I began my morning ritual: phone, coffee, computer. It groaned as it came to life, fans choking on dust. I should probably fix that, I think for the millionth time, I don’t really have the money to buy a new one if it dies. But I know I’ll forget soon enough and it won’t be a concern anymore.
It was a day like any other, starting past noon, in my tiny basement apartment where there wasn’t enough sunlight for the time of day to matter. The timestamps on my news feeds and emails lent more meaning than anything else. Like every day, there were only false positives to my alerts, nothing new. Sometimes there was chatter a show or movie could be made about the case. Imagine the drama, the intrigue! Watch as a young woman gets away with murder between piano lessons, those kids have no idea what else their teacher did with those hands.
It always left me conflicted. There had been plenty of convictions overturned due to renewed interest brought on by a podcast or slick limited series. New witnesses would come forward, old evidence would finally be DNA tested, the failure and corruption of the police would inevitably be exposed. But there wasn’t a person who could be saved this time, and no one to worry about offending with an exaggerated depiction. They could be as hyperbolic as they wished, taking artistic license to muddy the timelines, filling in the gaps themselves to show that, without a shadow of a doubt, Kaisa Alcroft was a murderer, there was no other explanation.
The screen flashed from white to dark as the Writing Wrongs forum homepage began to load. Instinctively I clicked open the other saved tab; the screen jittered as the page jumped to the newest post and the HTML elements started taking shape, resizing images in signatures and reorganizing lists into menus.
I’m not sure what I expected. There had to be someone else who felt the same way I did, they might find this thread, maybe they thought of something I hadn’t. Maybe they’re a witness who, weighed down with guilt, comes forward with the truth. I had already expended every avenue that is afforded to a private citizen, which wasn’t very much. Turns out dropping out of high school really makes it difficult to become a detective. A sense of justice and a passion for the truth wasn’t enough.
Most of the other threads I subscribed to, I didn’t want to look at. The latest rejection still stung, I didn’t want to hear half-hearted apologies or see other people crowing about their success. Which also meant dodging a lot of the cases I followed, as I wasn’t the only one with hopes for publication.
One more thread, then I should get going, I had errands to do before work and I couldn’t keep putting them off. I opened “JAMIE DOE - SUSPECT MIA”. No one had admitted to writing a proposal for it yet, so it was safe;
As much as I hated to admit it, Jupiter was probably right. G— Gutteridge, the sole suspect, had been quite vocal in the press about his innocence; it was amusing to imagine his attorney trying to get him to shut up. Or maybe the Western Stags had enough of him and were successful where the legal system wasn’t. Mainstream news didn’t link the crime ring to the case, but with a little digging, it wasn’t very hard to find the connections. Some people were paranoid that any mention would draw them to the forum and take it down; the first user to refer to them in that obtuse way was long gone but the practice remained.
I skimmed the rest of the thread to see if there were any updates, but there were none. If I didn’t already have Kay’s case, this one would have held my attention in trying to solve it. I sighed and shut down the computer. There would be plenty of time to think over the case between errands and downtime at work. Staring at a computer screen wouldn’t solve anything.