Chapter OneMature

It was bigger than they ever expected it to be.

We found semen samples, but no signs of rape.

The girl herself was strung up by her heels, dangling over her dining table like a chandelier. Trails of sand and ash circled the horrific scene, accompanied with blood that had dripped down from the deep slashing marks on the girl's neck. Her eyes were open, but her gaze was empty. There were strange markings on the table itself—carvings of some sort—but there were no fingerprints. None. The whole scene seemed eerily staged. The first thing you saw when entering the house was the body. That couldn't have been a coincidence. Also, the ashes and sand that encircled the dining table seemed almost . . . artistic—as if the killer had been painting a picture. To top it all off, there was a small, pink flower sitting in the very center of the dining table. It was the only pleasant odor in the room.

In the girl's bedroom, we found a bloody finger. It wasn't hers, but it was there. We had a feeling that that finger was going to be the thing that lead us to closing the case, but perhaps that was just false hope.

Who am I kidding? It was.

"This is a mess. A big mess. With a hundred gallons of media-crap poured on top for effect."

I turned away from the crime scene and laughed. "Glad to know you're keeping a positive attitude, Boss."

"Watch your mouth, Derek. What have you found?"

"We talking evidence?"


I faced the crime scene and placed my hands in my pocket. Forensics had just finished analyzing the place, and were already packing up their bags. I always thought that they seemed a little bit too solemn—like they hated their jobs or something. Then again, I guess it wasn't the most pleasant job in the world. Still—was it so hard to smile once and a while?

"Derek? How much have you found?"

"Not much. Not much at all. The finger we found is really our only hope."

False hope indeed.

Boss sighed and shook his head. "Shame."

I folded my arms and thought for a moment.

"You know, we're going to need our best on this."

"I know."

"You're not enough."

I looked at him. "What do you mean? You giving me a partner?"

He laughed. His hands withdrew from his coat pockets, a cigar and lighter in their grip. He placed the cigar in his mouth and then lit it. "Not exactly," he said with a smirk.

And right from the get-go, I had a bad feeling.

The End

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