He stared down at the letters drawn into the sand. SAVED. Detective Salvino looked to the left of the beach. The sun had almost disappeared behind the vast ocean and the waves were crashing harder and closer now. The wind hit his face and he squinted and looked to the right. He looked down into the sand for footprints but instead found the pattern of small humps in the sand, a sign of stillness, lifelessness. He began to walk. He walked and continued to walk in the hopes that he would find whoever was saved. After walking about a mile, he got a call. "This is Salvino. Repeat that one more time. I'll be right there." The detective hung up the phone, and out there alone, under the moonlight along the sand he yelled, "FUCK!" He could run an eight-minute mile and that night he did. It was another half hour to the UC campus. It didn't matter how fast he got there, it was a real-life nightmare and would only get worse. When he drove up, the street was already blocked with yellow tape. He drove right threw it, sirens flaring. College students stood along the street, hugging and some on their phones. He had never seen anything like it. 404 Moore Creek Road, just a half mile away from the campus. It was a large, one story house. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a two-car garage. There were cement steps leading to the front door and short stubby bushes to the left and right that wrapped around the house. Detective Bailey approached Detective Salvino and said, "Forensics is already inside. It's a death house." "How many?" Salvino asked. "Five. All college students." said Bailey. On this particular night, August 5th, 2011, the path leading to the front door was covered in pools of blood. A long red blood streak at the top step continued into the house, through the open front door and turned around the right corner, disappearing inside. Detective Salvino put on gloves as he examined the blood on the cement steps. "I don't want anyone inside except for Detective Bailey, the photographer, and forensics. Officer Keaton secure the perimeter. This falls under our jurisdiction so if Investigator Halloway shows, don't take his bullshit." "You got it." Officer Keaton held onto his belt with both hands. Salvino walked to the bottom steps of 404 Moore Creek Road. He stared at the puddles of blood on each step as he walked up, carefully maneuvering around each one. At the top step he could see someone was dragged from the step into the house, a blood streak entered the house and brushed along the old carpet, starting in the living room and turning into the dining room. Each step the detective took went at the pace of his breath. He walked into the house, a few feet into the living room. The front door opened into a large open space. An old worn out yellow couch was against a wall to the left, the wall that shared the hallway. An olive-green lazy boy was to the right of the couch, not matching and saw better days. In the middle of the carpet between the couches and T.V. was the body of Cheryl Bradley, a second year Biology major. From where Detective Salvino stood, he could only make out a body bare of clothing, blood seeped out from underneath and covered the girl's smooth, cream colored skin. The light brown carpet was stained around her, a dark purple and black muddy mess. A small television sat on top of a wooden table. He looked to his left. There were three visible doors and a hallway to the right, behind the wall that shared the yellow couch. Blood lined the walls leading to the three doors, someone’s gripping hands and fingers attempting to hold onto their life could be made out within the patterns on the walls. The blood spanned the entire wall and stopped at the first door. Forensics was already in the first room collecting DNA samples. Inside the room, to the left was a bed, a light teal comforter and a poster above the headboard that read: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. -Jack London." Closet sliding doors were to the right of the bed and against the opposite wall of the bed was a white desk. The desk was minimalistic with only a small organizer on top that housed colorful pens, pencils, and post it notes. One book lay on the desk, closed, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. In the far, right corner of the room, to the right of the desk, was a small white shelf. It contained a modest collection of Vinyl records, a row of multicolor slivers waiting to be taken out and played. Underneath the shelf sat a record player on a small dresser. There was only one other poster hanging on the wall, a digital illustration of William Burroughs and a quote at the bottom that read: "We must all face the fact that our leaders are certifiably insane or worse." The body of Mayra Perez hung halfway over the bed, on her back with her feet hanging down and her head still on the pillow. Her rose pink underwear kept her ankles together and her loose purple tank top was barely visible in the soaked darkness of blood and skin. "Detective, time of death was about an hour ago." Salvino nodded his head, staring at the young girl and up at the poster above her headboard. "It's going to be one of those nights Detective. There are four more." "Well it's a good thing I'm an insomniac. Did you find anything in this room?" Detective Salvino asked. "Some hair between the victim's fingers." "Stab wounds?" asked Detective Salvino. "Looks like it. And she was the luckiest of them." "Any sign of the weapon?" The Detective's face was void of any expression. "No Sir, still looking." Detective Salvino walked out of the doorway of Mayra Perez's bedroom. He heard the photographer's shutter go off, the flash from the camera lit up the bathroom for a second. Forensics were huddled down on the bathroom tile next to the white porcelain bathtub. The white tiles of the bathroom floor were disrupted by the swishes of red blood, the brush strokes that signified the end of a life. As the Detective walked closer toward the scene, more details came into view, creating permanent memories in his mind. A memory bank filled with years of violent deaths to haunt his dreams. The bathroom was decorated with seashells. Ocean blue bath towels hung to the left and their embroidered seashells were hidden behind blood. A hand towel had fallen onto the bloody floor and the remaining towels were almost touching the tiles. The towels had been a false hope for the girl laying in the tub and only provided her with a few seconds of stability before her last breath. The girl was bathing in her own internal liquids. She was Stacy Allen, a third year Psychology major. On the white tile, three small bare footprints could be made out and pointed back toward the door. A female killer and barefoot, what the fuck? "These footprints seem kind of small for a man." One of the forensic scientists said, as if reading Salvino's mind. "These are definitely female. No shoes either." Detective Salvino said. "Not our usual scene boss. Something eerie about it." The crime photographer shook his head. Detective Salvino backed out of the bathroom doorway. He looked down the hall. At the end of the hallway was a closed door. "Nothing came up in there?" He asked. "No Sir, just a normal bedroom." Salvino walked down the hallway. He stopped at the door and could hear the muffled sound of music on the other side. He turned the doorknob as if trying not to wake someone on the other side. As he opened the door, the music became clear. It was Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 1. The room was dark and he could only make out the furniture. He moved his hand to the side of the wall, searching for a light switch. Nothing. He placed his right hand to his gun holster. He walked in, each step he breathed with intent. "This is Detective Salvino, is anyone in here?" he said aloud. He walked to a lamp on a desk and turned it on. It only lit up the desk with a dimmed light around its perimeter. He could see more of the room but it was filled with a darkness that looked dirty and grungy. A large bed unmade. A dresser opposite the bed and sliding glass doors to the backyard. A red curtain was pulled halfway across the doors. The music was coming from a small stereo on the desk. He pressed the stop button, and in a flash, all went silent. To the left of the sliding doors was the entrance to a bathroom. He turned on the light. The mirror caught his attention. Someone had used their finger to write something in what looked like blood: They've been saved. Salvino walked out and back to the bathroom. "I thought you said you checked that room," said the Detective. "We did. We opened the door and there were no bodies. We had to get started on the rest." "There was music turned on and blood in the bathroom," Salvino said. "Sir, there was no music when we went in there." "Do you think that's the most important part of what I just said?" Salvino asked. "We need photos of the mirror in that bathroom along with samples taken now." Detective Salvino's phone rang and he walked to the front door. "Detective Salvino," he answered it. "I'm headed there now. Send backup," the Detective told the officer on the other line. “I have to go. Looks like the suspects have been found out in Boulder Creek.” Detective Salvino told Forensics, as they kneeled on the bloody bathroom floor. --- An anonymous call came into the Santa Cruz Police Department giving the location of a house out in Boulder Creek. The caller had described the five victims of 404 Moore Creek Road. Detective Salvino raced passed the beach he had walked along earlier during sunset. Only the moonlight was out, shining a light onto the crashing waves, foaming saltwater brushed onto the shore. There was just highway and only him on it. Outside it was desolate and still. Less than half a mile from the beach was a small road. He made a right onto it and drove threw a windy maze that felt never ending. He passed a green mailbox, number 713, just as the officer over the phone described. And one mile down, there it was, waiting for him, the metal gate. He turned his car off and climbed the gate, jumping down and landing on both feet in a squat position. He stood up as he looked up the pathway to what he'd been searching for and finally found. The only sounds were that of leaves bustling in the wind and his own footsteps. A slowness prevailed all around him. He walked up the path, holding his gun with two hands and pointed down toward the ground. To his left and right was the dark abyss of the woods, a depth of trees, bushes, and silence. The dirt path led him to a one-story house on a large plot of land. A tree stood in the front yard to the left and a tire swing creaked back and forth, the movement as short as one last breath. The front door was a lime green color and over the top hung a wooden engraved sign: Home, Sweet Home. Detective Salvino walked up to the green front door and took one big inhale then exhaled with a gradual ease. He knocked and said, "This is Detective Salvino with the Santa Cruz Police Department, anywhere there?" He held onto his gun with a firm strength and turned his left ear toward the door, listening for a sign of movement. Nothing. There was only stillness and that isolated silence that swallows the outdoors where people don't belong. He knocked again with more force, "This is the Santa Cruz Police Department, please open up." Still nothing. He took his left hand off his gun and placed it on the doorknob. He turned it checking if it was unlocked. He turned it all the way, hoping what lived behind that door was in fact living. In his 15 years with the police department, he was still not used to that feeling right before opening a door and having to discover what was behind it. He opened the door with a slow and steady movement, looking intently at every portion of the inside revealed along the way. He released the door and placed his left hand back on his gun, elbows bent the slightest. That's when he saw them all and heard the creaking of ropes turning from their body weight. Inside the living room, bodies hung from the ceiling, all naked. He looked up and caught glimpses of bloodshot bulging eyes and what was left of their tiny squeezed necks, tied like balloons. Each head hung over to the left or ride side of each shoulder. There were ten in this room. He still had 4 more rooms to go and the rest of the house. As he moved passed the hanging bodies, he lightly pushed legs aside to get around them. He couldn't help but look up at each breathless face, each soul surrendered to darkness. He stopped at a girl hanging, she looked about twelve years old. Her long blonde hair hung down to her left shoulder. Maybe she had blue eyes but he couldn't tell behind the bloodshot red that masked over her gone gaze. As Detective Salvino stared at her, the ceiling creaked from the naked bodies. Salvino's eyes widened as the hanging girl's head lifted up and she reached down, grabbing the detective's face. The purple veins on her face bulged out and her red eyes saddened, "You came too late. Why detective? You came too late." Salvino reached for her hands and tried prying them off. He yelled, "I'm sorry." "Detective, Detective, it's too late." The girl cried then she fell completely silent and still. No movement, no sound with her head down and hidden from Detective Salvino's view. Her hands fell back to her sides. He breathed heavily and touched his face. He heard a low laughter. He looked at the girl and her head bobbled as she giggled. Her naked body jiggled up and down and she lifted her head up, her neck pulled tightly inward from the rope. Her mouth opened widely and she laughed hysterically and stared into the detective's eyes. Detective Salvino ran through the living room and into the kitchen. He backed himself against a wall and held his gun up as the girl's laughter became a distant sound. In that moment he received a call on his radio, "Detective Salvino, back up is five minutes away. Over." Detective Salvino got on his radio, " We're going to need two more on forensics and two photographers, fast. Over." The noise of the radio filled the lifeless room, "Ten-four. Sending more forensics and photographers, should be another ten minutes. Over." "We're going to need over ten body bags. Over." The Detective said. "Sir, can you repeat that? Over." "Send over ten body bags. It's a mass suicide." With his back against the wall, the detective slid down to the floor, sitting with his gun drawn. He listened. It was silent except for his heavy breaths. He inhaled deeply, his chest rising to his chin. It's just in my head. Fuck. Get a hold of yourself. It's just in my head. Outside he could hear the sirens in the distance getting closer. He stood up and walked back toward the living room. His eyes locked onto the young girl hanging amongst the rest. All the bodies hung there, spinning the slightest. There was no laughter. There was nothing.