Even though she asked not to be, Detective Janet Mom was put on the case of the Vending Machine Killer. This was a particularly gruesome case involving a serial killer who divided his victims into little pieces and stashed them inside seemingly random vending machines. Blood in a coffee machine, an ear where a chocolate bar should be, teeth and finger bones rattling out of the change slot. Sick, twisted stuff.
The obvious people to look at were vending machine stockers, but there were thousands in Edmonton alone. Then you had the technicians, factory workers, engineers of the machines themselves–in the end, there were simply too many potential suspects.
Mom spent long hours watching security tapes of the vending machines were the “pieces” were being found, just trying to identify a familiar face or lock down who was stuffing human bits into the machines. Most of the time the pieces were found by those stocking the inventories, but every once in a while a regular vending machine customer got unlucky. People rarely purchased from vending machines anymore.
There was one major weakness in the security feeds–many of the stores, hotels, offices that housed the vending machines had periods where their lights would be out and the camera showed little other than the glow of the numbers on the machines. Occasionally, Mom could see something obscuring the glowing numbers–a customer? Or the killer?
So Mom requested camera feeds that had night vision capabilities. Exactly one of them did. This particular feed she watched very carefully, and it paid off. She caught sight of a man in a ball cap somehow open up an office’s vending machine, remove a back of chips, open it and dump the contents in the nearby garbage, and then carefully slide a human hand into the bag. He then sealed the bag with a glue gun and stuffed it front and center in the row of salt and vinegar chips.
He was a man of average height and build. The night vision was mostly green, and he wore a hat and unlabeled clothes, so the visual was only so helpful. But it was a start. And Mom would follow through. She always did.
Today’s three random prompt categories were, “Vending machine,” “A serial killer,” and, “Division.”
Another story I’ll have to return to. Seriously, Detective Mom and The Jolt have got to team up!