The body was like a broken windup toy.
Detective Ramirez squinted at the metal tab protruding out the neck.
“Tube key,” the CSI supplied, noting his confusion.
“You know,” she pointed to a partially used tube of toothpaste. “For rolling up metal tubes.”
“Huh.” Ramirez nodded.
Dax peered into the miniature cage. “What’s with the cricket?”
Lydia shrugged. “Old family superstition. First cricket found in the house brings you good luck.”
“I thought that was bad luck,” Dax frowned and left the room.
Lydia smiled into the cage. “Sing sweetly tonight, my little harbinger of doom.”
“Nice costume!” The glitter-smeared, broken-winged fairy yells over the din. Her breath is thick with alcohol.
He surveys the room, bodies and faces hidden behind an elaborate array of masks, makeup, and flimsy costumes.
“Thank you,” he smiles triumphantly, leaning closer.
She doesn’t yet realize. The party is his disguise.
Jenna unrolled the parchment and scanned the undecipherable script within. The words didn’t matter. The empty space in the middle was the key. Jenna’s hand shook as she scrawled her name. Her last thought, as she collapsed to the floor, was a hope the Magister would not betray his promise.