Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
Penny leaned back in her office chair and sighed deeply, she didn’t remember how long she had been working but she knew that she was far from over.
She needed to finish her article full of fake spicy coverage on something she’s not sure even happened.
”Then again, when was the last time anything happened in Pretoria Bay ?”, she muttered.
Much to her dismay Anne walked up to her and dropped another one on her mountain of her never-ending stack of files, toppling them over, “well if you’re done talking to yourself”,
Penny groaned as she could only watch in dismay as the papers and files went flying all over the floor,
“the cycle robbery story goes on page 2”, Annie flashed one last wolfish grin before walking towards her office.
Penny hurriedly tried to gather the files splayed out on the ground.
Once she had chased down the last piece of paper that had somehow made it’s way past three cubicles, she threw a quick glance at the large, pink clock hanging on the wall,
She hated the bubblegum colored eye-sore of a clock, mainly because of how it clashed with a all brown wallpaper of the office. Annie had insisted on it being hung dead center on the wall, and apparently nobody had the guts to say no to her.
After her inner monologue had died down she realized that it was already 10 PM, the grave realization that she only had 2 more hours to edit and decide where each article would go for tomorrow’s paper.
She slumped back into her cubicle and started typing away wishing that her godforsaken arm wouldn’t cramp up.
By the time it’s 11:50, she’s hopped up on eight cups of coffee and on the edge of a mental breakdown, “Hey, i might be on the verge of death but at least i can go home now” she mutters to herself slumping further into her comfy chair, considering sleeping right then and there.
Her sweet dreams of comfort are broken, by none other than the shrill voice of Annie calling her into her office using the useless intercom, Penny never knew what the point of the intercom was, Annie’s office was literally 15 feet away from the cubicles, she could just shout normally, but of course she had to protect her quite so precious voice.
She realized that she had gotten lost in her thoughts of vile hatred for Annie again, when the intercom blared again and the shrill voice reminded her to hurry up.
The last bit of the caffeine was still coursing through her veins so she had to energy to practically hurtle towards her office, she burst in screaming, “I’m done, it’s done ! I’ve finished it !”
Penny searched her face for any sort of praise, or congratulation but she only found a confused look and a vague, “Huh ? finished what ?”
She could barely suppress her need to hurl obscenities at her, “Tomorrow’s newspaper.”, she muttered though her gritted teeth.
This time however she got the response she was expecting the first time, “ah right, well done” Annie spat out hurriedly, “but i’m afraid you’re not done yet.”
Penny was not officially pissed, her eyes twitched and were nearly popping out as she exhaled a long drawn out, “I beg your fucking pardon ?”
She saw Annie, swallow a ball of spit, and continue, “I-I know it’s not f-fair but uh, I just got news, there’s been reports of seven dead bodies near Haven’s Park, and i need someone to cover it, I wouldn’t ask you but-”
Annie was cut off mid-sentence by her, “Dead bodies ? Do you think it’s murder ?”, Penny asked, excitement and curiosity oozing off her expression,
Annie, felt a shiver run down her spine, she had never seen someone this ecstatic about murder, she continued slowly, choosing her words carefully, “uh, it’s still very early to say anything concrete but the police seem to think that it’s murder.”
Penny blurted out, “i’ll do it, I’ll cover it, i don’t want overtime i’ll cover it !”, her voice exuded her desperation.
Annie pretended to contemplate her offer, Penny scoffed to herself, “as if she has anybody else to cover the story..”
Annie started out, typing away something on her laptop, “Fine you’ll be covering it but don’t think for-”
She realized, looking up that penny had already left.
Annie leaned back in her chair with a huff, “Well that’s rude.”
Penny hurtled down the stairs, making her way to the revolving door, she whizzed past the old, senile excuse for a security guard their building had.
She came to a halt, stepping out of the towering old building, with a manic expression she saw that a taxi was standing right at their doorstep, however, a woman was getting in.
Penny’s desperation took over as she pulled out the middle aged woman who was nearly seated in the taxi and jumped in and exclaimed in her crazed frenzy, “Step on it, i’ll pay you whatever you want, just get me to Haven’s Park.”
The driver’s confused mutterings were instantly turned into obedience as he pulled into the traffic with a curt, “Yes Ma’am.”
Penny panted as she tried to normalize her breathing, the vile curses of the woman she threw onto the pavement mere moments ago became white noise. She hoped that she would forgive her, she felt the unnatural urge to witness the most interesting thing that ever happened in this town, she felt pulled towards the grisly crime that happened mere hours ago like it was some theme park attraction.
Penny realized, as she slunk further into the old leathery seat of the taxi, that she didn’t even feel a hint of regret for it.
Her knee continuously bounced against the soft carpeted floor of the cab, her eyes darted between the road and her phone as she scrolled through the many news sites, hoping that no other paper got hint of the murder before the Red and Gold did. She never knew what was the point of having so many newspapers in one town.
She muttered, “people need variety i guess..”
She was caught off guard when the driver asked, “Did ya say something ?”, she sat up straighter as she noticed the gold emblazoned letters saying ‘Haven’s Park’ approaching fast, she could hear police sirens and the sheriff and his deputies redirecting traffic towards the highway,
She quickly responded, “Uh, nothing, just let me off right here.”
She handed the driver 100 dollars and her drove away looking like a kid with candy, but she couldn’t care less, she needed to see the crime scene, she started shakily walking towards the area closed off by the yellow police tape, swarmed by a forensics team.
She could see a commotion of people, trying to sneak a peek, to find out what in god’s name happened. She breathed a sigh of relief as she realized none of them we’re reporters.
She reached her hand into her bag and shuffled around, trying to grab her camera as she sped towards the crime scene.
Just as she aimed the camera, she saw from the corner of her eye, someone walking towards her, however, she was too late as she slammed right into them, making them plummet into the pavement.
She grabbed around for her camera, still disoriented, trying to make sure that it was still in one piece,
She huffed, “Watch where you’re fucking going, asshole !” she spat at the person struggling to get his bearings,
He panted as spat back, “i’m sorry ma’am but this is a crime scene ! you can’t just barge in !”
Once she was content with the fact that her camera was still in one piece she looked at the man with a puzzled look, “Oh really ? i thought this was the circus, what with the yellow police tape and all.”
She could see him frown and nearly pout, “Regardless you just can’t-”
She shut him up by shoving her company issued employee card, stating her name and the words, ‘Investigative Reporter’ in bold letters, in his face, “Oh but i can, you see, i’m a reporter, and who the fuck are you exactly, to decide if i’m allowed to check a crime scene or- ”
This time, He was the one to cut her off as he pointed at the detective’s badge hanging around his neck from a steel cord, “The answer to your question would be quite clear if you used your eyes as much as you use your mouth,” He straightened his slightly disheveled tie, as if to enunciate his point, “Ma’am.”
Her eyes darted around the scene only to notice the sheriff and his deputies and a team of forensics, a feeling of dread grew in her heart when she couldn’t find any other similarly, jacket laden detective around, meaning, that the guy she just blatantly insulted is the primary on this case,
Whose permission she needs to cover this story. She muttered a silent ‘Ah Fuck’, as she sheepishly glanced at the the detective, who was now carrying a smug and questioning look,
“So ?”, He asked, with a certain bite to his already gravelly voice.
She felt embarrassed and intimidated, even though she was quite a few inches taller than him.
”Soooooo…” she trailed on, hoping to find something to say to ease the tension and please this irritable and somewhat cute motherfucker.
Before she could however,
“So, Would you kindly like to tell me how the fuck, did you find out about this ?”,he growled out, the anger and annoyance clear in his eyes.
She gave him a puzzled look before responding, “My editor got a call from the Sheriff’s department, they’re the ones who informed us.”
It was his turn to look confused, “Nobody is allowed to do that until i give the go ahead, there’s no way in hell anyone from the sheriff’s department made that call.” his finished as his voice dropped nearly an octave.
She recognized the look of realization, maybe there were some similarities among them after all, “So what you’re saying, is the killer made the call ?”
He finally looked back up at her and gestured her to follow him as he held up the yellow police tape, “couldn’t be, because firstly, we did a full sweep of the area, we found nothing, not even a single footprint, no hair, no DNA, literally nothing.”
He came to a stop in front of what looked like a scene out of a horror movie, guts and body parts strewn around like broken children’s toys, the road painted red and grey with blood and brain matter. “And secondly, there’s no way that whatever did this is human.
She felt her stomach lurch from the scenery, the organs,the body parts, the blood and the stench, they were too much for her, she quickly grabbed her belly as she doubled over and threw up next to a nearby streetlight. The detective was right, this wasn’t just a murder it was a slaughter, and whatever did it, was far beyond anything she could imagine.
She realized gravely, that her first murder story, might’ve been more than she could handle.
She stood there silently taking notes, and asking the sheriff and his deputies about the nuances and the little details of what happened. She nervously took pictures of the crime scene as the same questions kept jabbing into her mind,
Just who or what exactly had contributed to this massacre.
She made the mistake of letting her imagination run wild, but just as her mind had started exploring the dark ideas of terror, she was pulled out of her daze, but the rough, sandpaper-like voice of the detective.
She imagined how well it’d work as an alarm clock.
His eyes darted around the crime scene, as if scanning it meticulously when he spoke, “did you drive here ? or did you catch a cab ?”
She kept rewinding his voice in her mind, something about it made her feel giddy. she didn’t know why.
He finally craned his neck towards her with an annoyed look, “i asked you a question, miss ?”
The realization that she had just been staring blankly at him hit her like a slap, she quickly scrambled for an answer, “Oh yeah, i took a cab, and uh my name’s Penelope Gargano.”
He nodded as he turned his attention back towards the bodies, “Italian ?”
”Half-Italian.” She responded as she gained her focus and took more important notes regarding the scene, she noticed how half the organs were missing. She took a step back and realized that the bodies weren’t strewn about randomly.
There was order in the violent chaos, “There’s a pattern.”
This pulled the detective out of his focused scanning, “I beg your pardon ?”
She gestured him to take a step back, “the bodies are in a pattern, it’s….it’s like a star.”
His confused look turned into horror, then realization as he noticed the subtly hidden pattern, “satanists ?”
Her terror and fraught had long been replaced with curiosity, “unlikely, it’s not a pentagram, it’s a star, with some few extra bits it seems.”
He only made a noise which seemed to her like agreement, then slid of his latex gloves, turning towards the line of cars, “alright, you’re coming with me, i need to know about the call that was made to your office regarding the murder,” He stopped short of his car and turned around to face her, “and i’m guessing you’re going to need the case files.”
”Yes, i do need the case files, and also, you could’ve just checked my id for my name.” She stated, blankly.
He sighed as he pulled open the door to his old and matte green car, “i believe in manners Miss Gargano.”
She smirked as she followed suit, into the passenger seat, “Penny is fine, and manners would be sharing your own name too Detective ?”
He chuckled as the car roared to life and he pulled out of the crime scene, “Jonathan, but please, kindly stick to Detective, i highly doubt we’ll be getting too familiar.”
The rest of the ride went on in silence with the faint white noise of the radio running in the background.