Cold Case

📅 Published on October 6, 2021

“Cold Case”

Written by JRT McMahon
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Like everyone else, the pandemic had me sitting inside, bored out of my mind.  My job was considered non-essential, so for a while I was just sitting on the couch watching videos or playing video games.  I think what makes those activities so enjoyable, though, is that we have a finite time to do them, so they’re kind of an escape.

Over time the joy I was getting from wasting hours away in front of the TV started to diminish, and before I knew it, I was staring at my PlayStation’s start-up screen, scrolling through games, trying to find the urge to want to play anything.  I even dipped into my back catalog of games I had bought but never really purchased.

I had caught up with all the stuff my favorite content creators were putting out, as a lot of them were also affected by the world’s unfortunate circumstances.  Going for walks was nice, and I would find small hobbies here and there to keep me busy.  Days became weeks became months, and it was clear I was in it for the long haul.

While listening to a new episode of my favorite podcast, I heard an advertisement for the “Hunt-a-Killer”  subscription box.  Obviously, I had heard of it before; it’s hard to engage with horror and true-crime content without their name entering your ears.  Before, I had no intention to buy such a thing as I had other interests.  This time around, though, I figured it could be a fun way to pass some time.

I always enjoy watching true-crime documentaries and shows where I could try to figure out the killer before the cast, like Criminal Minds.  So I went to their website and placed an order, using the podcast’s promo code, of course.  Before the week was over, I found the nifty package sitting right on my porch.  The box itself was just a plain brown box, but it had thin rope wrapping around it, and it was dented in various places.

It almost looked like the killer I was supposed to be hunting was the one who dropped the box off.  There were a variety of words drawn onto the box in dark marker, with some of them being etched into the box itself with a knife.  I took a piece of paper and placed it on the side of the box, rubbing the pencil back and forth to reveal the words I couldn’t see with my naked eye.

Before I even opened the box, I made sure to write all the words down just in case they came up later in the clues.  I snipped the thread, making sure to keep that around as well, and opened the box revealing the contents inside.  There were various small trinkets, but the first thing I pulled out was a manila envelope.  Within the folder were a few folders and a police report.

The police report is what I read first.  It detailed the killing and dismembering of a thirteen-year-old girl that took place in her own home.  As I read through the report, the details were so visceral and unkind that I almost felt a bit of sickness in my stomach.  It talked about how the girl’s body parts were all found in separate rooms in the house

This all took place while the parents were still inside the home, sleeping in their room.  When the police checked the scene, they found no signs of forced entry; in fact, they found no signs that indicated anyone but the family was inside the house.  The parents were lined up as suspects and questioned ruthlessly, but there was no DNA evidence in regards to the girl’s cruel fate.  It was ruled it would be impossible for the parents to have done so much to the girl without leaving a trace.

Another file under the police report was the autopsy file and other statements from forensic scientists and police that arrived at the scene.  Forensics proved that there was, in fact, DNA of a third party found on the girl, citing a substance similar to saliva, though when ran through a database, there was no match.  The autopsy repeated a lot of what was found on the scene though it stated the cause of death was a head trauma that likely occurred before the dismembering.

The files were all pretty intense to read and felt way too real for my liking.  I wasn’t sure how other boxes and storylines were like before, but the one I had gotten was pretty gritty.  I couldn’t imagine the box just being a thing young teenagers could participate in.  I decided to take a break with the box; even if it was fictional, it was pretty heavy material.

After a few hours, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to look through the photographs that were included with the reports.  The subject matter was dark, but there was no way they would add photos of a dismembered girl in the box.  That would be a step too far.  Thankfully I was right, but there were photos of the parts of the house where she was found.

Even in the black and white photos, I could still make out the dark rings that stained the carpet where her body would have been.  There were small markers all over the scene marking what the cops considered pieces of evidence.  Within the picture of the girl’s room, I noticed something familiar lying by one of the markers.  Pulling the box closer to me, I retrieved the same object I could see in the photograph.

A small bundle of straw wrapped in twine.  I felt the brittle lines of straw resting in my palm as I stared at the photo.  With the dark memories of the incident now diluted by intrigue, I started trying to piece things together.  The report said there was no sign of an intruder other than the DNA found on the little girl, so I wondered if the straw bundle was already in the house.  If it wasn’t, I’m sure the parents would have said something.

I pulled the piece of paper containing all the words written on the box and looked over the list, sure enough finding the word “Straw”  written down.  It wasn’t much, but it was something, so I made note of it.  Shuffling through the rest of the photos, I eventually came across a black and white photo showcasing the exterior of the house.  Pulling the exterior shot away from the other photos, I stared at it intensely to see if anything would stick out.

As I looked at the photo, I got a pulling sensation, like someone was tugging at the front of my shirt, begging me to realize something I wasn’t picking upon.  I could feel my face contorting, eyebrows furrowed and lips curling in concentration.  I wasn’t just trying to figure out the picture; I was trying to decipher the feeling it was giving me.  And then it hit me.

It felt like I was walking through a supermarket, and I heard my name being called, that feeling you get when someone confidently approaches you, but you aren’t sure who they are.  Then they tell you they sat next to you in sixth-grade math over a decade ago, and you get the faint sense of memory.  That distant familiarity, the picture was giving me that sensation.

I stood from my chair, still holding the photo in my hand, scrutinizing it.  Instead of just the house, I looked at the small bits of scenery I could see around it.  Quickly I threw on my coat and ran out to the car.  It was freezing out, but I pulled the car out of the driveway and headed a few blocks away from my house.  After a few minutes had gone by, I pulled to the side of the road and stepped out of my car, holding the photograph up in front of me.

Suddenly I recalled a time when I was smaller, just a kid running around the neighborhood playing with friends.  One night my mother frantically called me inside as the street lights were turning on and asked my father to double-check all the locks.  She was like that for a week, I think, cautiously making sure our home was secure and not letting me play outside past dinner time.  My dad said she was overreacting.  She would tell him the guy was never caught, and she wasn’t taking any chances.

They never talked about that week to me, what had my mother in such a tizzy.  As I grew up, I forgot about it and never thought to ask, so it just laid dormant in my memories until dragged to the surface by the photograph.  It was the same house.  It was much older, showing its years of abandonment on its sleeve.  Paint chipping and paneling breaking off, but it was definitely the same house.

I was back home before the car had a chance to start heating up.  The computer sprang to life, and I entered the address of the house into Google.  Jamie Iverson, that was her name; sure enough, I found news articles about the girl’s passing.  However, nothing I could find online went into as much detail as the police reports from the box did, though I did find the coroner claiming the death was caused by head trauma, so that was consistent.

However, there was information that wasn’t included in the box.  While everything relating to her death was in the cardboard, her life prior was left out.  One of the reasons her parents were dropped as suspects was the outpouring of neighbors vouching for how much they loved their daughter; how much they took care of her as she was terminally ill.  The poor girl was bedridden and unable to do much of anything by herself.

My fingers hovered over my keyboard as I looked at a picture of the girl, her smiling face staring back at me.  I was wrestling with the thought that “Hunt-a-Killer”  had sent me a box that either contained classified information of a local cold case or that they were making things up about a real-life murder to sell their product.

Shutting the computer off, I pulled all the trinkets, photographs, and clues out of the box, laying them out like a board game on the table.  Sorting things together, I made neat piles of all the information I was given.  The first thing I wanted to do was figure out if the information I had correlated with the information available to the public.  That was the plan, anyway; looking at the photos again, I found a shortcut.  All I needed to do was go back to the house.

Under the guise of the night, I entered the crumbling building that was abandoned by the Iversons shortly after their daughter’s passing.  It didn’t take me too long to find what I was looking for, which was good; the place gave me vibes that were hard to sit with.  The original carpet was still there, and while dust had created fine layers on it, I could still see the markings, like red wine spilled onto an oak table; dark blotches of her remained on the carpet.

I walked from room to room, matching the stains on the carpet with the pictures, wondering why at the least they didn’t steam clean it.  My flashlight highlighted the gruesome liquid.  I remembered one of the handwritten notes inside the box, likely written by one of Jamie’s parents.  “It won’t come out,”  written over and over in progressively worsening handwriting.

Since I had only taken the pictures with me, I tried to remember all the other clues that were stuffed into the box.  I closed my eyes, trying to find some greater picture, trying to put all the puzzle pieces together.  Alongside the straw bundle was a glass vial that also had twine on it, but it was used almost like a necklace string.  Inside the vial was a tooth; I thought it was a prop at first, but connecting it to the head trauma that caused her death, I shuddered.

Walking into her bedroom, I could hear the aging floorboards creaking under me.  It felt heavy being in her room; the events took place over a decade ago, but it still felt like remnants of her were in the room.  I tried to remember the words on the side of the box.  “Straw / Killing / Effigy / Regret / Alone / Undying.”  All of them were nonsense words like that.

Looking around the walls of the room, I could see drawings of a figure that stood next to a smaller one, one that looked like Jamie.  In the box, I received one of the things I got was a lined piece of paper with similar drawings on it.  The larger figure was label ARK with crude handwriting, that of a child’s.

Dots were still connecting in my head, scanning the room with my flashlight until landing on the bloodstain.  As I focused on the stain, noticing it was on the other side of the room from her bed, I heard the sound of aging floorboards creaking.  Only, I hadn’t moved.

Worried someone had seen my flashlight and followed me in, I turned the light off and ran into the corner of her room, kneeling down by the bloodstain.  Listening, attempting to hide my shuddering as the night air pierced through my clothing, I heard the creaking again.  It was heavy, like elephants were stepping through the floor below me.  Looking down, trying to follow the noise, I could see the blood-stained carpet.

With the moonlight from the window shining on the faded red, I noticed a border that lines the stain, like a square had been cut around it.  I found a corner of the cut unsullied by blood and lifted the carpet up.  A perfectly square section of the carpet had been cut up and under it, were several bits of straw soaked red.  There was easily enough of it under the square to make up a bundle similar to what was in the box.

“Daddy?”  The voice pierced the night air like daggers, pulling the curtain of silence aside shaking my entire body.  I wasn’t paying attention; I had gotten too focused on what was under the carpet and stopped listening to the footsteps.  It felt like her voice dragged on for ages, stuttering like a failing machine.  Slowly my gaze lifted from the floor to the doorway where the voice appeared.  The little girl I had expected to see standing there couldn’t have been further from what I actually witnessed.

Instead, standing in the doorway, cast under a heavy bloom of darkness, stood a massive and bulbous figure.  It looked as if an eight-foot-tall dead and bloated body had stumbled into the door frame; the skin was purple and swelling all over, creating something that looked human but undefined, like a child’s artwork that couldn’t stay in the lines.  Its eyes were barely visible under the swollen forehead, but I could still see their amber gaze.  The hulking figure was between me and my only means of escape.

“Mommy?”  it spoke again, its lips barely parting to slip the words out.  It took another step into the room, a thick and heavy foot causing the floorboards to scream.  “Why did you leave?”  The creature continued.  Hearing such a childish voice coming from such a hulking disaster felt like I was experiencing a glitch.

Thankfully my subconscious was thinking faster than I was.  The house was so close to falling apart it was a wonder it wasn’t torn down.  Though now seeing that thing mere feet away from me, I suspected the cause for such.  I quickly stood up as the creature approached me.  “Why did you leave me?”  the creature howled, the tone of the little girl skipping into something heavy and more malicious.  I could see the thing balling up its fist.

Head trauma.

Fear rattling my bones, I jumped up and quickly shot my feet down onto the floor.  I could already feel the termite-riddled boards giving way.  I jumped again as the creature lunged forward and felt myself falling through the floor on impact with it.  Bits of wood and carpet fell down smack on top of me as I landed on the floor below.

Instantly I became aware that the shoulder I had landed on dislocated on impact.  My body running thick with adrenaline, I stood up and charged a wall, popping it back into place.  The adrenaline was not doing nearly enough to mask all the pain.  I howled out.  Looking up through the hole I created, I could see the creature holding something between its budding fingers.  A piece of straw.

When she was killed, she was already terminal and awaiting death.  She died from head trauma and was then dismembered, various parts of her body spread around the house.  A tooth was kept.  Under the carpet was straw, soaked in blood.  The thing above me was already on the move.  The front door was mere feet away from me, but I felt like I was so close.

Trying to ignore the pain, I envisioned the contents that Hunt-a-Killer had given me and what I figured out online.  Her parents loved her; they did everything for her.  They’d do anything for her.  The house was abandoned soon after her death but not immediately.  The blood wouldn’t come out of the carpet.  The bundle of straw.  The imaginary friend.  The saliva-like substance, like thick water.

It was right there, right on the tip of my tongue, searing into my taste buds with a similar burning as the pain in my shoulder.  I could hear her upstairs, making her way towards me slowly but with a mass I could never hope to fight off.  It was a wonder that her body didn’t just break through the ceiling.  I wanted to run so bad, but I felt if I had, I wouldn’t piece it together. I needed to be there.







The noise of advancing footsteps halted at the bottom of the stairs.  I looked over at the hulking mass staring at me.  “Mommy?”  it said once more.  I could feel a trail of blood slip from between my lips as I opened them.  I must have bitten down hard on my tongue when I fell.

“Sorry, Mommy’s gone,”  I spoke.  My words were soft, but I could tell it didn’t lessen the blow. The amber eyes peered at me, shifting, trying to find answers in the air.  Thick tears formed in its eyes.

“Where’s Daddy?”  It asked.  I hated how much it sounded like a little girl when it spoke so low, how much I could pick at each inflection of pain in her voice, every bit of confusion.  The cops couldn’t solve who killed Jamie Iverson; they were on the right track but still couldn’t grasp what was sitting beyond their understanding.  It was just a job to them.

“They left you, Jamie.  They did this to you and left.”  I stepped forward, trying my best to ignore the aches chiming through me, the cold air ever more like daggers to my injuries.  “They couldn’t let you die, but they couldn’t live with what they did to you.”  I got closer and closer to the towering figure, watching something she refused to accept sink deep into her.  She sounded like a child, but she wasn’t anymore.  It had been years.  She knew, but she couldn’t accept it.

“Mommy?”  She spoke through quivering tears.  I reached out my hand and grabbed her’s, or rather, ARK’s.  It was squishy, and truth be told, the texture was repulsive, but I fought through the acid swimming in my chest.  I shook my head, and the figure shuddered, lumbering over as it openly wept.

“You and ARK, I can send you home.  Where you belong.”  I lifted the thing’s head and looked into its eyes, forcing a smile.  She took a moment but eventually offered a nod in return.  After that, she followed me around the house as I lifted various sections of carpet and pulled the spare pieces of straw away.

As the last piece of carpet pulled up, and the last piece of straw rested on the ground, I looked behind me.  The large bulbous figure of ARK still lumbered over me, and next to him was a little girl holding his hand.  I smiled and gave her a wave as I picked up the last piece of straw, and as she waved back, she was gone.

I made my way home and tended to the wounds I had received from the endeavor before putting everything back into the Hunt-a-Killer box.  I still have a lot of questions; it doesn’t exactly feel like something I can contact support about.  I wondered if I had even done the right thing, but it was over, and I couldn’t change what happened.

What happened to Jamie Iverson was awful.  I’m sorry if I didn’t explain my thought well enough; I hope you were able to figure out what happened to her.  If not, you’ll just have to read between the lines, do a little detective work.  I did.

I stared at the box for a while, considering if I should cancel my subscription or not.  I decided to let it ride.  I mean, there’s no way the next box could contain something like this again…

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by JRT McMahon
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: JRT McMahon

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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