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  • Writer's pictureNicole Jorge

Writetober prompt #3 - disease

Rose petals led the way up the stairs, scattered as though leading the way to some romantic encounter. The scarlet trail past the landing was interrupted here and there by odd pops of color, yellow daisies, white carnations, pale buds of lavender. Detective Manushkin was nearly dizzy from the overwhelming sickly sweet smell pouring into the hall. She found Corr waiting just inside the bedroom, his nose wrinkled in disgust.

"God, this reeks," he said. He shifted uneasily. The mass of flower petals beneath his feet muffled the sound of his movements. The layer must have been an inch thick, completely obscuring the flooring beneath. There were petals on the desk, petals on the bookshelves, even petals clinging to the walls. They covered the bed from top to bottom. The victim lay among them like a fairytale princess. She was very pale, her face unblemished and her eyebrows immaculate. She'd been very pretty. Beautiful, even.

"Lila Thompson," Corr said. "22. She was an international studies major at Penn."

"Family? Associates?"

"Her mom is heading in from Georgia. We've got uni canvasing for any friends or classmates. I spoke with her adviser this morning."

Manushkin crouched to get a better look at the girl. There was a single pink rose petal on her bottom lip.

"How long do you think she was suffering?"

"All this?" Corr asked, looking around. "Maybe...oof, a week? Could've been trying to hide it."

"Did the adviser notice anything unusual?"

"Not a thing."

"Do we know if she was seeing anyone?"

"I would think not, given the circumstances."

Manushkin was quiet.

"What is it?" Corr demanded. "What are you thinking?"

"She's the fourth one in two weeks."

"That's weird," Corr agreed. "But a coincidence. This's not contagious, Kay."

"Not the way you're thinking," Manushkin replied. "It's not infections, maybe. But look at her. Pretty brunette, petite, college student - you can't deny she looks a lot like the others."

"So she looks like them," Corr answered, shrugging. "What's that mean?"

"I think," Manushkin said, rising slowly, "that we might have a serial killer on our hands."

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