2017 minus 73: Murder, they said

Posted: 20 October 2016 in 2017 minus, fiction, writing

Elephant Words was a fiction site to which I contributed stories, on and off, for several years. The idea behind the site was simple, based on the old tale of several blind people describing an elephant based only on touch; one described the animal as a long snake, another that it was hard and bony, still another that it was like a tree trunk. Every week, one of the participants would put up an image, and over the following week, people would write a story inspired upon the image alone.

Occasionally, a story didn’t need the image to contextualise the tale, but I always tried to use it to the point that if the image wasn’t there, I’d have had to change something about the story.

Here’s one of them; an image, and the story it inspired me to write.



The room was empty now, other than the three of them: the detective, his companion and the policeman.

The exhibits of the museum’s grand hall surrounding them, they stared at each other in silence until, eventually, the Chief Inspector coughed. “I’d best be on my way then. Nice job,” he said, nodding at the detective, then turning on his heels and striding for the exit.

He had almost reached the large double doors when a softly spoken “Oh, Chief Inspector?” brought him up short. He turned and saw the detective and his companion staring at him, the former wearing a look of mocking contempt as he so often did.

“Did you really think that was it?” the detective asked.

“Well, of course,” was the expected reply, and came it did.

In long strides, the detective covered the ground between them, stopping about four paces away, in front of the armour imported from the Czech Republic, and on special display.

“You really believed that nonsense about Johnson being the murderer? Of course you didn’t, so it occurs to me to ask why you pretend to believe it.”

There was a muffled exclamation from the companion behind him. “What? But you laid it out so perfectly, and…”

The detective barely glanced back at his friend, but glance he did. And his companion fell silent.

“I know who the real murderer is. You know that don’t you?” the detective asked, and the Chief Inspector nodded, slowly.

And together, as if rehearsed, they said simultaneously, with sadness, “it’s you.”

There was a moment’s silence, before they repeated the words, first with determination, and then again in confusion.

Then, again in sync, “No, it’s you. It’s not me! It’s you!”

Then voices were raised. And guns were drawn. And shots were fired. And bodies hit the ground.

And that, sergeant, is how they both died. No, I don’t know what they were talking about. Of course, I’ll be around if you have any questions. Good night.

                — Excerpted witness statement from XX (identity preserved for this record), previously best known as the companion to the detective, read out at the inquest after witness had left the country, having suddenly inherited a fortune from a previously unknown aunt.

© Lee Barnett

See you tomorrow, with some thoughts on last night’s final Presidential Debate, when I’ve calmed down; that way it’s likely to be less sweary.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

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