I found out we have a new case while sitting in an Olive Garden yesterday afternoon, eating the fuck out of some bread sticks.
It was a shit weekend. I had a really bad nightmare in the car and had a full on panic attack, which like… it’s embarrassing dude!!! We had to pull the car over and Julian tried to talk me down, but I was so anxious I couldn’t sit down, so I was pacing around on the side of the highway, and a patrol car stopped and asked us if everything was okay — just awful.
Long story short, we got a hotel room in the closest town, built around a nuclear power plant. Like a real hotel room with a clean bathtub, and quality sheets.
They let me sleep until noon. Apparently, while they were waiting for me to wake up, a case fell into their laps, which was why while I was so intent on my bottomless salad refills, they were bent over their phones.
It wasn’t until I was on my way back from the bathroom that I saw what they were so intent on.
“Are you on Tinder?” I demanded, suddenly awake.
“Hm? Oh,” Neal scrubbed his head with his hand. “Yeah, it’s for a case.”
Julian took out his phone and showed me an article titled, The Tinder Killer Stikes Again or some such thing.
“Serial killer?” I asked and Julian scrolled down to the fourth paragraph, which is where I read the sentence, the young women were found exsanguinated and missing their livers.
“UH,” I said and Neal hushed me. “You think it’s a case?”
“It could be just some sicko,” Neal said. “But yeah, it could be something else. We thought since we just stumbled upon it we ought to give it a look.”
“What are we looking at?” I asked.
“Three girls so far, over the course of three weeks,” Julian said. “All of them found in their homes bloodless and missing their livers.”
“Yikes,” I said.
“Yeah,” Neal agreed. “So far as we can tell, they had no overlapping social circles, different neighborhoods and lifestyles. The only similarities between them have been that they’re pretty girls, under 25 and they all used Tinder to date.”
That’s where my idea started, but I didn’t say it yet.
“So what’s the plan, do you have a plan?”
“We’ve been going through Tinder, just to see,” Julian said. “But I mean, we don’t really know what we’re looking for yet.”
“So you’re catfishing,” I said.
“Yeah getting a lot of matches, too,” Neal said, slightly gleeful. “Check it out.”
Their fake woman’s name was Lindsay Moore and she had freckles and huge tits. “This you?” I asked and Neal grinned.
“Listen, all straights are the same,” he said. “They all want the girl next door, and they want her to secretly be nasty as shit, but only for them. Right buddy?” He clapped Julian’s shoulder.
Julian made a face. “In this case we just need a girl who looks like she has a functioning liver,” he replied.
“…I have a functioning liver,” I said.
They ignored me entirely.
“We’re going to need to be the FBI for this one,” Julian said. “We need to take a look at their tinder accounts and see who they were talking to.”
“Aw, this one says he likes adventures,” Neal said, scrolling. “You want adventures Kenny? Lindsay can show you adventures.”
Julian rolled his eyes.
“You’re going to need someone to go on these dates,” I said.
“This one says he’s a doctor!” Neal said. “Swipe right! Wait no, wrong right. I liked that one, come back.”
“You can’t very well go yourselves,” I went on. “But we have to draw him out of hiding right? I can do that. Easy!”
“Listen,” Julian said. “It’s not that I don’t think you can do it… it’s just very dangerous and I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“You’ll be right there with me,” I said. “You can be at the next table over! It’ll be easy.” And when he was still hesitating I added, “Come on!! I can do this!!”
“Yikes, check this asshole out,” Neal said. “He looks like he eats livers for sure.”
“Neal!” Julian snapped. “Help me out here!”
“Huh? Oh,” he didn’t even look up from his phone. “Shiloh, you’re not going.”
“Come on!” I said. “You think devouring my liver is the worst thing a man’s wanted to do to me on a date?”
This is an exaggeration since I’ve not dated a man since sophomore year of high school, and also boy might be a more appropriate descriptor in that situation than man ha.
“Is it the worst thing?” Neal said and it’s not like I could lie to him.
“Okay fine, but I’m still the best option.”
“Absolutely not,” Neal said. “Now finish your bread sticks.”
But they were singing a different song later that afternoon, when they’d gotten into the police evidence and there was no evidence of the girls dating any of the same men. I wasn’t in there for the conversation because even I have to admit that no one is going to buy me as FBI, but according to Neal and Julian they knew which profile killed each girl, but there was no cross over between the three guys as far as profile content. Whatever this thing is, it’s using different phones in different locations around the city to talk to these girls.
“The only similarity,” Julian said. “Is this.” He showed me a pixelated photo he took on his phone. It was a tinder chat. Actually, it was three Tinder chats.
THREE TINDER CHATS: All three eventually say See you sweetie.
“Ew,” I said.
“I know,” Neal agreed. “But at least it’s a start.”
And so, Lindsay Moore began swiping right on every crusty dude on Tinder. In like 15 minutes she had people asking her out.
“God they’re so eager,” Neal sighed. “They’re like coy fish at feeding time.”
LMAO he’s not lying.
Okay great, I’ll see you then, Neal wrote across like five conversations.
And the responses came in:
Cool, can’t wait!
Yeah looking forward to it!
*Heart eyes emoji*
And then: Great, see you sweetie
“Bingo,” Neal said.
“That easy?” Julian said.
“I guess,” Neal replied.
“Too easy,” Julian said. “The cops would have done it by now if it was this easy.”
“Fuck, I don’t know,” Neal sighed. “Maybe we just got super lucky.”
But literally as he said it, another response came in: See you then sweetie.
“Fuck,” Neal said.
“That… makes no sense,” Julian said.
“That straight dudes all say the same cringey ass shit on dating apps?” Neal said. “That makes no sense to you?”
“But those exact words?” Julian replied and as they argued I got out my phone and started googling.
It literally took one search: See you sweetie Tinder to pull up the explanation.
“Guys,” I said, and passed them my phone so they could read the blog post. It was called Ten Ways to Step Up Your Tinder Game and Get Dates Fast.
Tip number nine: Close out with something casual, but not platonic! The author’s example? See you sweetie.
“How many hits does this have?” Julian asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “But the post has lots of retweets, and his blog has lots of followers.”
“So you think our monster read the post?” Neal asked. “When did it come out?”
I scrolled up. “Last week.”
“Jesus,” Neal said. “That’s clever.”
“We need to contact this blogger,” Julian said, but I was already on it.
The blogger got back to us in like an hour, explaining that he sometimes hired freelancers to make sure he had content coming through. He left us information for this freelancer, one David Smith.
“Damn,” Neal sighed.
“Okay,” Julian said. “This is a wild goose chase. It’s not gonna work this way, we’re gonna need to approach this from another angle. What do we know?”
“Kills once a week,” Neal said. “Blood drinker. Eats livers. Showed up four weeks ago.”
“Smart enough to use dating apps and hide from the cops and cover it’s mistakes.”
They were both quiet for a while. “It’s not a vampire,” Neal said. “They don’t eat liver.”
“It could be taking livers to throw us off the scent,” Julian suggested. “We know it’s smart.”
Neal shook his head. “No, if it wanted to throw us off the scent it would take something more dramatic. Hearts or brains. No one cares about livers except — oh.” He laughed. “Jesus christ, it’s Sludge.”
Julian hesitated, then laughed disbelievingly. “You’re right,” he said. “You’re totally right.”
“What’s sludge?” I asked.
“They’re shape shifters. They look like puddles of mud until they take form, and they eat toxic shit. We usually find them around dumps or factory farms, but they’ve been known to eat nuclear waste, too, sometimes. Usually they’re totally harmless. Helpful, even. And very intelligent.”
“But,” Julian added. “They also leech the moisture out of anything they touch. Which explains why the victims are exanguinated. One touch from Sludge is enough to give you serious bruising, and if it’s cutting you open all that blood will go right into the Sludge. I bet they’re completely dry. Sludge doesn’t usually go after live meat, but I’ve heard of it happening.”
“Okay,” I said. “So one of these Tinder dudes is secretly an amorphous puddle of sludge that has been feasting on nuclear waste?”
“Looks that way,” Neal sighed. “And now they’re hunting for flesh.”
And like tbh, who here is surprised?
“Sooooo,” I said. “How are we gonna figure out who it is?”
“…Shiloh,” Julian began.
“Come on!” I said. “I can do this!!!!”
“It’s too dangerous,” Neal said.
“You said yourself they’re usually harmless!” I said. “It won’t even touch me, right? What’s it gonna do, suck me dry right there in the restaurant?”
That brought them up short.
“Fuck, she has a point,” Julian said.
“Yes!” I said.
“It’s a bad idea,” Neal sighed. “Come on, lets go take some pictures.”
Ladies and gents and neither and both — ya girl is making a Tinder profile.