The Pink Glove (Short story for critique)

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    The pink glove lay on the ground, almost covered. It was one of those reminders of a tragedy that you dread to find. This kind of scene erodes your humanity.

    In some ways it is good that the public is protected from things like this. In general they seem to want the details, but the reality is the details would be the last thing they ever wanted to see. They would know that children died here, and that the man responsible had been shot resisting arrest. The public would know two officers gave their lives saving the two children still alive here. That was the limit the public at large would know.

    That I would be among the few to know the ordeal these children had endured was a blessing and a curse. No one should have to know these things, but somebody would have to bear that burden for the rest.

    I pick up the glove with a latex covered hand. The glove is tiny in comparison to my own hand this girl was too young to go. It was little solice that the parents would know what happened to their daughter. I still had to live with the vision of her body strewn amongst the rest of the victims.

    I tuck the glove into an evidence bag. She was the only girl amongst the victims. The only anomaly among an otherwise methodical murder. She was taken alongside her brother, a clue that had delayed the entire investigation for weeks while we pursued other directions believing this time it was a different kidnapper, a case we could solve quickly, we were wrong.

    Many things were wrong during the investigation. We failed to build an accurate victim profile, every time we did the choices made changed. How could an inhuman monster like this stay ahead of us for so long? We failed to find an area he targeted, though he seemed to countermeasure that intellectually by choosing a new neighborhood every few victims.

    Another glove catches my eye, this time blue. I walk over to collect it into evidence when I step on a hollow floor beneath the dust. My heart sinks. The last time we found a hollow below the floor there was thirty children in there, I just found a second.

    My heart fills with anger and regret, how did we fail so many children, we can’t continue to do this. Sinking to my knees, I clear the dust until I find the edges of the hollow. I dread what I am about to find but I know I have to look. Using my knife I lift an edge and slowly pry it open.
    I can’t bring myself to look as I lift it wide open. Would this be the final straw for me? How was I going to live with the bodies I already found? If I find more here I am unsure I can live with that.

    I peek into the hole in front of me and breathe a sigh of relief. Inside the hidden cavity was the clothes from the children we found and not the bodies of more. Maybe I could survive this after all.

    * * * * * * * *

    The sound of the third round of gunfire allows the tension to come down. Twelve days ago we found the worst child killer in history. The man we come to say goodbye to was the hero who finally tracked him down.

    I will never forget the day, he kept us from getting too close to the bodies. ’Only those who have to.’ he told us, it was not worth seeing. Today I understand why.

    He had said at the scene that he found the clothes in a similar hollow to where he found the children and was relieved to find only clothes instead of victims. As the days progressed and it was discovered that the clothes we found would have been for almost twice the amount of view tins we had found he fell silent.

    He withdrew from everything while he searched the property day and night. When he found what he didn’t want to find it was the final straw. He dropped to his knees, pulled his service revolver and took his own life on the spot.

    Nobody wanted a decorated officer like him to end his career that way, his legacy the stuff of nightmares. Sure, from the tragedy is coming a new era of cooperation from all levels of policing and investigation. It was a sign of the future when cases were now being openly shared and belonged to no single officer any more.

    It was tragic that it took the death of one of our finest to fix something that was too long unfixed. Someday we will all realize that we should never wait for a tragedy to fix what’s wrong.

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