This week Chuck Wendig has challenged us to write 500 words of a story – an unfinished story. Then, next week, someone else will finish it.
I hope someone wants to finish this one – it’s the sort of thing that I wake up with when I’ve had a long day and finish with an evening of Morse, Lewis and Midsomer Murders on TV. It’s particularly appropriate to this week – which is the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival (UK).
Half a Clue
The last thing Scarlett expected to find that morning was a dead body.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the excitement of the previous evening she had not slept well. The stuffy old dinner party had turned out to be so much more. As usual, she had been seated next to the vicar, and his groping hands had strayed to her thigh on several occasions. Her mother had asserted some years earlier that little girls did not tell tales, especially about such a respectable person. On maintaining the truth of her allegations, she had been sent to her bed without supper for five consecutive days. She had learned to endure and avoid as a result.
The only person she had confided in was Alba White, the cook. To her immense relief, Alba just nodded. “Say nothing more,” she had advised, and gave her a signal to give to the butler. On the next occasion the vicar’s attentions became too intimate, Scarlett acted as planned, and the reverend was mysteriously taken ill after the sweet course. Last night it happened again, and Scarlett hoped the man of a different god than hers could see it was divine retribution.
She had thrown off that mischief after dinner. Russell Peacock, home from the war, and his mother had been the centre of attention. Russell only had five days leave, but he looked so handsome – and so grown up since their last meeting in the summer. They had known each other since childhood, of course, but there was something so different about him now, it made her heart fizz. Even their entrance had been exciting. Reeves had announced them, of course, but as Russell had shaken her father’s hand his eyes had turned to her, that sudden spark shooting through her, confirming his thoughts were on her as much as hers were of him.
He had done his duty to the rest of the company, of course, and he and Scarlett had only minutes together before dinner was announced, minutes that Scarlett had dissected and savoured in the early hours when she was trying to sleep. Of course, she also examined the scene that, having simmered throughout dinner, finally erupted afterwards. How dare the stuffy old Colonel disagree with Russell about his analysis of the Hun? What right had he to call Russell a ‘young pup’? Scarlett thought Russell had been most heroic in the way he controlled his rising embarrassment tinged with ire. The Colonel was drunk even before he arrived, or so she had heard the professor whisper as he gently led the old soldier onto the terrace after the meal.
Scarlett’s only regret about the evening was its premature ending; Russell and his mother had to return early to nurse his sick father.
So much for Scarlett to think about. No wonder she had risen early to see the dawn. It had just been the last thing she expected to find: Colonel Mustard, in the library, a revolver by his side.
(c) J M Pett 2014
I’ll add a link here to any blogs that finish this story next week.