Story: Front Line

Butterflies danced in Charlie’s stomach as if they were enjoying it. “Eat something”, her mother said as she rushed out of the kitchen in her usual hectic daze of business, she was always running around in the house like she was late for everything. “You need your strength”, her mother said. Charlie sighed, she’d been living with her mum again after a few years away from training. She was starting to go crazy.

She started to nibble the edge of a cold piece of toast, contemplating her job again. Her first day out in the field. She’d studied crime and law for ten years, first in university than in an academy in America. That was her first time living abroad, it was scary at such a young age but the academy, ‘saw potential’.

Her first crime scene. Charlie felt excited but it was a weird excitement as it was for a murder.

Her phone buzzed on the table, breaking Charlie out of her deep thought. “On Route”, the text said from Amanda, her senior partner. The text made her stomach flip and hands shake a little.

Twenty minutes passed then a car pulled up to the house. “That senior person’s here”, her mum shouted upstairs, to where Charlie was getting into uniform. Charlie wobbled as she tried to tie her boots, but regained some confidence saying to herself, ‘youngest in a century’.

She rushed down the stairs trying not to fall and trying to avoid her mother but was caught by her with her lunch bag, she accepted it and receive a huge cheek kiss. She tried to remove the embarrassingly big lipstick stain with her sleeve before getting into her partner’s car.

They finally arrived and sat for a few minutes while Amanda gave her instructions, “keep clear of media. Walk straight to the door. No comments, okay?” Charlie nodded in response.

Managing to dodge the press at the end of the driveway Charlie made her way to the front of the victim’s house. As she walked into the house she was confronted by an overwhelming smell of latex. The forensic team was already inside. Amanda exchanged nods with one of the team and made her way through.

Charlie walked through the kitchen carefully making her way past people busy at work. If you removed the forensic team and their entourage, the room looked unused, with no dust or dirt. “The case file said the victim had a child, how can this be so clean?” Charlie said in the direction of Amanda’s heel. ‘Make a note’ Charlie thought to herself, remembering her training.

The first floor had a different atmosphere from the floor below. It was more frantic. The hall was crowded; the other half of the forensic team were in the bedroom and cameras were clicking and flashing. Heavy-duty lighting illuminated the body of the victim, in a blinding, clinical spotlight. Only a ghostly blue foot was visible from around the door frame. Charlie felt her body grow weak, feeling like she couldn’t rely on her legs keeping her upright. She rushed into a room to the right and shut the door to take a minute to compose herself, her heart was racing and her lungs were filling rapidly with air. She glanced to where she had sought refuge. It was filled. Boxes took over the floor, with boxes stacked on top of boxes. Charlie tiptoed closer to the nearest box to find out what was being stored. She put on the latex gloves that she stored inside her pocket every day then she raked about and found old dusty, black and white photos most of them were moldy and moth-eaten. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw color. There were photos of the children with a mystery woman. More photos revealed a man with the victim, short black hair, tall, nice face, wearing a wedding ring. “Strange”, The case file showed her to be a single mother. She saw a door to her left which lead into a bathroom, inside the walls were plastered in photos, some circled, some had been written on, others were connected with a ribbon and a pin. Who was this woman? What was she doing with these photos? Confused Charlie made her way back to into the hall.

Charlie stepped across the hallway and she was relieved to see the forensic spotlights had been turned down and most of the officers were now downstairs. Charlie tried preparing for crime scenes by looking at photos of other violent murders but nothing compared to this. She wished the fragrance of the rooms downstairs was back, now replaced by the smell of a dead body left for a few days without discovery. Charlie walked towards the room.

There it was in textbook order, the Victim, the scene and the weapon but nothing prepared her for this. She swayed into the door frame for support. The mirror was smashed into millions of pieces of glass. Blood everywhere. On the floor, the mirror, the bed, the table, and all four walls.

“Tell me what happened then”, Amanda said with an encouraging smile. Charlie examined the room, “The table’s corner was used to stun the Victim then she was smashed into the mirror causing the glass to indent her scalp then she tripped as she tried to escape into the bathroom here, then she was dragged toward the bed here, that is why there is hand smears all the way to the bed where she was stabbed by a sharp object, the lab can confirm that that is the weapon” she said pointing to the bloodstained ornament. “The number of punctures wounds show that this was personal. The Victim knew the killer as there is also no forced entry”. She stopped for fear of vomiting on the crime scene. Contamination can be a killer in court. Charlie looked at Amanda, she nodded and said, “You did well, they normally throw up”. Charlie staggered out of the room with her legs shaking, she took an immediate left and just got to the balcony in time as her legs gave way under her.

Done. She had analysed her first crime scene. She felt like breakfast was a bad idea. As she finally got to a sitting position she glanced up from her feet, a large bare tree stood just out of reach and it looked like a shipwreck, broken limbs, half hacked, but still standing. The tree was in worse condition than the victim but not so lifeless as it swayed in the breeze.

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