That Which Remains by Olivia Batker Pritzker

unnamed-7Final Episode!

Previously… Roxy stabs and kills Ms. Johansson following their confrontation. Readers voted that Roxy runs and hops a train out of Anchester Falls, leaving a note for Juliette.

Episode 20

Roxy got to her feet, washed the blood from her hands quickly and grabbed the yellow legal pad and pen sitting on the table. She’d missed a little blood in her haste, and it smudged the yellow paper red as she hastily wrote a note to Juliette. She only paused for a minute, looking around the kitchen – images of she and Juliette cooking dinner, laughing, drinking wine swam in front of her eyes – before slipping into her room to grab her patchwork backpack and then out the door. She had to leave. There were plenty of other jewels in the world, plenty of things to go after, she reminded herself. Next time would be better. She arrived at the gritty Anchester Falls railway station, hoisted herself into a boxcar, and curled up in a corner, breathing a sigh of relief and more than a little sadness as the familiar chugging of the train began and she was pulled away from Anchester Falls forever.

Juliette closed the door to DJs room and walked back to the kitchen, expecting to find Roxy and Ms. Johansson still sitting at the table. It took her a minute to process what she saw instead – Ms. Johansson’s body on the floor, Roxy gone, a bloody note on the table. She stood still for a moment, too horrified to do anything, then shakily read Roxy’s note. When she’d finished, she reached for the phone almost without thinking and dialed Jasper’s number.

“I need you to come over right away,” she whispered, her voice surprisingly calm. He was there in fifteen minutes.

The two stood silently looking at the body. “Well,” Jasper said finally, “I suppose it’s no great loss.” He looked again at the note from Roxy, which said simply – “Juliette, she killed your parents.” Juliette nodded.

“So we should move the body,” she said after a moment. Jasper nodded and moved toward Ms. Johansson, but Juliette stopped him a second later.

“Wait,” she said quickly. “I need to know everything. Jasper, if Ms. Johansson killed my parents, if she was the one after those jewels, how did Roxy know? And you, what is this organization that sent you to investigate my parents’ deaths? Will they ever stop?”

Jasper looked at Juliette, his glittering eyes strangely dulled. “They’ll stop if I tell them it’s a lost cause,” he said slowly. “If I tell them the jewels are gone, that they’re impossible to trace. They trust me. Roxy was part of the organization too, for a while, but she’s long been working only for herself. I believe she came here looking for the jewels too, at first, but -” He stopped, seeing Juliette’s horrified expression. “But I think that by the end, she was more on your side than anybody’s.

Juliette nodded again. Wordlessly, she and Jasper disposed of the body. When they had finished, they stood in the street outside Juliette’s huge brick house. The wind was picking up, and leaves were swirling around the deserted street. Jasper cleared his throat.

“Well Juliette,” he said finally. “I think this concludes my investigation. In my business, you win some, you lose some. In any event, I’m sure my superiors will understand that whatever Ms. Johansson did with the jewels, it’s now entirely out of your hands. I sincerely thank you for your help.”

He nodded courteously, and Juliette smiled for the first time all day. She watched him walk away briskly down the old street and breathed a sigh of relief. It was over.

Back inside, Juliette went upstairs to her bedroom. She slid the top off her mother’s old sewing machine, a secret compartment she’d found at the age of five and been utterly delighted with. Carefully, she removed six glittering jewels. She held them in her hand for a moment, listening to the wind outside and the creaking of the old water wheel turning around and around.
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