Flash! Friday # 11

****Saturday update (happy Saturday, peeps!): Due to wildly suspicious circumstances, look for your results later this afternoon. More time for you to read & leave warm fuzzies on the tales!****

This contest is now closed to entries (but always open to comments/feedback!). Thanks to everyone who dared give this crazy challenge a go. The decision by prosecutor/judge Maggie Duncan will be posted tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Welcome to a special MURDER MYSTERY episode of Flash! Friday!

Being a generous dragon (at times, anyway), I am providing your:

* WEAPONS and

* LOCATION

It will be your job to tell me who kills whom, and why (or whatever you think we ought to know)….

Today’s cryptic contest prosecutor is SVW member and repeat judge Maggie Duncan. Oh, Brave Judge! Our thanks and admiration we pour liberally at your feet!

And now…. we welcome you to tiptoe furtively into the flames of Flash! Friday # 11. Today’s two-fold prompt is a three-way choice of weapons followed by a three-way choice of locations…. all accompanied by a heart-pounding 150 – 400 word story limit (minimum of 150, max of 400); be sure to include your word count and Twitter handle if you’ve got one). Read the rules if you haven’t already, and then…. GET WRITING!

To sum up:

Word limit: Write a 150 – 400 word murder mystery story based on your choice from the weapons & locations photo prompts below (choose one or more from each category). Post your entry in the comments on this post. Include your word count and Twitter handle so we can promote your story and run background checks/plant incriminating evidence in your back pocket. (And then go comment on the other stories, if you have a minute.  If you don’t, some of them are likely to suspect you of something dark and nefarious. Not saying who. But some of them.)

Deadline9pm ET tonight

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday) morning

Prize: A smoky, fiery e-trophy badge, your own winner’s page here at Flash! Friday, a 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and WORLDWIDE FAME AND ADULATION!!!! (and this week, possibly, criminal investigation or being cleared thereof, though Flash! Friday would like to state unambiguously for the record that dragons always serve as their own alibi).

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for the latest news/announcements/dragon etiquette guidelines (yes, dragons have etiquette. It just doesn’t look like yours).  And now for your prompts:

 Weapons choices:
weapons

Location Choices:

Locations

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45 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 11

  1. Here’s a fresh steaming latte for you–good morning! Yes, you post your story right here in the comments. That’s it! easy peasy. (and welcome to FF!) Deadline’s 9pm ET.

  2. Quick question, is there a rule that it has to be prose or are poems under the word count allowed? Thanks! I wrote mine as prose and realised it sounded like it needed to be poetry instead…
    x

  3. No rules regarding form. The only rules are “murder mystery story,” the weapons/location choice, and the word count limits. Write the tale whatever way it needs to be written!

  4. The small room would work for now. It was his, he’d decided. He deserved it. The Cardinal was a very busy man, and was going to get busier now that the other’s had handed down their decision.

    No doubt, there were many groans being issued across the City at that moment. He didn’t mind. If anything, he relished it. He imagined those who had argued against him gritting their teeth when they heard the news. “He’s too young” “His faith is insincere” “He’s too busy with the Inquisition” “He’s too worldly” They had tried, but in the end, the majority had spoken.

    Those who had advocated for him were probably scouring the grounds, trying to share in his victory. He would emerge from his hideaway when he was good and ready. The miniscule room had once been used for something, possibly the same purpose for which he now claimed it. When he had first opened it he found a small table with an empty wine bottle. He had his own drink and food placed upon it next to the bottle. He refused to move it. It looked too elegant with the cork in place holding up draping spider webs.

    He watched the light from the small window glint across the web as the glass of wine did its job. Tomorrow he would become the leader of the world, at least all the parts that mattered. This afternoon he was going to enjoy his solitude.

    As he was bringing the glass back to his lips to try to shake the final drop free, his inebriation was joined by another sensation. The glass suddenly felt heavy in his hand. He put it down with more force than intended and stood up. He grasped the table to steady himself as his head spun.
    The Cardinal made it through the entrance to the hidden room and cleared four stairs before his legs failed him. He fell straight forward, throwing him head-first into the wall of the spiral staircase. The blood was the color of the wine he had spilt on his white shirt sleeve. What was it? he wondered just before the blackness enveloped him. The wine slipped to him by a conspirator, the small black spider crawling out of his stained sleeve, or the prayers of his enemies echoing across the City.

    Twitter: @acmarkz

  5. “It’s…. it’s at the top… of the stairs…”

    That’s what the dying girl had said.

    That was a week ago.

    Choral rehearsal. Voices rise in the cathedral, singing as one.

    I’m doing my best impression of a statue, back pressed to the wall. Our Lady of the Blue Windbreaker with Investigator’s Badge.

    I move around when backs are turned. My goal: A wooden door across the transept from here. Here’s my chance to sneak in, avoid questions.

    I’m across, and in. Clearly people used to be much smaller. I turn my shoulders and just miss banging my head. I expect the door to let out a proper old-door creak, but, nothing. Well-oiled. This door gets used.

    Those ancient people had small feet, too. I shuffle up the spiral steps, stubbing my sneaker toes as I go. Around and around.

    “It’s at the top of the stairs…”

    Top of the stairs. I’m getting dizzy. Whose idea were these tiny steps? Was there a stone shortage that year? This is a claustrophobic, stone tube.

    I reach the top and squeeze through a square opening. I can already see there’s nothing up here. I think I expected a room fit for a damsel in distress. You know, tapestries and a fainting couch.

    That makes no sense, since this isn’t a tower. All we got here is, a close-up view of the dome and access to a catwalk.

    “…top of the stairs…”

    What else did she say? She said one other thing before she died. Something about the steps.

    “Seventy-nine steps…”

    Seventy-nine steps. Seventy-nine.

    Wait.

    All my life, I have counted steps – every step on every staircase. It’s automatic, now. I don’t even notice it, and then I reach the top and my brain says to me, “Thirteen.” Or, “Twenty-seven.”

    But this time, I clearly heard my brain say, “Eighty.”

    Not seventy-nine.

    I spin around and look down. Now what?

    “Top of the stairs…”

    I drop down and feel along the edge of the topmost step. The stone looks different, lighter and smoother. I press, and it moves… a slide-out compartment, a blood-stained knife wrapped in a dirty rag.

    Now, Father Baird. Here it is, you bastard. Your murder weapon. You’re mine, now.

    I stuff the knife and rag in my jacket and scramble back down the stairs, then run down the aisle and out into the sun.

    395 words (whew!)
    @betsystreeter

    • You got me at “Our Lady of the Blue Windbreaker with Investigator’s Badge.” LOVE IT!!!! You gave me so much just in bringing this phrase! I can see this short as being part of an entire Nancy Drew-esque series!! And love the hiding place!! *happy dancing*

  6. Once upon a time, this place had been a castle. Or a fort. Something medieval and foreboding. Now a hazard of crumbling masonry overgrown with ivy and lichen, it inspired little more than a sense of time’s hold on us. Nothing—and no one—lasted forever.

    A woman lay in a broken sprawl at the bottom of what had once been a tower, the walls climbing high around her. I photographed the details. Bruising and scrapes on the side of her face she hadn’t landed on. She’d lost her shoes on impact. A metal spear pierced her from back to front. Along the shaft of the spear I noted two clean spots. As though someone had held the spear through the ages, protecting it from weathering.

    “Got a time of death on the vic?”

    “She’s in full rigor,” I said. “We’re within six to twelve hours. Doc will temp the liver at the lab for a more precise time.”

    “There’s a statue at the entrance to the grounds.”

    “And he’s missing his spear?”

    “She.”

    “Oh.” I glanced up. The detective stuffed his hands in his pockets and studied the square of sky framed above us. I focused my camera lens once more. “Any chance she’s more than she seems?”

    He blew out a breath. “Oh, yeah. She’s definitely moved, and recently.”

    Damn. I hated the magical cases. Shit always got weird.

    “What are you thinking?” I snapped a picture of a slender snake tattooed around the dead woman’s wrist. “Enchantment, curse, possession—”

    “Enchantment.”

    “Guardian of the Gate?” I clucked my tongue. “An oldie but goodie. Don’t see that one too much these days.”

    “Someone doesn’t want trespassers here.”

    His precise tone caught my attention. I glanced around us but didn’t spot anyone out of uniform or identifying jacket.

    “There are over twenty of us—trespassing,” I said. “Right this very moment.”

    “I know,” he said. “So does she.”

    A heavy clang sounded as the spear was yanked from the body. I rolled away with a yelp of surprise, scrambling to my feet. A Medusa statue stood ten feet away. Around us, people screamed and shouted.

    “If you kill us,” I told her—and I held no doubts she could easily kill us all—”They will destroy this place.”

    She rammed the spear through the detective’s head. There’s no reasoning with enchanted metal.

    I’d have to rely on bullets then.

    @caramichaels | 400 words

    • My favorite! I really loved this piece, I could get a real sense of the setting and I really wanted to know more! It definitely holds mystery to it, even though its not necessarily a ‘statue with a spear, in a courtyard’ sort. ❤

  7. And Then There Were Nuns

    Dame Agata’s isle rose from the mist before us. My friend Sherwood Homes stood looking over the rail, his eyes half-lidded as we waited to arrive. With ghostly mien, the dock slowly revealed its moldy muck-up of an existence. Sherwood popped another disgusting lollipop into his mouth as Detective Cadfell tied the boat up.

    Sherwood sniffed, shifted his lollipop about then prissily stepped over the gunwale and nearly put his foot through the rotten boards of the pier. “Brother, Cadfell! Whatever were you thinking to allow a murder to occur in such a godforsaken place as Ten Little Indies Island?”

    Cadfell carefully placed the bit of moss he was inspecting back down. “Well, now, Mr. Homes. There’s a nice bit of herbaceous life running a-monk on this little soaked piece of real estate.”
    Sherwood snorted derisively. “What was the weapon used to commit the heinous act?”

    “Seems a paring knife was involved, sir.” Cadfell wiped the green stains from his hands to his pant legs.

    “Ah, well! Then we know the butler did it! He is, after all, in charge of the cutlery!”

    I couldn’t help my amazement at my friend’s deductive powers. “Really, Homes!”

    “It’s quite middle-school, my dear Dr. Matson.”

    Cadfell shook his head. “Not so, me cunning friend; the so’thwesterner, Mr. Hellerman the butler, was the victim.”

    Sherwood pouted. “That is really most unfortunate.”

    “Aye. Well, rather, I should say he was the first victim.”

    Sherwood’s eyes lit with infernal delight. “More than one, is there?”

    “Oh, aye, Mr. Homes. Some nosy ol’ Yopper newsman and his two pussies got kilt over in the ruined courtyard.” I shook my head in consternation. Cadfell noticed and continued. “See ye, they was walking about apparently, and a statue of a valkyrie was pushed off the roof and squished ‘em right flat.”

    I blinked. “So four people are dead?”

    Cadfell looked at me sidelong. “If ye count Siamese kitties as people.” I could see him linking me in his mind with crazy cat ladies. “There be three people dead. A Mr. Katencastle is sitting cold as a stone downstairs in the wine cellar, a purloined glass at ‘is elbow.”

    A voice cracked behind us with the sharpness of a ruler. “Dame Agata slaughtered them. She confessed then gave the isle to our order. We will take charge now.” Nuns encircled us. I could not doubt their word, and yet….

    399 words (sans title) © 2013 Beth Peterson
    @PotterBeth
    NOTE: A Yopper is someone from or native to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

  8. Jonah had wanted to go to the church. It could be that confession was what he needed. That still didn’t stop him from being nervous. He had thought he could get away from the group. That he could live a normal life. They had made sure he knew that there was no way out. That he was stuck with them and he would have to do anything that the notes said.

    Oh god. The notes. They had covered the windshield of his car like a waterfall of traffic tickets. There were no words but there were plenty of drawn eyeballs. Different shapes and sizes.

    Jonah pulled the tie loose from his neck and glanced around before stepping out into the church court yard. He wished there was a way to get some relief but until they said so, he was stuck like a mouse in a trap. Only the mouse got a break by way of death. They liked to play with him too much.

    He pulled the kerchief out of his pocket to wipe at his brow. Something smacked him on the back of the head, a pebble. Something that landed with a thunk and he looked up in time to see the statuary of the man falling down towards him.

    There was a short, bloodcurdling scream that was cut off in the middle. The clergy came to investigate and found poor Jonah squashed under the figure that must have worked loose of the moorings. It was unfortunate that the spear in the stone hands had gone through Jonah’s throat.

    They were so busy trying to figure out what they would do that they didn’t see the small fluttering bodies lift off from the roof of the chapel, sending small prisms of rainbow into the air as the sunlight hit them and the high pitched laughter that could chill the blood.

    313 words
    @solimond

  9. Hey, Rebekah! I’m writing one now. I just got the kids in bed… I know it will be late, but I wanted to join in anyway. 9p Eastern is just too early for me. I don’t know why you picked that time or if it’s changeable, but if you could give me another hour or two I might be able to participate more often. Just a thought. 🙂 Thanks!

  10. Light flickered from the torch held in my shaking hand, over the tabby walls, their shell fragments glimmering speckles of color. Sobbing, convulsing, I clutch at the piece of chalk as it snaps in my fingers. Taking a fragment, I smear the white on the wooden floor with my sweaty fingers, finishing the circle. A thud in the distance alerts me, and I gulp on a sob, snot dripping down my face. Wiping it from my lips, I stand inside the chalk circle, holding clearly in my mind the blank eyes of my mother and the blood of my sister, how the walls had been bathed in it! My own hands shaking her shoulders, saw my own horror as her head lolled unnaturally.
    I inhale sharply. They are coming.
    I am outnumbered and I will die.
    But I can’t let them take this lighthouse.
    I won’t.
    I muttered the words my father had taught me. Words never to be uttered. Words of death. He told me of the generals who prayed them into the bows of their ships, into the sails and into the cannons. Their enemy always defeated, their life forfeit.
    I sank to my knees, chalk dust ground into my skin as the wood rose to meet my joints, the palm of my hands pushing against the floor. Breathing heavy, sweat crowning my forehead, I discern a spear, its stony head inches from my pupils.
    Pushing off my fingers weakly, I gape into the blank eyes of a stone angel, “please,” I beg as I hear wood splinter. The stone angel swung the spear around to confront my chest, the tip poking my skin through my thin tunic.
    “Please,” I closed my eyes.
    THUNK.
    Bright red spurted, mixing with the chalk; dripping from the end of the blade behind me. Reeling from the shock, I open my eyes, spine arching backward. Stone angels flew about the top of the lighthouse, each carrying an identical stone spear. I groaned aloud as the spear slid backwards through me, dropping me on the bloody chalk circle. The angels swooping down towards the wooden staircase, I noticed the light strobe over their stone wings, glinting off the stone spearheads. Shrieks erupted from below as my eyes lost focus.
    I grinned.
    380 words

  11. Irenya had climbed to the summit of 139 Cathedrals all over Europe. She hadn’t planned to climb that day, but the isolated town of Moffat surprised her by having a rather impressive dome-capped basilica, and she couldn’t resist.
    The stauary impressed her the most. The angels were all idealized humans with wings, warrior-like beauties each holding a spear and shield.
    She began with the standard straight stairs, then a balcony. The next set of stairs were spiral, the kind that were encased in a tower leaving the climber disoriented as to direction and duration. She entered it bravely. She paused to examine each angel, noticing subtle details in each. There seemed to be two kinds, though she had no words to describe the actual difference. She simply had the impression that some represented good, and some evil.
    Just like having one on each shoulder.
    The next turn, the alcove did not hold an angel at all. She took advantage of the spot to rest a minute, her legs feeling the burn of the climb.
    There was a clattering sound above her. Curious, she continued climbing.
    A spear slid down, coming to a halt mere inches from her feet. “Hello?” she called, hoping she’d find a monk or perhaps another tourist. She picked up the spear, then noticed it had something gooey on the end.
    Red and gooey.
    Irena’s scream stuck in her throat. Was this a joke? Was someone amused by teasing the random lone tourist? Or was someone actually hurt…perhaps some teenager who’d thought it would be funny to take a spear from a statue and play war with his friends?
    “Who’s there?” she called as she climbed higher. The next angel was covering its face, weeping. “Are you all right?”
    A hand dangled down the steps, limp. Attached to the hand was the body of a man, face down, a gaping hole between his wings.
    Wings?
    Irenya took a step back, frozen with indecision. Carefully, she reached out to feel for a pulse at the angel’s neck.
    There was a pulse, and at her touch, the wings beat weakly. His eyes fluttered open, and he struggled to turn his head to see her. He gasped in a breath of air, then let it out with a shout.
    “RUN!”

    @USNessie

  12. She hated the spear. It haunted her dreams more than any other weapon in her long, dragon years. Of course she’d seen spears before, many of them, all razor sharp, all furious, all aimed directly at her heart—and all impotent.

    This spear was different.

    In the middle of the night she’d wake in terror from the memory of it alone, clawing at the cave walls, shrieking until the mountain itself trembled in flame and smoke.

    When she heard a warrior princess had woken the spear from its centuries-long sleep, at first she nearly went mad. The princess already wore more than one chain of dragon teeth belted around her waist. How well did the princess know the mountain? How long could she hide in safety from this terrible soldier?

    Hiding, however, chafed worse than her fears, and soon curiosity and anger drew her out of her lair. By day she masked her presence in clouds; by night her great wings split the air silently as she hovered in darkness only feet from the princess and her sleeping brigade. She did not fear the haughty princess, no; it was the spear she came to see.

    Awake, it watched her too. She could feel it, sense its pleasure at the thought of plunging itself into her breast, her liquid fire running helplessly down its iron length.

    On the eighth night, she could stand it no longer. Discarding both wisdom and fear, she reached into the slumbering darkness and plucked up the princess. She carried the girl gently, almost, to the hallowed ruins where the spear had been wrenched from its rest, to where the spear must be returned. In flight the spear rumbled its rage, writhing in the warrior’s grasp, but the dragon held her prisoner too tightly for either of them to do her real harm.

    She drove the spear mercilessly and unhesitatingly through the warrior, through the damp, grassy ground, through the ages of loneliness and despair, through memory and smoke and death and life itself.

    Pity, she thought, launching back into the still night air, back to her isolated cave in the far-off mountain filled with glittering lifeless jewels and days and nights and years of solitude. The spear slept now beside the warrior princess, but for a while there, for a brief moment, the awakeness had felt—

    Ah, well.

    Pity.

    393 ineligible words
    @postupak

    • I had 400, then edited, which turned to 437 which I then edited again to 380. It was intense. LOL
      also, love the dragon!!!

  13. The poison took time to increase in potency to the point where it would kill. That made it untraceable. It was placed in the wine and left to age. It would opened tonight.

    They were drinking out of custom goblets. The glass cup was ensconced within intricate iron filigree. Each was unique: a dragon, a fox, a ram, a bull, a stag, a snake, and an eagle.

    The goblets were left alone in the kitchen, full and awaiting service, for too long. It needed only a moment to place the poison. The deed was done.

    The girl, unknowing, carried the tray into the dining room, placed it on the buffet, curtsied, and withdrew. The conversation stopped as each eyed the goblets with knowing looks.

    “Splendid!” Gordon stood and waved his arms toward the drinks, “Grab a goblet and we shall discuss business particulars upstairs.”

    His six guests filed over and picked one seemingly at random.

    “Look here!” exclaimed Tidus, “I do believe this is a bull! Beautiful work.”

    The rest raised their goblets to see the animal on their own. Michael said in disgust, “I’ll not have a stag! Give me the bull!” And he yanked the goblet out of Tidus’ hand and replaced it with the stag.

    Marcus laughed, “I don’t know how I ended up with the snake, but that seems more befitting your character, Caius.” He held it out with a quirk of his eyebrow.

    Caius smirked, inclined his head, and exchanged his own ram.

    “And if there is anyone quite so cunning as a fox it’s Bartholomew. This cup was made for you.” Peter raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips as he waited to see whether Bartholomew would take it.

    Bartholomew squinted his eyes at Peter for a moment before reaching for the fox. He held it up and examined it before handing his own dragon to Peter.

    “Oh my!” Peter continued, “And this is a dragon! Surely this belongs to the master of the house!” He turned toward Gordon and smiled.

    Gordon eyed his own eagle for a moment before relinquishing it with a small smile and a nod of his head. “Are we all thus arranged?” He didn’t wait for a reply, “To my partners in crime, may we grow stronger together.” They each raised their goblet and drank.

    As they all ascended the spiral staircase, Michael fell down dead.

    398 Words
    @lissajean7
    I had to cut a lot of the fun back and forth of the cups to fit the word count…I hope it still comes across. Ah well, I wrote something! 🙂

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