Rule #14: Be wary of solo acts. The best teen super-sleuths are either partners or trios.

Her. I can’t believe it’s her. I have to find her, stop her. I feel partly responsible for what happened. If only I had been more firm with her, told her that she just wasn’t cut out to be a teen super-sleuth.

When most teen super-sleuths grow up, they either become private eyes, cops, or freelance investigators like me. But not all of them. Some of them stray from the path. Like her. She was always unstable. Unlike me, she didn’t have a partner that she could trust implicitly, a partner like my brother. Sure, she had her ditzy friend, but that wasn’t enough. Her friend didn’t have her back. Her friend was more interested in shopping than solving crime. This lack of people she could trust meant that she was paranoid and tended to lunge at the throat of anyone she perceived as a potential theat.

But she wasn’t that bad in the beginning. Sometimes my brother and I let her and her friend tag along with us, if we happened to run into each other. She helped us in a few cases, although most of her “help” consisted of her first talking down to us and telling us to leave the sleuthing to her, and then asking us for help. We were happy to help her, even making it seem like we all solved the case together, as equals, when really, my brother and I did all the heavy lifting. Found all the clues. But she showed promise, and had solved a few cases on her own before my brother and I even met her, so we encouraged her. I wish now that we hadn’t. As time passed, we saw her less and less.

She did end up solving a surprising number of cases on her own. Almost as many as us, in fact. Of course, at the end, she finally snapped. Shot her best friend and the main suspect with the same gun.

I’ve heard rumors about her since then, rumors that she wanders the country, mercilessly killing anyone she considers guilty of wrongdoing. No evidence, no clues, no nothing, just a bullet to whoever she arbitrarily decides deserves it. She is a monster. A killer. A hunter. The kind of hunter that is my prey. I look at the letter, but, as usual, I can’t focus on the words. I trust my mind has already filed away the important parts. I look up from the letter. I’m in a diner. I’m not sure where the deputy’s gun is, or even where the dead bank robber’s (what was his name? I can’t remember) truck is. Oh well. Easy come, easy go, and I didn’t want the gun in the first place.

The waitress comes over with a piece of apple pie I can’t recall ordering. I dig in. It’s delicious, just like my aunt used to make. I wonder what the letter was supposed to be – a threat, or a challenge? It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. The same thing’s going to happen regardless of the letter’s intent. I was going to find her, and make sure she couldn’t kill again.

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