Modified Homicide

Cindy dropped four quarters in the vending machine and pushed ‘F-7.’ The corresponding screw twisted clockwise and down fell a cellophane wrapped package of microwavable popcorn.

She unwrapped the package and checked the preparation instructions, flattening out the folded popcorn container, before slipping it in the ‘nuker.’ As she did this, her co-worker, Maria walked in to the office break room and headed towards the coffee maker.

“Hey, Maria,” Cindy chirped, “How was your weekend?”

Maria turned and smiled, “Great! We went to the lake on Saturday.”

“Was it crowded?” Cindy asked as the microwave continued to hum and popcorn kernels burst like rapid gunfire.

“Boy was it,” Maria answered as she measured the powdered creamer into her newly poured cup of coffee, “but we found a place to park and even got a nice patch of grass to have our picnic on. How ‘bout you?”

“I stayed home, did some laundry, cleaned my house and worked in the garden,” Cindy responded.

The bell dinged on the microwave and Cindy punched the door open. Instantly, the room filled with the warm aroma of freshly cooked popcorn.

Maria sipping her coffee, move next to Cindy with the hope of continuing their conversation. As for Cindy she was busy trying to open the now-ballooned bag without scalding her fingers from the heated content.

As the bag’s top parted, steam rolled out and as it did, the room shook with a loud explosion that shattered the glass face of the microwave and blew the two women half way across the floor. The blast jarred the building, alerting those working there to call 9-1-1 for help.

Once both women were in their way to the hospital, detectives arrived to investigate the incident. One was younger than the other, but both had seen more than their share of tragedy during their careers.

“Well, what did the first officer on the scene have to say?” the older cop asked the younger one.

The younger one, a stickler for procedure referred to his note pad as he answered, “When he arrived he saw the two women down, where we see the blood, the redhead appeared to have the greater injuries while the Hispanic woman wasn’t as badly hurt. He said, and I’m quoting, ‘They both looked like they been blasted by a scatter-gun.’”

“That doesn’t tell us much,” the older investigator replied, “But it gives us a starting point.”

He looked around, then squatted. He picked up a popcorn kernel between his rubber-gloved finger and thumb, rolling it around as he examined it.

“Have ‘Crime Scene,’ bag these,” he instructed as he showed the kernel to his partner, “Have’em get a half-dozen swabs from both blood trails, impound the microwave and get photos all around. I’ll start the canvassing.”

Suddenly the younger detectives cellphone rang, he answered it, “Yes? I see. Thanks.” He turned to his partner, “The redhead is D-O-A, the others in surgery. She’s expected to survive.”

As the older one turned to leave the break room for the main office floor, a small scrap of paper laying half under the nearby vending machine caught his attention, prompting him to ask the younger man, “What’s that?”

Seeing it to, the younger cop bend down and scooped it up, “Looks like a wrapper of some sort.”

“Yeah, the wrapper to microwavable popcorn,” the old one comment. He quickly reached through the shattered vending machine’s glass door and pulled out a package of unpopped corn and held the scrap and the package side-by-side.

“Identical,” the young cop stated.

Then the older one turned to him and said, “I think I know what happened here. Genetically modified popcorn – it’s known to be very unstable, especially when bombarded with intense energy.”

“Yup,” the other one responded in agreement, “Those G-M-O’s are known to be real killers.”

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