Chapter 5

I stood a ways away and watched the deputies from the sheriff's department roll out the crime scene tape. They had covered up the girl. I had learned from other students, that she went to St. Luciens. Used to, at least.

School was canceled. After how Turner and Tami told me how dangerous this place was, I wondered if they were like Wistera's snow days. Classmate Found Murdered Days. Didn't have the same ring.

"This is so awful." Shay was standing by my side, his eyes red, voice watery. He hadn't known the girl that well, but in his own words "You don't go to school with someone for almost twelve years and not get upset when something this horrible happens."

"Yeah." I said. I felt bad, I did. That was a terrible way to go. But I was more concerned if this was a normal act of or a paranormal one. I hadn't been a paranormal investigator for very long.

"And that's not even the worst part." I looked over at Shay, but he was still focused on what we could see of the crime scene from vantage point. "She wasn't the first one they've found like that. I don't think she'll be the last either."

Okay, a serial murderer in a town like Wisteria? That had to be worthy of looking into.

I said goodbye to Shay and walked the short distance to Wisteria's public school.

The Wisteria High parking lot was like a kicked over ant hill. Apparently the news had reached them and class had been canceled here too. It didn't take too long to find the rabbit van.

The entire gang was hanging around the van deep in discussion about something. It wasn't that difficult to guess what I.t was. "So this is a paranormal thing?" I asked as I entered the little group.

"We think—" Max started to answer, but Turner talked over him.

"Not here. We'll meet at PJ's and figure out what this means."

"This one doesn't fit?" Tami asked Turner.

"At PJ's! Hurry up." With that, he started to wheel away towards a black van that looked like it was better equipped to deal with wheelchairs than Max's old beat up rabbit van. I watched Turner as PJ and Zoe got into the rabbit van.

A middle aged man put his hands on Turner's shoulders and spoke frantically to him. His dad? Turner shrugged him off and made a gesture towards the van. Douche. I'd give a lot to have my parents give enough of a damn to worry about me.

I wondered if they would even hear about the death of a St. Lucien's student.

I shook it off and got in the van. It wasn't like I wasn't used to taking of myself.


Back in PJ's garage there wasn't any causal bitching that passed for camaraderie or snacks this time. Instead, Tami said I needed to catch up on their current case and whipped the sheet off of the cork board I hadn't noticed last time.

Pinned to it were ten yearbook pictures with index cards below them. Names were scrawled large for me to make out, but the writing underneath wasn't clear from where I was sitting.

"Are those...? Are they all dead?" I asked.

"Turner?" Tami made a "go ahead" gesture at him. "You ran the numbers on this one and figured out the pattern. Explain it to the newbie."

To my surprise, Turner didn't argue. He angled his chair so he could look at the cork board. "These victims have all been found with their throat slit and bracelets made out of hemp tied around their wrists. They were abducted and taken somewhere where they were killed, though their bodies were dumped in public places. The only things they have I.n common is that they lived in Wisteria and their ages.

"After a few attacks, I was able to pick out a pattern of when someone would show up dead. Unfortunately, this attack proves my theory right that pattern is accelerating. If whoever is doing this keeps it up at this rate there will be a dead body Sunday."

"This Sunday?" I asked. Turner nodded, then switched his attention back towards the board, eyes searching it like he was looking for the missing piece.

"Goddamnit! I didn't want to do anything weekend." Zoe complained.

"Do you guys have any leads on who's doing this?"

"No." Tami answered at the same time PJ said, "Fuck, yeah we do, but you can't get me to go face him."

"We have a theory." Turner clarified. "And I agree that it's reaching." He said before anyone could start arguing with him. "But it's all we have right now and I still think we should pursue it. Though I don't know why I'm wasting my breath since I don't get a fucking vote."

"Hey, dude, if you were coming with us when we accused him of murder, you'd totally get a vote." PJ said, which just made Turner glare at him harder.

Suddenly, Turner's attention rounded on me. "New kid, you can be the tie breaker since it's currently two against two."

"I think you guys are being pussies." Zoe said. "In case you forgot my stance."

"I just think it's too circumstantial to take that risk. Who knows what kind of bullshit he has up his sleeves." Tami argued.

"But people are dying." Max put in.

"The first one to die was Mike Cormack. Come on, it's so obvious." Zoe slapped her hands on the table for emphasis.

The name rang a bell and when I remembered where I had heard it, everything snapped into place. "Connie Vegas? You think Connie Vegas is behind all of this?" There was definitely something weird about him, but I had a hard time picturing the skinny boy kidnapping people and stabbing them to death even with his attitude problem.

"Obviously. Like I said." Zoe answered.

"I'd buy him killing Mike, but why the others?" Tami questioned her. "Most of the victims weren't on his shit list."

"Hell, I don't know, maybe for some kind of dark magic thing?" Zoe shrugged. "The hippie bracelets scream 'black magic' something."

"Or serial killer, which I don't think fits Connie Vegas."

"It doesn't fit perfectly, no, but he's our only lead and if we had actually confronted him before it had gotten this far we might have been able to find a new suspect or end this." Turner said. "What's your vote, Sky?" I think that was the first time he had used my name without it sounding like he was spitting something gross out of his mouth.

"I think he's right." I said to the group, studiously not looking at Turner. I didn't want to see the smug on his face. "If it's not Connie, he might know something. I heard he went to that Mike guy's wake or whatever."

"Like a psycho." Zoe pointed out to Tami, who rolled her eyes.

"Three to two, let's start with a plan of attack." Everyone started talking about staking out his house and the best places and ways to dig up dirt on Connie.

"Or we could just go ask him." I interrupted the plan-making.

"New kid, did you not hear about what he did to Sheldon Leery?" Tami demanded. "Whether or not he's decided to go on a killing spree, we can't just go ask him."

"Sure we can." Was my argument. "Let's just go over to his house, right now." Zoe was already shaking her head at me and Max reached out to touch my arm.

"Dude, that's not a good idea." Max said, his hand on my arm started rubbing gently and I did my best to not get distracted. "I didn't want to bring this up, but you might be on his shit list now, with the whole knocking him on his ass thing."

Oh right. Even still, I couldn't wrap my head around being afraid of Connie Vegas. It just wasn't in the cards. "Well, good. Let's go talk to him today so I don't wind up dead Sunday."

With that, I stood up. If only that could have been my line. The fact that I needed Connie's address and a ride ruined it.

The others all looked at each other, some of their faces saying pretty clearly that they thought my idea—as well as me in general—was crazy and/or really dumb. But in the end, we all, except for Turner, moved out after precautions were taken. Precautions being salt in a variety of containers and a bunch of iron fire pokers—the pokers were going to be left in the van despite Zoe's whining.

Everyone piled into the van as serious as if this was some kind of special ops mission. I, on the other hand, wasn't nervous at all. There were rumors abound, but what could Connie Vegas do to us really?