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MURDER AT THE SWAILS! (Terry has asked me to put a PG-13 rating on this...he thinks it's a bit g

It happened in the pre-dawn hours. The life of an innocent brutally extinguished.

Just a dozen paces from where the body lay, we slept. Still pure. Ignorant that death had crept in. The shutters in the bedroom clenched tightly against the looming dawn. The fan circulating ahead providing a comforting whir. A cat snoozing at the foot of the bed. All sleeping. Blissfully.

How did evil enter? Through a small, small portal. Through an uncorrupted source. Now tainted. The portal is sheltered inside a secure glass door that guards the entrance to the home. The opening is approximately ten inches wide. The length only eleven inches. But big enough. A child could crawl through. The space is protected by a mobile heavy plastic flap that hangs down. It's designed to keep all moving things out. But when the latch is not secured. The flap pushes open.

This access to the home was intended to provide comfort and happiness, even safety. One of the home's occupants is terrorized by malevolent forces on the outside. If pursued the occupant can disappear through the flap and find refuge.

But as the world slept that dawn, a beating heart, one with the soul of a fiend and a conscience devoid of life, stalked. The need excruciating. The temptation beyond control.

Behind the house a small wood breathes silently. Trees, broken limbs, and clinging bramble make access difficult. But not impossible. This is where the hunter hunted. This is where the victim, in the first blush of a beautiful day, foolishly played.

What goes through the mind of one compelled to wreak terror and pain. I can only speculate. There is a slice of wantonness that may be in all of us. A level of debauchery we keep at bay. But sometimes a momentary lapse occurs. That dark place slips its leash. I believe in my heart of hearts this is what happened.

This taker-of-lives would have regret.

But in that fateful hour, the killer advanced without mercy...sleek and skilled. I did not hear the screams of the victim as he was taken. I can only imagine the trembling fear of his quaking body. The pain as he was borne through that sweet smelling morning to the portal where he would meet his death.

In seconds, the house was breached by the killer who knew the home's vulnerabilities. In seconds, the victim's life was viciously ripped away. Body parts scattered like leaves on a windy day. But for the one who died, those seconds surely felt like hours.

Yet, we slept on.

As the victim's body cooled and grew slowly rigid and cold.

Our dreams dreamed on.

As word of this small soldier's demise flew through the wind.

We snuggled safe in our nest of blankets.

Now the killer long since retreated. The deed done.

That morning I woke to a flood of sunshine and found darkness. Just ten feet away, small grey feathers littered the floor. Tiny downy bits of fluff and plume. All leading to a corpse where a pigeon laid curled in death. Its bruised heart torn from its chest.

I knew the culprit. I knew her well. She slept peacefully in her small bed. No signs of distress. Angels could have been in her dreams. I had raised her with my own hand. I had instilled decency, compassion, and empathy in her. I had tried to provide an example of good versus evil. I had given her the best of me. Yet I had failed. Completely and utterly failed.

Now the innocence is gone. The truth exposed to harsh sunlight. We had raised a killer. A murderer.

Lord help us all.

Maddie will be eligible for parole in 2040.


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