Footsteps softly clacked against the wooden floor, making imprints in the slightest layer of dust that accrued within weeks. The air was stale from the summer heat and she couldn’t stand being here, but it was her duty to see it through. She arrived at the end of the hallway and stood before a door marked off by yellow police tape.

The crime scene was cold, but it couldn’t hurt to investigate beyond what she perceived to be an inept local police force comprised of four officers. They weren’t keen on having a woman from the city sniffing around in their business and their skepticism sat heavily in the pit of her stomach.

She aggressively tore off the tape, more out of frustration than any adhesive qualities the tape possessed.

True, she was still in the academy, relatively green with a trainee badge, but she held the top marks in her class and was personally asked to take part in this case.

Taking a deep breath to put her emotions on the backburner, she slowly turned the handle of the door and entered the room. A lot of evidence had been removed by this point and white outlines were covered by that same fine line of dust invading the rest of the house. She examined the room with its cream-colored walls and tacky curtains failing to hold back the stream of sunlight bursting onto unkempt bedsheets.

There was no closet, just a bare nightstand and dresser with a few trinkets and jewelry boxes strewn about. She wondered if that was part of the victim’s lifestyle or if the responders to the scene had carelessly set everything back.

A few clicks of a camera shutter broke the stillness as she walked around. She felt like this was a waste of time but continued her half-hearted investigation to appease her superiors when the floorboard beneath her creaked. Freezing in place, she glanced down and noticed that it didn’t line up in the same way the other floorboards did.

Slim fingers pried away until the board moved, revealing a small hole beneath the floor. The sunlight provided enough visibility to peer into the hole. She reached her hand into the space, scraping away in the hopes of uncovering something but to no avail.

Her shoulder burned from the effort and she clumsily removed her hand, bumping the underside of one of the boards to feel a slightly sharp protrusion. It sliced open her glove and left a mark on the back of her hand. Cursing, she traced the spot lightly with her index finger and managed to knock a key affixed to the underside of the board.

There wasn’t anything special about the key as she glanced at it. Did it fit a lock somewhere else in the house, or to something in the evidence locker at the police station? None of the doors were locked, but that couldn’t mean that there weren’t other secrets to be discovered.

Swearing under her breath she stood up and walked back to her car, trying to bury a silent fury that this little detail was missed by the team of men who had entered the room just weeks prior. She also held the slightest sense of satisfaction at the discovery and hoped it would lead to a break in the case. Only one way to find out.

Pessimist Poet’s Words for Thought

“She didn’t give a damn about some of them, but she had grown to learn that inattention can be a stratagem to avoid pain, and that it is often misread as shallowness and indifference.” -Thomas Harris