Jordan McDermott pulled into the parking lot of the warehouse of Sorrento House of Fashion, which stood in the middle of the garment district in Los Angeles. She was surprised to see Reannan Scott’s car underneath one of the lights illuminating the parking lot.
Why would the Production Manager be there this late?
It was almost midnight, but the building was brightly lit. As she pulled in beside Reannan’s car, the lights went out and the windows became dark panes of glass with spots of light reflected on them. Reannan must be leaving, she thought. She waited, but no one came out.
Getting out of her car, she walked to the double metal door and punched out the security code, allowing her to open one of the heavy metal doors giving her access to the warehouse.
Darkness lay thick and black over the inside of the building and she breathed in the smell of new fabric, mixed with the odor of cardboard boxes, packing tape, and some other strange smell, which she couldn’t identify.
As she made her way to the breaker box to throw the switch that would illuminate the large warehouse with its shipping tables and stacks of cardboard boxes, she stumbled over something. She lost her balance and felt herself falling. Reaching out her hands for purchase they found only air and she went down, her knees taking the brunt of her fall on the hard cement floor.
She cried out in pain. It took a few moments to catch her breath. She put the palms of her hands flat on the floor to push herself into an upright position and her fingers came into contact with something wet and sticky.
What on earth?
The employees had been told many times not to bring food or drink into the warehouse around the dresses, which were being prepared for shipping to various retailers.
Before she could get up, she heard a squeaking noise nearby. It sounded as though someone was pushing one of the large canvas carts used for moving fabric from the shelves to the doors where they were loaded into a truck to be delivered to one of the contract sewing shops that made the dresses.
“Who’s there?” she called out.
There was no answer, just the sound of the wheels on the cement and a sudden thud as the cart hit one of the metal doors. She heard the door open and close with a bang.
She managed to push herself to her feet and carefully took a few experimental steps, trying to avoid whatever had been spilled on the floor. She reached the breaker box, flipped up the large metal lever, and bright lights lit every corner of the huge space.
Hurrying to the double metal doors, she pushed the canvas cart out of the way, opened one of the doors and looked out. No one was in sight. She saw a pair of red tail lights turning right out of the parking lot. In a moment, Reannan’s BMW had disappeared.
Turning to see what had caused her to trip, she covered her mouth to hold back the scream of horror rising in her throat.
Reannan, the production manager, lay face down in a pool of blood. Jordan stared in shock, unable to move. When rational thought returned, she made her way over to the still body, knelt beside her, and gently touched the woman’s back.
“Reannan,” she said.
There was no response and she carefully took the manager’s shoulder and turned her over. She gasped as she saw the wide, staring eyes and the deep incision across the front of the woman’s neck. A box cutter lay nearby and she picked it up. It was covered with blood. She stared at it, her mind a complete blank.
She looked around for the telephone that served the shipping department and saw it on a nearby table. She dropped the bloody box cutter down on the table beside the telephone and picked up the receiver and dialed 911. She sobbed almost incoherently as she told the operator she needed an ambulance.
The voice on the other end of the line asked her the reason and when Jordan described the scene in front of her, the woman told her to stay connected until the policemen, which would be dispatched immediately, reached the warehouse. She gripped the receiver tightly while she listened to the soothing voice of the operator.
In the distance she heard the sound of a siren, which became louder as it approached the warehouse. Soon there was a loud pounding on the metal doors and she notified the 911 operator of the arrival of the police and hung up the phone. As she walked to the entryway, she looked down at her hands. They were covered with blood, as were the pant legs of her slacks.