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(Consider this a practice exercise / short story.)

He had spent too long checking the shelves. Why would a killer leave anything on a shelf? But the floors, the desk, nothing in the office showed any apparent signs of tampering apart from the door, which had been picked open a little too roughly. There was no obvious information here except the body, which had not yet been bagged. The detective tried to keep it in place for as long as he could, and it had helped solve more than a few cases. He had long ago made a deal with the police; as long as it was safe, they would give him two hours. The first was lost arriving to the scene…and also to the shelves.

The officer at the exit looked through the door’s window, then pulled it open and spoke up, careful not to enter and disturb anything. “Do the shelves have all the answers? You’re lucky he was arrested outside. Not so lucky he had locked the doors behind him, no proof he was ever here apart from proximity.”

The detective shook his head. “Unfortunate that the witness heard, but not saw.”

He turned back and checked the carpet, which was a strange dark green. He needed something to link the perpetrator to the scene—anything. The killer hadn’t expected anyone else would be there after dark, cowering on the floor below with the police on the line after hearing the violent noises upstairs. This should be easy since was caught near the building. Just had to tip it past suspicion. At the edge of the office, he took his knife and carefully peeled the carpet up, checking underneath while circling the room.

The detective scanned the ground for anything, some hair, maybe a wallet full of ID…as if. He moved on to the desk. Files, papers, a picture of someone the victim must have known. He didn’t look too closely. The desk had scratches, scuffs, evidence of struggle. He looked closely, leaning in, hoping maybe a shirt fragment had gotten torn and left behind. Would that be enough? He looked at the body nearby. It was best to leave last, to avoid disturbing potential key information in its position. He took a few photos, then searched. Pockets, under the belt, and, uncomfortably, in the shoes and socks. He opened the mouth. Nothing. The detective looked at his watch. Twenty minutes. He’d wasted time. He’d wasted time, and there was nothing in the room. He wasn’t about to peel off the walls.

He stood up and exited, stepping past the officer, who said, “Found what you needed?”

The detective pointed at the door. “You didn’t touch it, did you?”

He raised his hands. “Only with gloves, to open it for you.”

The detective took a flashlight from inside his coat and shone it through the door’s glass panes. “He wanted to get in fast once his victim started screaming. Tried to break in, but obviously went back to picking, maybe in panic, maybe to avoid leaving blood behind.”

The officer looked again. “Fingerprints.”

Daniel Triumph.

This is my half of a collaborative exercise for my creative writing course. There is another part that weaves into this, but it was written by someone else, so I won’t include it. (Fortunately, the my half functions fine on its own!)

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