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- After Bill caught him attempting to poison Tori’s IV line, Philip killed Bill. 
- Philip confessed to the murders and held Molly and Sarah at gunpoint. Paula came out to the balcony and, in the fray, picked up Philip’s gun and shot him. 
- Wanting to protect her mother, Molly told the police that she was the one who’d shot Philip and that she had done it in self-defense. 

KB Memorial Hospital

The ICU is alive with activity as a weary Brent Taylor steps off the elevator. He hadn’t intended to fly home from California for another 24 hours, but when he was awoken by a phone call about a threat sent to KBAY before dawn this morning, he changed his plans and hopped on the first available flight. In the intervening hours, things have gotten even worse. As he makes his way into the waiting area, he sees uniformed officers and plain-clothes detectives huddled, as well as the yellow tape sectioning off the entrance to the balcony. He finds Sarah Fisher Gray in the midst of the chaos.

“My god, I’m so sorry,” he says, pulling her into a hug. 

“Thanks.” She squeezes him and then takes a step back; her face looks raw from crying. “I can’t believe he’s gone."

“I know. He was— your father was a great man."

She nods solemnly, but her face quickly hardens. “I don’t know how I didn’t figure it out sooner. Philip made so much sense. The focus on Molly alone…"

“We thought he had alibis. He was barely on our radar, honestly. Now that we know, I can see the throughline, but...” Brent rubs his temples in an attempt to focus. He is weary but jumpy, thanks to the combination of too little sleep and too much adrenaline. “Tori’s okay?"

“Yeah. The doctors said they found a vial and a syringe in Philip’s jacket that had an arsenic solution in it. I’m guessing Dad caught him trying to poison Tori and tried to stop him."

“Christ. Did he actually inject anything?"

“They did a blood test and said there were only traces, but they gave her the antidote anyway. They say it’s fine. I still can’t figure out how she would’ve gotten mixed up with Philip in the first place. She never said anything."

Brent’s own mind is racing, but he knows there is only so much use in speculating right now. Across the room, he sees Molly talking with Detective Harris. 

“Molly’s giving her statement?” he asks.

“Yeah. I’m going to go next."

“We shouldn’t have any trouble keeping the D.A. from pressing charges,” he says. “Harris said there’s a security camera on one of the buildings across the street."

Sarah flinches. “What?"

“The bank building. There’s a security camera on the roof. It looks like the balcony out there is within its range, so we’ll get the footage, and it’ll be easy to prove that Molly shot Philip in self-defense."

“Oh. That’s, uh, that’s great,” Sarah says, and Brent is too preoccupied with scanning the room to catch up on the action to notice the panic lurking just behind her eyes.

* * * * *

"Word out of King's Bay Memorial is that there has been another murder connected to the ones that have plagued King's Bay all year. But this time, there's more -- it seems the so-called Footprint Killer has been identified."

Tim Fisher listens to the radio broadcast with increasing irritation as he drives. Finally, it becomes too much to take, and he continues his trip in silence -- with his foot pressing a little harder on the accelerator. In spite of the chilly temperature, it is a beautiful day out, clear and bright, but he still feels as though he is moving through a dense fog. 

He would like nothing more than to curl up in a ball, shut his eyes, and wait for all this to fade away. But there is something that he has to do as soon as possible, and judging by what he heard on the radio, it might already be too late. 

He parks, takes the elevator upstairs, and waits what feels like an eternity before the heavy metal door slides open. Spencer Ragan stands before him in a plain white t-shirt and black sweatpants. Tim attempts to read him before he says anything, but Spencer's expression is inscrutable. 

"Have you been up long?" Tim asks. 

"No." The clipped nature of the single word fills Tim with worry. 

  Spencer Ragan

"I'm sorry if I woke you up, but I need to talk to you about something."

Spencer holds up his iPhone. "I heard."

"Oh, god. I'm so sorry. I wanted to come talk to you myself--"

"So it's true? My brother is a fucking serial killer?"

Tim moves inside the loft, but Spencer makes no move to close the door. Tim decides to do it himself. 

"It sounds like Philip confessed to the murders," Tim says as he slides the door closed. 

"I don't get it. Why? Can I see him? I should call his attorney."

"Spencer, I..." Tim shakes his head; none of the ways he prepared to break this news sound right. "Philip's gone."

"What?" Spencer stares at him, as if waiting for Tim to reveal that this is some kind of prank. When that does not happen, he lifts his long arms. "What the fuck?"

"There was a struggle. He had your grandmother, Sarah, and Molly trapped on the balcony. His gun went off."

The younger man turns his back to Tim and plants his palms on the granite kitchen island. They stay like that for a seemingly endless moment, as Tim waits for some kind of cue as to what Spencer needs from him right now.

"How do they know? Like, really know?" he asks as he swings back around. "What, he went nuts, confessed, and then got shot? Isn't that a little convenient?"

Tim's throat constricts as he tries his next words: "There was another murder."

"Yeah, that's all over the news."

"It was your grandfather. My father."

That takes the steam out of Spencer's rage, at least momentarily. 

"What?" he asks, his voice breaking. "How? Why?"

"The police are still working out the details. My mom found him on the floor of Tori's room. Strangled to death."

"No." Spencer's mouth works wordlessly for several seconds, but when the proper thought won't come, he swings an arm, angrily sweeping a glass bowl of fruit off the island. "No! No!"

Tim stands back as the bowl shatters across the concrete floor. Apples and bananas scatter. The men watch the mess silently. 

"Spencer, I am so sorry."

"You're sorry? You're the one whose dad got murdered."

"And your brother is-- He's gone--"

"He was a fucking maniac!" Spencer bends over and picks up one of the apples. "How the hell did I not see it?"

"No one did."

"Goddammit!" He hurls the apple against the exposed brick wall. "What the fuck?"

Spencer doubles over in anguish and covers his face. Tim moves warily toward him and wraps his arms around his son -- and he is surprised when, instead of pushing him away, Spencer collapses against him. 

* * * * *

When Brent disappears to confer with Detective Harris, Sarah grabs her sister and pulls her past the nurses’ station and around the corner.

“What did you tell Harris?” Sarah asks, careful to keep her voice to a whisper.

“The same thing I told Officer Jimenez and everyone else,” Molly says. “When Mom came outside, Philip got distracted, and you knocked the gun out of his hands. I picked up the gun, and he grabbed you and said he was going to throw you off the balcony, so I shot him."

“Okay. Shit.” Sarah folds her hands in front of her mouth. “There’s a security camera on the bank building across the street."

“What?” Molly asks, too shocked to keep her volume down. 

Sarah warns her with widened eyes and then continues quietly, “Brent said Harris already noticed it. They’re going to pull the footage. If the balcony is within view…"

“…then they’re going to know what really happened.” Molly’s shoulders slump. “I just wanted to protect Mom. She doesn’t even remember shooting Philip. And this is all my fault to begin with."

“No, it isn’t."

“It is. I was so stupid that I didn’t notice anything. I brought him into our family, and then I took him back. I’m the reason Dad is dead."

“Molly—“ Sarah stops with a sigh as she tries to collect her thoughts. “I blamed myself for what Graham did to Matt for a long time. But I didn’t make those decisions for Graham, and you didn’t make Philip’s for him. There are a lot of ways to react to a breakup besides going on a murder spree."

“I know, but…” Molly throws her head back in agony. “What if they press charges against Mom? She can’t go to jail."

Sarah wishes that she had some bulletproof response, but she remembers all too clearly what happened out on that balcony. Paula picked up the gun, aimed it at Philip, and shot him dead. 

“Yeah, well, we’re going to have to deal with that anyway, if the security footage shows the shooting,” Sarah says. “You need to talk to Brent ASAP and beg for mercy. You panicked and told a cover story to protect our mom. If you recant right away, I’ll bet they won’t hold it against you. Not after what we’ve all been through."

Molly is silent as her mouth stretches into a tight line, but she knows what she has to do. 

* * * * *

"Easy," Jason Fisher says as he places a hand on his mother's arm to steady her. 

"I'm fine." Nevertheless, as Paula Fisher slides off the hospital bed, she sets one foot and then the other down on the floor with great care. "I only fainted. The doctor says I'm all right."

"I know. But I want to keep you that way." He offers a smile that is more melancholy than anything. "I can't believe this is happening."

"It feels like a nightmare. I keep hoping I'll wake up -- again -- and none of it will be real."

"Yeah." He hands her the purse that has been waiting on the bedside table. "Are you ready to go home? I can drive you."

Paula hesitates. "I suppose."

  Paula Fisher

"You don't have to."

She slings the purse over her shoulder. "I don't know if I can go to the house knowing your father isn't going to walk through the door at the end of the day." Her eyes begin to mist again. 

"You can come to my house. Or I'll come and stay with you. Whatever."

"Thank you, dear." She hugs her youngest son, but the gesture lingers, and she rests her head against him. "What am I going to do without him? I haven't been without that man in five decades."

Jason rubs her back gently. "I can only imagine. What I can tell you is that it does get easier. Maybe not tomorrow or the day the after, but eventually... it does."

She nods, even as the tears spill over once again. "I know it does. I know. But it seems like it never will."

Jason's voice quivers. "Here's what I can tell you. You won't be alone. You have all of us. And we are going to find a way to get through this." 

* * * * *

Desperate to put off giving her statement to Detective Harris before she knows what the hell she is supposed to say, Sarah insists upon helping Jason bring Paula down to the car. When she returns, she immediately finds Molly and steers her toward Brent.

“We have something we need to talk to you about,” Sarah says.

Brent looks up from his phone, which he has been using to respond to a message. “What’s up? Are you guys all right?"

Sarah shrugs but gives a nudge to Molly, who stands stiffly beside her.

“Yeah, I need to tell you something,” Molly says.

Brent waits. “Okay…"

“It was really chaotic when we came in earlier.” She pauses to swallow, and Sarah wonders if she is going to have to do the talking for her sister.

Before Molly can get any more out, Brent’s phone lights up and begins vibrating. He glances at the screen and holds up his index finger.

“I need to take this.” He moves off to address the call.

“Just spit it out when he gets back,” Sarah says. “The less time you waste, the better."

Molly glares over at her but doesn’t argue back. Sarah strains to listen in on Brent’s conversation.

“What do you mean, it’s gone?” he asks, raising his voice incredulously. “That’s doesn’t make any sense—“ He stops and listens, and after a few more harried exchanges, he returns to them, a puzzled look upon his face.

“Everything okay?” Sarah asks.

  Molly Taylor

After a false start or two, Brent does a visual check of the area around them and then leans closer. “I’m only telling you this because it’s you guys… but the security footage doesn’t exist."

Both sisters nearly jump out of their skin.

“The camera didn’t get the balcony?” Molly asks.

“No, it does. That’s the strange thing. Our guys who went over there to check it out said there are 57 minutes of footage missing. The recording just goes blank a few minutes before you would’ve been out there."

“Like the camera broke?” Sarah says as she attempts to sort out whether this is good or bad news.

“Or it was erased.” Brent’s face darkens as he focuses on Sarah. 

“What? You know I’ve been here the entire time."

“Do you happen to know anyone, say, in security over in that building?"

“Brent. No. I didn’t magically have that footage erased."

“You’d better be telling me the truth.” He shifts back toward Molly. “Look, Mol, I don’t think there’s a world where the D.A. goes ahead with charges against you, considering who Philip was, what he did, and the fact that you have two witnesses to back you up. I just want you to be prepared."

“I am,” she says, her false bravado showing through. 

“As far as either of you knows, there was never a security camera to begin with. Got it?”

They both nod.

“Now what did you want to ask me?"

Sarah has to poke Molly in the back to prompt her.

“I just wanted to know what you had told the boys so far,” she manages to say. “I need to call them, but I don’t know…"

“They don’t know anything about Brent or Philip. Danielle said she was keeping them away from the news, just in case. We can approach this however you think is right."

“Okay. Thanks."

“Why don’t we go have a cup of coffee and talk it over?” He reaches up a hand to flag someone over. “Now, Sarah, let’s let you give Harris your statement so we can get you both out of here."

* * * * *

Some time later, Matt Gray sits at his daughter’s bedside. He holds her small hand between both of his and watches her. If not for the machines and tubes hooked up to her, she would look so peaceful; he almost envies her not knowing the terrible things that have happened today. 

“Anything else from the doctors?” Sarah asks as she enters the room.

“Nah. You all done?"

“Yeah. I just gave the detective my statement."


She flinches. “And what?"

Matt squares his shoulder toward her. “Everything go okay?"

“Yeah, why wouldn’t it? I told him what happened. Molly picked up the gun and shot Philip before he could throw me off the balcony. The end."

“Thank god for that,” Matt says as he stands and crosses toward her. He wraps his strong arms around her and pulls her close. They stay that way for a long moment, trying to draw strength from the contact.

“Think we should go home and sleep a while?” he asks.

Sarah draws back. “I don’t know. I don’t want to leave her."

“There’s gonna be a guard."

“Look how well that worked out—"

“Philip’s dead. No one else is gonna try to hurt Tori."

Sarah looks past him, watching their daughter as if evaluating the actual chances of that. He sees his wife’s eyes widen. 

“What?” he says, already turning. And he sees it, too: Tori’s eyelids are fluttering.

Sarah clutches Matt’s arm. “Oh my god."

They watch as the lids move up and down, exposing the whites of Tori’s eyes. Her head begins to roll softly from one side to the other and back again.

“She’s waking up.” Sarah surges toward the bed. “She’s really waking up."

Matt hurries to the door. “Doctor! Someone!"

A nurse is in the room almost instantaneously. “What’s going on?"

“She’s waking up,” Matt says.

“I’ll page the doctor.” She dips into the hallway, confers briefly with someone, and then returns to the room, where she goes to the other side of Tori’s bed and begins checking monitors.

“Tori, can you hear me?” Sarah asks. Matt comes up behind her. He hardly dares to look at Tori, because he doesn’t want to get his hopes up — but the signs of awakening are unmistakable.

A murmur emerges from Tori’s mouth. Her head continues to loll restlessly until, finally, both of her eyes open. Her brown irises become visible.

“Mom? Dad?” she says weakly.

Matt finds his breaths difficult to control as he watches her drift back to consciousness. 

“Tori,” Sarah says through sudden tears.

“Where am I?” Tori asks. Her voice is hoarse, almost inaudible, but in this moment, her parents are focused on absolutely nothing but hearing her. 

“You’re with us. You’re okay.” Sarah strokes her daughter’s brown hair. “You’re okay."


Has Molly made a terrible mistake in lying?
Will Tori recover from her coma?
Will Spencer be able to cope with the devastating news?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss it all!

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Friday, Dec. 11, 2015

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