It’s not the kind of street where one imagines a murder taking place.
The towering oak trees that line its boulevards were planted more than one hundred years ago. If they’ve been able to survive all of the droughts, storms and pest infestations that they have over the years, then surely the people residing in Montgomery Avenue’s graceful Victorian homes have every reason to believe that they will live to a ripe old age as well. But Cici Thorogood didn’t live to a ripe old age; she only lived two days past her eighth birthday.
Little Cici only had one thought on her mind when she awoke that morning: riding her new bike to school.
“Do you think she’s too young?” her mother, Dayna asked Russell, her husband and Cici’s father.
“She has to learn independence sooner or later. This is a good way to start. We used to ride our bikes to school when we were kids. Besides, the school’s only a few blocks away from here, and it’s not as if we’re living in the rough part of town.”
So with a promise not to do anything embarrassing such as watch her ride off (“I’m a big girl now. Stop babying me,” Cici told them), Dayna and Russell sent her off to school. The typical scary scenarios ran through their heads. What if she falls and breaks a bone? What if someone steals her bike? Or worst of all, what if she gets hit by a car?
It turned out, though, that getting hit by a car wasn’t the worst that could have happened. Paramedics could have rushed her to the hospital had she only been hit by a car. Doctors could have used their years of training to fix her. Some nice nurse could have brought ice cream to her beside to cheer her up. She would have had a chance. What happened to Cici no one saw coming, and how can you stop something you don’t even know is on its way?
The home Cici Thorogood grew up in sat six houses from the corner of where Montgomery Avenue meets Willow Drive. It was there that she met the devil, and where they found her bike after the school called to report her absence. It took another three days before they found her body in a shallow grave on the outskirts of town.
Russell blamed himself for talking Dayna into letting their only child ride off on her own. Truth be told, Dayna blamed him as well, as did the ones who took misguided comfort in blaming the victim instead of acknowledging the scary truth: that evil lived amongst them.
In time, both Dayna and Russell returned to work and resumed their normal activities. Not because they had moved on from Cici’s murder, but because they knew that those around them didn’t like to be reminded of how easy it would be to have their own lives ripped apart. So they pretended, just as the monster who did this to them pretended to be normal as he waited for his next victim to come along.