All standard disclaimers apply.

This is a rewrite of Poetic Justice, with the same characters but a slightly different plot. I have the original one up so that I may see what I need to polish.

. . .

i. Of Humans and Other Lesser Beings

. . .

My mother once told me about remarkable our race was – to be able to smile in the face of danger, to be able to laugh in Death's firm grip, to be able to live even when life was hardly worth the time. She said that hope was always present and that it transcended material places – it was planted in the mind; left to grow and would soon engulf the whole soul.

I was twelve then, and I hastily replied, "Fear is always present, too. It is far more potent than hope. People die because of fear; not necessarily because of what they fear. It's just that word."

My mother just chuckled, "You're being too pessimistic again, Tierra, I know that the world is not kind, but people still force themselves to believe that it is. You've got to respect their beliefs – whether they're true or not. And that is why hope is more dangerous than fear."

I never truly understood what hope meant – and how dangerous it was – until the day I received a call from the hospital, the doctor on the other end of the line worried and anxious, but trying to keep a calm façade. My roommate had been found stabbed multiple times – the medics weren't able to see how much blood she lost. There were no witnesses; she was found by a twelve-year-old little boy named John.

When I rushed to the hospital – forgetting to call our other roommate, Nadine – I found out that John was hurt, as well. As he ran to find his mom, he slipped on the wet pavement – it had just rained – and hurt his head. I made a mental note to visit John after seeing Aliss.

The rest of the day was just a blur, but some parts were just so vivid that I couldn't forget them. All that blood…I didn't know a human being could produce that much red liquid…Aliss breathed her dying breath without the comfort of holding a family member's hand, without the tenderness of a mother's tears. She died, with me too shocked to register what happened, alone and inside a small, white room.

I became claustrophobic. The hospital reeked of despair and it was then I realized that the death of hope was the worst kind of death. Hope was so powerful, so dangerous, so strong that it killed me over and over when I gave up believing Aliss would live.

Aliss Laughlin was the third victim of the North Carolina mass murderer, the Broadsheet Butcher. She was one of my best friends and she inspired me in a way no one else could have. I did not cry during her funeral, mostly because dead hope was just too overwhelming.

I felt numb. But that feeling did not continue – I could not let myself descend into mad depression. I had to act. I forced myself to act. I became obsessed with the finding of the Broadsheet Butcher. Even when most journalists hid in their homes, I went to work. I worked hard. I had to find it – that soulless, psychopathic killer that murdered the very people who gave the world truth.

Perhaps my mother was correct – that the human race was – and still remains – indeed very remarkable. But not because we are able to smile in the face of danger, in the face of sadness. The human race is remarkable because of its capability of being able to function in the face of danger. Some people cannot smile in the dark – we can only take so much, you know – most people, however, can learn to adapt.

That was what I was – and am –doing. Adapting. Waiting for the Butcher to strike again. Because when it returns, I will show it the power the death of hope can bring.