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- Bill caught Philip injecting something into Tori’s IV. Philip attacked Bill and strangled him to death.
- Philip claimed to have left the room before Bill arrived. He took Molly out on the balcony. Sarah realized that Philip must be the killer and chased them, but Philip pulled a gun on them. 
- Upon learning that Bill had died, Paula rushed out to the balcony to tell her daughters, interrupting Philip. Sarah knocked the gun out of his hands. Paula picked it up and, in a daze, shot Philip. 

KB Memorial Hospital

On a balcony outside the hospital’s ICU, a bullet rips out of the handgun. Milliseconds later, it strikes Philip Ragan directly in the chest. The man’s shout dissolves into an anguished heave as the force of the shot sends him staggering backward. He strikes the railing and then crumples to the ground.

Molly Taylor and Sarah Fisher Gray stand by in shock as their mother, shaking as she holds the gun uneasily, stares at the man she has just shot. 

“Mom,” Molly says through heavy breaths.

Paula's trembling hands drop the gun, and it clatters onto the stucco balcony. Her head turns stiffly atop her neck to face her daughters — but then her eyes roll backward, and she collapses into a limp pile. 

Sarah springs into action immediately. “I’m going to get help."

Molly cannot break her gaze from the two people lying on the ground, nor from the crimson oozing from the gaping hole in Philip’s chest and over his shirt and jacket. 

“Sarah, she…"

Sarah steps around Paula as she tells Molly, “Stay here." 

Molly’s entire body quivers, but no matter how much she tries to move, she feels as if she has been encased in cement. Philip’s rage was so genuine — how could she not have noticed it?

As she stares at him, she sees his lower lip twitch. Seconds later, his eyelids flutter open. His blue-grey eyes find her immediately. 

“I did it all for you,” he croaks, and then his eyes snap closed and his head lolls to the side.

* * * * *

Minutes pass as Sarah and Molly are pushed into a corner of the waiting area with Matt Gray. They watch as medical personnel load both Paula and Philip onto stretchers and urgently push them into the depths of the ICU. Across the room, Officer Rosie Jimenez finishes a phone call and then approaches the trio. She holds Philip’s gun in a police evidence bag.

Commander Taylor is on his way from the airport,” Rosie says as she joins them. “But I’d like to get statements from both of you."

Sarah is huddled against Matt’s side, and Molly has her arms folded tightly across her own body.

Slowly, Sarah nods. “I can walk you through everything. But he admitted to being the killer."

Rosie’s left eyebrow tugs upward. “He actually said it?"

“He pulled a gun on us after I accused him. Think about it — if Jason was meant to be the first victim, but Sandy got it in the way, so he killed Ryan instead… and the setups to make it look like Molly was in danger—"

“I need to know what happened out on that balcony,” Rosie says.

“After you came inside,” Molly says, her voice unsteady, “he opened his eyes. He spoke to me."

Rosie turns her attention toward Molly. “What did he say?"

  Molly Taylor

“‘I did it all for you.’” A wave of revulsion rolls through her as she recalls Philip’s gaze in that moment; there was such a frankness to it, a detachment, that she wonders how she never saw through him before. 

“And he pulled the gun on all three of you? Or was that before your mother came outside?” Rosie asks.

“Before,” Sarah says. “I was trying to get Molly back inside without tipping my hand that I knew it was him, but he blocked the door and pulled out his gun."

“And who fired the gun?"

Sarah opens her mouth to answer, but before she can, Molly jumps in:

“I did."

“How did that happen?” Rosie asks.

Molly flashes a warning look at Sarah and continues. “Our mom came out, and when she opened the door, it hit Philip, and he dropped the gun. I— I grabbed it, and Philip was holding Sarah—  threatening to throw her over the balcony— and I just—” She shakes her head as she trails off. 

“Can we do this later, in an official capacity?” Sarah asks. “We just lost our father, and our mother is in there, and…"

Rosie nods respectfully. 

“Could you guys go and see if there’s any news yet?” Sarah adds. “Mom looked like she only fainted— they should know if she’s actually injured or not."

“Let me check,” Matt says, and after placing a tender kiss on Sarah’s forehead, he heads for the nurses’ station.

“I’m gonna see where Detective Harris is,” Rosie says, and she steps aside to use her phone.

Sarah waits until they are both a safe distance away before she pivots to face Molly, with her back toward everyone else. “What is wrong with you?” she asks, mostly under her breath.

Molly manages to keep her face, tear-stained though it is, calm as she says, “I wiped the gun off and put my fingerprints on it."

“Who are you? Molly, this is—"

“Not here. Not now.” Molly brings the sleeve of her shirt to her face to wipe her eye. “It was self-defense. Philip's dead."

"We don't know that--"

"I saw it happen. He's dead. And I killed him in self-defense. End of story."

Before Sarah can argue, Molly takes a deep breath and adds, “Now there’s something we have to do."

* * * * *

“Waffles will be ready in a minute!” Jason Fisher hollers from his post at the kitchen counter. He can hear the television blasting from the family room, and as crazy as the volume is driving him, he is glad to have Sophie and Billy occupied for the time being. 

The toaster oven dings to announce that the last batch of waffles are done, and he is sliding them onto a plate when his cell phone rings. He shuts the toaster oven’s door and moves across the kitchen to grab his iPhone.

“Hey, Mol,” he says as he answers. “What’s up?"

“Hey,” comes the broken voice on the other end. “There’s something I need to tell you."

Her tone spikes alarm within him immediately, and his hands suddenly feel numb. “What is it? Oh god, is it Tori?"

“No.” There is an unbearably long pause. “It’s Dad."

“What happened?"

“We’re at the hospital,” she says, and he can hear her begin to cry as she relays the story of how Paula found Bill strangled in Tori’s room. Jason feels the sudden pressure of tears behind his own eyes as a darkness envelops him.

“He can’t be gone,” he says.

“I know. I know.” Molly swallows hard, a wet, thick sound that he hears clearly over the line. “We’re at the hospital. Mom fainted, but they say she’s fine."

“I’m coming,” he says. “I love you."

“Love you, too."

He sets down his phone and then plants his palms on the countertop as he tries to steady himself. His dad can’t be dead. They were just together last night, sharing a family Thanksgiving meal. He can’t be gone.

“What’s wrong?” Alex Marshall asks as he enters the kitchen and stops short at the sight of his friend and roommate.

Instead of answering, Jason gives in to the deluge of tears that have been threatening to overwhelm his entire being. 

* * * * *

The world around Tim Fisher becomes gray and distant as his sister’s voice comes through the phone. His body feels numb and loose — just like his head — as he somehow gets through the conversation. The sounds in the kitchen of his house seem a thousand miles away, and after he hangs up and heads in that direction, each of his footsteps feels like an arduous effort in the heaviest cement shoes.

“Are you seriously rinsing that out?” Travis Fisher asks from his seat at the kitchen table.

Samantha Fisher turns back from her position in front of the sink. “You can recycle it!"

“It’s one yogurt container,” Travis says. 

Samantha turns off the water and shakes the container over the sink. “Yeah, but if every person who eats a yogurt doesn’t recycle it…"

She sees Tim standing in the doorway and freezes. 

“Dad, what’s the matter?"

Dad. The word echoes in Tim’s head. I’m never going to see my dad again.

Travis, dressed in his white Thaw t-shirt, swings around and takes in the sight of their father, too.

  Tim Fisher

“That was your Aunt Sarah,” Tim says. Even his own voice seems disembodied and foreign. He feels a vague stinging sensation behind his eyes, but the tears can’t come, or won’t.

“Is it Tori?” Samantha asks with a wince.

“No.” Tim shakes his head slowly. “It’s your grandfather. He…"

Travis springs out of his chair. “What?"

“He was attacked this morning. At the hospital. They tried to help him, but…” 

“He’s dead?” Samantha says, though her quivering lip lets on that she already knows the answer.

All Tim can do is nod.

“Oh my god,” Travis says numbly.

Samantha places the yogurt container on the countertop and fights tears. “Does it have anything to do with the— that letter my mom got this morning?"

“I don’t know,” Tim says. “They caught the killer, though."

“Who is it?” the two young adults ask in near-synchronicity. 


Neither Travis nor Samantha even knows how to respond. They trade a perplexed look.

“Philip killed all those people? Philip killed Grandpa?” Samantha says, as if testing out words from a language she has never heard before. “Why…?” The questioning is swallowed up by the tears that have begun to fall.

“I have no idea,” Tim says as he moves forward to embrace his daughter. “I have no idea how any of this could’ve happened.” 

* * * * *

Sarah sits stiffly in one of the chairs in the ICU’s waiting area. Matt is to her right, and Molly is across from her. Sarah keeps fidgeting in her chair, unable to find a position that resembles comfortable, though she knows that probably has as much to do with the chair as it does with the restlessness brewing inside her. Yellow police tape blocks off the area around the door to the balcony, and although the blinds are closed, she can make out the shadows of activity out there.

She casts a look over at Molly, who returns it with a steely one of her own. 

You idiot, Sarah thinks. You’re going to make this worse. She needs to talk her sister out of this cover-up before they give their official statements, but they are running out of time. As soon as Detective Harris is done out on the balcony, he is coming back in here to talk with them.

“Molly,” Sarah begins, but she stops when she sees Tim, Jason, Travis, and Samantha hurrying in from the elevators. Sarah rises, and Molly and Matt follow her lead.

Jason rushes wordlessly toward his sisters and into Sarah’s open arms.

From behind him, Tim looks to Molly. “Philip? How?"

She sniffles and wags her head sadly. “I don’t… I don’t know. He was completely out of his mind. He was—"

“They arrested him?” Travis asks.

“He’s dead,” Molly answers flatly. 

They trade embraces and fragments of information until a nurse approaches. Recognizing her, Sarah turns immediately.

“Your mother is awake,” the nurse says. “She’s resting."

“What happened to Mom?” Jason asks, panicked.

“She fainted,” Molly says. “The doctor said she’ll be fine."

“Can we see her?” Tim asks.

“Two at a time,” the nurse says.

Sarah steps to the front of the group. “Please. Our father was just murdered. We need to be with her. She wasn’t even admitted as a patient— she just fainted—"

The nurse’s mouth twists uncertainly for a moment. “She’s in Room 236."

* * * * *

With Sarah in the lead, the group makes its way through the corridors. She pauses when they reach the open door of Paula’s room; she doesn’t know what she will find in there or what state her mother will be in. The prospect of having to break the news of Bill’s death to her again is nearly debilitating. But when Paula’s gaze lands upon her visitors, Sarah can tell from her puffy eyes and anguished expression that she remembers. 

“We’re so glad you’re okay,” Sarah says as she approaches the bed.

Paula scans their faces. “He’s really gone, isn’t he?"

“Yeah.” Tim nods, his face contorted, as he goes to his mother’s bedside and takes her hand.

“What are we going to do?” Paula asks.

“We’ll get through this,” Sarah says. 

  Paula Fisher

Paula’s eyes move from one family member to the next, as if searching for information that might be scrawled on their faces. “And Tori… is she…?"

“Tori’s okay. Same as before,” Matt says. 

“Thank goodness.” Paula pulls herself up into more of a sitting position. “Your poor father… he was…” The tears choke the rest of her words. 

“The doctor says you’re going to be fine,” Molly says. 

“What happened to me? I remember finding Bill— Did someone hurt me, too?"

Sarah and Molly trade a confused look.

“You fainted,” Molly tells her. “On the balcony. Don’t you remember?"

Paula shakes her head. 

“Philip did all this. He killed everyone: Sandy, Ryan, Cameron, Roz, and Dad,” Sarah says.

A gasp escapes Paula’s throat. “Why would he do that?"

“Because he was sick,” Molly says. “But he’s dead now. It’s over."

“What the hell happened?” Jason asks. 

“He had a gun,” Molly explains. “Sarah knocked it out of his hands, and I— I picked it up, and he was going to throw Sarah off the balcony, so I… I shot him."

Sarah regards Paula carefully. “You really don’t remember being out on the balcony?"

“No.” Paula looks to ceiling as she searches her memory. “I remember finding your father, and then…”

Tears overwhelm her, and her family clusters around her as they share in her grief. Sarah takes a step back and, with everyone preoccupied, gestures for Molly to meet her out in the hallway.

“She’s going to remember eventually,” Sarah whispers. 

“We don’t know that.” Molly keeps her voice low as she watches to be sure they won’t be overheard. 

“You can still go back on your story. We haven’t given official statements yet."

“I’m the one who brought Philip into our family. I did this. I’m not letting Mom go through whatever this would be. That wasn’t self-defense, what she did."

Sarah hesitates as an orderly passes them and waits until he is gone before she says, “No, but we could argue that it was— she was trying to save you and me. Philip was a serial killer. It’s not like anyone would doubt us."

“That’s why this is for the best.”

They look back inside the room, where Paula’s family is gathered around her bed, sharing in their grief and reassuring one another.

“It’s time for us all to start healing,” Molly says, and she reenters the room, leaving Sarah out in the hallway with her arms folded.

“I just hope that we can,” Sarah says to herself before she rejoins the others at her mother’s bedside.


Will Molly’s plan go as smoothly as she hopes?
Will the Fishers stick together in their grief?
Will Tori awaken from her coma?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015

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