Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 35

WELCOME to another merry round of Flash! Friday! A spitfire week ahead, I can feel it, and I don’t just say that because of Virginia’s brutal August heat (and when I say brutal, I’m really not complaining, having just returned from a few days at our gorgeous, warm, shark-free beach [not to mention I’ve no right to complain, knowing what real heat is (having grown up on the sweaty equator without “air con” {in the U.S. they say “a/c” — does it sound cooler that way??}]). Instead, it’s that magical mugginess of late summer, where people on Facebook start terrifying you with Christmas Shopping countdowns, and your local NaNoWriMo ML begins eyeing you, and you stop thinking of apples and popsicles and find pumpkins creeping into your dreams. (That’s not just me, is it?) 

A spitfire week behind us, too; what fun it was spending Tuesday’s #Spotlight with Sydney Scrogham; congrats again to Emily who won a signed copy of Sydney’s brand new novel, Chase. And so many tornadic adventures on Wednesday, as you tore the world to pieces (with a special shout out to those of you who dared put it back together). The good stories just don’t stop, and I’m already bouncing around in my dragonseat to see who will post the first tale of awesomeness today. 


DC2Howdy and welcome back Dragon Team Six, captains Steph Ellis & Josh Bertetta. As Steph adores stories with hints of darkness and mystery, and Josh loves game-changing twists, I’m thinking today’s prompt novel is perfectly suited for this team. Read more about them at their judge pages, linked above.     


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  

* Today’s required word count:  240-260 words  (240 min – 260 max words, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (this week 240 – 260 words, excluding title/byline), the two story elements you based your story on, and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday.

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.


This week’s novel inspiration: Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle’s tale starring celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes, who uses his (arrogant) genius to solve murders against a backdrop of a legendary, terrifying hellhound.

Story elements (base your story on any TWO of these elements; be sure to tell us which two you chose. Reminder: please do not use copyrighted characters). 

* Conflict: man vs man
Character (choose one): arrogant detective, retired doctor, a lord under a family curse
Theme(s) (choose one): cunning, guilt, superstition
Setting: isolated country manor

OPTIONAL PHOTO PROMPT (for inspiration only; it is NOT REQUIRED for your story):

Lyme Park House & Estate. CC2.0 photo by Purpura Mare Asinus.

Lyme Park House & Estate. CC2.0 photo by Purpura Mare Asinus.

156 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 35

  1. @OpheliaLeong
    Word count: 257
    Setting (isolated country manor)/Theme (superstition)

    All For The Inheritance

    The wind howled a lonely lament all through the night. Archibald hugged his cloak closer and tried to settle himself more comfortably on the narrow cot. Cold air seeped in through the ill-fitting windows like sludge and Archie hoped the night would be over soon.
    The isolated manor had stood empty for many years. As soon as Archie had stepped inside that afternoon, the dust and dirt that covered everything like a shroud had been unsettled, spiraling in the dwindling sunlight. Slowly, Archie had walked through empty halls covered with patterns of mold until he had found a room with a cot.
    A few days before, his father, superstitious to a fault, had promised him that if he made it through the night in an abandoned country manor, the family inheritance would go to him and not his brother Wesley. Staying alive in a place that even time had forgotten was supposed to show his father that he was meant to be heir and could live through hardships.
    The darkness was stifling, swallowing Archie whole. There was no moonlight and Archie, unused to packing, had only brought a few candles. The last one had already melted down and Archie felt even more alone. Suddenly, he heard creaking from beyond the door. A sorrowful creaking, like the wheezing of a dying man. Archie gripped his cloak so tightly it felt as though the skin over his knuckles would split. The doorknob turned, the sound ominously loud in Archie’s ears and he heard a familiar voice.
    “Hello, brother dear.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 258
    Story Elements: Theme (guilt)/Setting (isolated country manor)


    Ellie can’t hear the words where she is.

    “I’m sorry for your loss.” The deputy slides his pen into his vest pocket.

    The words ring too loud across a silent foyer, resounding off cold stone walls and marble flooring that have guarded the entrance for a hundred years.

    I’m numb; a hive of bees buzzes through my red fingertips.

    “Hey, buddy, you got someone to stay with you?” The deputy’s nervous glance traces the dark corners of the entryway.

    “Ellie’s with me.”

    The deputy raises an eyebrow. I can read his silence. Okay, nut job.

    Ellie would have begged him to stay. Tea? She’d have pulled her favorite teapot from the shelf in the ancient kitchen.

    “You’re welcome to go.”

    Ellie would have blistered my ears for that one. Is that any way to treat a guest, John?

    The door booms shut behind the deputy. I sink onto the marble floor, my crimson-stained fingers smoothing cool stone.

    I’ve seen marble tiling the grand castles of Florence and Rome. It’s served as pathways for the rich and royal, gateways for merchants and dignitaries, decor for kings and princes.

    The marble of this house is imperfect, a scratched monument of echoing history. I’ve etched it—my own rash actions opening a new wound with every strike. The scars litter the floor, healed and white, blood long forgotten.

    Raw, gaping scars redden my vision. Now the marble serves as a headstone.

    I raise my fingers to my lips and blow a kiss. “I’m sorry, Ellie,” I whisper.


  3. Entailed
    259 Words
    Setting and Character

    When the fifteenth Lord Fretwell of Muddlebury Hall explored his new inheritance, he felt an immediate sense of doom.

    Perhaps it was the murky swamp on all sides of the house, and the fetid ooze that bubbled occasionally, brownish green and pungent. Arriving last night, he’d glimpsed burning yellow will-o’-the- wisps dancing over the scum.

    Perhaps it was the ruins of the monastery of Muddle, which had been burned by Cromwell. He had massacred all the monks, and the crop of stones under which they were buried served as a depressing garden of marble squares. There were no shrubberies.

    “Nothing wilt grow in the soil herebouts,” said Jesper, the elderly family retainer. “Nothing can live in in yon swamp neither.”

    “Why ever did they build here?” Lord Fretwell asked.

    “Them monks as built here to mortify their flesh,” Jesper replied. “For we sinful folk tis a great place for drink. The late Lord Fretwell liked his whisky.”

    “I hear it was the death of him. Didn’t he wander off into the swamp, never to be seen again?”

    “Never found so much as a bone, your lordship. Not so much as a moldering bit of leg. Or even a rotting toe. . .”

    “Yes I see,” interrupted Lord Fretwell. “Just vanished, did he?”

    “The swamp ate him, so the magistrate decided,” said Jesper, pointing at the barren landscape on every side.

    “Ah well. So all this is mine?”

    “This be all yours, Master. Would you be having some whisky now?”

    “Yes. Whisky. Bring me the bottle.”


  4. Title: A Blood Price
    Story Elements: Character (lord with a family curse) Theme (guilt)
    Word Count: 260
    Blog: https://marshalhopalop.wordpress.com/

    I never thought I’d be back here, the London Blackmoore family manor, the old slaughtering grounds. Every breath I take is a shiver.

    “The Blackmoore fortune came from insurance,” I said to the scruffy man standing amongst the dusty relics. “And ‘fraud’ is just a word for us.”

    Investigator Mason nodded, unconvinced. His cigarette ash fell onto a priceless Bengal tiger rug.

    “Where are the rest of the Blackmoores?” Mason asked.

    “At rest,” I said. I had moved past saying that with any sorrow. Now, that feeling lives inside me, woven in my being like oriental silk. “I’m the only one left.” My echoes in the yawning, dark chamber agree.

    “Do you know why I’m here, Lord Blackmoore?” Mason’s eyes were cold and coal-like.

    “To make your fortune,” I said. “By figuring out how we made ours. You don’t believe me.”

    “Whenever a Blackmoore dies the insurance money rolls in,” Mason sneered. “Awful lucky. Her Majesty’s Treasury wants answers about all that.”

    “It’s anything but lucky,” I said.

    Mason pulls the cover off a huge mirror. Dust stampedes into the air but I can still see Them. Their bloody horns and wicked scythe smiles, pointed at me. Then They see my guest and somehow, horrifyingly, Their smiles grow wider.

    Our fortune wasn’t fraud. It was simple coping. It was making life with a cursed man in the family worth living for whatever time could be held on to.

    Now, I doubt this investor has much time left himself. They’ll do to him what they did to all the other Blackmoores.


  5. @KarenGr4y
    Character: arrogant detective & Theme: cunning
    Words: 260

    Title: “Sweet Ginny”

    “Yes, yes. And this hound—”

    “Wolf, inspector. Of that I have no doubt,” the master cut in provoking a groaning expression on the exasperated inspector’s face.

    “Quite… wolf then. It stalked you home did it?”

    “Aye, it did that, inspector. With a hungry look in it’s eyes.”

    “Hungry you say?”

    “As starving and blood-thirsty a look as I ever did see, inspector.”


    The long cloaked inspector marched around the room as though he owned it.

    “It took my sweet Ginny!”

    Ate her to be precise, ground her little body down and left only little pieces on the master’s doorstep.

    “Took her you say?”

    “Aye, inspector. She’s dead; I know it in my heart. Poor sweet Ginny.”

    There was nothing sweet about her.

    “I have gone over the scene with a fine-tooth comb, I assure you and I have found no such evidence to suggest that this girl—”

    “Ginny, inspector.”

    “Quite. I have found no evidence of foul play. Perhaps she has seen sense to move on to pastures new so to speak?”

    “My Ginny would never leave me!” the master cried aghast.


    “I am sorry, sir. But you will just have to come to terms with the fact that the sweet woman whom you claim to love has left you.”

    The inspector said his goodbyes and left the master to collapse in tears next to my bed.

    “Oh Horus!” he wept, “My sweet Ginny is gone!”

    I lick his hand. Yes, yes she is.

    I must admit; though her nature was cruel, she sure tasted sweet.


  6. DOG
    258 Words
    Conflict, character, theme and setting
    #flashdogs (especially black ones)

    I hear them telling him I am not real. I am a reflection of the guilt he feels.
    I am in his head, they say. Nothing to be afraid of.
    As if, somehow being one excludes the other.
    Ask yourself, what comfort should it bring, that I am “only” in his head?
    Where else would dear Winnie expect find me?
    Try another spoonful, they urge. His eyes meet mine and I can feel his appetite hardening like old glue.
    Don’t want it. Take it away. Take it all bloody away.
    I love it when he huffs.
    We like to be alone together. It gives us time to think.
    And the clock ticks. Marking time like dripping eaves.
    Perhaps his Lordship would like a little air? The garden is nice and the sun is –
    He looks from the maid to me and from me to the maid.
    All I have to do is raise one shaggy eyebrow.
    No I do not want some air. I do not care for the sun. It brings me out in blotches.
    That’s a good fellow. You sit here with me, and listen to the clock.
    Just the way we like it.
    What have you ever done? I’ve heard it before.
    What have you ever achieved? Here we go again. I love this bit.
    I wrested half the world from the clutches of tyranny, for God’s sake.
    And yet, here you are.
    In the shaded parlour.
    Faithful black dog by your side.
    I’ll never leave him. I love him too much for that.


    • Dragonlady patchy thing – Did you know that every time you get a typo, your Guardian Flower Fairy loses a tentacle?
      “Try another spoonful. They urge” should have been “Try another spoonful, they urge.”
      Apologies, as usual. And thanks


      • Repaired. Though for the record, in this part of the kingdom fairies generally lose tentacles thanks to our frequent mandatory snack sessions.


    • The black dog of depression – wonderful take! I had thought about having my surgeon deal with the brain’s Area 25 and curing depression but decided against since you’d already handled it so deftly here. Great job! 🙂


    • See these two lines… They make the whole thing for me.
      “That’s a good fellow. You sit here with me, and listen to the clock.”
      “I’ll never leave him. I love him too much for that.”
      I do love my black dogs 🙂


  7. A Tale of Two Sisters

    (246 words) isolated manor/ superstition

    Flora siphoned more than her share of blood in the womb. She bounced and bawled her way into the cold and secluded Halls of Lincoln minutes before her sister’s still and silent entrance. When Liz arrived, blue settled on the room, until the matron emblazoned her scrawny flesh with hand-shaped red, and her lungs fought back like tiny fists.

    Their mother held her breath too. Lady Charlotte, riddled with the disease of superstition, believed in the hand-me-down stories whispered through generations. Suspicious of her sickly child, who had not even cried at the Christening, Lady Charlotte hid Liz and her weak, ungodly spirit away in the isolation of the Halls.

    Stunted by her elder sister’s light, Liz was shadow in the nursery, bystander to all affections and understudy to achievement. She watched as her sister was whisked off in carriages to the nearest grand houses and their lively company. She remained, a ghost haunting the cold Halls before she had been given the chance to live in them.
    At night, Liz would fill with wonder at the merry tales of dance and bold young gentlemen Flora would creep to her room to tell her.
    It was not long before Flora found herself a husband. Liz knew her time had passed before it had begun, so she settled into her roles of confidante and bridesmaid, aunt, then widow’s companion.

    When Flora died; Liz’s purpose ceased; so she followed, cord around her scrawny neck.


  8. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 240
    Story Elements: Character (retired doctor)/Theme (guilt)


    In the old days, he’d delivered hundreds of keynote speeches at medical conventions across the world. His picture had appeared in prestigious journals and research papers. Respect had tinged their voices when they’d spoken of him.

    He raised his hands to the mirror, his gaze tracing over the lined palms that had creased beneath latex gloves through thousands of surgeries. The thin fingers had been supple once, a lifetime ago. They’d gripped the knife with ease, had tied off veins and thread with the skill of a seamstress. The nurses had jumped at his commands, the surgeons had sought out his advice.

    One slip—that was all it had taken. One millimeter too far to the right.

    The flatline on the monitors still haunted him in his dreams. He’d wake with the dreadful, shrill tone ringing in his ears, sweat pouring from his forehead, running in rivulets down his neck.

    He pulled in oxygen, filling his flagging lungs to their capacity. Determination ridged his jaw. He pulled a sterile wipe from the box, and, with the ease of long practice, he swiped over the entrance site once, twice, three times. It was silly, he knew, to clean house when he planned to move permanently, but long habit forced his hand.

    The knife waited on the edge of the sink. His fingers curled around it, a grip as familiar to him as breathing.

    This time, he didn’t miss even by a millimeter.


  9. The English Detective
    258 Words
    Story Elements Character: arrogant detective, Setting: isolated country manor

    The Scottish mores were not to be crossed lightly, but Lord Henry stood a loan and it was my job to collect. Traveling for business was nothing new to me, and his place looked like most of the others: one of those sure-lock homes.

    Still he had borrowed money to pay for its up keep, (it being one of those keeps that was tall rather than broad), and it was my job to collect.

    Imagine my surprise when I found that the north tower faced east, the east tower faced south and the south tower faced nothing in particular… it was a nomads land.

    As I kept my approach to the keep, I saw two auspicious men, carrying a large lens, but it turned out to be an optical delusion.

    You could have knocked me over with a fender, and they did. Unfortunately it was still attached to the car. I awoke in their guest room, and learned I’d been declared the defenderer of the realm.

    I was about to defenestrate my prowess, when someone screamed and the game was a foot. We gathered in the kitchen, only to find the cook dead with an ax buried in his mid-section.

    It seemed someone had swung at the cook, and he had ducked just in time. There was no time to waist (he was rather thin). I searched the room and smiled. I knew who had committed this murder most fowl…

    It wasn’t Henry’s mother or father, but rather his grammar, after all… he axed for it.


  10. The Real Inspector Hound
    Setting: manor and character: detective
    246 barks

    Wheels on gravel – Master’s home early! I take my head off my paws and run outside. Walk? Walk? I get a ball and sit by the car with it, tail beating the ground, but Master won’t play. He’s looking at the car sitting in his car’s place. Then he takes the ringerbox out of his pocket, but puts it away again without speaking to it.

    Jones comes out and his face is like he’s been caught eating someone else’s dinner. ‘Where is she?’ says Master. Jones puts his hands up and backs away as if Master will jump at him. The little suns on his coat sparkle in the light. Master pushes past and strides upstairs. I follow, my feet sinking into the patterned grass.

    Master opens doors and bangs them shut again, then stops and turns to me. ‘You’ll help, won’t you?’ He picks up Mistress’s scarf and puts it under my nose. ‘Find her!’

    I don’t want to find Mistress. She shuts me outside. But Master says ‘Find her!’ again in his playing voice. She swims into my head and the scent pulls me like a lead, through the garden, through the park. Master runs beside me all the way, but when we reach the folly he stops. ‘Sit, Rover.’

    I watch Master from the path as he goes in. I hear two bangs and run to get the birds, but Master closes the door behind him, holds up a hand and says ‘Stay.’


  11. @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 260
    Story Elements: Retired Doctor; Man vs. Man
    Title: “Final Duty”

    Doyle’s collar was damp. His eyes shifted briefly to the clock on the table.


    The dull sensation had already begun in his left foot. Another fifteen minutes and it would all be over.

    The door to his room crashed open.

    “I came as fast as I could!”

    Doctor Doyle smiled with pained lips. “Thanks, Bill. Quickly. Not long now.”

    “Sarah said you tried to shoot yourself. Missed your heart by inches. Are you alright? You’re sweating like a sauna. Should I turn the air up? Do you need more drugs? Can I fetch a nurse?”

    With great effort, Doyle pulled his hand from under his sheets and took his friend’s hand.

    “No… no… this…” He winced. “This pain is good. While I feel pain I’m… still…” He smiled. “Two things you must do.”

    “Name them!”

    “Envelope in my jacket. Put it on the table.” Bill found Doyle’s jacket on a chair, took the envelope from the inside pocket and laid it on the table.


    “Turn up the morphine.”

    Bill frowned.

    “All the way.”

    “But you’ll overdose. It’ll kill you!”

    Doyle nodded. “Just do it.”

    “I’ll be locked away for murder.”

    “My confession’s in the envelope. You’ll be okay.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    Doyle sighed. “Really, no time. The letter says it all. Just know that if I’m not dead before eight, there’ll be another victim. Possibly one of the nurses here. My longevity experiments, Bill. They failed.”


    “I…” Then Bill noticed his friend’s face relax. Doyle looked at him with unfamiliar, savage eyes.

    Bill hit the IV button.


  12. @Emmaleene1
    Theme: Guilt; Setting: Isolated country manor
    260 words
    Trust or Cheat.
    The car I stole is dwarfed by the shadow of the manor.
    Does he know?
    I haven’t felt this scrutinised since I was in the army. Every muscle clenched solid, I’d stand to attention mentally ticking off, trying not to twitch as they inspected. Beret straight, no neck hairs, smooth shaven, collar straight, lapels perfectly lined up, creases starched sharp, buttons gleaming, trouser seams ironed and pressed so they pointed like arrows, boots spit-polished so shiny you could see your reflection.
    They kept me in check in the army. Everything had to be so precise. That’s the thing I appreciated about military life. There were rules, rigid unbendable rules, not for the sake of it though. Those rules were there for a reason, to keep everyone alive.
    I’ve been breaking rules for a while now. This guy is right not to trust me.
    But if he fixed the engine of the stolen car I’d abandoned and brought it back to his house, surely he can’t suspect it’s stolen. Maybe this is a trap. Would he phone someone to come and arrest me? He did find me on his property, an intruder.
    “So where were you heading?”
    “Nowhere really.”
    “You can say that again,” he chuckled. “With the engine overheating like that you were going nowhere alright.”
    “I know nothing about engines.”
    “But you know about horses.”
    “Sort of.”
    “I need help around here. How do you fancy sticking around? I’ve a position vacant if you are willing to be hired and plenty of room.”
    “Really? Yes.”
    “Welcome to the manor.”


    • An interesting snapshot into the mind of a guilty soldier. It’s a pity the word count wouldn’t allow just a little more anxiety to show. I’d like to know whether it is a long-winded trap or not and I’m sure the soldier would have liked to at the end of this story too.


      • Thanks for reading. I did run out of room word count wise! It’s a continuation of something I wrote before, it felt appropriate to the prompt. It’s not finished so I will keep your comment in mind & expand on the anxiety when I go back to it. Thanks for feedback, really appreciated.


  13. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 259
    Conflict (Man v. man) & Characters (Retired doctor)

    In the Shadow-Room

    Cold. Shadow-room. Cotton-candy smoke. The stranger has a razor-knife twirling in his fingers because Mommy hasn’t told him yet.

    Knives aren’t toys, Love. Stay out of the kitchen.

    Grown-up talk, dull and soothing, not all edges and volume like the kids at school. Cream-pale, a danish sits on a plate – not in the center – to the side and half-eaten.

    “This is Jamie?”

    The stranger’s grip is suffocating. My arm-skin screams, DON’T TOUCH ME.

    “Signs of self-injurious behavior. Good.”

    He pokes my scars. They’re white and red from corners and stairs and pens; the episodes when Daddy says I should “stop, control, breathe.” The stranger lets go.

    “I don’t do cosmetic neuro-surg. anymore. Not since they retired me.”

    More hidden messages I can’t decode. Mommy’s eyes are half-moons and tilted, like in cartoons when it’s dark and there’s a monster next to you.

    “Why’d they retire you?”

    “Morality lags behind science, ma’am. One day you’re Dr. Kevorkian. The next you’re an innovator.”

    STOP TALKING. My ears want to run away to soundlessness as they talk and talk.

    Daddy is using his “I have a pill for you to try” voice. It’s high and unsteady.

    “Will it cure him?”

    “As long as the battery in the stimulator has juice.”

    “How long’ll it take?”

    “To hack his brain? Not long. Three…six hours.”

    The cigarette is eating itself on the man’s lip. He stabs its gray head into the danish, ash falling over golden flakes. He’s looking at Mommy.

    “I can’t do it without both parents’ signatures.”

    Then she’s looking at me.



  14. Conflict: man vs man
    Character: arrogant detective
    260 lords a leaping

    The Case of the Purloined Parakeet

    “Your Lordship, he’s arrived.”

    “Well, dish him up, Petri. Time’s a flying.”

    “Yes, your Lordship.”

    Damn testy Toff, I think. Nothing like his father. Lord Flicker was a real gent. Bertie Flicker, his genetic derivative, is nothing but a fop. Still, I am here to serve.

    The detective is American by birth; a Brit by mistake.. Not a good mix.

    “Sir, he’ll see you now.”

    “About bloody time. By the way, Jeeves, can you fetch me a strong cup of coffee?”

    “Petri, sir.”

    “Petri; Putty; Pussy! Whatever! I need some java.”

    “Yes sir. Momentarily. Please follow me.”

    “To the ends of the earth, Pixie.”

    I show the dick in.

    “Your Lordship, Mr. Surelock Ness.”

    “Ah, Mr. Ness, so pleased you could come. My solicitor, Wickham Cutlet, speaks highly of you. He also mentioned you were related to the legendary Eliot Ness. Is that true?”

    “Yup, Eliot was a distant relative. More distant now that he is passé. How can I be of service?”

    “My beloved parakeet, Piffle, has been purloined. Scotland Yard’s inquiries have proven futile. Piffle has been my closest confidante, sir. The House of Lords needs her. England needs her!

    “A misplaced nattering fowl! Your Lordship, you have been sadly misinformed. I have devoted my life, my skill, to finding mythical creatures. Not puny feathered dinner companions. I’m not your man.”

    “All is lost, then. ” Bertie collapses in his chaise lounge.

    I escort the disagreeable fellow out.

    Perhaps, now, his Lordship will once again rely on my counsel. Piffle was a distraction.

    But such a tasty snack.


  15. The Twilight Tribe
    251 words
    character (family curse) and superstition

    It’s a family curse, the twilight. Many have a dread of that half-light where things are hard to see.  For us, our vision becomes clearer. We can see the shadows the shadows leave. We can see between the worlds. My uncle always carried a flashlight. As for me, I prowl the cafes with smoky eyes. I can see without being seen.

    I come from a rich and eccentric family. My uncle is my only living relative. I was just a child when my parents vanished in the jungles of the Amazon in search of a remedy for our curse. Did they find a shaman to help them?  No trace was ever found. The jungle has many leaves and shadows.

    So I found myself, on the verge of twenty-one with a sizable inheritance, and my family’s curious  legacy.  “You are old enough to know the story, now,” my uncle said. “Your great-grandmother was a gypsy in  Bohemia, a traveling tribe. She trained spotted jungle cats.  Some even said she was one of them.  Your great-grandfather found her beautiful in the half-light. He betrayed her.  The child, your grandmother, had the gift of sight at twilight.  In the old country, we were called vampires. But we are not vampires. We are a different tribe.”

    I could go back to Bohemia, or the Amazon, in search of  my ancestors. I could prowl the cafes when the streetlights come on. Or I could set out north, above the arctic circle.  It is always twilight, there.


  16. The Great Detective

    Arrogant detective/ isolated house
    (257 words)

    I am dead. My shell lies just beyond where the great detective has drawn the perimeter of the search. He’s new fangled. He thinks mathematical equations solve the mysteries of the human condition.
    He says I couldn’t have travelled much further on foot from the secluded, old house he kept me in. Not in my state. The doctor nods. Shows what the great detective knows about the human condition.
    Don’t feel sorry for me, now. Feel sorry for me, then.
    He allowed me to see the sky through a small attic window, if he were being generous. I had meals every second or third day. My toilet was a vase he emptied, when hecouldn’t bear the stench anymore. They say you fall in love with your captor. Bollocks. He revealed his identity. I saw his face once- once, as my captor, anyway.
    The detective’s measuring tape and assumptions about blood spatter have deduced now, my captor buried me, before making off. The doctor nods. They will dig into the shallow unfertile ground deemed important. Meanwhile, the clues will fester and rot. Time and the sun will eat away at the answer.
    The great detective is ignorant of where the truth lies. I wasted strength etching my story, scalpel on skin. Engraving his identity on the page of me.
    I call to the great detective. Scream. In. His Ear. But he is deaf to my voice.
    The doctor nods for he is happy to keep the great detective in the dark.




  17. @tim_kimber
    260 words
    Prompts: Conflict, arrogant detective, lord under curse, guilt, isolated country manor.

    The Lucan Widower

    When I arrived at the station, Deputy Bosworth handed me a letter, scrawled in blotches from a blunted quill, as though roughly plucked from some hapless pheasant and dunked hastily in ink.

    Its contents read thusly:

    Inspector Harding,

    Damn your insolent contumely. I’ll have satisfaction, sir; and from you, no less. Call on me by noon, lest I take the matter into my own hands.

    Fair warning,
    Lord Lucan

    “What is his grievance?” I queried, knowing full well.

    Through barely obfuscated contempt, Bosworth ejaculated: “Though no aspersions have been cast, he maintains his innocence regarding Lady Lucan’s regrettable suicide, and is belligerent to any fellow he encounters. He insists the constabulary considers him guilty and whispers scandal to the townsfolk.”

    I had yet to remove my overcoat; nor would I, as I turned and left for Lucan Manor.

    After a lengthy drive, I arrived at the antiquated country home to find the tempestuous incumbent in a state of mad, drunken befuddlement, belching rebukes at a gaggle of geese.

    The hills engulfed his clamour with silence. He was alone.

    Lucan noticed me: “Harding! You filth-dribbling scoundrel! I know what you’re up to. Lies and skullduggery!” Spit speckled his beard like dew.

    “You’re right Lucan – rumours were spread.” My eyes began to well. “But lies aside, you are culpable.”

    An obstinate tear escaped me. “You drove her to it, Lucan… My pretty chicken.”

    “I knew it,” he growled.

    I drew my truncheon, felt its weight. “’Lord Lucan… vanished.’ – whatever will people think?”

    I tried, but failed, to smile. “A guilty conscience, perhaps.”


  18. @betsystreeter
    256 words
    Character: “Retired” doctor
    Theme: Guilt/Equivocation


    Before his surgeries Doctor Simon Rausch would take a moment, surgical saw in hand, together with his patient at the threshold of no return.

    A skull is never the same after it has been cut open.

    He was not only splitting bone; he was cleaving a life in two. There would be before, and there would be after. After was meant to be better. The family prayed for it. Doctor Rausch prayed, too. He viewed this moment with reverence.

    In the successful cases the patient rose from the gurney a quieted version of his or her former self. No longer besieged. Seizures stilled, torment abated. That was the intention. Always.

    Doctor Rausch told himself he restored his patients’ personhood. The storm parted, and behind it there were eyes and a heart. Hands to hold, no longer in restraints.

    Now Doctor Rausch hears the point of no return, coming for him.

    Stitches running above the right eye like a seam in a leather football.

    She said that cutting out the wolf-brain would do nothing. Her life was for hunting. No saw could change that.

    She screamed for painkillers in the recovery room. Then she was gone, claw marks on the walls.

    Doctor Rausch crouched on his office floor clutching the scrawled note in his hands – his body would be evidence, an inanimate object unable to speak for itself. He must tell the story in a still-life like a Caravaggio painting.

    Outside the window a beautiful howl, like a soprano’s at the tragic climax of an aria.


    • Fantastic twist! I was beginning to think we had drawn from the same imagination well but then you pulled out the fantasy making it fabulous. 🙂


  19. Title: Once-Good
    Words: 258
    Elements: Character (retired doctor), Setting (isolated country manor), Theme (guilt)

    He felt the familiar clawing of hunger on his insides, like a rapid animal scraping the walls of its cage. Retirement had not been as kind as the once-good doctor had expected. John expected the golden sun to warm his skin and the cool breeze to kiss his cheek as he sipped fine teas in the summer. Instead, the rains came. The violent wind battered his haggard face and the rain beat down on his skin like he was God’s timpani.

    Alone, John sat on a crooked wooden stool and watched the rain water drip through his roof. There was no point in putting a bucket underneath, the floor was already rotted. He averted his gaze to the window where it was too cloudy from the storm to see out onto the rolling country. He let his thoughts wonder and his mind flipped through thoughts of his former patients.

    Then the familiar scarred, distorted face of a man flashed across his eyelids and John gasped in terror. He knew the face, having seen it in his nightmares every night since the knife slipped from his hand on the operating table. He’d left his patient disfigured.

    His heart was racing and he stood up looking around. The rain was still dripping through his roof and he walked closer to the window and squinted to see through the gray. In the shadowy mist he saw the outline of a man and knew the devil himself was finally coming for him.

    John began to cry. “May God forgive me,” he whispered.


    • “The violent wind battered his haggard face and the rain beat down on his skin like he was God’s timpani.” So much poetry in this line! Poor John. I had hoped better for him in retirement 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Clue-Less

    “I have solved the mystery!” Murdock Condo proclaimed to no-one in particular.
    Dr. Hudson rolled her eyes, “Which mystery have you solved now Mr. Condo?”
    “The ghastly murder of Mrs. Jenkins of course!”
    This was news to Mrs. Jenkins, who stopped watching her gameshows long enough to proclaim, “I was murdered?”
    Murdock nodded furiously, “Indeed you were, and I am the only one with the intellect to solve this impossible case.”

    Dr. Hudson made a note in her notepad and took a deep breath before continuing, “How was she murdered?”
    “She was bludgeoned to death.”
    “How terrible. Why would anyone do such a thing?”
    “Clearly the culprit intends to inherit this magnificent country manor house!”

    Dr. Hudson stared around the room at the tatty arm chairs and well worn carpets. Magnificent was a stretch. She spoke slowly, “Mr. Condo, do you remember why you are here?”
    “I’m here to solve the case of course!”
    “Not exactly. Your family moved you here so we could look after you and make you better. You’re not a detective, you’re a retired English teacher.”
    “Nonsense woman, clearly you’re in cahoots with the murderer. No matter, I have already cracked the case, you’re too late.”
    Dr. Hudson let curiosity get the better of her, “Ok Mr.Condo, who is Mrs. Jenkins murderer?”
    “I put it to you that it was Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the candlestick…”

    She let out a deep sigh and made a note to up Mr. Condo’s meds and keep him away from the board games cupboard for a while.

    260 words
    Elements: Arrogant detective, isolated country manor


  21. Character : a lord under a family curse
    Setting: isolated country manor
    259 ‘orrible screams

    Up At Them Ruins

    Tis’ a cancerous madness up there, Sir. Up at them ruins. I nay suggest you go there. Bin mor’ an twenty years since humans has lived there. It was an arfurl sight; the bodies, his Lordship, her Ladyship, the two young un’s, not much more then babies, really. Whatever life they might have lived, gone in flood of blood and brains.

    My heart bleeds from the memory. The Missus and I had been the caretakers for 10 years whilst it sat as empty as Bull Slickers head. Then, finally, life returned to the old Manor.

    The valley started to thrive once again. Merchants returned. Folk with coins jinglin’ in their silk pockets moved here. The old sun seemed to shine like she was meant to.

    They had fancy parties, carriages flocked from the city, music, laughter. It was like a plague of joy had infected us all. All the bad times flittered away, like moths.

    But that night, that final bloodthirsty night. Hot, unnaturally hot, like the sun was taunting us, testing us. The wife and I drizzled with sweat. We just couldn’t get to sleep.

    And then, them ‘orrible screams. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! They howled from the Manor. Over and over again. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    We should have all rushed up right away but fear tied us down.

    Then, the screamin’ stopped. We heard horses rampagin’ out of the valley. Whoever they were, they was gone.

    We all went to lookin’, knowin’ that it would be a sight no one should ever have to see.

    Madness, sir, up at them ruins.


  22. Best Practices
    Word Count 258
    Conflict: man vs man
    Character (choose one): arrogant detective

    The detective cleared his throat. “I am the Great –”
    “We know who you are.” The Master of the House interrupted.
    “That’s why we invited you to sit on our couch.” The Lady supplied.
    The detective’s hands tightened around his tools of deduction. “You must let me finish my introduction.”
    The Lady’s eyes slipped into slits of displeasure. “We must do no such thing.”
    “We called you here to solve a murder, not stroke your ego.” The Master stood. “We will proceed immediately to the scene of the crime.”
    “But you do not understand, my introduction incites fear in the spirits.”
    The Lady looked to her husband. “You said he was sane.”
    The Master flushed. “All detectives are eccentric.”
    The detective continued murmuring his introduction as he followed the Master towards the kitchen, where remnants of murder remained untouched.
    “What did you say, lad?” The Master asked.
    “I am beginning my investigation. Continue onwards.”
    The Master detested anyone ordering him around his own house. But, with his wife waiting in the sitting room, he did not feel the need to exert his superiority. Instead, he watched the detective crouch to his knees and investigate the carcass.
    It all seemed above-board until the detective removed a straw from his pocket and began slurping the blood.
    “Now, what is this?” The Master demanded.
    “You want me to solve your murder?”
    “Of course. But surely –“
    “I am the Great –”
    “I’ll just return to the sitting room,” the Master interrupted again.
    He suddenly felt defeated in his very own kitchen.


  23. The Haints of the Baskinsons
    By Amberlee Dawn @talithaarise
    Story Elements: conflict (man vs man), setting (isolated country manor)
    260 words

    “Bekah, you cain’t hear that?”

    She twirled, ignoring me right out. The once-gleamy woodwork creaked loud under her feet. Satin coats and taffeta dresses whispered in her beauty-pinched ears, while I watched, torn betwixt dreaming of play parties and knowing that something were off.

    “Bekah, something tain’t right.” I glanced at rotten paintings of rich folk long past.

    “Bella! Don’t be a ‘fraidy cat. Look! It’s Lord Baskinson! Good evening, Sir! ‘Course I’ll dance with you!”

    “Bekah, you don’t hear them cries?” I stared at her. She shrugged. Sir Sunny-boy musta been mighty wonderful with his invisible self. Meanwhile, them cries I heard was getting louder by the minute.

    “Bekah, tain’t so sure…”

    “Quiet, Bella. Me and Sir Baskinson is having an intimate dance session.”

    My heart near dropped right then, because shor’nuf, I spied hands upon her waist.

    “Confound it, Bekah! C’mere!” I rushed to grab her arm, which was like unto a wet fish.

    She shook me off. “Not done.”

    I purtnigh jumped when I saw the arm I’d just tried to grab was…“Gone, Bekah! Where’s your arm?”

    “Where it’s always been, sissy!” She was moon-calfing.

    Then clear as day, I saw bright eyes staring down at Bekah’s eager face. I backed up right fast into one of them fancy vases. ‘Twas such a clatterment, I turnt to look by an accident.

    When I looked back, she was gone. There instead was a might purty young man, gussied up and a smile like to witch ya, calling me to dance.

    And my sister’s cries echoed with the others.


  24. @AvLaidlaw
    Conflict – Man vs Man
    Character – Arrogant Detective (who lives nowhere near Baker Street)
    256 Words

    An Unsolved Case

    He sat in the armchair, his left sleeve rolled up to reveal the vein in the crook of his arm, that familiar unseeing gaze across his eyes. On the table in front of him lay a few odd items: an old boot, a copy of Bradshaw’s Guide, a photograph of a fog bound moor.

    “The Lord Farnsworth mystery,” I said. “Again.”

    “There should be no mystery about it.” His voice was a whisper, not so much from his indulgences but from the simple passing of time. And time had not been kind to my old friend; always sharp faced but now, in the gas light, closer to the cadavers I once examined for him. “I thought of Henderson first. But he had a limp and the boot has no corresponding wear on its sole. And Lady Margaret could never have reached Winchester by noon.”

    “It was twenty years ago. Lady Margaret is dead. The house is demolished.”

    “Justice must be done.”

    “Perhaps there’s no justice. Only the curse.”

    He rose out of his chair and for a moment I saw my old friend, the man who had once terrorised every criminal in England. “There cannot be a curse. I will not live in a world of superstitions.”

    There was nothing say to him, but I resolved that the moment he left the house, if he ever did these days, I would search his room for the paraphernalia.

    “I will solve it,” he said softly as he slumped back into the chair. “The world will be rational.”


  25. Pining Away
    258 words
    conflict & setting

    She swings her sword and it crashes down onto the intruder’s. Behind them, the sun makes the castle’s shadow longer and longer, hiking her anxiety.

    “Leave now!” She growls, bearing all her weight down on her weapon.

    He grins, twisting his wrist and flicking her to the side. She stumbles, but catches her self to spin around.

    He’s staring at the castle with lust.

    She grimaces and charges him. In his distraction she’s able to slide her blade against his side. Shocked, he bats her away. The tang of blood fills the air.

    “Why are you making this difficult?!”

    She doesn’t reply and bursts forward again. The man side-steps her and bashes the back of her head with his sword.

    Dazed, she falls forward onto one knee. The old castle overlooks the fight with indifference. The point of his blade draws her attention.

    “I’m offering a lot of gold for this place,” he says as he moves around her, sword still pinning her. “It’s isolated, perfect for me.”

    She shakes her head. “This is my family’s manor.”

    He casts a sly gaze around. “But I see no one else here.” His grin is sharp. The silhouette of the castle stretches over him as streaks of orange curl around it.

    She needs to get inside, but sees no other option. “OK,” she relents.

    He raises an eyebrow, lowering the sword a fraction. “Just like that?”

    “Yes,” she gasps. The last fragment of light fades beyond the horizon and she feels the change rip through her.

    Terror fills his eyes.


  26. The Bonbon Family Curse
    Elements: character – lord under a family curse, and setting – an isolated country manor
    259 words

    Dearest Raymond,

    This letter must remain confidential. I will begin with Lord Bonbon’s confession.

    “It’s not even a good curse.”

    I had driven miles to visit him at his home and I suspected he did not entertain many guests. He was young, lonely, and spoiled with the family riches. In general that is not a good combination. I suspected he was a complainer. I asked him what would constitute a “good curse.”

    “The old story of Belle et la Bete. Romeo and Juliet, when Mercuitio says ‘A plague o’ both your houses!’ They both died in the end. Effective.”

    “I need you to explain your curse if you wish me to analyze it. I gather you did not invite me in for tea,” I said.

    “Several years ago my father made a pact with the devil. Whether you are religious or a skeptic, I’m sure you’ll agree that was foolish.”

    “Indeed,” I said.

    “He didn’t need wealth or power, and he was drunk. Father asked the devil for a snack! To his credit, the devil didn’t condemn his soul; instead he cursed the family with…”

    Here Bonbon lifted up his shirt. A third nipple lay between the usual two, and it was purple. He tweaked it once and it honked like a clown’s horn.

    And colourful confetti streamed out of it!

    I am out of my depth here, cousin. Bonbon is accompanying me to your home. It may be time for some of your drastic measures.

    I hope you still have contact with your friend the archangel.



  27. “Dowager”
    Word Count: 259
    Character: Retired doctor, a lord under a family curse
    Theme: superstition
    Setting: isolated country manor
    [No Twitter handle]

    “There!” Dr. Harquist exclaimed as the manor door swung open. “I am now Lord of this house, and you, Deirdre, my Lady.”

    They entered the foyer, their eyes adjusting to the gloom. Deirdre found the curtain cord and pulled hard. Sunshine knifed into the darkness revealing baroque glitter. Disturbed dust reflected light like a frantic school of fish. Faces stared down at them from Rococo frames.

    “Who are they, husband?” Deirdre asked, transfixed by the portraits.

    “These Ladies are my ancestors, from mama back to the Dark Ages.”

    “But . . . why only women?”

    “Oh, that’s the family curse,” Lord Harquist chuckled. “All Lords long preceded their Ladies, leaving the manor to the Dowager and her children. Generation upon generation.”

    “Aren’t you afraid of the curse?”

    “No, Deirdre.” The New Lord Harquist traced in dust adorning a statue. “My father died of a hemorrhage. His father of tuburculosis, and so on. After I retired from medicine I studied the family records. No curse, Deirdre, just bad hygiene and worse luck.”

    “So!” He strode toward the front door. “Let’s walk the grounds! But do please close the curtains, Dierdre. These bitties may curse me, but their paintings are worth fortunes! Direct sunlight isn’t good for them.”

    Deirdre gripped the cord, her gaze fixed on the portrait of Harquist’s mother. She smiled like someone keeping a delightful secret. Her eyes were wide, seemingly awake and aware.

    Deirdre slowly closed the curtain.

    Shadow eclipsed the painting

    The eyes dilated.

    Deirdre smiled to herself and followed her husband to inspect her grounds.


  28. The Dog That Didn’t Bark – 243 words

    (man vs man, arrogant detective)

    She pulled at her nose with her eyes narrowed, thinking deeply. “You’re a married man walking another’s dog,” she said, her words as crisp and measured as the thoughts being assembled behind her brow. “And the other person is most probably your mistress.”

    The man nodded back, encouragingly.

    Cheryl gasped, reaching out sympathetically. “But you’ve lost it,” she said. “And most probably within the last few minutes. I’d guess that it’s a small dog. Most likely a pug. And…” she fully opened her eyes and then studied the man slowly and at length, making him feel as though he’d just undergone a full-body MRI scan. “I’d say that your dog is black.”

    The stranger gawped at her, his weight falling back onto his heels. “Why, that’s amazing,” he said, his shoulders sagging backward. “How could you have known?”

    The woman smiled without conviction, raising one of her begloved hands. “It’s quite elementary,” she said, taking hold of her first finger. “Firstly, your ring finger has no ring. But it does have a pale band where the ring would be.”

    The man nodded once, raising his hand toward his face to confirm what he knew was true. “Okay,” he said, shrugging. “But what about the rest? However could you have guessed that?”

    “Miss Locke never guesses.” I said, stepping out from behind the bush with the stranger’s dog squirming excitedly in my arms. “And I’ve never known her be anything but right. Not once.”


  29. @firdausp
    What Ghosts?
    (257 words)
    “Lady Kath,” he whispers, “I think I see light in one of the window’s of the old manor!”
    Lady Kath looks at him, her green eyes shining in the moonlight illuminating the graveyard. Without a sound she slinks into the night.
    “Lady Kath, wait for me!” He quickly dusts his coat and trousers, getting rid of the mud sticking to him, it has been a while since he left his resting place.
    Lady Kath is waiting for him at the entrance of the manor. He scoops her up into his arms, “You better stay with me M’lady, I don’t want you frightening our guest.”

    Meanwhile, in the master bedroom a young man is sitting upright in bed, clutching a pistol. Spending the night in this godforsaken place is getting creepy. He has been hearing weird noises. He’d accepted the challenge to prove that ghosts didn’t exist. It was a superstition that every full moon night ghosts prowled the manor.
    He hears a sound outside his door, upon opening it, he finds an old man with a black cat in his arms beaming up at him.
    “Who’re you?”
    “Just a neighbour,” the old man says as he enters the room, “it’s nice to finally see someone at the manor.”
    “Have you ever seen ghosts here? It’s said that every full moon night ghosts visit this house.”
    The old man looks stricken.
    “Is that so!” He glances at the full moon in the window. “Lady Kath it’s best we leave!”
    With that he rushes out through the closed door.

    Old manor/superstition


  30. No Angels
    260 words
    Elements: Character: retired doctor, Theme: cunning

    Mother says I’m sick. That’s why I can’t play with the other children. I can’t play with the servants either because mother says they are beneath my station. I’m not sure what that means but mother knows best so I’m simply not allowed.

    But I’m not lonely here, after all I have mother and she loves me so.

    Mother isn’t like father; her love feels warm and soft. Father’s love was heavy and it hurt. I told mother as much once but she shushed me and father’s love was even worse after he learned of my attempt.

    That was why it happened, it wasn’t my fault! I told him his love was too much but he wouldn’t listen, then I told him I wanted to play and he wouldn’t listen to that either even though he was supposed to, so it’s all his fault!

    Mother brought me a doctor once, after father got hurt, an old retired one. He poked and prodded and made the funniest sounds.

    He stopped making the sounds once I tried to play with him and I had mother take him away because he was dull.

    Mother says that she will summon another doctor, one who will do as I wish and I let her brush my hair as a reward.

    I hope he’s not like that nasty priest who touched my skin and made it burn. His words made my ears hurt as well and I had mother send him away when he threatened to take her from me.

    Mother is never ever allowed to leave.


  31. The Sacrifice
    260 words
    Retired doctor, cursed lord, guilt and help from the photo prompt.

    It was a sickly thing. Not even the strength to twitch or cry. It just lay there, small, crumpled, struggling for each sucking breath while the impact of its coming reverberated from room to room.

    People spoke in hushed tones, solemn and sombre. No reverential congratulations, only dim mutters, doom laden oaths.

    The sacrifice had not been made.

    His lordship had not been seen in some hours. He had retreated, soon after the news, behind the heavy oak doors of his study. As the door closed in his face the doctor thought it reminiscent of a coffin lid closing; the death of hope.

    He had sighed and turned back to the nursery (soon to be mortuary, he felt). He was too old for this. Serving the family for generations, witnessing the joy of birth, the frailty of dotage, the release of death. Brought back once more in hope, hope he could… what? The sacrifice had not been made – that was clearly apparent. Breaking with tradition, it served no one and did no good.

    It still breathed. Poor wretch.

    The servants had been dismissed, even the loyal ones sensible enough to keep their heads and tongues under duress. Someone had opened the casement and a soft breeze blew. The mother’s body would be burnt soon, the ashes from the pyre rising on the wind, perhaps even as far as this window.

    The doctor sighed again. He was too old for this.

    In the cot the thing wriggled slightly, impeded by the tail and horns. The sacrifice had not been made.


  32. A Horrible Crime
    254 words
    Arrogant detective, man Vs man

    “But how’d you know it was him?” the doctor asked.

    “Do you want the short answer or the long answer?” replied the detective.

    “Neither,” said the doctor. “How about something in between?”

    “Very well,” the detective said. He walked over to the armchair and half sat in it so that his hip was pressed into the seat cushion.

    “What are you doing?” the doctor asked concerned.

    “Well you see, I was prepared to stand for the short version of the story and sit for the long version, but since you asked for the in-between version, I didn’t know what to do with myself.” The detective shifted his legs, trying to remain balanced. The doctor stared dumbfounded.

    “Anyway,” the detective began, “the police had three suspects: the wife, the son, and the neighbor. All had a motive.” The detective paused for emphasis, but soon lost his train of thought.

    After an uncomfortably long pause, the doctor asked, “Well, what was their motive?”

    “Don’t interrupt me, Doctor. It’s rude,” said the detective. “Now you’ve made me lose my train of thought.” The detective continued shifting in his half seated position. His leg was hurting now.

    “Sorry,” the doctor said.

    “It’s quite alright, but I cannot tell you the suspects’ motives.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Because you didn’t ask for the long version of the story.”

    “Well then, how did you know it was him?”

    “Because it is always the butler.”

    “But the man didn’t have a butler.”

    “Doesn’t matter,” the detective said. “It is always the butler.”



  33. Title = The Forest by Moonlight
    Word Count = 259 Words
    Elements = Arrogant Detective, Retired Doctor, Guilt, Man Vs Man, Photo Prompt (don’t know if that counts as a theme or not lol)

    Snap! The echo bounced off the dark forest tress. I knew what was coming next. Sean Graham, our self-elected leader because ‘he was a detective’, signalled us to stop. The other two followed us instruction, shotguns readied on trees.
    “Quiet.” Graham’s shouted whisper smacked me in the face. “How are we meant to kill this creature if you can’t stay quiet?” Graham’s finger stabbed into my chest. I didn’t want to kill the creature, I didn’t want to be here. I hated wolves, always had done. The old doctor’s dead body only confirmed my feelings, my insides filled with concrete.
    “You walk exactly where I walk therefore so won’t have anymore broken twigs. I don’t know how you’d cope without me.” There was no point in arguing.
    The night was interrupted by the moon’s reflection; white pools decorated the forest floor. Graham stopped us again. “What was that sound?”
    I placed my hand over my sleeve, trying to cover the sound and let someone else answer. Marshall took up the offer. “Sounds like ripping.”
    The clouds folded away. The moon sat large in the sky. The concrete flooded out of my body leaving my insides turned and twisted. Pain tore across my stomach. The rips became roars. My hands burst with pain, my gun crashed into the ground.
    “Can’t you stay bloody quiet!” Graham red with anger turned white. “What the fu…”
    A giant fur arm smashed him from his feet. His body crumpled into the nearest tree. I threw back my head and howled at the moon.


    • Interesting, very interesting. 🙂 I’m trying to decide how much the MC knew what was happening. “I hated wolves, always had done.” and yet “I knew what was coming next.” It’s like he knew of his transformation, but perhaps not of his deadly tendencies?


  34. @stellakateT
    260 words
    character / setting

    Nursery Rhymes

    “Doctor Foster went to Gloucester” sang the little girl as she danced along the hallway. Her voice echoing through the old dilapidated house, Herbie could hear her in the west wing like a ghost child.

    It had been years since he heard any sort of voices let alone those of children. He’d paced these oak floorboards for decades. As a young man he’d trained to be a doctor, married a nurse and tried to start a family. It was the only time in his life that medical science had failed him, unexplained infertility they’d diagnosed. His wife became his ex-wife and had babies with a good looking Chief Pharmacist.

    He became semi-reclusive. Settling in this old manor house plonked down in acres of countryside and read detective stories. He had nightmares of hounds chasing him up and down dales, an arch nemesis trying to secure his downfall, some nights she nearly succeeded. It was always the same face, reminded him of Lauren Bacall and he was the legendary Humphrey Bogart. One day he’d sail off on The African Queen.

    The little girl stood behind the large threadbare armchair trying not to attract his attention. She liked living here, it was quiet not like the last place. Once the priest had started splashing holy water about and chanting Latin she’s been forced to leave.

    Just within his peripheral vision he saw her. She looked Victorian with her big bows and tight ringlets. Maybe he could teach her to play chess.They could solve mysteries together and discover they own heaven and hell.


    • Awww! A cute little ghost! 🙂 Kind of a weird feeling to hope the Dr. will find friendship in a ghost …but you left me hoping for that!


  35. Curses! I can’t come up with a decent title!
    254 words
    Setting: Isolated Country Manor
    Character: Lord under a curse

    Varying marks of glistening black wetness pirouette across creamy yellowed paper in artistic swirls, loops, lines and dots. The written language is such a simple tool, an agreed-upon arrangement of symbols and their meanings, yet it holds the unquenchable fire of idea and modern thought. These words are my warning to humanity.

    I found the parchment fluttering against a dead branch in the eastern-most corner of my estate. The paper was crudely made, weather-eaten, and the ink a faded red. An ominous threat was smeared across this fetid page, a declaration that all land circling within a league of this draft was now dedicated to the witch and her perverse pleasures.

    Imagine, if you will, that in this, the year of our King 1652, there should still remain these pockets of archaic superstition and backwards thinking. The modern world has no place in it for such melodramatic antiquities!

    Never one to suffer fools lightly – I brought forth the fires of righteousness from within as I trekked across my domain in search of this unwelcome tenant on my property. The light of the full moon assisted me in this task – making it easy to spy the woman – naked and crazed from her superstitions, dancing in front of a decrepit straw hut.

    I laughed as I put it to the torch, throwing her belongings, her paper warnings, and herself into the conflagration. Her dying curse echoes in the night terrors which consume me to this day.

    All words – not just my arrogant ones – have power.



  36. Lord and His Lady

    Lord lives – seventh of seven times seven before him, half-hearted. His Lady took his thumping whole, instantaneous, while he held still willing. Now, the Eve the Year Dies is upon him, a multitude of little deaths gone before; blood sucked from its protective layers around his bones by his lady’s lips. He holds no regret. The hollow it should reside in has no beating inhabitant.

    Lady was hearty, laughing whilst life sustained her, duly bound, its beating within her fist. Lord is her promise to herself, self-gifted – though their contract was written between marrow margins long ago, had he but known it. Some things are as she wills it. She is tired now; tithe falling due. All things must end. Men though – mortal – live in the moment. Licking her mouth, Lady summons her Lord to his final standing.

    Lord’s skin was sold at birth, time ticking afterwards. He answers at All Hallows, son for father, as did son from father before him. Half a heart for a future functions well enough. Thus, Earl, eloquent, escaped his lover’s arms without compunction, to answer to another’s call. Time, irresistible, reaped its tithe on him. Lord still lingers.

    Lady savours sucking Lord’s soul from its moorings; his life having no need for it, once wholly consumed. Lord ponders their partnership, deceased, eyes downcast. Head raising, he turns away from her. He gave love freely. Bad bargaining cannot catch hold, where its central sacrifice is missing, though she has had his heart from him. Time take him, too, instead. All things must end.


    (260 words)

    Character – a lord under a family curse
    Theme – cunning (with no guilt thrown in for good measure)


  37. @AvLaidlaw
    Character – Lord under a family curse
    Setting – Isolated Country Manor
    252 Words.

    Deep Breath

    The Last Lord of Cragholm sits on his chair in the deserted and ruined banqueting hall, his face white-bearded and skin as fragile as the parchments that hold his faded genealogical lines, his fingers as thin as spiderwebs so the tarnished gold rings slip and are only prevented from falling to the flagstones by his swollen arthritic knuckles, his coat of fine sealskin that once defeated the cold-hearted tempests of the highland winters but is now threadbare and moth-eaten, much like the bloodstained and spear-holed flags that his ancestors carried into battle first in the wars between the Northern Lords and then in the wars against the Southern Kings, but now hang limply from the walls and only stir in the gales that even the stones of Cragholm cannot keep at bay, on his lap the rusty sword of the Lords of Cragholm that was forged in the legend shrouded days when the first Lord led his followers across the ravaged land where, armed with claymores and bucklers they looted gold and food from the pale-faced and flabby monks and burnt the monasteries to heat their hot blood hotter still, before they found their new home here on this granite outcrop overlooking the ill-tempered Atlantic where the cormorants perched and regarded the sin-stained men with satanic eyes and cursed from the bottomless depths of their reptilian souls that one day the whole house would be pulled from its roots and smashed down on the rocks and its stones scattered across the sea.


  38. Chosen: Character and theme
    Words: 251

    Night of the Changelings
    It was nearing midnight and the baby was close. Inside the bedroom, while the midwife tended to the mother, the other women stood vigil around the bed. There would be no changelings tonight. Superstition held it that babies born during the blue moon could be whisked away, taken through the veil, and a sickly child left in its place. The fact was that every lord born during the blue moon was sickly, but after three years the child was suddenly healthy, although he spoke a strange language.

    A few rooms away the lord of the house paced the room. Tobacco smoke hung in the room like dark mist that would hide what would happen tonight. Silently he cursed his ancestor who made an oath that would last five hundred years. Rumour said for gold that turned to straw as soon as it passed the veil; fact had been lost in time — if it differed from rumour.

    The grandfather clock in the corridor started chiming. When it reached twelve the air shimmered and he could see the other world. He could see the other mother crying and the other father holding his son. He wondered what they had bargained for.

    In his own house, the cry of a baby pierced the air. He headed to the other room to fetch his child while time stood still. Tears blinded him when he took the strange child. Three years and the child would live. Deny the faeries and his child would die. He wondered if any bargain was worth this.


  39. Numbers


    Conflict: Man v Man & Character: Retired Doctor

    259 words


    They don’t have names, only numbers.

    Crude ink tattooed on their arm to remind them of this fact.

    It’s a game of numbers. It always was.

    How many are fit enough to be worked until they bleed, until they collapse, until their skeletal bodies can take no more and have to be replaced? There are always more workers, more of them. How many will be glad of the gas and the eternal sleep? How tall do the chimneystacks need to reach, so that he doesn’t have to feel their ashes contaminate his skin?

    He walks the lines of the unfit prisoners. Women. Children. Disabled. He looks for subjects. Perhaps they will be grateful for the extra food? For the clothing? He needs to keep them alive—for now.

    They say he enjoys his work. He smiles as he chooses. He looks for twins. He looks for the unusual. He has experiments to perform.

    Perhaps he will choose the child with the waterlogged eyes? Perhaps the elderly man who is close to death anyway?

    He has plans. They are subhuman. Only numbers.

    They talk of Avraham Avinu, but this makes no sense to him. They are not special, he has proved that.

    When the war is lost, he bribes his freedom and lives in exile. How the tables have turned; he watches the sewer rats with envious eyes.

    He wishes for a different fate. They haunt him. They watch him in the shadows. They dance in his sleep, with scalpels in hand. To the victims, he is just another number.


  40. In the Square, Beneath the Spire

    Here I stand, in the square, beneath the spire, pinned like a granite butterfly by the shadow of that crooked tower.

    And my own wretched guilt.

    In the spring, I watch the fragile flowers force their way through crisp earth, to blossom and bloom or to wither and wane beneath a late frost.

    Tender promise unfulfilled.

    Summer brings children, flickering mayfly lives and mostly good natured screams. They run across the square, beneath the spire, at pains not to linger in its shadow.

    They still know what happened there.

    I close my eyes in the autumn, to sleep if I could. But though I block my sight to the fallen leaves in which she lay, to the honeyed sunlight which laid the shadow of the spire like a rod of iron across her skin, I see them nonetheless.

    These, and so much more.

    Winter at last brings peace, for a little while. The square is quiet, the snow undisturbed, the shadow of the spire a faded blur in the weak and washed out sunlight that struggles to deny the inevitable darkness.

    It reminds me of her mother, standing in the square I built, beneath the spire I raised, cursing my name even as they unveiled my statue.

    Raised on that very same spot, as if the shadow of the spire should act as a lightning rod for further shadows, further darkness, like calling to like.

    Where it happened.

    Where I was damned.

    And where I will stand, forevermore, in the square, beneath the spire.

    Pinned by my own wretched guilt.

    260 words
    A cursed Lord & a lot of guilt


  41. Coronets and Farces

    Wind howled down the chimney. It sounded like hounds baying at a fox’s lair. Lord D’Ascoyne sat in his wingback chair and shivered, the brandy in his glass swirled in sympathy. He sipped it without tasting.
    The hounds howled all the time now. A continual ululation which refused to let up. Sometimes he wished Sibella had held to her threat and turned him in. The silken rope could have been no more punishment than this.
    The door crashed open.
    “Lord D’Ascoyne,” said a gaunt figure in hunting coat and deer-stalker, “I’m here to solve your riddle.”
    The Lord stared, eyes glaring at the rude intruder.
    “I have no riddles, go away.”
    “But I am—“
    “I know who you are, you meddlesome little man. Take your tedious intellect and burden some other member of minor royalty with its unwantedness.”
    The figure froze, almost rocked back by this response. “I…” he began.
    “You, are unwelcome. Go, before I set the hounds upon you.”
    That made the intruder screw his face into an almost inscrutable moue and tap a gloved finger alongside his aquiline nose. “What hounds?” he finally asked.
    “What hounds?” screeched Lord D’Ascoyne. “What hounds? The hounds that will tear you apart as they tore Sibella apart, curse her treacherous heart.”
    “Yes, Sibella. I read about her being at your trial. I did not read about her death. Though I did see the file about that of your wide, Edith.”
    “I know who did it!”
    Lord D’Ascoyne gasped. “Who?” he asked.
    “Why, the butler, of course!”

    257 words
    Elements: Arrogant Detective with Cursed Lord, and Guilt, in an isolated country manor


  42. The Hellhound
    256 words
    theme: superstition
    setting: country manor

    They tracked the blood-laced paw prints around the manor. Lake shuddered, recalling the chambermaid’s shredded body.

    “The prints disappear here,” Falcon commented.

    “The beast vanished into its netherworld lair!” Lake postulated.

    Falcon snorted. “Hellhounds aren’t real. It’s likely a rabid…coyote.”

    “Something larger than a coyote made those prints.”

    “A mastiff, then. Where’s the damned viscount who owns this place?”

    “Probably dragged into Hell by the hound!” Lake’s eyes widened. “Demonic red eyes. Frothing mouth.”

    Rational Falcon could say what he liked; they’d encountered the supernatural before: the Sussex Vampyre, the Creeping Man, and an incident known only as “the giant rat.” They didn’t talk about that one.

    Falcon pushed the kitchen door. “It went in here.”

    “Hellhounds don’t have thumbs,” Lake said. “It couldn’t latch that door.”

    “Unless a human helped it.”

    A low whine emanated from the kitchen’s shadows.

    Falcon trained his pistol on a hulking shape in the corner. The hound raised its huge head.

    “Shoot it, Falcon!”

    Falcon only approached the creature. Its tail thumped as it rolled to its back.

    Falcon rubbed the dog’s belly. “This dog didn’t kill anyone. He’s a big pushover. I thought the maid’s wounds seemed too clean for teeth.”

    “Then what killed her?”

    Falcon peered at the floor. “I’d hazard a guess that our killer is the dog’s master.”

    “Master? You mean a vampyre?”

    “Only if vampyres wear Weston boots.” Falcon pointed at a bloody footprint behind the dog. A “W” maker’s-mark was easily legible.

    “Vampyres are often rich.”

    “Not a vampyre, Lake. A viscount.”




    Brian S Creek
    252 words
    (I think I managed all four of the themes – man vs man, a lord with a family curse, guilt, and an isolated country manor)


    “Is she gone?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “I watched the car pull away, sir. Ms Cross has left the estate. Again.”

    “Good. I think it’s for the best.”

    “But I expect she will be back again tomorrow night, if the last few weeks are anything to go by.”

    “She’s persistent, isn’t she?”

    “Sir, if I may?”

    “What’s on your mind, Collins?”

    “When the young lady returns tomorrow night, why not let her in?”

    “That’s not an option.”

    “But sir?”

    “No, Collins! She can’t enter this house. She can’t see me, not like this. You know that.”

    “I do sir, completely. No one understands your condition better than I.”

    “Then why even suggest it?”

    “Because I feel that this has gone on too long?”

    “Longer than I’d hoped. If not for this infliction, she and I could now be sharing the life we once talked about.”

    “Then maybe you should take a leap of faith. You know she won’t stop seeking the truth. Give her the answers that she craves. Give her the whole story.”

    “If she was to see me like this, she would run screaming forever. I don’t want to lose her.”

    “I fear that if you carry on this path, you will do just that, sir.”

    “Look at me, Collins. I’m a monster. I’m something from her nightmares. I only want her to remember me for how I was. How could she possibly love me while I’m stuck like this?”

    “Perhaps, sir, that is for Ms Cross to decide.”


  44. Tiggers Don’t Like Honey
    @ParkInkSpot (Dave)
    Word count: 256
    Elements: A lord under a family curse, cunning, isolated country manor
    Lord Mortimer didn’t really know much about the girl who was to marry him. Only that she was barely nineteen and had an A-level diploma with ink that was still wet.

    The family curse essentially required that all Lords Mortimer have their marriages pre-arranged, despite the growing difficulty of negotiating one in the twenty-first century. Still, the lawyers found a suitably distant poor relation, negotiations entered, contracts signed and money changed hands.

    “You must be Jill,” he said, helping her from her taxi. “I’m Evan.”

    She looked relieved. “Oh, thank goodness. You aren’t at nearly as terrible as I’d imagined. You’re not warty and seventy at all.”

    He chuckled. “I’ve just turned thirty, not a pensioner yet. No warts, but relief might be premature before you’ve seen all of my habits. Welcome to Apis Hall, Jill.”

    “Pleasure to be here, Lord Mortimer.”

    “Evan. You’re doomed to be a Baroness soon. Believe me; the blush fades from the ‘ooh dearies aren’t we formal then’ rose very quickly.

    “Your luggage will be moved upstairs,” he said. “You must come in and meet Mother.”

    “Meet the family so soon? I just may faint.”

    “It’s a very large family. Take a deep breath.”

    A hugely loud droning buzz carried on a blast of febrile heat washed over her when Evan opened the front door. Jill screamed when a hand on the small of her back pushed her into the fetid cavern inside Apis Hall.

    “Meet Jill, Mother. Fatten her on royal jelly and she’ll make a fine next Baroness Mortimer.”


  45. The Mound of the Basketcase
    A.J. Walker

    Lord Peripatetic-Teacher was not the sharpest tool in the paint box. When he’d found his father’s birth certificate he got confused by the columns (he thought his dad had been a smith of some sort).

    Still, his adopted family had left him their estate albeit within a vast marsh covering land beyond all that the eye could see.

    He understood that he must stay in the house until his true love came and then he would live happily ever after – or else he’d suffer a family curse*. He’d filled in many of the gaps in the will himself – they weren’t so much gaps as words that he couldn’t make out or were beyond him.

    Each morning he’d wake wondering if this was the day. Occasionally he’d wonder what would possess any woman to happen upon the lonesome Mound Tor, in the middle of Wobegon Marsh, beyond the Forbidden Woods. But one day. He was sure.

    At least, a bit sure.

    He was grateful the Farm Foods van found him once a fortnight bringing him his grey essentials. The monthly drug supply – which he thought came from Hoots – usually arrived on time too. Though he shivers to recall the occasion they forgot and he was late with his meds – he’d no idea where he’d found the paint or why he’d laid a spoof road into the marsh; at least the school was a lot emptier after that and no longer required the minibus.

    * To this day the beautiful family nurse wondered why the eccentric Lord of Mound Hall never called.

    (260 words)
    Elements: isolated country manor; Lord under a family curse


  46. BEHIND THE CURTAIN (258 words)

    Brushing the cobwebs away, Lord Alfred touched the curtain. What would happen if he opened it? It was his castle after all. The shadow in the dream had said, “Never open the tower curtain.” Till now, Alfred had never questioned the warning.

    Inside the tower, spiders ran across the walls. His shoe Imprints were carved in the in dust and when he slid the curtain open, dust clogged his nostrils and covered his body.

    A woman knocked on the window. “Let me in,” she cried. “Let me in.”

    Ignoring the warnings, he tied back the curtain and opened the window. Entering, she said, “Thank you, my Lord.”

    “Beautiful lady, why do you cry?”

    Smiling, she advanced toward him, Alfred’s smile soon vanished as her coal red eyes glared at him. A powerful force knocked him off his feet.

    Flames rushed from her mouth. “Die, Lord Alfred, die.”

    “My God, who are you?”

    Fire engulfed the curtains. Smoke swirled. Picking himself up he ran from the room choking.
    He looked back. A blinding light struck her with a loud crash thrusting her into the air. She shrieked and vanished in a puff of smoke.

    A shadow stood by the door. “Your great-grandfather refused to marry a demon and she cursed him. You were to be the last member of your family.” He waved his arm. The fire roared like a beast and died.

    “Who are you?”

    “I am the Alpha for the good and the Omega for the evil. That is all you need to know.”


  47. Tea Party
    260 words
    Setting and Conflict (and some cunning)

    Red Zinger is red because of hibiscus flowers. Can’t get any on our dress, Kitters, because Daddy’s coming. Grammy’s upset about it. You can tell because her cheeks get red like hibiscus. Do you remember him? That’s his shoulder in this picture of Mama. She says Mama made a mistake with him. He’s a free loafer.

    Lemon Ginger makes you feel better. Daddy brought Lydia over. Grammy says they don’t belong here. I think Lydia’s nicer than Daddy. Don’t tell him I said so. She showed me how to tell the difference between a real diamond and a fake one with breathing. Like your collar, see? The fog stays a long time. Not real.

    Chamomille is to calm down—shh! Kitters, we have to play quietly. Daddy and Lydia like to sleep during the day. They get so mad if you wake them up. Granny showed me how to get lunch myself. Grammy says they’re gold diggers. Maybe there’s gold in the garden. We can use Grammy’s shovel since she can’t hold it anymore. If we find enough gold, maybe Daddy and Lydia can relax have tea with us.

    Lady Grey is best when you’re having guests. Grammy says the extra citrus veils the tan-ins of the tea. No! We mustn’t drink it, Kitters. Grammy says the secret-bottle ingredient is for special guests only. Anyway, we’re too young for kaff-een. Kaff-een is something that keeps you awake, but I guess Lydia and Daddy are just really good at sleeping. They’re having bad dreams, see? Their cheeks look like Red Zinger.


  48. The Tulkinghorn* Curse

    256 Words
    Elements used: Character: a lord under a family curse
    Theme: superstition

    Lord Tulkinghorn stood surveying his lands, the hue of which had recently taken on a reddish tint, as if stained with blood. He wanted to believe it was nothing, but there’d been other strange occurrences.

    He could have sworn the taps had started to spit blood, that he’d seen horses with great wounds along their sides, ribs showing, entrails both hanging and dripping. No one else did, though, and Tulkinghorn said nothing, knowing the family curse must have come for him.

    Generations before, a Lord Tulkinghorn had sent a pregnant maid from the estate in disgrace. She was never seen again but that Lordship went mad and killed himself soon after; and all who’d followed had sooner or later gone mad too.

    None had ever thought to try and fix the problem, all instead stubbornly agreeing with their ancestor’s decision, even as the maid, bloody fetus in arms, encouraged them to take their own life.

    The present Lord Tulkinghorn, however, decided he must do something. Unlike other incumbents, he had not yet lost his wife or any children, and took it upon himself to end this grisly tradition.

    There was a belief the maid had died at a spot called Maiden’s Hollow and there Tulkinghorn ended it all.

    “Was the child of my blood?” he called out.

    “Yes,” the wind whispered.

    Tulkinghorn closed his eyes, opened his veins, and thought of his children.

    They found his body beside a newly opened pit.

    The same day a new occupant, a babe in her arms, arrived in the village. Many would remark on her accent, “from old times.”

    *I’ve been reading The Unwritten recently, which is where I stole the name Tulkinghorn from.


  49. Wrong Lane (260 words)
    man vs. man and isolated country manor

    I hate the smell of romance in the morning. A couple is making out two tables away, so I look out at the countryside.

    “Have you seen the keys?” Mom asks.

    Greeeeat. Some vacation this is. It’s like: Happy graduation! Btw, we lost the rental car keys. No biggie.

    The couple gets up, and the guy bumps our table on his way out. I grab my backpack, looking for my book.

    “Jenn,” Mom says, “You can read at to the hotel.”

    My 1902 first edition is gone. I look around and spot the couple in the parking lot. The girl has my book in her hands as she climbs into a car with the guy. I leap up from the table and run after them. They drive off before I can catch up.

    Mom follows me, and I head to our rental, pulling a bobby pin from my hair. I pick the lock and slip in the passenger seat. Mom gapes as I hotwire the car.

    “Trust me,” I say. “I read this on Pinterest.”

    I put the car in gear and peal out on the right side of the road. By right I mean not left. I shift the gears as fast as I can while curving around two, three hills. I come up on the thieves, cut in front of them, and slam on the breaks.

    I stagger from the car and demand my stuff back. The girl hands me the detective book, and the guy tosses me the keys. I push my glasses up. Welcome to England.


  50. St. Agatha’s Home for Retired Sleuths

    The dining room was in chaos; The great detective was standing on a tabletop, his lordship had cracked another monocle and the frenchman was raving about apes and prostitutes. Only the old girl seemed calm, but Nurse Ellery wasn’t convinced and took the knitting needles from the harmless looking spinster as she passed.

    “Play nicely Jane…”

    She moved on, shaking her head at the stream of surprisingly graphic, perfectly enunciated filth the old girl whispered behind her.

    Time to up the dosage. Again.

    Ellery approached the arguing pensioners.

    “Gentlemen. What is it today?”

    “The porridge is lumpy. I deduce the presence of a one armed Boer campaign veteran.”

    “Really old chap, it’s clearly a rather poor black market copy.”

    “Poor Madame Allingham! She is gone, non? We must allez to the rooftops!”

    Ellery sighed and tried again.


    The three stopped bickering and turned towards her.

    “Thank you. Now, it seems we’ve forgotten what we talked about in Group yesterday. Shall I remind you? Firstly, Mags has not been kidnapped, she’s gone to get her feet done. Secondly, the porridge tastes bad because we buy it in 50 gallon drums. Thirdly, it’s lumpy because I’m a nurse, not a chef. Finally – and most importantly – we do not stand on the bloody breakfast tables!”

    The great detective climbed down, blushing behind his deerstalker.

    Ellery turned and stalked out, relieving the old girl of a nasty looking hat pin en route, already counting the minutes until 7pm and lights out, when she could finally return her charges to their little grey cells.

    260 words
    Conflict and an arrogant detective


  51. @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 250
    Story Elements: a lord under a family curse; man vs. man
    Title: “Last of the Overachievers”

    Daniel Lord, last in a line of overachievers, hated washing up. But he smiled as he dried his knives and slipped them into his bag.

    I may not be a Cordon Bleu chef like father, but at least I can cook a decent meal.

    Daniel walked from the kitchen to the lounge carrying his bag and the remaining wine bottle from supper. Using scraps of newspaper, he lit a fire and watched as the flames quickly consumed the paper and spread to the dry wooden logs.

    He pulled the cork from the bottle and carefully inhaled its contents with a satisfied look.

    I may not be a Harvard chemist like mother, but at least I can disguise cyanide.

    The bottle was not quite full, so Daniel topped it up from a flask in his pocket, then screwed the cork back in tightly. He took a few steps back, threw the bottle onto the fire, and ran for the door as the bottle exploded, scattering gasoline and alcohol throughout the room.

    The flames were just starting to lick at the windows when Daniel started his car. Before pulling out, he double-checked his passport. A new identity: “David Love.” He took one final glance back at the family home, now engulfed in fire and smoke. Through the billowing black clouds he could see the makeshift grave in the yard beyond.

    I may not be a John Hopkins surgeon like brother Jim, but at least I know how to dispose of body parts.


  52. Escape from Tower Hill
    259 Words
    Character: a lord under a family curse Setting: isolated country manor

    David Roxburry Cambridge Saxton-Smith knew that it was going to be a bad day when he spent the better part of the morning dead.

    Usually he didn’t die until he’d made it to the moat, but the day had been overcast and he’d been so preoccupied with the obstacle that he’d forgotten to skip the second step in the north tower.

    It was a simple enough mistake, and it wasn’t as if dying really did anything to him. He was, after all, a ghost and death didn’t hold the same threat over him it used to.

    The problem was, mistakes like this meant time— time stuck in between as his ethereal self gained the energy needed to coalesce.

    Without warning, he was in the grand hall as the afternoon tour group arrived and it began all over again. At least this time he focused on where he was going and skipped the deadly step.

    When he reached the landing, he found his great, great grand-something nephew waiting for him. He did not look pleased.

    “Where were you this morning?” He demanded. “I had to refund the entire tour group!”

    David sighed as his grand-nephew twice removed continued to berate him all the way back down the stairs. Preoccupied, he forgot to warn the man about the stair, and was forced to watch as his great-grand nephew, twice removed, fell to his death.

    The transition took time, but in the end he was no longer alone.

    “Perhaps they will pay more for two ghosts…” He offered.


  53. @PattyannMc
    WC: 260
    Conflict: Man vs. (wo)man
    Character: A lord under a family curse

    Lord Marian

    Lord Marian never understood why no woman would have him. After all, he IS lord, and assumed himself quite the catch. Perusing himself inside his dressing room, he thought himself quite pleasant-looking. A small paunch, true, but thought himself much more pleasing than most of his rivals. The poor dolt was clueless of the swirling gossip.

    “Of course he tried to kiss me!” They would howl amongst each other, fluttering their fans to cool the blush.

    “Do you speak true?” Some would intone.

    “I nearly vomited in my bustier!” Another had laughed.

    “Did I tell him? Why yes, but he took affront and attempted to kiss me still! It was dreadful!”

    “No!” the ladies would gasp.

    Marian hadn’t an inkling why no woman would kiss him. He had desperate want for an heir. His sister, Lenora was long married with four thriving children. He asked her when she finally visited after years of absence, “Why it is that no woman will have me?”

    “Haven’t you known?” She asked incredulous, her back towards him.

    “No. Apparently, I’ve not heard. What reason is there?”

    “Our grandmother, six generations ago, had a witch curse the men of our family after she caught her lecherous husband philandering with the local whores!”

    “Yes, and so?” He anxiously awaited her answer.

    “And so, the witch cursed the males with Halitosis, causing no woman to desire you!”


    “I speak true!”

    “Would you kindly face me?”

    She turned holding a perfumed kerchief against her nose.

    “Please remove that!”

    “If I do, I shall vomit in your foyer!”


  54. Conflict: man vs man
    Setting: isolated country manor
    Words: 260

    An Accumulative Poison

    The wind accursed the almond blossoms. Their tender pinks fluttered against the gargoyle faced clouds. His gardening gloves were muddy. Jacob planted the tree twenty years ago, along the brick wall. It was imported from Salerno. “ A foren’r in the garden.” He tried to kill it. He salted and poured vinegar in its soil.

    The tree grew wide and out shown the goose berries along the protective wall. It had never bared fruit until the year before, Constantine, the Duke of Salerno , died in his sleep. He was fond of almond cookies.

    Flora pushed the Duchess’s wheelchair to the morning room’s Gothic window. Arlene inspected her garden view and nibbled on an almond biscuit.

    “The yews need to be moved. I can’t see my damned almond tree. Flora, tell Jacob.”

    “Yes madame,” Flora hid the cookie tin.

    Arlene closed her heavy hooded lids, feeling the faint Devon sun. In her pallid mind, she saw Vesuvius floating in a faithful blue on the Bay of Naples and felt Jacob’s strong hands around her waist as his apricot skinned tongue thrashed with hers in a kiss. The Duchess’s breath grew shallow.

    Flora ripped her Duke of Salerno crest pendant from her neck as the paparazzi pursued the police car from the courthouse. A father’s broad smile, abandonment, and shame was a bitter reason for murder. Cyanide and jealousy are accumulative poisons.

    “I burned the tree.” Jason held Arlene’s hand on a beach in Monaco.

    “I hated it. It served its purpose. We are untouchable and together.”


  55. WC: 260
    Conflict: Man vs. Man
    Character: Lord under a family curse
    Theme: Superstition
    “Be Warned, Behind The Glass”

    Baxville strapped her twin pistols into her shoulder harness, whistling for her hounds. They tore from behind the Westward Factory, which was taller than night itself, but less illustrious than the competition–Southbend Incorporate–sitting pristinely on the corner.

    Within seconds, sulfur and wet appreciative tongues descended on Baxville, but she pushed her adoring canines aside, striding across the fog- laden street, crimson under the Westward’s lighting. Baxville thudded on Southbend’s chiseled grand entrance like she was representing hell itself. “Lyon, we are going to duel this out once and for all!”

    A girl in a white waistcoat peered through an angled window.

    Baxville continued, “Your granddaddy cheated on that deal. You know it! Southbend is mine!”

    “Well your daddy cheated on his wife, coming to the sweeter side.” The impeccable duchess smiled back coldly.

    Baxville growled and her dogs assaulted the window; Lyon could be seen falling back–hard–onto the checkered tile. While Lyon recovered inside, Baxville pulled out a pistol and aimed at her own mirrored reflection.

    Lyon was still muffled behind the glass: “Just because I get your inheritance too, doesn’t mean you get mine.”

    “If you only knew what came with Westward,” Baxville sneered, “then you wouldn’t be so keen to take all.”

    Lyon glared. “Oh, I know what comes with Westward: irrationality, daddy’s bones and loads of money.”

    As always, Baxville fired at the diamond glass with a resounding crack, then turned back towards the factory, the Westward’s hounds behind her. Baxville only performed this defeating ritual hoping to force her half-sister’s salvation.


  56. “At Bay”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Theme, setting
    Word count: 260

    A man’s blood can be rather tenacious. Try as I might, I cannot rid myself of the stain.

    From my clothing.

    From my hands.

    From my soul.

    Each time I rend another’s still-beating heart from his chest, a small portion of mine dies in concert.

    In repose by the window, I hardly savor the final vestiges of freedom, as I await with imponderable dread the inevitable.

    Were that I could trade lives with one of them. My victims. Then the nightmare finally could end.

    The full moon glides out from behind the Coromandel screen of a cloud, baring her soul, and forcing me to do likewise. My hands distort as the talons erupt from my fingertips. My mouth aches as the fangs assume their devilish station. My scream morphs to a howl, my body to an abomination.

    At last, it ends.

    I look upon my wife, sleeping, then crawl to her bed, on all fours, like the animal I am. She is so beautiful. So at peace. I cannot bear the thought of what is to transpire.

    She opens her eyes, eyes which no longer reveal anything within.

    She smiles.

    At that moment, the moonbeam that had been slithering across the floor strikes her face. Her body contorts, wracked by the curse we share. Or better said, the curse she chose to foist upon our house.

    Unlike me, she seems to enjoy the pain wedded to the transformation. After a brief recovery, she stands and strokes my hirsute cheek.

    “The moors beckon, my love. ‘Tis time for us to hunt.”


  57. Waiting in the Shadows

    How can one count the ways she has hurt me over these years? The paper cuts that have lacerated with every barbed assertion. The looks, once emboldened with desire, now seemingly tinged with resentment. Yet I serve my purpose, have always been there, at the centre of her world, whether she realised it or not.

    We met over a body, ironic some might say. The bookish boy and the confident girl. She was front page news, the brightest detective of her day, yet somehow she craved my affections. I a moth entranced by a flame that burned too bright for any other. Lured into her gravitational pull.

    We solved more murders, gained greater acclaim. Well she did, I was merely a lamentable prop she scoffed when the whisky had soured more than our bed. The barman, a being of stubble and brooding air, nodded in sympathy, his hands caressing the bar as I knew they would later her.
    Yet he served his purpose, offering conspiratorial assurances, of the death and darkness that lurked within the haunted manor on the hill.

    Her eyes wide with hunger, her tongue tasting her lips as if savouring the headlines she would create.
    I played my role, the obliging partner counselling her, cajoling her, plying her.

    Till this morning with red eyes we journeyed to the manor house, lurking on the edge of town.

    Our conversation pondering what horrors she would discover, the killer she would unmask.

    Whilst I played with the knife in my pocket.

    The real love of my life.

    Arrogant Detective/Isolated Manor
    257 words


  58. Story elements: Theme, Setting, Character

    The Old Ways, The Cold Ways, and The Bold Ways

    Stepping into the warmth of milord’s study, my spectacles instantly fogged. Having nothing with which to wipe them, I pushed them down my nose and looked for the fuzzy person-shaped blur. I almost sighed with relief when I saw him sitting near the fire. This was the only room in the manor he allowed to be heated on midwinter’s eve, and while the chill hadn’t bothered me when I was young enough to march naked into the loch, it had been many years since I’d been that man.

    “You’re a brave man, Anston.” He spoke without turning to me. “Braver than I gave you credit for.”

    “How so, milord?”

    “Not many men would bring me bad news this quickly. The rider couldn’t have gotten here more than five minutes ago.”

    “No, milord.”

    “She’s not coming, is she?”

    “No, milord.”

    He sighed, setting down the heavy book he’d been reading. “I thought she would be the one. I really did. Well, thank you for your attentiveness, Anston. That is all.”

    I nodded, and made my exit from his study. Tonight would be a long night for him, but I knew enough to know he wouldn’t want company. Men like him had too much privilege and not enough brains. Asking his servants to walk around unclad on this night just because that’s how it once had been done? Foolishness. Expecting that some woman would rescue him from an imaginary curse? Folly.

    Not realizing that said woman was warming his servant’s bed? I smiled. At least I was properly dressed for this part.

    260 words


  59. Emily Clayton
    Elements: theme and setting
    258 Words

    Don’t Go Naked Into the Woods

    Drip drip. That sound. Drip drip. Again! I tore through the house in search of silence and stumbled across a severed head.

    “Who put that head in my front vestibule? Don’t they know I’ll have to run through the woods naked now?”

    The thought stopped me in my tracks. “Oh. They do know. Very clever. I suppose the answer will be resting under a maple tree. Probably the murder weapon, too.”

    I glanced around my family manor, hesitating. I’d just put on the kettle, ready to settle into my comfy chair with the shredded backrest—blasted cat—and while away with a bookish evening.

    Oh well. Off came my clothes, and I swear I heard the squirrels laughing. “Get your own nuts!” I had a quick scamper through the woods, cursing the foul weather as I completed the circuit.

    Next, the murderers. Wouldn’t you know it, the blasted sky decided to let loose its full bladder. I love being deluged with cloud pee. Now I’d have to sing “Land of the Silver Birch” at the top of my lungs. They’d hear me coming a mile away!

    Where would they hide? The river. I bolted east, searching for damp grass or footprints in flight.

    Footprints! Of a rabbit. Failure. “Don’t forget to stamp five times.”

    There. Twenty paces to the right. Damp, flattened grass. He was waiting in the hollow. Gilbert. My brother. “Murderer!” I screamed.

    He looked at me and smiled, knowing my superstitions would bring me out naked. “Did your ratty old teddy bear have an accident?”


  60. The Curse of the Manor
    249 words, @pmcolt
    Character (retired doctor) and Setting (isolated country manor)

    Ghosts danced across the stone walls: red spectres cast from the crackling fireplace. Dr. Aldous Haskell, retired, gripped the syringe shakily. “Mnemoline,” he verified the drug label. “What dosage?”

    “Two milliliters, intravenous,” his robodoc replied dispassionately.

    The aged doctor sighed heavily as the drug entered his vein. “My apologies, James,” he suddenly remembered his visitor. “I find I’ve developed a tolerance for mnemoline. I need more and more.”

    “Is this healthy, Aldous?” asked the man sitting in the plush armchair, half in shadow.

    “In controlled doses, it keeps my mind sharp,” Haskell reassured. “I need be cautious, though. Too much causes vivid hallucinations, even death. Too little, and the curse may claim me.”


    “The curse of the manor, my friend. Every inheritor has died within a fortnight of entering these walls.”

    “Indeed? Then why stay? This curse does not frighten you?”

    “It terrifies me, old friend.” Haskell quickly glanced over his shoulder. “But imagine. What force could be behind this superstition?”

    The robodoc stuttered. “I am not programmed with that data. My role is medical diagnosis and–”

    “Quiet, you obsolescent pile of memristors,” Haskell snapped at the device. “I wasn’t talking to you!” Dr. Haskell turned again toward his friend, but found the armchair empty. “James? Where did you go?”

    The robodoc spoke again. “Dr. James Bunbury died on your operating table, Doctor. Five years ago.”

    Dr. Aldous Haskell, retired, stared at the empty syringe in his hand. The curse of the manor had perpetuated itself once more.


  61. Lord Warington’s Bride

    (Character, Setting)
    260 words

    The night before Lord Stanley Warington’s wedding, he paced. In this time of reason, technology, and growing disbelief, the curse couldn’t continue. Reciting this in his head as his mantra, he retired to bed and tried to sleep.
    The next day dawned bright. Workers set up the altar and chairs at the edge of the tree line.
    “Today’s the day,” Stanley said to Uncle Gerald over coffee.
    “One way or the other,” Gerald said.
    Stanley grimaced. “Stop. I’ve been careful. We’ve spent moonlit nights together. I’ve given her silver jewelry—looked into her family history. Ginevra’s not cursed.”
    Gerald raised his eyebrows and walked away.
    By the time the guests arrived, Stanley was sweating.
    He stood in his tux as the music played, trying to slow his heartbeat. Everyone stood. There she was. Gorgeous, intelligent, sophisticated: the perfect Lady Warington.
    The local priest was in a state of high agitation. Ginevra didn’t seem to notice. Finally, the ceremony ended and Stanley kissed Ginevra, holding her small hands in his. Then, her fingers lengthened, nails scratching his skin. Her eyes took on a golden tint and she suddenly loomed over him. Rough fur sprouted from her face, neck and arms, and his bride howled in the full light of the sun.
    They gazed at each other another moment, and Stanley sighed, disappointed.
    She turned, and with animal grace befitting a Lady Beast, bounded into the forest.
    “Ginevra, wait!” Stanley shouted, running toward the trees. “I love you! I’m sorry!”
    “She might be back,” Gerald said. “But she won’t be the same.”


  62. “Causality”
    by Nancy Chenier
    159 words
    Conflict and Theme (superstition)

    If you break a mirror…

    I was seven when the car crash happened. I remember my splintered reflection in the rearview mirror. Mom died on the way to the hospital. “The car wouldn’t stop,” she rasped through the oxygen mask. I spent the next seven years bouncing around foster homes.

    If a black cat crosses your path…

    For my thirteenth birthday, a gift-wrapped box addressed to me appeared on the doorstep. From under the lid, a charcoal face with green eyes mewed at me. My first real present in six years.

    Two months, I kept her hidden in the shed. When Ben discovered her, he tossed her into the neighbor’s swimming pool and head-locked me until the splashing stopped.
    That night I hit Ben’s sleeping head with a baseball bat. Welcome to juvie.

    If you walk under a ladder…

    At eighteen, I got busted on a B&E. The house was being remodeled. Even with a four-leaf clover in each shoe, I should’ve been more leery around scaffolding. Three hundred pounds of heroic security guard dropped right on my head.

    Then, I got a letter in prison:

    Dear Daniel,
    We musta just missed each other.
    Things never worked out between me and your mom, but I made a vow to help you out. I thought a pet might be a catalyst (get it?) to turn things around. Sorry it didn’t work out.
    Love Dad
    PS. You weren’t supposed to be in the car.

    I folded the letter along its creases, trashed the clovers, and started work on a voodoo doll.


  63. Brotherly Love
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    255 words

    Man vs Man (well, boy vs boy)
    Theme: Cunning, deceit, superstition
    Place: isolated manor

    “There’s a ghost in there.”

    “Is not.”

    “Is, too! My brother says so. Says it’s a lady who died.”


    “I dunno. But she was pretty, he says.”

    “Girls, pretty? Yech.”

    “Sometimes I think Abby McAllister is pretty.”

    “I’m telling! I’m telling!”

    “Better not. Or I’ll tell your mom about the time you peed in the vent and blamed the cat.”


    “That’s what I thought. Wanna go in?”

    “In? What for?”

    “To see the ghost, dummy.”

    “Uh, there might be spiders in there.”

    “Yeah, there might also be treasure. C’mon, ya chicken.”



    “I don’t feel so good about this. I … I think something just touched me.”

    “What, like a creepy hand?”

    “Yeah! Like a creepy hand!”

    “Geez, I was just kidding. Calm down.”

    “But … but …”
    “I swear, there’s nothing in here.”

    “Wait, did you hear that?”


    “Uh, yeah. Yeah, I did.”

    “Look who’s peeing now.”

    “Let’s get out of here!”

    “I can’t – something’s got me!”

    “What do you mean, something’s got you?”


    “Frankie? Frankie!”


    “OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod. I … I … swear on my mother’s grave, I’ll … I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll go to church every Sunday. I’ll help old ladies cross the street. I’ll …”

    “… Do your brother’s chores for the next six months?”

    “Yeah, yeah! Just let me out of here.”

    shuffling noises

    “Frankie, is that you?”

    “I am the ghost of Frankie Past!”

    “Aaaaaaaaaa! I’m getting out of here!”

    running feet



    “Here’s that twenty bucks I promised. Totally worth it.”


  64. Nine-Tenths of the Law
    (based on detective, cunning)

    “…with a candlestick, in the study.”

    The detective smiled, a thin seam of glib formed across his lips.

    Yancey sat in his heirloom leather chair and shook his head.

    “You can’t be serious,” Yancey said. “I don’t care how good your skills are, there’s no way you could pin it on Aunt Margaret.”

    “Besides,” said Jen, “she’s been dead twenty years.”

    The detective broke his smile and pointed at Aunt Margaret’s portrait which sat above the manor’s most ornately carved mantle. A lone candle to the picture’s right cast flickering shadows across her picture.

    “Dead?” the detective said. “Or simply inhabiting another corporeal form.”

    On the settee, Winifred choked and spat up her brandy spraying small wet dots across her dress. Jen saw the dots and thought them a stylistic improvement for Winifred.

    “Let me define corporeal, dear detective,” said Dennis. Up until that point, Dennis was sitting quietly beside the grandfather clock. “It means a body of substance. But I imagine substance is something foreign to you. Though you may be ‘spirited’ in your deductions….”

    Jen rolled her eyes.

    The detective’s glib seam returned.

    “You are so quick to criticize me, Dennis,” the detective said. “Or should I say… Aunt Margaret.”

    Winifred dropped her glass. Yancey collapsed. Dennis started sweating.

    “Whatever do you mean?” Dennis asked. His bottom lip quivered.

    “We all know Aunt Margaret’s obsession with,” the detective paused, “possession. We all know her infirmities made her a bitter old woman. That’s why she possessed…. her nephew Dennis!”

    “No I didn’t!” Dennis yelped.


  65. “Two For Hell”
    257 words
    Retired Doctor and Isolated Country Manor

    Dr. Edgar Brant took hold of the brass knocker to Lord Xavier’s manor—for the third time in as many minutes—and at last gave it a strong belt against the door. Brant took a single step back and planted his feet. There was no more time for running.
    A gaunt man of ivory complexion ushered him inside as if he were late for an appointment. He considered that for a moment. There was that girl he had failed to heal, last Tuesday, who would have lived had he been quicker of hand and sharper of wit, as he had been not too many years past. A pity, but not the important one.
    “Are you here by invitation or hearsay, sir?” asked the pale-skinned servant as he led Brant up a tall spiral stair.
    “I received my invitation three years ago, my good man. It is only this past week that I decided to heed it.” Brant wheezed as he took one step after the other, filled with equal measures of fear and fervor.
    “A wife? A child? A neighbor?”
    Brant shook his head. “My grandniece. I never married. She was the only one I had, my sister dead twenty years gone and her sons killed in one fell swoop in a carriage accident. Only twenty, engaged to be married.”
    “Heartbreak. Her betrothed died on holiday just recently.”
    “Oh, so you’re here for the ‘Two For Hell’ deal?”
    The gaunt man smiled as he entered Lord Xavier’s chamber. “I have a soul for you, sir.”


  66. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 245
    Story Elements: Conflict (man vs man) and Character (arrogant detective)

    Der Hund von Bach-Steuville

    The famous consulting detective, Herr Sjoerlach Ohm and his loyal companion and chronicler, struck-off medic Herr Doktor Watzern, are pursuing an escaped, rabid hellhound along the mean, moonlit streets of Bach-Steuville.

    “Watch your step, Watzern!”

    “Ach! Too late! I stood in dog poop.”

    “Scrape it off along the pavement.”

    “Ah! Das ist gut! My shoe is clean und I haf discovered zat I can moonvalk! Vot shall ve do now?”

    “Simple. I intend to probe zer hound’s last movements.”

    “Eugh! Vell, remember to vash your hands afterwards.”

    “Dummkopf! A child of five might understand my meaning!”

    “Vhere are ve to find such a child at zis time of night?”

    “Look zere. A body!”

    Watzern bends, grasps the man’s wrist and takes out his chronometer.

    “Either he is dead… or my watch has stopped.”

    “Observe, Wartzen, a message attached to the sole of his boot.”

    “Ah! A footnote. ‘vhat has four legs and flies?’ Mein Gott! I have it, Ohm! Two pairs of trousers.”

    “A reasonable guess, Watzern. But I suspect zat zer answer is Pegasus, zer flying horse of Greek mythology. Zhere is a bierkeller of zat name just around zer corner. Ve must make our vay zhere without delay.”

    Watzern does not move. “You alvays treat me with arrogance.”


    Later, Her Doktor Watzern attempts to justify his actions to his wife.

    “I could not verk for zat man again after vot he said to me.”

    “Vhy? Vot did he say?”

    “You’re fired!”


    Word Count: 253
    Story Elements: Conflict (man vs man) and Character (arrogant detective)

    Der Hund von Bach-Steuville

    The famous consulting detective, Herr Sjoerlach Ohm and his loyal companion and chronicler, struck-off medic Herr Doktor Wartzern, are pursuing an escaped, rabid hellhound along the mean, moonlit streets of Bach-Steuville.

    “Mind your step, Wartzern!”

    “Ach! Too late! I stood in dog poop.”

    “Scrape it off along the pavement.”

    “Ah! Das ist gut! My shoe is clean und I haf discovered zat I can moonvalk! Vot shall ve do now?”

    “Simple. I intend to probe zer hound’s last movements.”

    “Eugh! Vell, remember to vash your hands afterwards.”

    Dummkopf! A child of five might understand my meaning!”

    “Vhere are ve to find such a child at zis time of night?”

    Ohm sighs, then gasps. “Look zere. A body!”

    Wartzern bends, grasps the man’s wrist and takes out his chronometer.

    “Eizer he is dead… or my vatch has stopped.”

    “Observe, Wartzen, a message attached to the sole of his boot.”

    “Ah! A footnote. ‘Vhat has four legs und flies?’ Mein Gott! I have it, Ohm! Two pairs of trousers.”

    “A reasonable guess, Wartzern. But I suspect zat zer answer is Pegasus, zer flying horse of Greek mythology. Zhere is a bierkeller of zat name just around zer corner. Ve must make our vay zhere without delay.”

    Wartzern does not move. “You are zo… arrogant! You alvays treat me with contempt.”


    Later, Her Doktor Wartzern attempts to justify his actions to his wife.

    “I could not verk for zat man again after vot he said to me.”

    “Vhy? Vot did he say?”

    ” ‘You’re fired!’ “


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