SPOTLIGHT! - The Killed Conscience
The Killed Conscience
By Jordan Antonacci
Publication Date: June 22, 2018
Still at the beginning of her career, investigative journalist Emilee Weathers is desperate for the perfect story and doesn’t care how she has to get it. When she’s asked to assist in a convicted serial killer’s appeal, it almost seems the perfect story has come banging at her door.
But not long after arriving to the mountain town of Pigeon Forge, Emilee discovers the body of another, more recent victim. With the body showing signatures of the already-convicted murderer, Emilee sets out to discover if she’s happened upon the work of a copycat, or if the real killer was ever even caught. The more she looks though, the murkier everything becomes. Police begin withholding information and the killer seems capable of going any length to protect his identity. On top of it all, when her investigations uncover the buried secrets of those closest to her, Emilee questions who it is she can and can’t trust in those mountains, if anyone at all.
Beneath a starry night’s sky, Emilee and everyone at the cabin all stood around the flickering flames of a fire just in front of the trees. All were wrapped in sweaters, gloves, and scarves. Sebastian stood with his arm around Morgan; she was snuggled up under his arm with her head against his chest. Skylar sat in a plastic lawn chair with her legs crossed and her thumbs tapping away on her phone. Emilee and Sebastian were across from each other, on opposite sides of the fire. A bit too far to comfortably carry on a conversation, but not too far to keep them from catching each other’s eyes. James sat in the only other lawn chair; by his feet, Emilee sat in the dirt and rocks.
After taking a gulp from his beer, Casey grabbed a flashlight, put the beam beneath his chin and said, “So who wants to have the shit scared out of them with a scary story?” The shadows distorted his face into something wicked as he grinned wide.
“Ooh, I do. Which one?” Skylar asked.
“Good question, Sky. I’m thinking,” he took another sip, “since Emilee is about to interview the psychopath, why don’t we hear about VDK?”
“Okay, maybe now isn’t the best time to be telling this story,” Sebastian said.
“What? We’ve got the location, the night, the cold, a fire… and the potential for the killer to be set free soon. What more could you ask for?”
Sebastian let his head fall back.
Casey began before anyone else could interject: “Five years ago, there was a girl by the name of Kayla Lawrence. Twenty years old, bubbly personality, all around beautiful girl. Two nights before Christmas, she went to sleep in her home. The next morning, she was nowhere to be seen. Her family quickly reported her missing, and after investigation, police found no sign of forced entry, no sign of a struggle, no sign of foul play whatsoever. It was like aliens had just come down and—boop—plucked her straight from the face of the Earth.”
Sebastian tried waving the story away. “Okay, that’s enou—”
“A couple months later, it was Valentine’s Day. The girl’s name was Luna McBeth. That night, she’d gone to a club downtown with some of her friends. It was almost midnight when she told her friends goodbye and left by herself. Security cameras showed her leaving the club and walking across the street to the parking lot… but she never reached her car. The next day, it was still sitting in that parking lot, locked. Just like Kayla, Luna had vanished without a single trace.”
“Dun dun dunnn,” Sebastian interrupted loudly, making a few people jump.
“It wasn’t long before police connected the two, based solely on identity,” Casey continued. “Both girls were young, petite, black hair, Caucasian.” Casey looked up at Emilee. “Kind of like Emilee… Anyway, almost two years later, some foreigners were hiking through these mountains when one stepped onto a ‘very soft patch of dirt’ that turned out to be the decaying corpse of Luna McBeth. Not far from her, another body was found that wasn’t ever identified. And just like that, the Valentine’s Day Killer was born.”
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Jordan Antonacci is an HVAC Technician by day and blogger by night, working out of the hot, hot lands of Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t trying to avoid heat stroke, he can be found at his desk with an espresso, brewing up a new story or a post for his blog. Outside of writing, Jordan has a mild case of wanderlust. He enjoys road trips, cruises, and flights out to California to visit his family. His dream is to make a living with writing and visit every country the world has to offer.
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