And No One Dared


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Scene Title And No One Dared
Synopsis Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again.
Date October 28, 2020

Keep your eyes open.

It’s a warning hand-written on the back of a photograph of the Deveaux Building rooftop, a grainy telephoto lens shot of Peter and Nathan Petrelli in a heated argument, with a third figure in shadow barely visible around the corner of the rooftop greenhouse. It’s a warning that has haunted Gillian Childs for the last four months.

It’s why she’s risking her career, risking her livelihood, risking — at the moment — her life perched atop the last ring of a shaky ladder to reach the top shelf of a paper filing system. A single row of fluorescent lights are on overhead and the records storehouse for the NYPD is otherwise a cavernous, dark place. The brown cardboard box marked U-1723 is just within Gillian’s reach, a ten pound heap of documents pertaining to a death filed as a murder-suicide.

The death of her fiancé and his brother.

Sliding the files off of the shelf, Gillian can feel the ladder shake under her feet. It wobbles from side to side, pitches onto two legs as she shifts her balance to try and prevent a fall of some ten feet to the concrete floor below. The ladder corrects, clatters down, and Gillian is able to shakily descend with the document box barely held under one arm. Her fingers and wrist ache by the time she gets to the floor and drops the box with a slap of cardboard on concrete.

The record storehouse is quiet, and Gillian is left with a tightness in her chest. Even when she shuts her eyes she can see that message.

Keep your eyes open.

There had to be something she was missing.

1 Police Plaza
Department of Records and Information Services Storehouse

Manhattan, NYC

October 28th
8:37 pm

There had to be something that everyone was missing.

Breath unsteady, Gillian looks about the darkened storeroom once again as if she did not have the right to be there— she did, she just shouldn’t be looking at this particular file and she knew it. And they would know it too, if anyone came along to question her. With an unsteady inhale, she takes a moment to listen, trying to hear anything through the thruming of blood in her ears. No doors opening, no footsteps, no one talking. This was never a popular place.

But she had to check again. The ladder had made too much noise, the files being put down had hit the concrete just a little too loudly. Everything felt louder than it should probably have been. As it did when someone was risking their job.

When no immediate sign of someone is heard, Gillian lets out a breath she definitely knew she was holding, and kneels down to begin the thumb through the files, not daring to move too far from where she put down the heavy file box.

Toxicology reports are up front. They shouldn’t be. The files should be in chronological order, back to front. Tox reports were done earlier, before the file was closed. Someone had been through this recently, pulled the report out and put it back in the wrong spot. There’s nothing surprising on them; one report for Peter, one for Nathan. Indicating both men were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their deaths.

The rest of the files are in proper order. There has to be something in here that was overlooked. The photo she was given wasn’t a part of any official police investigation. It had never sat right, their deaths, Nathan’s widow’s recollection of events, the official reports. It all felt like a bad dream, where there were just enough connecting dots to make it plausible, but not enough to make it believable.

But the question remained, where would she find that missing detail? That kernel of truth?

Gillian could not help but wonder if Kaylee had gone through the report somehow, pulling some strings to see the tox-screen again. She possibly had enough influence with the city to do something of the like, but surely she would have had the mind to put everything back in place— she wondered if she should check and see if anyone had pulled the file with proper paperwork— but—

She wasn’t. So she filed that away in her mind for later. Part of her couldn’t help but want to move the tox report to the proper place, but she didn’t have the time, she had something she wanted to look at.

The picture she’d been given hadn’t been included with the original report, but what if she compared it to the pictures that were? Maybe it would show a discrepancy, maybe there would be something she could compare it to—


Maybe she would finally learn the truth about what had happened that day.

No one is ever really prepared to look at crime scene photos of their loved ones. No amount of mental preparation can make you ready for that. But Gillian finds them. That it’s Nathan first gives her an emotional barrier, a level of detachment one degree separated from her heart. But the photographs of Nathan’s body bent backwards on the asphalt still cause her heart to lurch in her throat. She sees markers around his body. Markers on the edge of an open dumpster that he hit with his back, markers where his skull hit the asphalt in the alley.

Then comes the harder images. Peter. Face down on the ground, hair covering his face, arms out to his side. Tape outlines of the brothers’ bodies are marked off on the street in other photos. Dark stains on the ground from their blood. Photographs up to the Deveaux Building’s roof. Photographs of the roof itself, of the patio furniture, of the…


Something shakes Gillian out of an emotional fugue. It’s the view of the rooftop greenhouse attached to the penthouse. There are panes of glass broken out of the side facing the roof patio. Panes that were intact in the photo she was sent. But something further hitches at the back of her mind, sinks hooks in and peels back layers of certainty to reveal the raw questions beneath.

There were four people on the roof that night. Peter, Nathan, the shadowy figure, and the cameraman. But as Gillian looks at the assembled photographs, reorients her understanding of the rooftop’s layout, the position of the cameraman begins to become hard to determine. Based on the angle and perspective, the cameraman had to be standing out in the open. There’s no way to shoot that angle from another roof because of the penthouse getting in the way.

Did Nathan and Peter know someone was there taking photos? Then who was the shadowy figure?

Was the source of the picture the photographer? Or did they just happen to find it? Gillian was starting to wish she would have asked Nick to come with her on this, but that would have made explaining more difficult if anyone caught her. She could explain away her presence perhaps, but a private eye as well?

She tried her best to avoid letting her eyes return to the sight of the bodies, but she still found herself unable to stop a glance or two at them, blinking back tears that wanted to form. There was no time for tears— she had cried for years over this, cried for answers, cried for things that she wanted to know.

Who had the shadow been? Had either of the men known? Had there been some evidence that had been left out to indicate who else might have been up there at the time— footprints? Finger prints? DNA? Surveillance footage of some kind? OPTICA hadn’t really been up and running that far back, but there had been precursors even then, is that where the photos came from? “Come on Peter— I know there had to be more to this…” she whispers quietly, to someone who wasn’t even there. To herself, really.

That’s when Gillian realizes she isn’t alone. It’s a harrowing sensation, realizing you’re being watched. Gillian catches the silhouette of a man in her peripheral vision on her right side. Tall and broad-shouldered, stooped posture. But when she looks for him he—

—isn’t there.

Alarm becomes dread, the hair on the back of Gillian’s neck stands on end and the logical parts of her brain start immediately rationalizing it. It’s not a person, it’s nerves making her see things that aren’t there. But just as she’s going through those reflexive mental exercises, she sees the silhouette again, this time dead-on but further away, just on the edge of the light from the fluorescent light hanging overhead.

He’s just standing there, barely visible in the dark. Watching.

Throat suddenly dry with horror, Gillian regrets having spoken out, looking at the figure and waiting for the light to shine on the face of her Captain or another officer or something worse. Someone who would know she wasn’t supposed to be here right now, that even if she used her best excuse, she couldn’t talk her way out of this one, sitting on the floor in a storeroom looking at a file.

She could lose her job. She could lose everything she’d spent a decade working toward.

Swallowing despite the lack of moisture in her mouth, she starts to close up the file, not looking at it, knowing that the pictures were getting shuffled together in a disorderly fashion even as she did it, and starting to stand up, ready to face whoever happened to be behind that silhouette.

But as they approach, Gillian finds her world thrown upside down. There is no-one behind the silhouette. The overhead light flickers for a moment, only to reveal when it comes back that there is just a shadow walking upright in front of her. A shadow slowly marching closer.

The apparition moves just like a man, a three-dimensional blot of darkness with arms and legs, a long coat and a fedora. Its edges are blurry and indistinct, like a living blind-spot brought to life. As it walks toward Gillian across the floor it makes no sound, simply presses toward her with long-legged strides.

That’s not… natural.

Gillian had been prepared to face an officer, a detective, an interdepartmental agent, even her chief, but she was not prepared to face something that seemed to walk right out of a horror movie. Or a photograph that had been bothering her for months. Her immediate instinct once it starts to move toward her is to get away, so that is exactly what she tries to do, backing up quickly with a startled sound that rises in her throat. She doesn’t make it very far. The filebox is sitting on the floor behind her, after all.

She hits it with her heel and loses her balance and lands on the hard floor with a thud next to the box she shouldn’t have in the first place. Thankfully not on top of it. She doesn’t even try to break her fall, because as soon as she hits the ground, she’s pushing herself away with feet and hands instead of just laying there.

The shadow person advances on Gillian, moving with a staccato gait like a stop-motion figure from an old fantasy movie. As it nears the edge of the file box it reaches out with a long-fingered hand toward her, and the sound of driving wind, crashing rain, and a screaming voice rises up all around her. The light overhead flickers and gutters and Gillian reflexively wrenches her eyes shut as the creature’s ghostly hand comes down and—


Gillian feels a firm hand on her shoulder. “Gillian, hey. Hey!” An involuntary scream erupts from Gillian’s throat but when she opens her eyes there is no phantom there standing in front of her. There is just the concerned, wide-eyed face of Captain Donovan. He stares at Gillian for a long while, then looks down to the file box, then back to her again.

The scream still hung in the air, even as Gillian stared up at her Donovan, relieved at first to see someone solid and not a strange vision of a — she’s not even sure what she would have described that as. A walking nightmare. A ghost. A horror. Something unreal and unexplainable. But he was real and at first, that gives her comfort.

At least until she follows his eyes to the file. Oh. Right. “I— I was just— “ she had planned on what to say if she had gotten caught by just about anyone really. But all her words vanished from her mind after that terrifying moment that she’d had briefly. She tried to process what it had been, none of the excuses could have been very good, even as her throat and voice were hoarse and tight from the scream.

She shouldn’t have been looking at that file and they both know it.

But she can’t even find the excuses anymore as she just meets his eyes and— waits.

At first the look on Donovan’s face is flush with frustration; like a parent who caught their teenager drinking. But, like the parent who remembers being the child caught drinking, Donovan’s expression softens. “You’re lucky you didn’t break your neck when that box fell off the shelf.” He says carefully, looking from it to the space it belongs.

“I’ll help you put it back, then you can go pull the John Logan file for Vice.” Donovan instructs, covering for her indiscretions. “Better hope nothing like that happens again…” he says with a flick of blue eyes over to the box, then back to Gillian.”

“You never know who’s watching.”

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