Rule #8: Let no case go unsolved. You’re not a true teen super-sleuth unless you have a 100% success rate.

I wake up. It’s dark. My surroundings are both familiar and foreign. A hotel room, like so many others I’ve woken up in. But there’s something off about it. I get up, walk towards the bathroom door. I feel dizzy. I put my hand on the wall to steady myself. It comes away wet and sticky. I go into the bathroom. I flick the switch on the wall and am bathed in harsh white light. I look down at my hand. Blood. I look back up. I see myself in the mirror. It appears I fell asleep in my clothes.

Were my eyes always green? I don’t think so. No, they must have been.

I look out through the open bathroom door. The bathroom light illuminates the hotel room. The walls are covered in blood. I close my eyes and reach out with my mind, probing for pain. I don’t feel any. I don’t think any of this blood is mine. I open my eyes and start looking for a body. I find it under the bed. Is this the body of the victim or the criminal?

I gasp as I realize that I don’t know. I wince as my attempts to access the depths of my mind cause a sharp pain in the back of my head. I smile as I realize that I get to solve this mystery for myself, like in the old days.

I hope I haven’t lost my touch.

The trash can first, I decide. Empty. No incriminating note. No clues of any kind. I check the dresser drawers. Same result. No clues. I’m starting to feel worried. What if I can’t find any clues?  I look for my suitcase. I find it in the closet. It is the only thing in the closet. This must be my hotel room. I drag the body out from under the bed.

I recognize the body from somewhere. There is a knife in his chest. It’s mine. Looks like I killed this guy, but why? What did he do? And who is he? I dig around in his pockets until I find his wallet. According to his driver’s license, his name is Harold. Hello Harold. Why did I kill you? Apparently, Harold’s not feeling very talkative. Understandable, given his situation. I look at the address on his license. It doesn’t look familiar, but that doesn’t mean anything. I decide to go check it out. I tuck the wallet into the back pocket of my jeans.

I shove the body back under the bed. I walk into the bathroom and stick my hand in the sink. I run the water until the blood is gone. I grab the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign from the top of the dresser and hang it on the doorknob. It’s the middle of the night, but better safe than sorry. I head out through the lobby, past the woman sleeping at the front desk. I hail a cab and give him the address. It’s a short drive. I arrive at a house. It’s fairly nondescript. All the lights are off. I pay the cab driver with some of Harold’s money and walk up to his house. Halfway to the front door, I realize I didn’t find any keys on Harold. I shrug and press on – I haven’t been stopped by a locked door since I was nine years old. As expected, the lock offers only token resistance, yielding to my lock picking in less than a minute. I enter the house.

I stumble through the darkened entryway, knocking something over in my search for a light switch. I should have brought a flashlight. My brother would have remembered to bring a flashlight. I find the light switch. The entryway light shows me that I knocked over an umbrella stand. I carefully step over the umbrellas strewn across the floor and head deeper into the house. It is an unremarkable house, except for the fact that Harold appears to live alone, and it’s very clean. It’s unusual for a man living alone to have such a clean house. I end up in the kitchen. My stomach growls. I can’t remember the last time I ate, I open what I think is the door to the pantry. The open door reveals a set of stairs descending down into darkness. A basement. I flick the light switch. A naked bulb flickers to life, dimly illuminating the dark space. I pull out a knife and head down cautiously. I reach the bottom and peer into the deep shadows of the concrete room. Something lurks in the corner, glinting darkly like the barrel of a gun. At first I think it’s a furnace. It isn’t. It’s a printing press. I walk over to it and carefully extract a large square of green paper from its jaws. Money. Fake money. Harold was a counterfeiter. I smile. Looks like I still got it.

Suddenly, I feel tired. Very tired. I need to get out of here. I make it all the way to the living room before I collapse. I aim for the couch, and miss. I am asleep before I hit the floor.

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