The NYC Midnight SSC 2023 started on Jan 20th – the first round running for 8 days. If you want to see the prompt I got, read about it here. And as promised here, I’ll share a few snippets.
A forensic photographer who vehemently rejects all things social-media must team up with an influencer to find out what’s ailing his sister after her stay at The Glimpse, an invite-only island resort in the Caribbean.
Nathaniel Roth pressed his forehead to the glass pane separating him from his sister’s hospital bed and let the cold seep into his skin. The chill in the observation room did nothing to calm the questions whirling in his head like lost leaves on the wind.
What on Earth had happened to his little sister? People in their mid-20s didn’t end up in the ICU for no reason. He knew in his gut that someone was responsible.
He turned at the sound of nearing footsteps, desperate for a doctor with good news or at least some answers. Instead, a young woman opened the door and gave him a quick once-over.
“You’re the cop brother?”
He nodded. “Nathaniel Roth.”
“Took you long enough to get here.”
Nathaniel’s inner photographer took her in the way he would catalog a crime scene.
Click. Tired eyes, handkerchief balled up in her fist.
Click. Crumpled dress, strap sandals, battered sling bag.
Click. Delicate features, messy long hair.
She hadn’t slept or changed clothes since last night. Loyal friend of Sera’s.
“You’re the…roommate who called 911?” She held out a hand. “Penelope Machiello.”
Nathaniel didn’t recognize the name—and Penelope noticed. “Does Polly Papillon ring a bell?”
It didn’t. “Ah, Polly,” he feigned recognition.
Polly didn’t buy it. “Whatever.” She crossed the room and touched her hand to the observation window. “I found her crumpled on the floor, seizing every minute or so. Blood streaked vomit everywhere, her eyes rolling back in her head….” She turned away from Sera’s immobile form, eyes squeezed shut. “You have probably seen worse. But for me, it was so horrible. Ghastly!”
Nathaniel made a noncommittal sound in his throat. Polly knew a lot about him, while he hadn’t been precisely involved in Sera’s life. Was Polly a close friend, a travel companion, or a co-worker? Did influencers even have co-workers? For him, the idea didn’t fit with an influencer’s MO: the relentless self-promotion, the jet-setting, the freeloading. Plane tickets, accommodation, promo gadgets. Everything was fair game if it came with a hashtag and an additional cheque.
“I’ve seen some ugly scenes,” he volunteered. “But those were strangers. Anyway. What are the doctors’ plans for Sera?”
“The white coats know shit what to do!” Polly spat.
Read the 2nd part here.
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