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The Green Hat

Finding evidence might not only ruin your life. It can end it.

The water seeped enticingly through the woman’s toes as she waited for night to fall and the moon to peek out from behind the dark gray clouds. Her dyed pink hair was slightly wet from the heavy mist that had descended on her way to the lake, but it was quickly drying from the heavy wind. She probably should return soon, but the moon was so beautiful at the lake, it was worth a possible soaking.

When the sky opened up and the rain began to pour down, Krista reluctantly dragged her feet out of the lake and slipped on her orange flip-flops. She hoisted her backpack up and dug out her baseball cap before slinging the backpack over her shoulder. She jogged through the long grass to her dirt bike, but she caught something in her peripheral vision. A splash of dark green was floating down the small stream connected to the lake.

Krista skidded to a halt to stare at the stream. The splash of color was a hat, a knit winter one to be specific, and just as she noticed it, it caught on a stick on the rocky shore very near to her. For some reason that she couldn’t place, she felt extremely propelled to retrieve it. The rocks were too dangerous to step on, so she found a very long stick to use to get the green and white striped hat. Once the hat was safely on the stick, Krista pulled it back towards her and picked it up with her index finger and thumb, careful not to touch the soggy debris attached to the hat. Who knew what kind of bacteria there could be?

As she inspected it, she realized that there were many blotches of brownish-red throughout the hat. Oh well, she’d either figure out what it was, or she wouldn’t. She dumped it in her backpack and continued to her dirt bike.

Later that night, Krista was eating Cheetos on her cheap couch as she watched the news. Apparently, a body had been found earlier that week, not too far from where she lived. A girl, about 16 years old, had gone missing exactly a week ago as she was walking home from school. The body was found two days later. Krista sighed. Who would do that to an innocent, smiling 16-year-old? She was just about to turn the TV off and go brush her teeth as the news lady, Beverly Chamberlin, added something very interesting.

“According to her father, Lucy’s mother, Eloise Merit, knit her a hat with yarn of Lucy’s favorite colors, green and white. Lucy wore it all the time, even on 90 degree summer days. She practically never took it off, so it is peculiar that the body was found without the hat anywhere near it. She was last seen with the hat on. If you find this hat, please return it to your local police station for DNA testing. Back to you, Jim.” Krista thought her eyes were about to bulge out of her head.

The camera flashed to Jim Butcher. He stood in front of a house with a pretty brunette behind him. “Due to the wishes of Lucy’s family, the details of her death will not be disclosed yet.”

Before he finished his segment, Krista had shut off the television and was practically already out the door. She grabbed her phone, called a cab, all the while getting her keys, shoes, wallet, and grabbing the hat.

When she reached the police station, it was nearly 1 A.M. A jovial-looking man greeted her at the door, taking her purse and scanning her. He cleared her and nodded his head towards the desk. Krista thanked him and followed his nod.

A gorgeous man with deep brown eyes greeted her at the desk. When Krista recognized him, she threw her upper body over the desk to hug him and squealed his name.

“Brett! Missed you! Didn’t know you were back in town!” She calmed down and slid down from the counter. He chuckled.

“I tried your house, your cell, e-mail, Facebook, everything. No contact. I’ve been back for about three months now.” He smiled.

Krista gave him her phone so he could put his number in her phone and vice versa. When he handed the phone back to her, she remembered why she was there and pulled the hat out of her purse. She cautiously held the hat with the tips of her fingers, dropping it on the desk with a shiver. She was very careful not to trigger her OCD. “Gah. I hate bacteria.”

Brett chuckled and slid the hat to the other side of the desk and slipped it in a drawer. Krista thought that a bit strange. Shouldn’t he just call a secretary or something to take it in the back, instead of getting its germs on everything?

She shrugged internally and zipped her purse shut. “Well, I gotta get home. It’s,” she peeked at her phone, “12:30. I’m super tired. Wanna meet for breakfast tomorrow?”

He smiled. “Sure. I’ll text you in the morning.”

“Great.” She headed out of the department.

On her way home, the breeze was freezing even though it was only September. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. For some reason, Krista had a funny feeling that she couldn’t quite place. It only got worse when there was a crash right behind her that made her jump practically out of her skin. She whirled around and found that a birch tree had fallen about only 10 feet behind her. She backed up with her eyes wide. Just a terrifying coincidence, she thought. Still, had she been walking just a few seconds slower, she would have been directly where the tree had fallen. She turned around and continued home.

Krista was only a few steps from her front door when a hand clamped over her mouth. She squealed and attempted to turn around with no luck.

“Shh!” a voice hissed. “It’s just me.”

Krista relaxed greatly when she heard it was just Brett. He let go of her and smiled. “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” she permitted and led him inside her door. She returned to her abandoned bag of Cheetos and shoved a few in her mouth. “What’s up?”

“I wanted to update you on the case,” he explained, sinking into her holey green chair. Krista nodded eagerly.

“Investigators found a note on her body that they somehow missed. It said that a cop had been stalking her. It was something like a murder note.” He chuckled.

“Why are you laughing? This is terrible.” She cocked her head. Her eyes widened when the realization hit her.

Brett chuckled again. “Yeah, you guessed right. That brat was psycho. I hated her.”

Before she had a chance to even stand up, he was grabbing her and threw her on the ground. Stars blurred her vision as her head violently hit the edge of the coffee table. Brett pulled a knife out of his back pocket—how had Krista not noticed it?—and leaned over her.

“I don’t want to do this. Really, I don’t. But the police cannot find that hat. They can’t know it’s me.” He leaned down further and brushed the knife over her throat, with just enough pressure to cut all the way through.

Brett stepped back to admire his work. “I tried to make it look like an accident, but that didn’t work,” he admitted as she struggled to keep the blood in her throat. “It’s too bad your life had to end like this.”

The last things she saw were his beautiful eyes before she drifted off into eternal sleep.