Police flooded the store. Flashbulbs exploded as detectives drew fine, talcum powder-covered brushes over glass, books, binding equipment, anything, it seemed to [detective], that could bare the weight of the brush. Which, by the looks of it, was everything.
"Tell me again, [detective]. How'd it happen?"
In the wake of the store owner's screams, [detective] had fallen into a deep, abyss-like sleep. Awakening only at the sound of sirens whirling down the street. Panic had grabbed him firmly around the throat and guts. His body ached from having lay on the concrete steps, his head wrenched at a crooked angle against the door. Running was out of the question. His prints were everywhere. The backdoor had been gimmicked. Fleeing now would only make him seem guilty and so he did what only he could, he opened the door to the bookstore proper and began his investigation.
"You've got it all, Sam. Followed a suspect I believe to be related to a crime concerning my client. Forced my entry into the bookstore by way of the back door, took up my peepshow seat by the door and listened."
"And then took a nice little nap while your so-called suspect torched this guy then ran off."
He'd never said it was a good plan.
"Like I said, I suspect whatever chemicals he used to ignite Mr...."
"Don't worry about his name. We've got it under control."
"Which reminds me, what was your suspects name again?"
"When I heard your suspect start to scream, I readied myself for entry, but upon standing up found myself feeling woozy. Next thing I knew I was done for the count."
"Woozy, as in maybe you'd indulged yourself?"
Detective Sam Fuller made a drinking motion with his hands, tilting it toward his face. His pale cheeks were covered in a thin sheen of sweat, but whatever discomfort the heat caused him dissipated beneath a toothy grin.
"I've already offered myself for testing. Check my breath and blood, you'll find it clean."
A clattering from the back storage area. A detective wearing a long, tan coat walked up the steps holding the end of a pencil. A bottle dangled from it.
"Maybe we don't need a test."
"Maybe you ought to do your job."
"Maybe you're an idiot for getting yourself caught at a murder scene."
As much as he wanted to, [Detective] couldn't argue the logic. He'd been careless in trailing the tall man, Mr. Drake, without knowing more about it. Breaking into the bookstore had been desperation. He knew that. But, there, lingering in the back of his brain, a voice kept telling him that he'd been desperate before. Had followed the same procedures a dozen times. And nothing like this had ever happened to him.
And then there was that other voice. Absent now, it felt so powerful before. Hissing. Confident. Luring him to places he'd rather not consider. Where had it come from? What caused it to go? And more importantly, what would have happened if it hadn't resisted?
"Hey, Lou!" Sam was waving his notepad in the air, gesturing his partner toward the door. "Let's get that into evidence. I'd like a full set of prints and a report on whatever the hell was in it that thing in writing ASAP."
The other detective nodded and, turning toward a lab technician who had an open bag at the ready, deposited the bottle then carried it outside.
"You're gonna want to carbon date that thing while you're at it. By the looks of it, it's been back there since this place was all sand and cacti."
Grinning, Detective Fuller ignored him and went back to his pad. "You know, [detective] you're in an awful cute mood for a guy about to be arrested for murder."
It was an empty threat, [detective] knew. No previous connection to the victim. No signs of marks on his body. Combustion of the type that killed the clerk would have left a trace and [detective] knew they wouldn't find any on him.
Comforting as that was, it still didn't explain what had killed Theodore. That Mr. Drake was responsible was beyond doubt, but how he had done it.
[Detective] looked back at the counter. Not a spec of ash. Nothing, either, on the ceiling above. And yet, one foot away, where the mousey store owner had spent the better part of the last twelve years of his life, all that was left of Mr. Theodore Last-Name-Withheld was a pile of ash no bigger than an anthill.
"Alright handsome," Fuller said, holding up a pair of bracelets. "Time for your fitting."
They held him for twenty-four hours. The lack of evidence warranted even less time, but he knew how Sam operated and so had expected the full forty-eight. When he strolled out around noon the next day he considered himself lucky.
His office was quiet. Good. He needed that. Taking care to close the door as quietly as possible, [detective] hung up his hat and coat, slipped off his shoes, and loosened his tie before crumbling on his couch. The cushions were coarse as bear fur but it was the softest thing he'd slept on in the past two days.
It last all of seventeen minutes.
The knocking was viscious
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Location An antique store
Event Someone passes away
Letter Use the letter G
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Sentence "You're an idiot."
Prop Include an empty bottle
Words Reach 400 words
Letter Use the letter E
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
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