I am now writing a serial novel and a new part will be released every month for tentatively a year. Here is the first part which I wrote in my Writing 101 course my freshman year. Enjoy!
Part One: The Shapiro Chronicles
Her long, blonde hair bounces as she runs for the door. The doorbell is incessant, and she hates the tone. Opening the door, her blue eyes sparkle and her lips quirk with interest. There is a package waiting for her. She looks around to see who might have left it and, seeing no one, bends down to get a closer look. The box had all of the markings of going through the post office. It’s a nondescript, boring brown box but the address is right and so is the name. Confirming that the box was meant for the eyes of Margaret Shapiro, she carefully takes off the tape and opens the box. It’s a small cooler, no bigger than a tissue box. Her excitement turns to worry. This lavender and lemon scented package, while smelling nice, does not contain her perfume. She takes a deep breath and opens the cooler. A finger. Someone sent her a chopped off finger with a newly painted purple and yellow fingernail and wrote a note as if it were a gift.
I know you love your puzzles, darling, so I thought I’d send you a gift. Don’t worry, sweetheart, she was alive when I left her. Test the finger if you don’t believe me, but you know I don’t lie. I can’t wait to see you when you figure it out.
Love, Your Favorite Manipulator
She knew exactly who it was. The note gave away who he was more than the closing signature. The playful teasing, the hint of a game, and the presentation of his crime told her more about the criminal than the name provided. There was only one person who ever called her darling and sweetheart and wrote her notes, and he had yet to be identified by the police or her. The only headway they had made on the case was his obsession with Margaret Shapiro. Before she had been on the case, there were no notes or hints. The entire case was cold until Margaret Shapiro noticed he had a tendency to play mind games and that he had committed a variety of crimes that had never been connected to one criminal before. He is a thief, a kidnapper, a murderer among other things. He is a criminal jack of all trades and you never know which one he will choose for his next game. Margaret has been playing his games for a while, and he always seems to be just one step ahead of her.
Margaret knew she needed to catch him this time, especially before his apparent kidnapping turned into murder. He’d never presented her with an incomplete crime before. She started by calling the police so the fingerprint and blood from the finger could be tested for identification purposes. Then she honed in on the note. She reread it over and over, but nothing popped out. Unable to make any progress in that direction she turned back to the box itself and started a list of the box’s attributes: scent, contents, physical descriptors. She focused on the postal markings first. She checked her security cameras searching for the exact moment the box was delivered. It must have gone through the post office, but who delivered it and disappeared so quickly? Her regular postman was on the tape and he was shivering and glancing around a lot. He ran after he rang the doorbell. While waiting for the identification results, Margaret took a trip to the post office. As soon as she got there, he tried to run. She caught him and questioned him immediately about the package. He was hesitant at first and very quiet but then he told her that this man approached him and paid him ten grand to mark and deliver the box as if it had gone through processing. She asked him how he paid and what he looked like. All the man could say was cash, and he was a young white man with a scar that crossed his left eye who wore a hoodie and sunglasses that covered his eyes but not all of the scar.
Just after leaving the post office, Margaret received a call about the identification tests. There was no DNA or fingerprint on record that matched the finger. Though disappointed, she went back to her list to brainstorm. The lavender and lemon scent was irking her. She had no explanation for it. She ran through everything she knew was lemon and lavender scented: soap, macarons, bath salts, and lotion. She thought back to the strength and origin of the scent. She suddenly had an epiphany. The scent was from a special hand lotion used in nail salons. Margaret called all the local nail salons until she found a salon that used the special lotion and had recently done a purple and yellow manicure: Matching Manis. She talked to the owner of Matching Manis in Greensboro and got a name only after telling the old woman her reason for calling: Karen Hane. The owner told her that Karen was young, pretty, very intelligent, blonde, and a recent graduate with a degree in psychology. Karen had come in two days ago to get her nails done. The owner also mentioned that Karen was a former swimmer who had graduated from Page High School with her granddaughter, and she hoped that they found the kidnapper and brought Karen home safely. Margaret was beginning to realize that Karen was very similar to her. They’d had the same degree, hair color, sport, and they were both from Greensboro.
Margaret still felt like she was missing something, so she called her hacker friend for more information. He said that there had been no reports of an abducted blonde and there was no increased incoming call activity for Karen. He also gave Margaret basic information on Karen such as her address. She called her police detective friend Griffin and they set off for Karen’s house. When they got there, the outside looked untouched, but the inside looked like a war zone. Clothes everywhere, lamps broken, tables toppled over. There was no sign of the girl or evidence her finger had been taken off there. While she had another look around the house, Margaret spotted a white baseball hat with a purple nighthawk on top of a football. She told Griffin immediately that they needed to go to Margaret’s old school, Northern Guilford High.
When they get to the Northern football stadium, Margaret goes from bleacher to bleacher until she finds something. A pair of goggles and a note with Karen’s fingerprint on it. There are only four words on it: Do you remember yet? Margaret looks around and tries to remember anything, but all she sees is the vague outline of a boy on the bleachers staring at her. She shakes herself of the distraction and shifts her attention to the goggles. Thinking that everything is about her, she and Griffin leave and drive to the old abandoned aquatic center she used to practice in. They were one step closer to finding him and saving Karen.
Once there they approach carefully. She leads him to the old pool room; he goes in first and waves her in. Karen is handcuffed to an exposed pipe, lying on a plush bed, and her bad hand is bandaged. Karen is okay, but her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. Margaret looks around for clues of his whereabouts and sees a red envelope in the first lane, her practice lane. It has her name on it. Knowing that Griffin has the scene under control, she takes the envelope and opens it to reveal a plain white card with anything but simple words on it.
My dearest Maggie,
Wasn’t that fun? I know you wanted to find me. To finally meet after all this time would be so sweet, but you’re not ready for that yet. Neither am I. I’ve grown impatient, but I still need more time to prepare you for our future, for when you remember. Though I did love seeing you rushing about. That blonde hair swinging back and forth as you fretted over the trivial life of a trivial girl who could never be you. Darling, you waste your time. I cannot wait for you to realize that. Your talent is wasted with the detective business. You belong with me. You always have.
Love, Your Favorite Manipulator
As Margaret stood there trying to digest his words, a lot of questions came to her mind. What was he trying to get her to remember? And what did the case she’d just solved have to do with her remembering? He’d taken Karen to every location that was connected to Margaret, and Karen shared many things in common with Margaret. Karen obviously represented her, and he wanted Margaret to remember something about high school, but what? There were just too many questions and unknowns. When she threw the envelope and card down in frustration, she noticed something fall out. A light, small piece of paper that must have been behind the note floated down to the floor. Printed on the paper was a symbol, one she had never seen before. It was a stamped seal, most likely a family crest, and her first real clue.