The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: Pacific Northwest Podcaster

Because I’m Not Dead

Upon seeing a news story about his death, Jason visits the scene of the crime for answers. 

I didn’t care about being made fun of for eating cake while watching the Friday night news. Everything was more fun with cake. It was part of my end of the week ritual after my shift at the hospital. What wasn’t part of my routine was dropping my plate while seeing news about myself.

“In a strange turn of events, the serial killer known as the Isolation Cleaner has changed direction with their latest victim, Jason Sizemore,” the TV news reporter announced. Two paramedics dragged my disfigured and waterlogged body out of the river in the video clip that popped on the screen. “Police say, Jason Sizemore, Caucasian, male, age 27 is the youngest victim of the serial killer who in the past has only targeted senior citizens who lived alone. Jason was found earlier today along Green River at Fort Dent Park in Tukwila. Police are asking for any information.”

“This has to be a mistake,” I muttered as I replayed the clip on my DVR. “I must be imagining things.”

But I wasn’t mistaken. The news didn’t change when I rewatched it. I took a deep breath and decided I needed to know more. I searched online for directions to the park–a 15-minute drive–and grabbed my jacket, leaving my cake on the apartment floor. It’s not like I had any roommates who would complain.

Finding the scene was easy enough thanks to the bright yellow crime screen tape blocking a section along the Green River. I was surprised to find that there weren’t any officers posted there. I was hoping to speak to someone, but I took advantage of my fortune and crossed the tape. There had to be some clue still around to tell me what happened—anything as I wadded into the water.

What I did find was a bright flashlight in my face.

“What are you doing here?” the voice demanded.

“I’m Jason Sizemore, and I’m the person the police said they found earlier,” I explained, trying to see who I was speaking to, but she kept the light on my eyes. “There has to be some mistake because I’m not dead.”

I tried to step forward, but she ordered me to, “Stay right there.”

“I’m staying right here,” I reassured, raising my heads while using one to shield my eyes.

“I tried to go to your house, but the address was fake.”

“I’m a private person.”

“But here you are. I had to go to great lengths to find you.”

Wait. Great lengths to find me? I thought. I had to ask, “What do you mean you went to great lengths to find me?”

“I hired some performers for a short film, which was the news clip of the police finding your body. Then I visited the local news station under the pretense of a story for my podcast. I set up a backdoor into their systems to keep tabs on them for when they would air a story about the Isolation Cleaner and replace it with you.”

As I listened to her tale, I began recognized the voice. “You…”

She cut me off. “You got pretty cocky calling into my podcast explaining the Isolation Cleaner to me, like how you got off watching the news of your accomplishments while eating cake. But, you’re not the first serial killer I’ve tracked down and ended because I’m the Pacific Northwest Podcaster.”

I moved to run, but I wasn’t fast enough for her stun gun. I face-planted into the river, with the water filling up my lungs, unable to move.

This week’s short story was inspired by the writing prompt: “Your name, age, height, weight, and race all flash across the T.V. screen. You look in horror as you see your dead body being dragged out of a river as a reporter announces that you’ve been brutally murdered by an infamous serial killer who has been on the run for years.” 

For my take, I thought I would have the prompt be a trick to lure out the real serial killer by another one, with the return of the Pacific Northwest Podcaster. One idea I had was to reveal her sooner with her interviewing him, but I decided it was best to keep the twist as late as possible. 

Thank you for reading!

The Pacific Northwest Podcaster

A serial killer mistakenly targets a true-crime podcaster.

Whitney’s heart fluttered. Male, late 20s/early 30s with an alethic build? Check. Shaggy, blond hair? Check. Thick, black plastic sunglasses resting on a curved, wedge-shaped nose? Check. A prominent crescent scar on his right cheek? Check. She was positive the stranger jogging behind her matched the police sketch of the Noon Slayer.

Whitney kept a steady pace as she traversed the dirt trail at Stewart Memorial Park. The summer weather in Washington state never got uncomfortable for her noon jogs. The tall, western hemlocks and various evergreen trees provided ample shade with the fresh rain bringing its petrichor fragrance.

She tapped on her headphones, which weren’t playing music. They never did. They were only on her ears for the same reason a worm would be on a hook. The serial killer caught up to her. Whiney smirked. He took the bait.

As the Noon Slayer was about to grab Whitney, she spun around and tased him.

The Noon Slayer’s eyes fluttered open. Directly in front of him was a podcast microphone complete with a pop filter attached to a boom arm. White, nylon rope strapped him tight on the metal chair.

“You’re awake,” Whitney joyfully greeted. “Don’t say anything. I need to hit record real fast.” She took a seat on her RV kitchen bench behind the matching microphone she had set up for herself and pushed the record button on her audio recorder. “Hello, crime-heads. I want to start off this episode by thanking my guest. I’ve gotten in pretty good shape since I started jogging about a month ago to get you on my show.”

“Where am I?” the Noon Slayer grumbled.

Whitney pushed the red button on her pop-out kitchen table, sending him a painful electric shock. It wasn’t enough to kill or do any serious harm, but it was enough to say, “I’m the one in charge.”

“Hey, I’m the host here,” she playfully scolded. “This is my podcast, so I’ll be the one asking the questions–until the end when I let my guests ask me a question before I let them go.”

He looked around the cozy fifth-wheel travel trailer that held him captive. Everything was clean and neatly organized. His gaze focused on a massive cork bullion board the size that was as long as him, pinned with newspaper clippings of all his killings. He nodded toward the murder board. “You a fan of mine?”

“You can say I’ve been tracking you. Oh, wait. That was technically a question.”

She pushed the button, shocking him again. When he settled, she took down the murder board from the easel–revealing another board covered in clippings about a different serial killer–laid his board on the bed next to him so he could see it, and then returned to her seat.

“What do you think?” she inquired.

He reviewed the large board. In addition to the newspaper clippings, there were crime scene photos, a copy of the police sketch, and a pair of gold foil business cards with the word, “Congratulations.” 

“How did you–” he stopped, catching himself. “I mean, I’m impressed you have my calling card. Two of them.”

“Thank you, but truth be told, one is a replica I made. I managed to sneak a photo from one of my sources that’s been investigating you. The public doesn’t know about your calling card. The other is the one I pulled out from your wallet, Trent.”

Trent tried not to laugh at his carelessness. “I knew I shouldn’t have kept my wallet with me.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. In all my years of doing this podcast, I’ve learned that nobody is perfect. On the subject of mistakes, how accurate is my board about you? Are all of those yours? Am I missing anyone?”

“You’re missing my first one.”

Whitney sat up and leaned forward. “I am? Do tell.”

“It was different.” His eyes drifted up as he reflected. “I did it with my car. It was an accident–a complete accident. I wasn’t paying attention to the jogger when she ran in front of me. It was a hilly road. I thought I was going to get caught. But I didn’t.”

“Then let me guess, the thrill of not getting caught become intoxicating.”

“It did.”

“This happened around noon, just like all of the others?”


Whitney nodded. “That’s what the psychologist Dr. Miller suggested when I interviewed him in episode 215. Well, Trent, you’ve answered all of my questions today. Before I let you go, as per tradition, I like to let my guests ask me a question.” 

Trent didn’t say anything. Whitney added, “Don’t worry. I won’t shock you.”

Whitney pulled out the chef knife from the cutlery drawer, walked over to Trent, and brushed the blade along rope behind his back.

“Who are you?” he asked.

She sawed the rope just long enough to give him a false sense of hope before she stabbed him in the back. “I’m the Pacific Northwest Podcaster.”

Inspired by the writing prompt: “A well known serial killer has been following you through town. He seems to be has been targeting you for a while now. But you’re not scared, in fact, you’re thrilled about it. Finally, you have a new target.”

I realized I hadn’t set any of my weekly stories in Washington state, where I grew up in my grade/middle school years. I got inspired by the writing prompt to have a serial killer stalk one of the woods there. Since it had been forever since I visited that area, the only park with a hiking trail I could think of was where my parents found a golden ticket for a radio contest. I texted my Mom for the name of the park. She asked why I was asking about it and I told her the premise of the short story. She asked me if I was going to incorporate a golden ticket into it somehow and I said I’ll see what I can do. Then she suggested it should be the killer’s calling card.

That’s the origin of this week’s short story. Thank you for reading!

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