A Stab in the Dark

A detective. A forensic scientist. A journalist.
Three lives drawn together by a murder.
When evidence lies and the case evolves, who can you trust in a city full of lies?
---- Updated every Wednesday ----

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4. The Odd Typo

​Max

Early one cold November morning, a young couple decided to take a walk. What they didn’t know was that they were about to stumble across something horrible.

“No, Max, that’s utter bullshit.”

What they didn’t know was that before the end of their stroll, they’d stumble across the dead body of the biggest bitch in town. But they did. And the world rejoiced.

“No, you can’t write that. There’s way too many short sentences. Let’s try a whole new angle.”

Suspiciously early one freezing November morning, it was the perfect day for murder. And, as a very shady-looking young couple set out on their daily walk, murder was the only thing on their mind. And who better to murder, than the biggest bitch—

“Nope.”

Suspiciously early one freezing November morning, it was the perfect day for murder. And, as the estranged and slightly insane ex-husband of Martha Kane woke up and glanced at the dwindling moonlight, murder was the only thing on his mind. Like a hungry predator, he tracked down his ex-wife and, armed with a—

“Stay OBJECTIVE, Max!”

Martha Kane had always been a backstabbing bitch, but early one November morning, she finally got a taste of her own medicine.

“Needs to be more punchy. This has to grab people’s attention.”

There’s a backstabbing bitch loose in London.

“Perfect.”

Sighing with unconcealed exasperation, I slammed the lid of my computer shut and pushed it away. Writing investigative reports was a lot more nerve-wracking than writing news reports, but there was something about reading my own words in print that I really enjoyed. It was probably ego, but I could hardly help it.

‘What can I say? I’m a control freak. I like to be in control.’

Of course, I’d always had major issues with following orders and meeting deadlines, which was why I was writing my article on the murder of Martha Kane at one o’clock in the morning, thirty hours after visiting the crime scene. The TV news channels had all finished their reports, and they were finished now; the next time Martha’s name was on the news would be when the killer was caught. Now, it was my turn. For some reason, even though sleepless nights and caffeine turned me into a rough caricature of Bipolar Disorder, I’d been picked to write the investigative journalistic report. When that phrase had first been assigned to my name, I’d had trouble wrapping my head around those complicated words. In simple terms, I was supposed to get out to speak to people as the case developed and the report wouldn’t end until the ‘backstabber’ was caught. That was just great; because I loved extra work. Even though it was past midnight and I was on my third cup of coffee, despite the fact that I detested the taste of coffee, there was no place I’d rather be.

‘Man, seriously. Fuck my job.’

“Anyone,” my boss had said to me after I asked who the hell I was meant to talk to. “Anyone you can get to, whether they want to speak to you or not. Scientists, detectives, police officers, family, I don’t care. Just get it done.”

Anyone I could get to.

Right then.

Well, for starters, I’d already got to one person: The detective, Jackie Truman. She clearly hadn’t wanted to talk to me, but she’d still told me... well, everything. That was another paragraph for my article in the bag, at least. I opened my laptop again.

Jackie Truman, the very flamboyant but absolutely terrifying detective assigned to the case, had this to say:

“Um...”

‘Get lost, Chronicle.’ That’s what she’d said to me. I was used to being rebuffed, but there was something about being rebuffed by a woman that really embarrassed me. Honestly, it was actually Jackie’s contempt for me that had made me volunteer to write the article in the first place. I felt like I had something to prove to her. I wanted to prove that just because I’d got on my bike and driven away when she’d told me to, it didn’t mean I’d done it because she’d told me to. I could go back, and I could get information from anyone I wanted, because I was the best damn journalist in London and I was out for blood.

Well, I wasn’t out for blood. Since I was trying to solve the case, I suppose I was actually out to stop more blood being spilt. Or whatever. I’m crap at metaphors; that’s why I write newspaper articles and not fucking novels.

‘I’m the best damn journalist in London and I’m out to save the day.’

Nope, I wasn’t really out to save the day either. I just wanted a pay rise.

‘I’m the best damn journalist in London and I’m out to watch Jackie Truman and that creepy scientist guy save the day, and then write about it.’

Yeah, that seemed about right.

I wrote for at least another hour at the tiny desk in the hallway of my house, but eventually I had to give up. Rubbing my eyes with the edge of my sleeve, I tried to clear my mind in order to proof-read what I’d got so far. I was great at writing, obviously, but occasionally the odd typo slipped through the cracks and needed cleaning up.

And if you ask me, that bitch got what she deserved and I hope they never catch the guy who did it and fuck you Martha and I’m tired fuck this I’m going to bed I’m the most fucking amazing journalist in London and I’ll fix it in the morning.

That was the last sentence.

God damn you, Max.’

“I’m tired. Fuck this, I’m going to bed,” I muttered, getting to my feet.

‘I’ll fix the article in the morning.’

On my way upstairs, I caught sight of my reflection in the hall mirror and cringed at the sight of the dark shadow of stubble that was beginning to form on my chin. I didn’t like to throw too much shade at my appearance, but I was starting to look like an unemployed bum.

‘Jackie could’ve been right to question my professionalism.’

My tie was tied in a bow for some fucking reason, my shirt was crumpled and there was a ketchup stain on my sleeve. I sincerely hoped it had come from that night’s dinner and not the night before. If it had been there since the morning, I’d probably looked like a right mess when I’d showed up at the scene of a murder asking questions. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t suspicious-looking enough to get arrested. If I’d been a police officer, I might even have arrested me.

If I’d been dragged off by the police, though, the editors probably would have picked my colleague Liam to write the article instead of me, and Liam was an asshole. He probably would have angled the article completely against me, to make a more interesting story, and personally, I’d never dream of doing that to anyone. Not even Martha’s ex-husband, who was pretty obviously the one to blame. As far as I was aware, they still hadn’t arrested anyone, but I was pretty sure they’d brought some people in for questioning. That, of course, was great for me. That meant that I could go to the police station tomorrow and kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, I could talk to Jackie again, and secondly, I’d be able to learn more about the questioning of the suspects. Perhaps I could even use Jackie’s contempt for me against her. If there was one thing I excelled at as a journalist, it was my way with words. After all, I’d already gotten every detail of the murder out of her simply by acting dumb.

Which I wasn’t. I was smart.

Mostly.

‘So what’s the game plan tomorrow then?’

I slumped into bed fully-dressed and smacked the lamp until it switched itself off.

In six hours, I planned to get down to the police station and grab the details of the questionings. I needed to know who’d been taken in, and why, and what they’d said while they were there. Of course, if one of them hadn’t been allowed out again, then that’d be the end of the job. If not, I’d have to look for more options.

Before facing Jackie again, though, I planned to pay a visit to that creepy-looking scientist.

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