Prompts: Lightbulb, Halloween/ghosts/ghoulies, skyscraper/office building, sleeping/alarm clock ringing, turning, rocket crashing in space, sunrise/sunset, sheriff’s badge/star, bowl of steaming something
Ellie stood at the entrance to the site and looked up at the girders rising high above the ground, the sunrise painting the steel in pinks and purples. Except the places where red and black spray paint marred the office building’s skeleton. She turned to look at the Fairfax County sheriff’s deputy.
“It looks like a Halloween prank a few days early,” she said, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her lightweight jacket. “You’re sure it’s gang-related?” She tried to remember the deputy’s name. Bettencourt, she thought. “Sgt. Bettencourt, isn’t this a little far out in the county for gangs?”
Bettencourt shrugged. “We’ve been seeing it more and more on the eastern side of the county, spilling over from DC.” He paused as the radio on his shoulder crackled. “They’ve even had a rise in gang activity in the Shenandoah Valley the past few years,” he added. “It’s not just the cities any more.”
“Why here, though?” Ellie scanned the development, sandwiched between two townhouse complexes, located off a main road in the fast-growing county. “I expect irate neighbors, not gangs.”
“If Fairfax County was a city, it would be one of the 25 largest in the country,” Bettencourt said. “All sorts of outsiders coming in these days.” His sneer made Ellie conscious of her own accent, the Boston flavor a far cry from the softer syllables commonly heard among native Virginians.
“Can the crews clean up the damage?” She looked over at Bettencourt, who had a good five inches on her, despite the modest heels that took her within an inch of six feet.
He nodded. “We took some photos after we got out here, got a few more from the neighbors who called it in.” The sergeant tipped his head to the southwest. “They have a strong Neighborhood Watch program over there. You might just have been a handy, unguarded target.”
Ellie stepped back so she wasn’t so conscious of looking up at the man. “But you don’t think so.” Continue reading