• Britt Leigh

A Justified Murder

Writer's Note: When I am not tapping away at a keyboard creating alternate universes or solving mysteries, I am working at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center in Philadelphia. Being that I live outside of the city (and knowing that driving on Interstate 76 daily is asking for additional years in therapy), I commute into the city by train. While this kind of commute can prove relaxing in many ways - no traffic and free time to write - it does come with its own unique happenings. Thus, The 9536 Chronicles were born - a satirical newsletter blowing all of the mundane annoyances train commuters experience way out of proportion for pure entertainment value. A Justified Murder is the first story I wrote for these chronicles coming to a train station near you this January!


Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic content and explicit language which may not be appropriate for all readers.


“Late, as usual,” I griped as the train crawled along the fog-covered tracks toward the city. “They are never on time.”


The train slowed and stopped, opening its doors to a new set of passengers. As usual, I kept my eyes on the laptop in front of me, not wanting to inadvertently invite someone’s company to the seat next to my own.


“As per my last email…,” I began typing. Why did I always have to spell things out for people?


“Ello!” A plain man’s face floated uncomfortably in my periphery. I glanced around at the empty seats that surrounded me. A man sat alone in a three-seater across the aisle from my now-crowded two-seater. This guy just had to choose the seat next to me.


I rolled my eyes and ignored him.


“Nice day, innit?” the man asked.


“This is the quiet ride car,” I responded forcefully, hoping he would get the hint.

“Guess I oughta be quiet then, huh?” The man elbowed me gently in the ribs as he finished his idiotic joke.


I paused and shot him a deathly stare. If he touches me one more time…


I focused again on my computer and opened my newest email.


Hanna, I need the St. James report by noon. Conference call at 1. Rick


Why the hell would he schedule a call with a client before the report is finished?


“Never been on a train before,” the man whispered in my direction.


“Quiet means silent,” I snapped back. How the hell was I supposed to get this report done by noon?


“I don’t know about that. I think they are a little different,” the man whispered back, ignoring the venom in my voice.


I sighed heavily and turned away from him. How many more hints does this guy need?

My phone buzzed. It was a text from Danny.


I hate when you leave the house in a fury. I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.


Of course, he would make this about him.


“Quiet means the noises are hard to hear, I think. Silence means there is no…” the man started again.


I could feel my wrath brewing in my stomach, the bile slowly starting to simmer. I stared straight ahead, refusing to give him my time.


Another e-mail came through.


Hanna, I also need the Tompkins report by the end of the day. Rick


Another report? Is he insane? These reports take at least a day to pull together as it is. Now this asshole wants two in one day? My body temperature spiked as if Rick was holding a match dangerously close to my venomous blood.


Another text message from Danny.


No response? Classic. Just ignore me then.


“… sound. Like if you were inside of a… Woah!” The man put his hands up, but it was too late.


I blacked out. Instead, I allowed my fury to take over. It consumed me like a wild fire, raging through my body and destroying any scrap of humanity lingering in my bones. Over and over, I brought my laptop down on the man’s head, growing stronger with each blow.


A guttural scream, like the sound of a mother who has just lost her child, escaped from the lips of the woman seated behind me.

That’s when I looked up and saw the other passengers staring at me in horror. I paused mid-swing to assess the damage. The man was slumped forward in the seat, motionless.

I smiled, sat back down in my seat, pulled my blood-soaked laptop back onto my legs, and wrote my last email:


Rick, Fuck off. Hanna




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