A Model Murder – Z.B. Wagman

The victim was skinny. Too skinny. Detective Sarah hated seeing it. And it was a sight she had gotten used to. These girls with their bottle-blonde hair, legs the size of twigs, probably wanted to be a model. A life of glitz and glam. Probably met a boy and ended up here: at the bottom of the stairs. Shoes missing and head on backwards. 

Sarah tore her gaze away from the body. It wasn’t her job to clean up this mess. But she could find the one responsible. The crime scene was bereft of any obvious clues. No bloody handprints or last words scratched into the wall by the victim. In fact, the walls were almost too clean.

Sarah ran a finger along the wall closest to the victim. She could just make out the faint shadow of felt tip–some long forgotten graffiti. But when she sniffed her finger there was the familiar scent of bleach. No fingerprints would be found here.

There was something about this scene that bugged her. She glanced back at the body. Light glistened off its face, too plastic to be alive. What was wrong with this picture? Aside from the backwards head. Something was missing…She closed her eyes, running through the crime scene in her mind. The missing pumps. The broken neck. The body sprawled at the foot of the stairs. 

Her eyes shot open as she sprinted up the stairs, her heart pounding in time with her feet. As if to confirm her suspicion, a lone pink pump welcomed her at the top. 

The hall infront of her was a short one. Only three doors branching off for three possible locations for a killer to hide. One stood half open, musty air wafting out from within. The second was closed tight and intimately familiar to Sarah. It was certainly safe. But the last…plastered with warning signs and toxic symbols, it was the perfect place for a killer to hide. As she crept up to it, she could see light playing at the foot of the door. She leaned down, ear to the crack. 

“We shoulda kept the girl.” It was the wheedly drawl of a born psycho. 

“No way. There’d be too much trouble.”

“Then at least we shoulda taken her clothes.”

This was it for Sarah. Before she could think about consequences she was through the  door, gun drawn. “Nobody move.”

“Hey!” The two creeps sat on the floor, hunched over something Sarah couldn’t see. 

“Who did it?” Sarah could hear her voice rising. She couldn’t help it. “Who killed the barbie?”

“Go away, Sarah,” grunted the psycho one.

“Yeah,” the warty one squawked. “We haven’t touched your barbies.” 

But the words rang hollow as Sarah caught sight of the pink plastic pump that sat on the floor between them. Its heel had been melted into a sticky goo and singe marks licked its toe. Warty caught her eye and grinned. “It was just a little fun,” he said, flicking the lighter in his hand.

“You monster.” Sarah’s voice was calmer than it had any right to be. She raised her pistol. 

“You wouldn’t dare,” Psycho laughed.

Her first rubber band caught him right between the eyes. 

Z.B. Wagman is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. He has two dogs that take most of his attention. When not bribing the dogs out into the rain, he can be found at the Beaverton City Library, where he finds much inspiration for his writing.

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