Novel 3: Act III, Chapter 1, Scene 1b

TOC page here.

The beginning of Act III continues, circling in closer to the cyclical action of this novel:

By early February, the light waned noticeably later in the evenings. Some Facebook friend of Diana’s posted a picture of the full moon captioned with some nonsense about astrology: Diana downloaded an app that tracked the phases of the moon. It also, to her delight, had a feature that would make her phone ring whenever it was time for one of Islam’s five daily prayers; an in-app purchase changed the ring tone to a recording of a muezzin singing the call to prayer. This lasted for three days before she began to worry about Mustapha’s blood pressure.

But as the moon waned on the screen of her phone, Diana became increasingly nervous. Never a sound sleeper, she took to waking up unprompted each night at moonrise. None of the windows in her townhouse faced southeast, so she couldn’t even see the moon from inside; but she had to put on slippers and a coat and walk out onto the street to see the shrinking crescent before she could get back to sleep.

The day before the new moon, she walked into Captain Jenkins’ office. His face was that of a man drowned by bureaucracy, but his shirt was wrinkle free and his tie perfectly knotted. “Sir,” she began. “It’ll happen in a day or two.” To Jenkins’ raised eyebrow, “The new moon. Another–”

“Don’t say it out loud, Detective. Yeah, I set my calendar up with moon phases. Day or so after the new moon, is what Stoph said.”

“Yes, sir. I’m just… I want to warn people, homeless people.”

“Which would expose our conspiracy to transform a murder into an accidental death.” He motioned for her to shut the door behind her. “And even if that wasn’t the case, you know as well as I do that telling the city to watch out for the Reaper would end up with five people getting killed when some idiot the state has seen fit to allow to carry a firearm mistakes some other armed idiot for a serial killer. And no, I don’t like it, either.”

On the way home, Diana thought about calling Claire Longstreet to encourage her to consider closing the shelter’s doors early. But she couldn’t think of the right way to word it, and while she didn’t need her pension, Mustapha and the others really did.

The next two nights were largely sleepless, not because of anxiety over what might happen, but because of two murders outside dive bars in impoverished neighborhoods. The second one involved Diana running across the field after the suspect, bad knee throbbing, but she caught a break when the man tripped on a ladder someone had left in the grass. So the day after the new moon was an eight a.m. Ambien, the third shift worker’s best friend, and the deep dreamless sleep again, the sort Diana always found unfamiliar.

Just tying the various threads together here, bringing us back to focus on the main story. But because the stories I write are as much about character as they are about plot, I’m going to yank it away right after this and get us back to domesticity.

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