken it. Standing up, she squinted into the darkness. She couldn’t see anything, but she felt a rush of air behind her and reached out to grab whatever it was. Turning around, she was surprised to find she was holding the wrist of a dark hooded figure that had been reaching for her head. The figure tried to lunge at her again, but Catalina twisted the wrist outwards until she heard a satisfying crunch. As the figure writhed in pain, its hood fell backward, and Catalina found herself staring into the face of… herself?

“You’re supposed to be dead,” said Catalina flatly.

“Who, me?” Said her mirror image through sharp, barking, bursts of laughter. “Is that what they told you? I’m not dead. I never died. They just got rid of me because they didn’t want another one. That’s why I’ve been killing people. You’re enough like me that you would’ve come here eventually. Then I could kill you. Then I would finally be the better one.” She was showing the pain she was in clearer than Catalina was, possibly because Catalina was still holding her arm in the awkward position, while her own arm she was holding pressed to her chest. Catalina cocked her head, thinking for a moment. Then suddenly, without warning, she kicked the other girl in the head, causing her drop to the ground and her neck to twist at a sickening angle, and then kicked her into the water.

“No.” Catalina said. “You’ll just be another accident. Another accidental murder under the cover of the bridge, under the cover of darkness.”