The Philosophy of Nero
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"She's a sociopath, Gabe." Samantha Lawry said
solemnly, watching the 19-year old girl whom she had
been brought down to interrogate. Samantha stood on
the other side of the mirror that looked into the dark
and sterile interrogation room. Its walls were
concrete and cold, the mere bleakness of them
providing a significant amount of intimidation for
anyone being questioned in it. Detective Gabe Locke
stood by her side, both of them horridly enchanted by
the sight of their confessor, Nero Hawthorne.
Nero was sitting in her chair quietly; a calm and
collected expression clad her face as she stared into
the mirror, fully aware that two others were staring
right back at her.
"That's evident, Lawry." Gabe replied, a slight
chuckle escaping under his words. "Too bad, that's
not what I need to know." He hadn't seen many cases
involving murderers as young as Nero, he'd only heard
of them on TV. Unfortunately, this wasn't like TV, and
the wickedness of the young girl in the interrogation
room sent chills and true terror into him.
Nero's stepfather, Andrew Hawthorne, was a very
popular philosophy professor at the local college,
Brigham University. Four hours ago, Andrew's body was
found floating in the pool in his backyard. Two hours
later, Nero was arrested for his murder. When brought
in, she straightforwardly stated that she was one of
the people who killed him earlier that morning.
However, she had refused to give the name of her
"She said she wants us to figure it out for
ourselves." Samantha replied, her eyes remaining
transfixed upon Nero. "I just don't know if she's
serious or not."
Gabe laughed deeply at Samantha's comment, and turned
to look at her. "What kind of therapist are you?" He
said, a devious, but skeptical, smile on his lips.
"You just don't know? We bring you down to
question our suspects because you're supposed to know.
If you can't do your job and get an accomplice out of
her, then at least get us a reason."
"I'm trying my best, Detective." She replied,
defensively. "Now, why don't you do your job and look
for the damned accomplice?"
Gabe smirked as he looked down, disapprovingly, at
Samantha. "I think I just might." He said, grabbing
his coat and heading for the door. "Report to Officer
Corrin if you find out something significant."
Gabe hadn't meant to become so confrontational with
Samantha; his outburst came from the frustration that
had been consuming him ever since he was handed the
case a few hours ago. He had been shocked when
officers had led Nero into the station, her hands
cuffed behind her back. The number of minors
committing murder was increasing by the day, but even
that couldn't ease his disbelief of such a normal
looking girl possessing so much evil within her.
He had been there when the paramedics had pulled
Andrew's body out of the pool. It was evident that
the body had been there for at least a day. It was
grotesquely bloated and the color of a pale blue.
Andrew's eyes were bloodshot and swollen; Gabe figured
they would probably burst with a poke of his pen.
There was a line stretching around his entire neck,
engraved in the skin with dry blood outlining the
edges. That was an evident sign of strangulation,
however, if determining the cause of death were that
simple then there would be no need for autopsies. In
addition to the strangulation marks, there were also
several bruises on both of Andrew's shoulders,
indicating that while one of the murderer's was
strangling him, the other was restraining him to the
The odd thing about this was the fact that he had
been strangled while being held down in the water of
the pool. And, simply put, it was overkill. To
murder him by both strangling and drowning him at the
same time was unnecessary. Gabe could only assume
that Nero and her accomplice wanted him to suffer an
excruciating and slow death.
"Why are you protecting them, Nero?" Samantha asked
for the second time. The first time she asked, Nero's
answer was that of a simple smile, and a look that
told Samantha that there was obviously something she
"Who said I'm protecting anyone?" She replied, a
malicious grin still plastered on the corner of her
"You won't tell us who your partner was, don't you
think that's protection?"
Nero stretched her arms over her head, and laughed at
another of Samantha's questions. "I must say, you're
really bad at this. What are you going to do next?
Show me ink blocks?"
"You can play as many games with me as you want,
Miss. Hawthorne." Samantha replied, her voice tight
and rigid while she attempted to hide her ever-growing
annoyance and anger with Nero. "Sooner or later,
we're going to find whoever it is who helped you."
Nero tilted her head in Samantha's direction, and
leaned forward across the table as if she were going
to whisper in Samantha's ear. "What makes you think I
wasn't the one helping them?"
After his blow-up with Samantha, Gabe decided to go
back to the Hawthorne house and search for things he
might've missed the first time he combed through the
house. The Brigham Police Department didn't have a
stellar record when it came to searching for evidence,
especially with a case in which the evidence had been
found right in the backyard. Nevertheless, he knew he
had missed something. He couldn't put his finger on
the feeling; he could only describe it as searching in
the dark for a flashlight that may or may not have
He walked through the house slowly, analyzing
anything that he hadn't noticed before. The house in
itself was impressive. It was a two-story house, and
each square inch of it's floor, excluding the kitchen
and bathrooms, was covered with a cream colored carpet
that looked like so clean it was either brand new, or
washed on everyday of its existence. The only family
photos Gabe saw were on top of the fireplace, in the
living room. Each of the four pictures were lined up
on the dark brown bricks carefully, each appeared to
be separated by the exact number of inches. The
entire house, not just the pictures, was eerily
perfect, clearly too perfect for such a situation.
It took Gabe over an hour to go through the first
floor; by the time he was ready to move on to the
upstairs portion of the house it was already
completely black outside. Walking up the stairs, Gabe
cringed at the high-pitched squeaks that escaped from
each step under the weight of his feet. It was an old
house Andrew Hawthorne had spent years, and endless
amounts of money, remodeling, unfortunately he ran out
of time before he ever got to fix the creak in those
The unambiguous stench of involuntary excretion hit
him like a sandbag in the gut the moment he walked
through the door at the top of the staircase. Despite
the smell, he moved on into the room that was the
upstairs. It was a single bedroom; the walls were
bare except for the dark blue paint that covered them.
The only item in the room was a queen-sized bed in
the middle of the room; the sheets were crumpled in
the middle, right below the small attic door that was
on the ceiling.
Gabe swallowed a nervous lump of saliva, then stepped
onto the bed and pulled down the door. The
stepsfolded out and pressed down onto the bed. Just
as the steps had done, the bed creaked loudly beneath
his weight as he climbed the steps.
Multiple gags escaped his throat as he ventured
further and further into the humid, moth-infested
attic. The attic wasn't very spacious, but it was
large enough for him to walk around a bit. It didn't
take him long to spot a limp figure on the floor,
shoved in the corner, covered by an old, faded
Sanfranciso 49ers bed sheet. After a few moments of
hesitation, he held his breath and flung the sheet to
the right to expose the corpse of Susan Hawthorne. He
wrenched back his head in disgust when he saw her pair
of glossy green eyes staring back at him, an
expression of horror plastered on her face.
For the second time that night, Gabe held back the
vomit that was rising in him to partially examine her
body. There was a syringe sticking out of the right
side of her neck, from the blood and bruise
surrounding the point of entry, he assumed someone,
probably Nero, had jabbed it violently into Susan's
neck. The blood from her nose appeared to have
dripped down and mixed with the dried foam and saliva
that covered Susan's mouth and chin; he cringed as he
saw a small spider crawling through all of the dribble
and making a nice home for itself within one of her
"Her mother?" Samantha responded in shock, as she
and Gabe once again stared at Nero Hawthorne through
the interrogation room mirror. Gabe nodded gravely at
"Yeah" He replied. "Turns out the fingerprints we
found on the extension cord that was used to strangle
Andrew Hawthorne were that of the Missus, Susan
"So, Nero was the one who held him down in the
water" Samantha said thoughtfully, slowly turning
around to leave the room. Gabe grabbed her wrist
lightly, and turned her back around to face him.
"Where are you going?" He asked, despite already
knowing the answer.
"I want her to admit it. She's got to tell the truth
now, Gabe, we have her accomplice." She replied
hastily, sounding almost obsessed with her own need to
derive some answers from Nero.
"I'll do it. You should go home, get some rest.
It's been a long day." Gabe said, leaving the room
quickly in order to sidestep Samantha's inevitable
"I'd rather stay." She replied flatly, right before
he closed the door behind him.
Gabe examined Nero's facial expressions long before
he opened his mouth to begin his interrogation. She
had been in that room for hours, yet her demeanor was
as cool and collected as it had been when she was
first led into the place.
"Why didn't you tell us it was your mother that was
your accomplice?" He asked, leaning back in his
chair, appearing to be relaxed even though deep down
the girl's very presence shook him to the core.
"I knew you'd find her, sooner or later." Nero
replied snidely. "I even left the syringe in her neck
with my fingerprints. I didn't want to make it too
difficult for you."
"Why did she want to kill your stepfather?" He
continued, all too aware of the small beads of sweat
that were forming above his eyebrows.
"He was an abusive man, Detective. Well, at least to
her he was. I really didn't have a problem with him;
he was quite clever to be honest. He had the best
quips" She said, a small laugh sliding out from her
last word. "But, hey, sometimes you have to sacrifice
a few things to get what you want."
"Okay, then" He replied, searching for another
question. "Why did you want him dead?"
Nero sighed and clasped her hands together, resting
her elbows on the cold metal table that stood between
her and Gabe, she replied. "Like I said, I liked him,
but he was abusive. People like that always deserve
what's coming to them."
"What did your mother do to deserve it?"
Nero inhaled deeply and closed her eyes, giving Gabe
the impression that what she was becoming restless.
"She took away my toys when I was ten. What can I
say? I hold grudges." When Nero saw the look on his
face, she threw her head back and laughed.
"You think this is funny?" He asked, his anger now
getting the best of him, as it had almost done with
Samantha hours before.
"Extremely." Nero purred, the smile never leaving
her face. "I killed her because she killed him. She
was always so high and mighty, as if her religion
actually made one bit of difference as to who she was.
If you can't practice what you preach, then you
should keep your mouth shut or stop your preaching.
If you can do neither, then someone will likely shut
it for you. She killed Andrew because he hit her. It
was her justice, and I knew that. That's why I helped
her. She died because according to her, murder is a
sin punishable by death. Not to say I'm religious or
anything, but I thought I might as well respect her
beliefs." Nero said, pausing to make sure she had the
"Were you aware that she had to inject herself with
Insulin shots to survive her diabetes? If I had known
injecting someone with nothing but the Windex from our
bathroom would result in them convulsing and spewing
blood and foam from their mouth and nose I assure you,
I would've killed her in a much cleaner method.
Messes are so upsetting when you're trying to keep a
house like that clean."
Later on that night...
"Do you think she'll get the death penalty?" Samantha asked
Gabe, as the two of them sat in their
living room drinking wine to drown out the memories of
the horrid day.
"Probably." He replied, shaking his head. "It's a
shame. She's just a kid. It's almost insane, but for
a moment I actually understood her reasons for killing
them. Before I left she told me that none of this
really mattered to her anyway. She said death was her
only intention of the day and she saw a chance to take
down the ones who deserved to go with her."
Samantha remained silent for a moment. Nero was an
intellectual murderer, the first she'd ever seen.
There was just one thing she still didn't understand.
"Did she ever tell you why she held up the
interrogation for so long? Ever than wanting us to
figure it out for ourselves, that is."
Gabe cleared his throat and swallowed the rest of his
red wine. "She said she went by her own philosophy.
"The slower you move, the faster time passes by, and
the quicker you die.'"