Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and eighty nine.
Tonight we present, Gag: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Absolution
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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight, the Collective Detective investigates the lonely tragedy that was the death of CuddleMonkey.
Flash Pulp 189 – Gag: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1
On most occasions, KillerKrok, a six-month veteran of the Collective, would have considered hand-holding a newb through the basics a waste of time, but this was a special instance.
“CuddleMonkey got bigger,” said the blinking chat window at the corner of his desktop.
The evening previous, ElleBow, his girlfriend of two weeks, had shared the half-decade’s worth of results turned up from the massive archive of Internet activity, and her conclusion seemed a little self-evident to Krok.
“Kaitlyn Powell was eight when the records start, and thirteen when she died. She was growing right up until she keeled,” he said.
“Ha – no, Kyle, I mean her belly,” replied Elle from the comfort of her own bedroom, on the far side of the city.
Krok found it odd to have anyone involved with the group address him by his given name, but he was pleased to have found her intrigued by the project that absorbed so many of his weekends.
Still, he had yet to master conversational tact.
“Fattening up could be a sign of depression. My money remains on suicide.”
There was a pause in the conversation as both investigators flipped through the dead girl’s over-saturated MySpace photos. It was the second place they’d checked, after her inboxes.
After a time, Kyle decided he ought to get his protege back on track.
“We should probably start digging into Kaitlyn’s other traffic.”
“I’m actually browsing her Google history.”
He rubbed his chin.
“Well – someone at her family’s computer went searching for signs of pregnancy one July evening in 2005. She was at it for a couple of hours.”
The Powells were a five member family before the girl’s death, only one of which had been male.
Sipping at his Doctor Pepper, Krok wiggled his rolling chair in thought.
“Yeah,” he typed, “you’re probably right, she was probably preggers. Maybe she was scared enough about it to kill herself?”
Elle’s own theory quickly followed.
“What if she wanted to keep it and the boyfriend was pissed?”
“She was found dead in the woods with traces of oven cleaner in her gut.”
“They never found the cleaner, or her panties.”
“She might have been going commando, and she was rotting out there for two weeks, a lot could’ve happen in that time. They could have just missed the container, or she could have been alive for a while after and managed to stagger away from it.”
Kyle shrugged at the delay in response. He hustled upstairs to grab a bowl of chips.
“I’m sure the cops would love to believe the same, but they filed it as a homicide,” was waiting for him, upon his return.
The boy wiped Doritos-dust onto the hem of his Green Lantern t-shirt before responding.
“Yeah, but that’s basically all they ever tell us about cases, unless we ask nicely, and for a good reason – and even then, they mostly say no. When you’ve been a member of the Collective as long as I have, you’ll know that the five-oh aren’t perfect.”
“Uh huh,” she said. She’d included an emoticon with a protruding tongue at the end of her statement.
Two hours later, they stumbled across a Yahoo! Questions account created early on the morning of the girl’s disappearance, on an address associated with a laptop belonging to a friend of Kaitlyn’s.
The user had a single posting.
“I’M THIRTEEN AND I’M PREGNANT. I need a way to get an abortion. I love Jesus and I don’t want to and I’m sorry but I can’t tell my dad cuz he’ll whoop me to hell and I can’t go to a medical place because they want you to have your parents fill out papers. HELP PLEASE.”
The link had apparently been picked up by a forum of aggressive pro-lifers, and they’d come down hard on the girl. Most had simply told her not to do it, and that she should come clean with her parents – but there were those who went even further.
Thirty responses into the thread came a suggestion from MeanGene59: “Choke down a can of Easy-Off and all of your problems will be solved.”
After re-reading the comment twice, Krok said, “Maybe she was desperate enough to seriously believe it?”
ElleBow’s thoughts arrived almost simultaneously.
“She was in the woods because she was looking for privacy. She was anticipating a mess.”
Kyle drummed the palms of his hands against the desk’s edge as he read. Finally, he asked, “need any help submitting your findings?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
He sipped at the last of his soda, then returned to typing.
“There’s nothing more we can do for the moment, and I feel like I need to see living people for a bit. My brother was saying there’s a Midway in the mall parking lot – want to go hang out?”
“Absolutely. I’ll meet you there,” was her immediate reply.
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