Her hands were like ice. That was the first thing that crossed his mind. He could have just walked on through, past the alley, but there is just something attractive about a dead body. You just have to investigate who it is, whether it would be a loved one, or a total stranger.

It was freezing. Most likely around 20 degrees. The snow wasn't even falling that heavily. But it was enough to partially cover the woman that was lying in front of him. Had the snow been a blizzard, he would've missed the body completely. He noticed the pool of blood trickling from her abdomen. Apparently, time had passed quite a bit after she was murdered.

He was no forensics expert, but he could tell that the fatal wound was deep. Not enough to guarantee instant death, but it was deep enough for someone to be able to writhe in agony for about 2 minutes. But that was the thing. The snow was undisturbed. It was as if she had collapsed right after being stabbed. Maybe she went into shock from the sudden blood loss and bled to death in the freezing temperature.

But when it comes to the most basic of murders, there is the absolute need for at least two people: the victim and the killer. The killer would be identified right about now, just look for the footprints. But again, the snow was untouched except for the victim's own footprints. How did the killer accomplish this?

He glanced around the surrounding area for clues but found none. He knelt down to examine the body. She wasn't stunningly beautiful, but her face looked so tender, like a doll's. The powder in her brown hair only accentuated her charm even further.

"So, Detective Byrde, what do you think?"

Byrde stood up and turned to the Chief. "Definitely a homicide. But there's no trace of the murderer, and no weapon either. Is the autopsy report in yet?"

"Just sent it to the lab. This is the fourth one these past few weeks. And Christmas is just right around the corner. The mayor is really bothered by this."

Byrde scoffed. "What bothers me more is that every related crime scene is the same. All of them took place in an alley, all of them stabbed once, but there's no weapon left behind, and the forensics lab can't find a single DNA sample, let alone footprints." He gestured at the snow.

The Chief clapped a hand on Byrde's shoulder. "Well, there's not much we can do right now. Since we can't figure out how it happened. You should head home."

"No, I'm staying here for a bit," Byrde produced a flask from his coat pocket and took a swig. "See if there's anything I missed."

The Chief slapped Byrde's shoulder again. "Alright, I'll see you in the morning."

Byrde grunted and slipped his flask back into his inner coat pocket as the Chief retreated back to his car. The detective waited for him to drive off, then knelt down next to the body. He looked all around him. The space in between the brick walls was narrow, just enough for one person to comfortably walk through.

Then an uncertain idea grew in his mind. He took a few steps back away from the corpse, brushed away powder from both sides of the walls, and planted a foot on each side. Byrde wasn't much for exercise, or even balancing himself for that matter, but he was able to hold his position for a while before falling painfully on his back.

As Byrde lay on the snowy ground, gasping in agony, one thing raced through his brain. He knew how the murders happened.