Friday, October 15, 2010

Excerpt: "A Feeble Gleam of Stars"

“It's a bad one,” the dispatcher buzzed into Wood’s ear. “There's a dead kid and it looks like her big sister is the perp. Otherwise, nice home, nice family, nice neighborhood.”
Wood shook his head. He flirted with the idea of driving right by the crime scene and finding out where the open road might take him. He signaled and pull into the driveway instead. 

It was a good-looking house, he decided, late 20th century and well maintained. The two hydro-powered Volvos in the driveway smacked of an upper-middle class lifestyle. The white picket fence looked a little affronted, though, humiliated by yards of crime-scene tape and dyed spastic pink by the lights of a half-dozen police cruisers. Wood crumpled his coffee cup and tossed it into the passenger-side floor well.
He flashed his badge to the blue who met him as he stepped out of his car.
“Detective Wood,” he said. “Dayside homicide. Who has the scene?”
The blue led him inside, past the living room where parents sobbed to a police counselor, to a pink bedroom on the second floor. Inside, blood spatters made Silly String patterns on holoposters of fairy-tale princesses and unicorns.  Four large men were crouched around a far-too small body on the floor. One man rose as Davis approached. The man, tieless and rumpled this late in his shift, pulled off one purple latex glove and offered his bare hand to the approaching detective.
“Davis, you look like you spent the night on the roof,” the man said as they shook.
“Sean,” Wood greeted his former partner with warmth, “I heard I'd find you here. What's the scoop?”
Sean Ossinger, only two months into his job as nightside homicide lead, rolled his neck to crack it.
“It's pretty ugly,” Ossinger said, pulling off his badge and peering at the small screen embedded in the back. “The primary suspect appears to be a 15-year-old girl, the vic's older sister. The teen came home at 10:47 p.m. last night, according to the house biolock. Her parents say she was at a dance. She's got one of those new onboards and according to the home router she synced it up at 11:23 p.m.”
Wood peered at his own badge, where Ossinger's notes were now appearing.
“Sometime between 11:23 and 2:30 a.m., which is our best guess on the little sister's death, big sister went bat-shit crazy.”
Wood grimaced and spoke in monotone: “Rodney, strike 'bat shit' from the file.”
On screen, the word flashed twice and then vanished.
Ossinger shrugged and continued.
“The teen, name given as Amity Moore Cobb, apparently left her bedroom and, without waking anyone else in the family, bludgeoned her little sister to death with an antique jewelry box and ate part of her brain.”
Wood's eyebrows rose.
“Wait, there's more,” Ossinger said, raising his pointer finger professor-style. “Sometime before the murder, big sister apparently ripped all the hair off her own head and gouged out both her eyes.”
“Where is she now?”
“The ambulance hauled her away about 20 minutes ago. She's a real mess, Davis. She won't speak. She just growls and makes this, like, hooting noise. It's too bad. She's a pretty girl. Mom and dad say she has all kinds of friends. Good grades. The perfect kid.”
 “Anybody see anything?” Wood said.
“Not a thing,” his friend answered. “It's an older house. Modernized, but not fully wired. We don't know who opened what door and when.  It looks like a done deal though. She did it.”
Wood looked down at the little girl's body. Her light blue p.j.'s were dark with blood, and skull fragments and bits of brain tissue were clotted in what little he could see of her curly blond hair.
“You said Cobb ate her sister's brain?”
“Chewed and swallowed,” Ossinger said, wincing. “She still had pieces of it in her hands when she was hauled away.”


  1. oh please - my ex husband is a dead-beat dad and named sean ossinger...please don't use that name.

  2. I'll take it under advisement. I picked that name at random, using the first name of one of my students and the last name of another. I'm sorry about the bad resonance.