Monday, June 20, 2011

Making a Difference: One Laptop at a Time

       In class, we received a very vague, though interesting, assignment. "Make a Difference. Incorporate technology (into this)." The possibilites for this were huge, just as the final result could be. Two of my classmates and I decided to support the non-profit organization One Laptop Per Child. This organization donates laptops to children in third world countries to help further their limited education. Donating laptops, even just one, could make a tremendous difference to a child's life.
       To expand upon that, it would not just affect a single child. If the education in developing countries were to evolve into the education in our society, people would have more opportunites for specialized jobs, and not have to go to war as an only resort. With more people having jobs, there would be a rise in the economy of developing countries since income would be made so products could be purchased. So far the difference is: a more developed world. With less people joining the army in poor countries, there would be less soldiers. Without soldiers, wars do not thrive. Soon, wars would be in less demand and, in a perfect world, come to an end.
       A single donation of a laptop equals world peace. Dramatic? Absolutely, but this is just a theoretical possibility that I hope our world may one day achieve.
       So, did the three of us make a difference? Well, in the month we had to complete our assignment, we spoke at a community event to raise awareness of this cause, set up donation boxes at the stores where we work, and wrote letters to local business in request for donations. Our end total was over $600.00, which is the equivalent of three laptops. If a single laptop can equal world peace, what could be the result of three?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reflecting Upon Glogster

       I have to admit that although Glogster can be a fun website to make creative presentations, it did not exactly teach me anything about myself. I already knew that I was not a strong visual learner, and teaching myself how to use the website reinforced that. Glogster was a boost to my confidence when I figured out how to use the tools myself and how to navigate the website and glog design area, and perhaps I will be more sure of myself in the future when it comes to trying out new technology.
       When it comes to teaching others, Glogster was not beneficial to me. I could help others when they are first learning how to use the website, though I wouldn't be able to show them anything that they would not have been able to figure out by themselves within a short matter of time.
       On the other hand, I can see myself using Glogster as a visual aid for speeches and other presentations in the classroom. Friends of mine may use the interesting website as a way to edit pictures or to "poster" themselves. Teachers of younger students could bring edu.glogster into the classroom as a way to keep their students and themselves up-to-date with modern technology. The website could also be used to make what may be seen as a boring subject interesting and fun to learn. Students preparing to graduate may use the website as a unique way to create invitations to their graduation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Mystery Story

       Jaci Anderson, a young officer, finally gets to investigate her first murder case. Except what starts as a single murder turns into a collage of dead girls, and Jaci, along with her her confident partner, Eric Knight, do not know who is slaughtering the young women or why. Jaci quickly finds herself in a web of deceit and secrets, and realizes that she must learn who she can trust before it is too late.
       I hope that made you interested enough to read my mystery story. I wrote it for my tenth grade English class, so don't expect it to be perfect. It is still without a title, so if you have any ideas then please share!

Mackinaw City
July 17th, 2011
1:03 AM

“Hello, 9-1-1. Please state your emergency.”
“Help me! Please! He’s coming!” a frantic women’s voice crackled through the phone.
“Ma’am, please calm down. I cannot understand you,” the 9-1-1 attendant’s monotone voice filtered calmly through the receiver.
“I can’t be calm! He’s going to find me! Just help me, please…” the desperate whispers broke off into sobs.
“What is your name? Where are you?”
“I’m Shelby Hollis. I’m at the Wilderness State Park. Oh my God, he’s coming!”
“Stay on the line, Shelby. There are people on the way who are going to help you. Now, why is this man chasing you?”
“I can’t stay here because he’ll find me. He’s going to…He’s going to find me anywhere. I-I don’t know why…he wants to kill me.”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know…”muffled sobs streamed through the receiver.
“What does he look like?”
“I don’t know…I just heard his voice…”
“Calm down, Shelby. You’re becoming hysterical, and officers will be there in five minutes.”
“I don’t have five minutes! I can feel him watching me…Oh God, please no! No! Nooo!” Screams of terror broke off Shelby’s words, and they were quickly silenced by the sudden sound of gunfire.
            “Shelby! Miss Hollis! Are you there? Talk to me!” a dial tone was the only response to the 9-1-1 attendant’s desperate demands.

Mackinaw City
CSI: Special Victims Unit
July 17th, 2011
8:14 AM


            “A body has been found,” Jaci Anderson announced as she walked into the office, handing our steaming to-go cups of coffee at a rapid pace. Always in such a hurry; I wonder who would win if we had a race.
            “I’ll take the –“
            “Strong black, I know,” Jaci interrupted me as she gave me my coffee, “I learn quickly, you know.”
            “So I see,” I replied, thinking about how just the day before she had gotten every single person’s coffee mixed up. I could get used to this girl, not that I should have to, and at least not for long…
            “So, are we going or what? The body was found in the remains of a campfire about fifty feet from a payphone, where it is possible that the victim had been using the phone.”
            “You hear her, people, let’s go!” I said with a chuckle at her obvious excitement and nervousness. It feels like just yesterday I was at my first crime scene; I hope she doesn’t have a weak stomach.

Wilderness State Park
July 17th 2011
8:27 AM


            Will I ever be as comfortable, as nonchalant, while investigating a murder as Eric is? Should it really be an event that a person can get used to?
            “Earth to Jaci, are you with us?” Eric Knight looked at me with what I’m beginning to know as his signature smirk.
            “Yeah, of course; I was just thinking,” I replied. Something that is kind of difficult to do with you focusing those intense eyes on me. Can he read my thoughts? Or just see straight through to my soul?
            “Alright, so what do you think?”
            “Uhh…” Dang it. I quickly glanced around the crime scene, trying to find something that I could point out that he hadn’t already noticed. Luckily, I was saved by the bell, well the ring of my cell phone, actually.
            “Hello, Special Agent Anderson. Yes. Okay. Thanks, I’ll let forensics know,” I ended the call. I looked to Eric, “That was Kirsten from Mackinaw’s Police Department, the victim –“
            “Called 9-1-1 last night, before they were killed?” Eric concluded my explanation.
            “Uhh, yeah.” How does he do that?
            “Okay, so who might we have here?” he asked as he circled the charred body. The skin had been torn away, prior to the body being dumped in the fire, and what was left was unidentifiable.
            “Shelby Hollis had called from the payphone right over there,” I pointed in the direction of the walking path, ‘and had claimed that a man was chasing her.”
            “Well, we’ll need forensics to identify the DNA of the remains because I don’t think a mother would even be able to identify this body,” Eric stated as he snapped a few more photos. “Okay, boys, pack ‘er up!” He said with a clap of his hands. “Now you and I are going to check out this payphone and have a conversation with the person who stumbled across the body.” Hello, I am your partner; you don’t need to instruct me as if I’m a stupid animal. “Something wrong, Anderson?”
            “No, well I mean, sure I’m new to being your partner, but that does not make me completely inexperienced with this line of work, Eric.”
            “Of course, sorry, Jaci,” Eric smirked. We turned away from the gore of the crime scene and walked a short distance through dense trees until we emerged onto a hiking path. Just over ten yards down the well worn path was a payphone splattered with a dark substance.
            “It appears that whoever was discarded into that fire was dragged there along this path,” I thought aloud as I inspected the markings on the ground.
            “And what makes you think that?”
            “There are indents pressed into the dirt forming two lines from the payphone to the trees that we just exited, and what is quite possibly blood splattered along the way.”
            “Very nice observations, Miss Anderson,” Eric condescendingly said with a gleam in his eye.  Wow, this guy is so egotistical.  Does he ever take anything seriously?  Promotions rewarded at too young of an age are simply irresponsible.  Although he does seem to know quite a bit more than me; what does he know about the crime that I don’t?
            “Is there something you would like to add?”
            “Well, I was focusing a bit more upon the condition of the victim rather than how they ended up where they were found.”
            “Oh?”  What is he talking about?  And why does he have to say it in such a way that I automatically agree with him, and wonder why I made such amateur observations?
            “Yes, did you notice anything peculiar about the body?”
            “You mean aside from the fact that it was torn up, charred, and obviously, uhh, fresh?”
            “I’m assuming that by "fresh”, you mean killed quite recently?”  Eric laughed as that dang gleam in his eye appeared to dance around joyously.  Okay, so I’m not exactly used to the vernacular of this job, but you don’t have to enjoy my naivety quite so much.
            “Yeah, where are you going with this?”  I demanded, maybe a bit too harshly.  I saw the light in his eyes dim, and he glanced around before speaking.  His voice lowered and he stepped closer to me.
            “Did you notice how it looked as though it had been skinned?”
            “Well, the skin was pretty shredded…”  I glanced at him questioningly.
            “Not very many girls have no hair, Jaci.  And I didn’t see any fingernails, did you?”
            “So the killer cut off her hair and tore off her nails.  Your point…?”  I answered with an exaggerated indifference, because inside I felt completely lost.  Where is he going with this?
            “Nothing.  Don’t worry about it,” Eric abruptly ended our conversation as he took a step back.  For a moment he appeared disappointed, but the emotion passed over his face and was replaced by his signature smirk so quickly that I couldn’t be sure if I had simply imagined it.  “I’ll go talk to the hiker that found the body; how about you take a few samples of blood, or whatever this substance may be, and meet me back at the office,” he suggested as he waved his hand in the general direction of the stains on the payphone.
            “Umm, alright, call if you need anything,” I offered.  Eric chuckled and shook his head as he walked back the way we had come.  I hummed quietly to myself as I swabbed the samples.  Then I had the distinct feeling of being watched.  I turned around quickly.  “Eric?”  I called into the trees.  Calm down, Jaci, nobody is there.  And no, that branch did not snap because a person stepped on it, wildlife inhabits these trees.  I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to calm my nerves as I headed back for the car.  You’re probably just on edge because it was your first real crime scene.  Yeah, that must be it.

Mackinaw City
July 18th, 2011


            “Hello?”  Jaci’s grogginess was apparent.  She must still be in bed, oh well, she’ll get used to the hours.
            “Rise and shine, sweetheart, we’ve got ourselves another body.”
            “Oh! Eric, I wasn’t asleep!”  I heard the bed springs squeak and blankets being tossed aside as Jaci attempted to argue the truth.
            “Anderson, I hear you getting out of bed.”
            “Knight, I heard you call me sweetheart,” she retorted, mimicking my tone.
            “Your point?”
            “Sexual harassment isn’t a joke, Eric.”
            I burst out laughing, “Wow, someone is clearly not a morning person when she is without her caffeine.  How about I pick you up in ten minutes, and you supply the coffee?  Sound good?  Alright!” I hung up the phone before she could reply.

Wilderness State Park
July 18, 2011


“Oh my gosh!  What is that smell?”  I gagged as my senses were overwhelmed with a clinging stench.
            “The smell of dead, decaying fish mixed with the smell of a dead, rotting human body,” Eric answered casually, although I could swear his face became paler.  His dark hair looked harsh against his white face, and this gave him a washed-out appearance that was contrary to his usual healthy glow.
            “Well, that’s nice,” I attempted to have a mood as light as Eric’s, but the words sounded forced, even to my own ears.
            “Hey, are you alright?” Eric managed so sound concerned while looking slightly flustered, yet still cocky.  How can you still be so confident?
            “Yeah, I’m fine.  Shall we go in?”  I gestured towards the filleting shack we were standing beside.
            “Ladies first,” Eric winked as he guided me into the small, claustrophobic room.  I’d been fishing before, but my father was always the one to fillet the fish.  Thinking back, I don’t remember a filleting shack ever being quite so gory, but then again, my dad was dealing with fish, not human flesh.
            “Well, at least she should be easy to identify,” I gestured towards the decapitated head setting in a rusting, metal bucket.
            “Perhaps, but let’s just see how much of the remains have been eaten away by maggots,” said Eric.  Suddenly I realized what was all over the remains and the head, aside from the flies buzzing around everywhere, maggots swarmed the decaying flesh.
            “Ew!” I squealed, and instantly regretted doing so when Eric began to laugh.
            “So, you can handle dead bodies, but toss in a few bugs and you begin to squirm?” he smirked as I reflexively took a step away from the bucket.  Maggots and beetles, not that I wanted to look closely enough it identify each insect, were crawling into the mouth and through the eye sockets. 
            “We have to get them off of the body! They’re destroying the evidence!”
            “Uhh, Jaci, they’re bugs, not people, so they do not exactly obey the law,” Eric said with that stupid smirk again.
            “Either way, that body is getting more difficult to identify by the second,” I attempted to speak in an even tone as I watched a maggot worm its way into an open eye socket, regardless of the partially eaten-away eye ball, and a beetle crawl out of a nostril.
“You’re right.  Let’s take a quick glance around, and then let the boys pack it up to take back to the lab,” Eric agreed. Oh my gosh, he just agreed! Now this partnership is making some progress. After we finished inspecting the shack and taking pictures of the inside and surrounding area, we approached a man who appeared to be in his late fifties.
“Excuse me, sir, I’m Eric Knight. Are you the one who reported to finding the body?” Eric introduced himself as he shook the man’s hand. Ew, when was the last time this guy cleaned under his nails, or even washed his hands?
“Yeah, I’m Darwin Schlumm, and who is this?” his beady eyes slowly looked up and down my body, lingering in places where they shouldn’t have.
Eric cleared his throat and said, “This is Special Agent Anderson,” as he glanced at me with a look that I couldn’t quite identify. I suddenly realized that it was my turn to say something.
“Uhh, hi.”
“Well how do you do?” Darwin asked as his grubby fingers took my hand and he reached down to kiss it, as if he were an old-fashioned gentleman. Except in his case, the gesture came off as a creepy invasion of personal space rather than chivalry. I pulled my hand away and had my gun out and raised at him before I realized what I was doing.
“Sorry, umm, reflexes. Police training, and all,” I attempted to explain myself to his shocked expression as I slowly re-holstered my gun.
Eric barely managed to conceal his laughter with a cough, and smirked as he said, “So, Mr. Schlumm, if you could please come with us for questioning…?”
“Will this delightful creature be there?” he waggled his eyebrows at me in a suggestive manner.
            “Mr. Schlumm, do you want to be charged for a murder and for sexual harassment?” I asked in a slightly threatening tone as my face reddened. Why can’t people take me seriously? I bet Eric just loves this.
“Murder! What are you talking about? I said that I found her this way, not that I made her this way!” the old man exclaimed.
“How do you know that the remains are of a female?” I inquired.
“I do not have to answer that question without a lawyer. I’ve watched SCI before, so I know my rights!” the man answered indignantly.
“You mean “CSI” and –“
“And I apologize for my partner’s rash accusations. How about we make this easy for all parties involved and you come with us back to the department for questioning, no fuss involved,” Eric interrupted me to smooth over the situation like a pro. Well it’s easy for him to keep his mind focused, people take him seriously.
“Well…” the old man mumbled.
“We’ll get you out of this weather and filled with some hot coffee, how does that sound?”
“I suppose I could agree to that,” I could practically see the wheels turning in the man’s head as he though over Eric’s offer, trying to decide whether it was “within his rights” or not. Ultimately, Eric’s skills of persuasion won over and Darwin Schlumm came with us for questioning.

Mackinaw City
CSI Headquarters
July 18th, 20
10:42 AM


“How can you be so sure that he committed the crime?” I asked Jaci, intrigued by her determination to prove the man’s guilt.
“Did you see the way he looked at me? And the victim, Madison Wagner, was a young lady.”
“So that’s it? A guy gives you the creeps, and he is your number one suspect in a murder case?”
“No, Eric. I also have a feeling that his cooperativeness is an act; as in he believes that his willingness to be questioned, have blood samples taken, fingerprints recorded, and swabbed under his nails, will convince us of his innocence. And speaking of his nails, I bet that some of the residue underneath them will prove to be a positive match of our victim’s DNA.”
“Perhaps we should just wait for the results of the DNA test then? Be realistic, Jaci, he has been in questioning for over three hours and his account of what happened is flawless. Not to mention that he has a solid alibi for the hours that Shelby Hollis was murdered.”
“What makes you think that the murders are connected?” Are you kidding me? How do you not see the signs, Jaci? “Also, he has a horrible alibi for Madison Wagner’s murder. He was all alone, his clothing is covered in her flesh and blood, and what was he doing at that shack at six in the morning anyway?” Jaci asked.
“He fishes! Early! He was going to fillet his first catches before going out again! You have to think outside of the box, Jaci, murder cases are rarely straightforward!” I slightly lost my temper at my new partner’s insolence.
“Then where are his fish?” Jaci exclaimed.
“They’re, uhh…” He never said where he put the fish. There were definitely no fish, aside from the remains of fish that had been filleted in the past, in the shack. “Where is he?” How could I make such an amateur mistake?
“Kassidy! Where is Mr. Schlumm?” Jaci called to the secretary at the front desk.
“He left about fifteen minutes ago and thank God for that! He gave me the creeps!” the secretary replied.
“Dang it! Somebody get him back here!” I shouted.
“Uhh, sorry if it’s a bad time, but Nikki told me to tell you that she discovered something that you may want to know,” a junior special agent, Henry, urgently informed me.
“That’s our cue, Anderson. If Nikki discovers something, it is usually extremely crucial evidence.”
“Nikki is the forensic specialist, right?” Jaci asked in an unsure voice.
“Yeah, don’t worry, you’ll get to know everybody,” I answered, remembering what it was like when I was the newbie who didn’t know anybody.
We quickly made our way to the forensics lab where Nikki instantly exploded into an explanation about what she found on the bodies.
“Sorry, could you slow down for a moment, please? Did you say phenyllate Easter?” Jaci asked hesitantly. Nikki’s exuberant attitude is clearly something that Jaci isn’t used to.
“Not quite, sweetie, I said phenyl oxalate ester and hydrogen peroxide,” Nikki explained patiently in an excited voice, “the chemicals that, when mixed with a fluorescent dye, create the substance within glow sticks. These chemicals were found on the remains of both bodies.” Nikki snapped her gum as she smiled smugly at us.
“So someone dumped glow sticks onto them?” Jaci asked, blatantly confused and unconvinced.
“Not necessarily, but let’s just say that, before they died, these girls were glowing.”
“And I believe this is substantial enough evidence to say that the murders are connected, don’t you agree, Jaci?” I said with a smile.


Could he stop smirking already?
“Perhaps, but you still allowed for Darwin Schlumm to walk, and he is a prime suspect for at least one of the murders,” I replied, attempting to smirk like him.
“Sweetie, are you okay? Did you have a bit of a twitch there?” Nikki asked me with honest concern in her voice as Eric began to laugh.
“Nope, I think she was trying to smile,” he continued to laugh.
“Oh, shut up! Are you ever serious?” I blurted out.
“Well, I’ve heard that when a person is too uptight they may develop scary symptoms, such as twitching and snapping on kind old men,” Eric taunted me as that dang gleam re-entered his blue eyes.
“Funny. Really mature. And I did not snap on him!” Maybe I slightly overreacted to Darwin Schlumm’s behaviour, but still! 
“I didn’t accuse you of anything. Is someone being a bit too defensive here? I hear that can happen when somebody is guilty,” he smirked as he faked sincerity.
“Both of you, stop! There is a murderer out there, and I have a feeling that he is playing a game that doesn’t end after two deaths!” Nikki suddenly exclaimed.
Embarrassed at how immature I had obviously sounded, and how easily I had let Eric get on my nerves, I said a quick apology to Nikki and exited the lab.

Wilderness State Park
July 18th, 2011
11:30 AM


“We’re going to talk to all of the campers? Do you realize how many hikers and backpackers go through here every day?”
“Yes, there are a lot of passerbys, but at this point we want to prevent the next murder. Two deaths within two days; at this rate, another innocent camper could be dead by tomorrow,” Eric replied to me solemnly, more serious than I had ever seen him before.
“There hasn’t been a connection found linking Shelby Hollis to Madison Wagner?” I asked.
“Aside from the facts that they’re both female, in their twenties, and had each been camping here alone, no.”
“Well alright then, time to start questioning,” I said as I held back a sigh and we entered into campsite number one.
“Hello, I’m Special Agent Knight and this is Special Agent Anderson. This site is being used under the name Matt Storms; is that you?”
            “Yes, it is. I assume this is regarding the crime scene?”
            “What do you know about it?” I asked.
            “Nothing really, aside from the fact that an area of the hiking trail, and the area surrounding site three seventy eight, are blocked off by police tape, and all of us campers received a notice assuring us that there is not a crazed wild animal lurking in the trees,” Matt Storms replied, obviously unconcerned.
            “Do you know anybody by the name of Shelby Hollis or Madison Wagner?” I watched as my words caused a pained recognition to flash across the young man’s face.
            “No, were they involved?” Sir, you are one poor liar. His dark brown eyes darted back and forth, avoiding the attentive eyes of Eric and myself.
            “Both girls were killed in this park. If you have any information about either one of them, it is your responsibility as an United States citizen to report it now,” Eric informed the suddenly nervous man in a grave tone.
            “Well, uhh...” Matt wheeled around and bolted out of the campsite.
            “At least now we have a legitimate reason to take him in for questioning,” Eric laughed as his body seemed to change back into its usual, relaxed state. The tension in his shoulders melted away as he ran after our newest suspect.
            “I’ll keep checking out the other campers then, give me a call if you need back up,” I called half-heartedly to him as I continued on to the next campsite.
Mackinaw City
CSI Headquarters
July 19th, 2011
8:00 AM


            “Another body has been found, an all of the campers’ alibis are weaker than cooked spaghetti. These people are in the wilderness so who, aside from themselves, can identify where they were during the murders?” Jaci ranted in exasperation.
            “Well, good morning to you, too,” I laughed.
            “Seriously, Eric, our number one suspect was being held in custody at the time of the third murder, so that rules him out.”
            “Mr. Schlumm didn’t commit the crimes, I already told you that.”
            “How can you be so sure and calm? There is a murderer out there who seems to be killing at a steady pace, with no signs of slowing, and our city’s park has now become one giant crime scene. People are afraid to go hiking alone, or even camping with their families, and I don’t blame them!” Okay, someone needs to take a long nap...
            “Are you sure this murder is connected though? The last body was found in a butcher shop, not the Wilderness State Park, remember?”
            “Yes, Eric, and I’m sure you know dang well why I think so. You seem to always be testing me on what I know and how I know it – could you just trust me? And of course I remember because, unlike you, I was there to investigate the crime scene!” the irritation in Jaci’s voice was palpable. Not liking the attitude...
            “So the blood discovered in campsite number twenty three is a match to the blood on the butcher knives and meat hook, not to mention the blood that poured down the sides of the butcher table and pooled on the floor?” I asked.
            “Nikki said that she’d let me know ASAP, but I’m almost positive that it’ll be a match! The body that was hanging on the meat hook, identified as Dania Lang, had the same glow-y chemical on it that the other two bodies had.” ‘Glow-y chemical’? Wow, how scientific of you... “Wait! How do you know the condition of the body?”
            “Uhh, I work here?”
            “Eric, I was unable to get a hold of you when I went to check out the body at the butcher shop, and the body was being packed away as I left. What’s going on?” my new partner asked slowly, uncertainty and accusation tainting her words. I’ve had it with these dang questions! She won’t be asking them for much longer, anyways.
            “Could you quit with the questions? You’re the one who was all about ‘partners trust each other’!”


            How dare he mimic and taunt me! But he is right, partners should trust each other. Although if he want to play it this way, well...
            “Well how about, ‘Is someone being a bit too defensive here? I hear that can happen when somebody is guilty.’” I repeated his words to him before realizing what I had actually said.
            “Are you kidding me? This is the second time I have witnessed firsthand you accusing somebody of murder without any substantial evidence that would hold up in court! Perhaps you are desperate to cover something up? Well, are you? Eric spit out his words as though they held venom, and with each question I felt like crying. How could I have made such a mess of this? A new job, a new partner, all for what, to suspect the one person who should always have my back?
            “Hey! What is going on here? You know what, never mind, I don’t want to know. I just have to tell you two-year-olds that I found a camper’s fingerprints on the pendant that Shelby Hollis was wearing. Yes, I managed to get prints off of a near-melted piece of jewellery; I’m awesome, I know!” Nikki’s excited voice caused an abrupt end to Eric and mine’s argument.
            “Well, whose prints are they?” I demanded, and then attempted to smile at Nikki.  All of the campers that we questioned and took fingerprints and blood samples from claimed not to know Shelby; which of them was lying?
            “The prints are a positive match with Matt Storms’, and isn’t he the one who tried to run?”
            “Yeah, and people only run if they have something to hide,” Eric said as he started out of the room to grab his coat.

Wilderness State Park
Park Office
July 19th, 2011
9:00 AM


            “And you couldn’t come in any earlier?” I asked, impatience entering my voice as I stopped pacing long enough for the owner of the park to let us into his office.
            “I open at nine, why would I come in sooner?” the gruff man, in his late forties, replied.
            “I apologize for my partner’s attitude; it’s been a rough couple of days. We’re here in regards to one of your campers, Matt Storms. What information do you have about him?” Eric smirked at me as he took control of the situation, as usual.
            “Not very much, sorry, officer. He has campsite number one registered under his name until the end of July, and I have his basic information such as his license number and home address, but I’m sure you already have that information.”
            “He’s scheduled to be here until the end of July? Tell me, is it usual for people to leave their campsites early, after they’ve already paid for them? Eric inquired.
            “No, but it is common for them to leave their sites while they go on an extended hiking trip,” replied the coarse voice of the park owner.
            “That will be all we need, then. Have a good day,” Eric dismissed the man as he opened the door and gestured for me to exit along with him.
            “Do you think that he just so happened to take a hike?” I asked Eric.
            “I don’t know, do you think that he’s guilty? If I were him, I’d take a long hike right about now,” Eric replied as we jogged to the car and began driving towards site number one.

Mackinaw City
CSI Headquarters
July 19th, 2011
11:00 AM


            “Where were you? We were supposed to meet here an hour ago!? Jaci glared at me, and I saw the slightest glint of suspicion in her green eyes. Who is she to judge me?
            “I had things to do. Chill out,” I smiled as I forced my shoulders to relax and I leaned casually against her desk.
            “And once again, I wonder how you can be so ‘chill’? Well anyways, I’ve been thinking...”
            “Uh-oh, that can’t be good,” I teased her with a smile.
            “Funny. But seriously, there is only one way that we’re going to stop this guy, because I’m sure that he hasn’t actually left the Wilderness State Park.” Something in Jaci’s tone caught my attention, and I glanced at her to see her looking more serious than I had ever seen her before. “We need to send someone in, undercover, who will allow them self to fall into his trap. Once they do, we’ll be ready to step in. Eric, that person is me.”
            “Jaci, it can’t be you!” I blurted out.
            “Umm, why?”
            “Well,” I coughed to clear my throat, “he already knows you, remember? He would instantly know what we were doing.”
            Jaci leaned down in the chair that she was sitting in and grabbed something from her desk drawer. She sat back up to face me as she tucked the last few wisps of her long, deep auburn hair underneath of the short platinum wig she had pulled on. I couldn’t deny it; the simple change of hair transformed her entire appearance. Throw in some coloured contacts or sunglasses, some makeup, and even I might not recognize her.
            “I thought it through, Eric,” she said solemnly as she looked up to meet my eyes. She looked different, but not just because of the wig. Jaci looked as though she had aged years over the past few days. “This is what has to be done, and I’m willing to do it.”
            “Agent Anderson, can you please go to the Techies’ lab? They’re ready to hook you up with the cams and mikes,” Kassidy called over to Jaci.
            “Alright,” Jaci replied, and then to me, “The Techies?”
            “That would be Flynn and Brynn; they’re like super-genius twins.”
            “Oh, right, sure. Fin and Bin, I got it,” Jaci responded, entirely serious. I couldn’t help but smile, though anxiety I saw in her eyes stopped my laughter.
            “You don’t have to do this, you know. In fact, I think it’d be a better idea if you didn’t.” My voice cracked as I said the last word. What the heck was that? Are you going to get emotional? Chill out, man.
            Jaci gave me an odd look as she walked away, but replied with a simple, “No, I have to.”


            What is up with Eric? One second he seems disappointed that I’m his partner, and the next he is protective of me when I finally get the chance to prove myself?
            “Jaci! So it’s true then,” Nikki gave me a once over as she approached me in the hallway, taking in the coloured contacts I wore and the wig in my hand. “How did Eric react?”
            “Uhh, what do you mean? Do you think he acts strangely sometimes, too?” I asked, not quite sure of what I wanted the answer to be.
            “Confession time: I saw what happened when you told him about your little plan. What I saw in his eyes as you walked away, well, it can be summed up into one word: pain.”
            “Pain?” What is she talking about? Oh my gosh, what if he is the murderer, and now has to kill me? Except that he doesn’t really want to, but –
            “Yeah, don’t you know about his last partner?” Nikki interrupted my thoughts.
            “No...what about him? Or her?”
            “Well, Steve was Eric’s mentor and partner – they were as in sync as a nineties boy band!” I laughed at her play on words. “Seriously though, it was as though they could hear each other’s thoughts. Anyways, they were a great team, and that is what lead to Eric being promoted at such a young age. However, just a few weeks ago, Steve was diagnosed with stage four cancer, and Eric hasn’t quite been the same since. He has been constantly visiting him, and I think he is in denial because he seems reluctant to move on. I mean, of course it would hard, but I honestly believe that a part of Eric thinks that Steve is going to come back as his partner. The rational part of him must accept the truth, so I figured that after losing one partner he’d be extra sensitive about losing the next, even if they don’t entirely get along, and apparently I was right,” Nikki explained, her exuberant attitude under wraps as she spoke in a lowered voice.  Whoa, no wonder he acts a bit strange sometimes. And being that comfortable and successful with your partner, well, who wouldn’t be arrogant?
            “I had no idea, though that sure explains a lot. Thanks, Nikki, but I have to get going. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
            “’Kay, you be careful, sweetie,” Nikki said as she pulled me into an unexpected embrace. Although with Nikki, random hugs go along perfectly with her naturally upbeat personality.
            “I will,” I said as I walked away.

Wilderness State Park
July 19th, 2011
2:13 PM


            I stepped out of my tent and into the sunlight. If I weren’t under disguise and on the job trying to catch a murderer, it would be a beautiful day. I looked over to see a bottle of sunscreen setting on my picnic table. I picked it up and read the attached note.
            It said, “I saw your fair skin, and didn’t want to see it get burned!” It was signed “a friendly neighbour”.
            “Awh, how sweet,” I smiled and glanced around to see if anyone were watching. I casually bent my head and pretended to scratch the back of my neck as I whispered into the mike attached to me, “Got that?”
            “Yeah, pour a sample of it into the container I sent along with you because if it contains phenyl oxalate ester and hydrogen peroxide, the chemical I put in the container will react. And if a reaction occurs, I believe that the killer has taken the bait,” Nikki’s cheerful voice filtered through my hidden earphone.
            I entered my tent and did as she said, and sure enough, the sunscreen had been laced with the chemicals.
            “And now we wait,” I heard Nikki’s voice in my ear once again.
            “Okay. By the way, where’s Eric?”
            “He’s in your area, don’t worry.”
            I stepped back out of my tent and reclined in a chair to sunbathe. This is actually really nice; when was the last time that I just laid back and relaxed? I sighed with content as I let the sun’s heat wash over me. I was startled back to reality by the ringing of my cell phone.
            “Hello, Ja-Amber,” I cleared my throat after my close call to having committed a grave mistake, “Amber speaking.” I could hear background noises, and something about a man being picked up on the outskirts of the city.
            “Hey, you can stop the act now, although I bet you were enjoying the sun; we’ve got him,” Eric’s voice flowed through the speaker.
            “You, uhh, what?” Wow, that sure made you sound smart.
            “Yeah, and it’s even crazier than we thought!”
            “So Matt admitted to it? And told you why he did it?” I exclaimed with shock. Something just didn’t feel right.
            “Well not quite. But we do have enough evidence to pin it on him. Anyways, tell me, Miss Anderson, what did all of the murders have in common? And think back to what I said to you at that first crime scene.”
            “Well, it has to do with the condition of the bodies rather than what lead them to be where they were, right?” Finally, he is going to tell me what the heck he was talking about that day!
            “Exactly! And what stands out about all three murders?” I could practically see Eric’s signature smirk upon his face.
            “They were gruesome?”
            “No, well yeah, but they were killed like animals! Skinned, filleted, hung on a meat hook; don’t you understand?” Suddenly it all became clear to me, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made the connection in the first place.
            “And Matt is a hunter, isn’t he?” I was getting excited now, feeling as though my thoughts were finally on the right track – the same track as Eric’s.
            “An ex-hunter, he saw his dad get mauled and killed by a female bear while he helplessly watched because he was locked inside of an ice-fishing booth.”
            “Oh my gosh. And now some twisted part of his mind believes that he should take vengeance on females, as though they were animals?”
            “Something like that, though he isn’t admitting to it.”
            “What did he have to say about his fingerprints on Shelby Hollis’ necklace?”
            “Apparently they had just begun to be a couple, but he said nobody had seem them together.”
            “Well, that’s convenient,” I laughed. I felt as though I was finally beginning to understand how Eric could be so calm and confident about everything. This felt good.
            “Aren’t you going to ask about the so-called ‘glow-y chemicals’?”
            “The victims must have been tricked into applying something to their skin during the day that contained the chemicals, so that by night they glowed. Thus, the killer, Matt Storms, was able to hunt them down,” I stated a matter-of-factly.
            “Now you’re getting it!” Eric exclaimed. “Anyhow, you can go home no because Mr. Storms is being held in custody until his lawyer arrives.”
            “Kay, see you, Eric.”
            “Goodbye, Jaci.”

Mackinaw City
Jaci Anderson’s House
July 19th, 2011
9:45 PM


            I laid back in my bed as I closed the novel I had been reading and set it on my nightstand.  What a crazy few days. I’m glad it’s over, I thought to myself, I never did as Eric where he found Matt. Well, he couldn’t have been very far from the camp sites because he had just dropped of my “present”. Whatever, I shouldn’t be concerned; I just need to relax and go to sleep because I’m sure Eric has it all under control...


            “What?” I groggily looked around, “Where am I?” Trees; darkness swallowing me; glowing skin; a voice?
            “Time to play a little game; I’ll count to ten. Run!” I could feel hot breath down the back of my neck as the unrecognizable male voice boomed in my ears. I felt the cold metal of the nose of a gun press into the bare skin on the small of my back as I was pushed forward.
            I ran.