I could smell the blood before I even got to the scene. I hated blood. I knew it would be a gruesome sight from the large amount of flies buzzing around my head. My lead, Spencer, wrinkled his nose in disgust in front of me, and I knew we were finally there—Spencer was not the type of man to flinch.
“Oh my god,” I breathed heavily, bringing a well-worn handkerchief to my mouth. Spencer grunted and bent down to investigate more closely while I found the furthest wall away from the cadaver.
“They used a heated blade,” he determined, noticing that the skin was singed around the cuts on the woman’s neck. I knew he wasn’t talking to me because I was a mere rookie. “This person really knew what they were doing.” Fantastic, a smart murderer. That kind of murderer was the most difficult to catch – at least I wouldn’t have to deal with that sort of pressure. That job was for the police.
I edged around the scene, wondering why I volunteered for this crazy internship. I didn’t get paid, it was a nightmare of a job and none of my co-workers had a sense of humor. “Where are you going, Hastings?” Spencer growled, glowering at me through his bangs. His youthful arrogance annoyed me. “I didn’t tell you to go.” He annoyed me a lot.
“I’m going to see if the captain needs me to pick up some doughnuts or coffee for her,” I lied, trying to escape the horrific scene. “Since she’s pregnant, she might need something to snack on.”
My lie didn’t pass. “Nice try. I don’t care if you’re a girl; you are going to help us with the dirty work.” Damn, he always used that excuse, ‘I don’t care if you’re a girl’. Well I cared and that’s all that mattered. He didn't have to be so rude to me all the time.
Okay, so I hadn’t exactly admitted my slight phobia of blood and intestines because I knew this internship would look great on my application for Miami’s crime lab. After two years of studying graphic design at college I had suddenly become obsessed with crime labs, much to my parents chagrin. What I really wanted to study at Miami was toxicology since it was one of only five exceptional labs in the country. When I applied for this internship, I didn’t know I was going to actually be called on-scene in the midst of violence and death. This turned out to be way more than I had bargained for.
“Right, you’re the boss Spencer, sir,” I sighed, not wanting to lose my chance at Miami. The glint of Spencer’s cuffs and revolver caught my eye. Why was he allowed to have a gun and I was only allowed an eyeglass and fingerprint dust? A light breeze from the front hall brought the wretched smell of seared flesh to my nostrils. A cold sweat began to trickle down my neck and I knew a faint spell was on its way. I searched for the nearest chair and began to sit down.
“Don’t even,” Spencer’s rugged voice barked. Shooting out of the seat, I almost lost my balance, but Jason came to my rescue as usual.
“Careful there Sam, you don’t want to tamper with evidence.” Jason didn’t say it in a condescending way, more in a ‘I really want to help keep you alive because Spencer will kill you if you break the rules’ way. The one thing I loved- not love loved, but brotherly loved- about Jason was his ability to show up at the right time. He was always saving my butt whenever I tripped up (literally) at the scenes.
Spencer, scowl still secured, rolled his eyes mockingly and muttered something about ‘stupid rookies’. He really was a bright ray of sunshine sometimes. Jason smirked and turned towards the door, “Want a fresh bagel?” My hero.
“Please, with jelly and cream cheese.” If he hadn’t been seven years older than me, I would totally have been in love- love love - with him. Yes, he was also kind of married, but I didn’t let that little detail bother me as much as the age difference.
Chuckling, he said, “I figured as much.” He strolled out of the room and returned shortly carrying a plate with two bagel halves smothered in cream cheese and jelly. Nothing like food to take my mind off the mangled dead body behind me.
A hand reached across me and stole one half of the bagel. “Hey now,” I growled, catching Spencer’s wrist, “that’s mine.” Even though he towered over me, I could still be extremely possessive. Spencer furrowed his eyebrows and pursed his lips, making him look like a puzzled Labrador. I couldn’t help it, “Fine, take it, but wash your hands first.” He placed the bagel half in his mouth and exited the room.
“Spencer, come here for a minute,” the chief’s voice came from the adjacent room. Knowing that the chief didn’t like to wait, I hurried over and popped my head in.
“Mrs. Robins, Spencer will be right there,” I chirped, putting on my best work face.
“Oh, well come here Sam. You will do.” The way she said ‘You will do’ made me somewhat alarmed. “This will be good training for you. What do you think about this little scene here?” She gestured her arms towards the somewhat messy bedroom.
In every forensics class I had taken throughout high school and college, I had horribly failed the crime scene portion. It was stressful having to inspect every little detail, take pictures and draw every clue all at once. Although, one teacher had said I had a knack for noticing the important clues—he also mentioned that I had a knack for overlooking the obvious ones. I refused to fail the chief. “Scan around while I go talk to Spencer.” She gave me a sharp look and turned from the room.
I narrowed my eyes and studied the scene before me talking out loud. “I see a wrinkled shirt and an overturned glass of wine.” A small bleach pen sat on the corner of the dresser, but I figured it wasn’t important. A bright white chinchilla in a small cage sat atop the dresser, staring longingly at me as though asking me what happened to its owner. I admit it, I had a soft spot for cute fluffy animals. I shook my head and continued the scan. A yellow pad sitting next to the bed caught my eye, “I wonder if something’s written on it?” Images of movies where people’s names or addresses were always printed neatly on scraps of paper popped into my head. It just had to be a clue.
I hopped over the scattered items, eyeing several fancy dresses that I would have to google later on, and stopped next to the bed. The elated feeling I had escaped me. It was just a stack of blank note sheets. “Well so much for my own ‘Murder She Wrote’.”
The chief’s bobbed hair peeked around the corner. “Find any evidence yet rookie?” The teasing way she called me rookie made me frown. I shook my head glumly. “Keep looking. You never know what’s buried around crime scenes.” She furrowed her brow just as a loud growl emitted from her stomach. “Did Jason bring bagels today?” I nodded. “I’m taking a break. Yell if you find anything important, like a weapon.”
“Yeah sure, I’ll just stay here.” I watched her waddle out and found myself wondering how much longer she would be here to guide me. I stared down at the pad again and realized I could see something indented on it. It looked like a phone number. The numbers began to appear in my mind as I stared intently at the paper. 4 5 6 2 9 …. 3
Jason shimmied into the room and immediately sneezed, distracting me from my deciphering. “Are we getting anywhere?” He asked, handing me a half-eaten bagel. “I figured you were still hungry.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
The bagel was a little bit cold, but still delicious. Jason sneezed again and looked towards the chinchilla cage. “Damned hay,” he mumbled. I smiled, recalling a month ago when we were stuck in a horse stable and he couldn’t stop sneezing for a minute from all the hay floating around.
A small white splotch on Jason’s shirt caught my eye. “Did you try to bleach your shirt again?” I joked, remembering that he told me two weeks ago that he accidentally bleached his red polo.
Jason blushed, looking down at the spot. “Oh, yeah something like that,” he answered somewhat evasively. “I’m a klutz you know.”
“It’s a bummer you missed the meeting last night,” I hinted, smiling. “You missed Spencer’s horrible impression of Seinfeld. He even threw in the soup joke.”
He chuckled, eyes roaming the room. “Yes, it is a shame.” Finally noticing the paper in my hand, he asked, “What’s that in your hand?”
I looked down at the pad and the last digit appeared: 2. It finally clicked; I knew where I had seen that number before! I inhaled sharply and withdrew my hand. “Oh, just some notes I was taking, nothing important,” I lied, backing up slightly.
The smile on Jason’s face faltered slightly. “Why are you acting so suspicious? Come on, let me see what you’ve dug up so far Nancy Drew.” He always called me that whenever I went clue hunting—which wasn’t very often due to the usual blood and gore, I might add.
“Oh, it’s boring, you wouldn’t want to read it.” I tried crumpling the paper in my hand but Jason was too fast. He snatched my hand and tore the note out of it. His eyes grew wide as he figured out what was indented on the paper.
He reacted immediately by shutting the door and pulling a slightly dulled knife out of his cargo shorts. Ah ha! I had finally found the weapon. Why was I so happy about that fact when a deranged psychopath was wielding against me? “So, Nancy Drew finally did her job right.” His voice no longer held its usual joviality. Crap, I was in trouble.
“That’s the number I saw last night when you called in.” I might as well prove that I was observant while I still could. “And you were sneezing then too- from the hay probably right? Had you just killed her or were you about to?” Sometimes my mouth becomes disjoint from my rationality. I was sassing a murderer – I was really asking for it.
“Her blood was still fresh on my hands.” Definitely a psycho. “Yes, very well done Hastings. My mistake for not cleaning up the scene better.” Jason crumpled the piece of paper in his hand. “After five years I thought I could use my skills to commit the perfect crime, but you had to get in the way.” He studied me for a minute while I began to think of an escape route. Why do killers always want to talk before they murder someone? Seriously, it gives the victim time to think of way to escape. “It’s a shame too because I really liked you Sam.”
My skin crawled at the idea. "But you're seven years older than me!" Of course that's the first thing my brain jumped to, not the fact that he's married, but the fact that he's twenty-seven. For some reason my entire body felt heavy. Why couldn’t I move my legs? I had to keep him talking. “Why did you do it Jason? I just… can’t believe it was you.”
Tilting his head back, Jason barked out a laugh. “I don’t seem the type do I? That’s exactly what I had hoped everyone would think.” He lowered his knife slightly and turned towards the chipped mirror on the wall. “I was tired of hearing Spencer talk about how stupid criminals were. He’s always arrogant because he’s already a team lead and only twenty-four. I wanted to prove that I could outsmart that jerk and the captain.”
I sort of felt empathy towards Jason for a minute. Spencer had always been a jerk towards him and towards me now that I think about it. “That’s no reason to go out and commit murder- just to see if you could.” I’m not sure that was the best thing to say, but I needed to stall for time and the longer we talked, the sooner someone would come back.
Spencer must have read my mind because the next thing I knew, he was knocking on the door. “Hey Sam, could you open the door? I’m supposed to take a look around with you to make sure you’re not stepping on important evidence, captain’s order.” Even though I had a guy pointing a knife at me, I still had energy enough to roll my eyes at that snide comment.
Jason cursed under his breath, bringing the blade towards my face. “Tell him to go away,” he whispered, pressing the sharp tip against my cheek.
“I’ve got it under control Spencer.” My voice sounded high, even to me.
“Is Jason in there with you?” Spencer’s question surprised me.
Jason stepped on my foot. “Ow, oh no, no he’s not. I’m in here all by my lonesome, looking at stuff and sniffing out evidence. Nancy Drew is on the prowl, boss.” I hoped Spencer, being a human lie detector, would be able to tell I was in trouble. Instead, he just grumbled and stomped off like a little kid.
Jason let out a long breath, “You are the least convincing liar ever. Have I ever told you that?” If the situation hadn’t been so serious, I might’ve laughed.
“If you do anything to me, they’ll know it was you.” I warned, finally becoming fully aware of how much danger I was in.
“No they won’t, because I will watch you fall out of this window over here,” his eyes glazed over slightly, “I will try to catch you, but it’ll be too late.” I was horrified to see that he was smiling at me sympathetically. “And you always thought I was a nice guy.”
A shadow shifted under the door and I realized someone was outside; listening to Jason’s every word. “You can’t get away with murder Jason.” I said loudly still looking at the shadow.
“Watch me.” He shoved me towards the window with the knife still pointing at my neck. A loud click from the door caused Jason to spin around to face Spencer holding a handgun aimed straight at him. This was my chance; I curled my hand into a fist and brought it full force into Jason’s lower back. Jason dropped the knife and crumpled to the floor. Did I mention I was a black belt? I think Jason just found out.
I snatched up the knife and jumped away towards Spencer. “Nice one Hastings,” Spencer mumbled approvingly. Taking a pair of handcuffs out of his pocket, he headed towards Jason. “And as for you, I’m taking you into custody.”
Chief Robins, out of breath, puffed into the bedroom. “What is going on here?” She looked from me to Spencer cuffing Jason. “Jason? Spencer? What are you doing?”
“Chief, this is our murderer.” Spencer easily hauled Jason up by his arms like a rag doll. “He also attempted to harm Sam who then took him out.” He looked at me proudly. I blushed, embarrassed.
I picked up the crumpled number and showed it to Chief Robins. “This is Jason’s number imprinted on the paper. I recognized it from last night when he called in.”
She nodded, impressed and took the note from me. “I’ll put this in evidence.” She turned towards Jason. “I can’t believe you. You’re one of our best men. How could you?” Jason glowered, but didn’t respond. “Spencer, take that criminal out and hand him over to the police.” Spencer complied and dragged Jason out of the room roughly. Chief Robins looked to me and said, “Now Sam, I know you don’t want to make crime scene investigating a permanent job, but I think you might have a knack for it.”
For the first time in my life, I felt like I had accomplished something worthwhile. I wanted to keep that feeling. “You know, you’re right. I think I’ll intern here next year,” I decided.
“I think we could find you a better job than that. I also think I could write you a blossoming recommendation for Miami.” Mrs. Robins smiled fondly at me, and I almost yelled in joy, but held my composure because after all I was a world famous detective now.
“We’ll certainly miss you while you’re at school,” Spencer said, re-entering the room.
“Don’t worry, I promise to come back. I mean, who else would help you guys catch the murderers?”
Chief Robins’ walkie-talkie blared gibberish, but she stood up abruptly and said, “Possible homicide on Harley Street.”
Spencer turned to me and winked. “You think you can catch us another murderer 'Nancy Drew'?”