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Story Notes:
All character names are invented, any similarity to actual persons is purely conscidental.
Author's Chapter Notes:
I really wanted to take a stab at this challenge after reading Narya's wonderful and still on-going story of 'Second Chance' I wanted to do something slightly different with this story and so I am still feeling out certain aspects of it as this story is really unlike anything I have done before but I like trying new things creatively.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, today you have been called fourth to decide on the fate the woman who now sits before you”

Victoria paused dramatically at this her pale blue eyes passing over each one of the twelve remember panel ensuring that their full attention was upon her before continuing as she paced forward again. The heels of her pumps clicked softly against the stone floor, straight auburn hair that was pulled into a high ponytail which swung behind her as she walked along.

“The defense would have you believe that Margaret Scott is simply an unfortunate victim of circumstance in this matter, a poor elderly woman who suffered from overwhelming loneliness and as it would happen, a great love of cats”

At this Victoria turned sharply upon her heel and began to pace back once more for she had learned early her career that at times the dramatics of closing arguments could be more important than the facts themselves, especially in a case as emotionally charged as this one.

Every movement was a well practiced, even the smallest detail had not been left to chance as when Victoria entered a courtroom, took up a new case, she never had the slightest intention of loosing it. From the high hem of her skirt to keep the attention of the males upon the panel to the designer heels that would pique the attention of the women, it was small simple things but short of wearing a flashing vest it was the little things that would have to suffice.

Victoria fought to ensure that when she spoke, she was heard.

The slouched form of an disheveled elderly woman sitting at the desk behind her was a pitiful one. Yet Victoria glanced back in a calculated gesture and her expression was one of cool contempt before she looked away again, it did not trouble her look straightly those who she persecuted. In fact in this particular case gave a great deal of satisfaction.

“However, we are not here to judge an animal lover but a woman who is charged with animal cruelty for keeping over one hundred and fifty cats, ten dogs, six rabbits and two parrots in her home. While the defense would have you believe that she simply lacked the financial means to care for all of these animals I have provided you evidence of the contrary. Credit card receipts from Pet Stores throughout the area which prove that Miss. Scott continued to purchase as many as several new animals a week despite being unable to feed and properly care for those she already possessed. Ladies and Gentlemen, does this sound like a responsible pet owner to you?”

Victoria poignantly paused and turning once more slowly walked forward appearing to be deeply lost in her own thought. This case had been in the forefront of the public eye for the last few weeks since the first images of emaciated looking dogs and cats had been splashed over the front page of every major newspaper.

Starving kittens peered out from empty cabinets and a white Persian, it’s once beautiful white coat matted and stained with feces huddled fearfully in the corner of a small cage with the corpses of several other cats before it. These disturbing images had shocked and angered the public which cried for the swift punishment of whoever had done this and Victoria had been quick to answer this call.

With a court case being watched closely by so many, she simply had no choice but to win.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, You have heard all the arguments and now I leave this sad task in your capable hands. I am here because I speak for the victims of cruelty who cannot speak. I seek justice for those animals which have already been euthanized for they were too ill to recover and those animals which struggle still all for the selfness of the woman who sits before you. When you retire to deliberate, ask yourself, shall these poor animals have justice?”

~~~~

“Forty five minutes” Victoria announced as she leaned back in her chair and hooked her feet in front of her, she could not conceal the victorious gleam from her partner Angela who laughed into her mug as she took another sip of coffee.

“That is a new record for you, is it not?” Angela asked with a smile as she turned her attention back towards the case file she had been flipping through.

“Yes, it would have been a quicker had not one member of the jury held out thinking that Scott was too old to go Prison”

“Isn’t she eighty-something?”

“Seventy two” Victoria replied leaning forward with a small frown “Sometimes I wonder if I am truly meant to work in Law, with people. There are so many times that I cannot help but hate other people so much. There is no other species on earth that so regularly brings harm upon another as Humans upon animals”

“That is why you do what you do” Angela said raising her head and looking her over the bridge of her glasses “and you are good at it”

“I am damn good at it” Victoria agreed leaning back in her chair with a smile “It serves her right. Perhaps spending three years in prison she will understand the hell she kept those animals in for long”

Victoria glanced upwards at the wall clock in the office they shared “Do you want to go grab a steak? I am starving” she said beginning to rise and slipping her jacket from the back of the chair.

Angela raised her arm to glance at her own wrist watch “Not tonight, I have got to get home to Chester; he doesn’t like it when I stay out too late”

“How is your old man doing?” Victoria asked as she slipped her phone from her back and again impassively checked the time; it was already reaching quarter to nine.

“Oh, alright” Angela sighed slipping on her jacket “His knees bother him sometimes especially when he goes for a run in the park but he is eating well and happy, I suppose I could not ask for more than that”

“Well, be sure to give him kisses and belly rubs for me then” Victoria said as she pushed open the door and the frigid air of the December night rushed into to meet them and Victoria pulled her wool coat closer about herself

“Are you certain I cannot interest you in a little medium rare action with a Martini chaser? My treat” Victoria tried again and while she could not bring herself to say it aloud she had no interest of rushing home to sit alone for the rest of the night.

“I will never understand you, Vic” Angela said as she fished her car keys from the depths of her purse “You spend all day long sending anyone who as much as spits in the direction of a puppy to jail but I have never met someone as happy as you to be a carnivore. It just feels as though you should be astrict vegetarian who will not eat anything that casts a shadow”

Victoria smiled, her straight white teeth flashing “If a cow is already dead, I do not think it minds if I eat it. It is whether or not it was treated well in life that it is what I am concerned about and whether or not it was slaughtered humanely and if it was not” A small rise and fall of her shoulders at this thought “It is just another down payment on the condo for me”

Angela laughed and lifted a hand in farewell “Goodnight Victoria, Good job today”

Giving a half hearted wave in return Victoria turned away and broke into a light jog towards the direction of the covered car park where she had left her car. The wind had picked up and streamed her hair back from her face as she hurried as the darkened street and the bitter winter wind encouraged her to move just that much quicker.

Reaching the third level and finding her car she put her bag down on the hood because rooting through it in an attempt to find her own car keys, her thoughts already turning to a warm bath and a nice glass of wine.

“You ruthless bitch

The voice brought her head sharply up and a sharp gasp to her throat as she straightened to face the man who had been silently following her since she left her office.

Victoria had been upon the brink of throwing her purse at him and demanding that he take it as long as the man did not hurt her but she realized after a brief moment that she knew this man.

“Mr. Scott” Victoria said coolly her look of surprise vanishing into one of indifference as though this man had no worth in her eyes than something disgusting that had attached itself beneath her shoe.

“Is this how you pay for your nice car, your nice clothes and big house, by sending poor innocent old women like my mother to Jail?”

“Not entirely, but it helps” The hour was late but Victoria still found herself searching the nearly empty garage hoping to see a pair of approaching headlights or someone else walking to their vehicle but there was not another soul in sight.

The man staggered forward and Victoria wrinkled her nose in disgust. Mason Scott was by no means a wealthy, well educated man but she had seen homeless beggars who looked better put together.

Mason wore jeans that looked as though they had never encountered either soap or water and a white stained t-shirt beneath an equally stained leather coat that was open but he did not appear to feel the cold.

“You put my mother in jail for three years”

“No, the Judge put your mother in jail for three years, I merely showed the judge and jury why she should go there” Victoria corrected crisply finally locating her keys with the hand that had been rummaging through her bag all the time and she wrapped her fingers tightly around them feeling the seriated edge of her car keys, she felt certain that could use them as a weapon to defend herself, if need be.

“It is not right, you will go home tonight to your nice house while my mother is behind bars!” the man shouted.

“It is right!” Victoria shot back “Your mother killed all those animals!”

The fluorescent light above them flickered and it gave the hard lines of the man’s face granting him an even more menacing appearance as his entire body from his ragged work boots to his filthy broad rimmed truckers hat that advertised Bill’s Big Bait Shop seemed to speak of a life spent in poverty and hardship.

“Shut up” The man before her snarled reaching into the dirty depths of his coat and retrieving what Victoria thought for one curious linger moment was an elaborate lighter and for a moment he fumbled with it before pointing it at her.

It was a gun.

The realization caught her like a knee to the gut and she took a step backwards, the gasoline fumes which this place always stank of seemed to press in about her as unyielding as the cold cement which enclosed the space and Victoria realized in a single moment that threatened to turn her bones to water that there was no way to escape.

“Mason…” Victoria began very slowly holding out a hand as she dared to inch forward.

“If you kill me, you will not help anything. You will not get your mother back”

“No” Mason agreed calmly cocking the gun a he lifted it “But it helps”

The world around her was blown apart, shattering into millions of tiny pieces and the fragments of light which her world had temporarily disintegrated into for a brief moment danced before her eyes.

There was utter silence saving for the ringing in her own ears as Victoria, stunned, stumbled backwards but did not fall.

Warmth poured down the side of her face and she raised a hand that came back stained red and for a long moment she could only stare at it in incomprehension.

He shot me! The bastard shot me! Was her first conscious thought as blood continued to pour from her head in a fatal waterfall and she staggered forward with outstretched arms towards the very man who had just shot her in the head.

Mason’s eyes were wide with fright and he threw the gun aside and as he had done for the greater part of his adult life, he ran.

Victoria swayed and tried to reach up and press the wound to staunch the bleeding but warm blood ran through her fingers and down her arm in rivulets, running past her armpit and down her chest.

There was so much blood, how much more could she stand to loose Victoria wondered dizzily as she saw light ahead and staggered unevenly towards it. Where there was light there would be people and they would help her, they must.

Though before she could reach the light her legs gave out from beneath her and Victoria fell. One hand still desperately clutching at her head she reached forward, her nails raking against the damp icy pavement in an attempt to claw herself forward.

I cannot die, not like this! Victoria thought desperately refusing to allow herself to fall into the darkness which threatened to close in about her and her sight remained fixed upon the bright light which suddenly grew and burned her eyes before she at last embraced nothingness.
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