• Short Stories

    Murder at Downtown Alley Short Story

    Murder at Downtown Alley, starring Tepulia Lark

    © Peter Barnett

    DCI J. Fedora surveyed the scene in front of him with an expert eye, but he could not put it into context of a murderous fight, as they were led to believe. There seems to have been some sort of struggle, with ornaments, pictures and even a broken umbrella but none of the furniture, apart from one small overturned chair, was disturbed.

    Upstairs in the bedroom it was a similar scene but with the added complication of a blouse with a bloodstain in the wash basket and a ripped shirt in the small waste bin. Neither the husband, Mr. William Aster or his wife, Disa (strange name thought Jaunty) were to be found. Neither of their cars were in the drive or garage. There were no laptops or tablets around for them to trawl through and without a search warrant they wouldn’t really be able to anyway. They were here at the request and information provided by Mrs Aster’s sister, who thought that Disa might be in trouble from her husband, based on some Facebook posts and her inability to contact her.

    In fact, had the back door not been wide open, they probably wouldn’t be inside the house at all. DCI Fedora was astounded at the lack of security which most people treated their home. Many a place he had entered through wide open doors at the back, the owners no doubt thinking that a solid front door would be all they needed, of course the master skeleton keys, he had tucked in his pocket might have been the real reason for an easy entry, but no need to dwell on that.

    A half-eaten ready meal lay abandoned in the kitchen, that either meant a hasty exit or merely poor-quality food, purchased in haste. The husband, no doubt tempted by the glamorous photo on the packaging and the famous chef endorsement, had obviously been disappointed by the actual contents.

    Jaunty tried again to phone the two mobile numbers, provided by Miss Aida, the sister, of the husband and wife, but they both went straight to voice mail. They had a picture of the wife standing in front of her Mazda sports car, from which they had captured the number plate which was being traced through their APNR system but so far without success.

    There was nothing more to be seen inside, so Jaunty posted a uniformed policeman at the front of the house and returned to his office to talk to his team. If he could solve this mystery it would be a feather in his cap as well as an opportunity to progress his career which had stalled lately.

    “Let me show you what we’ve got,” said detective, to his team when he had them all assembled. “A report of trouble between Mr and Mrs Aster, no sign of either of them. Signs of a struggle downstairs and no attempt to clean up. A blouse with blood and a torn shirt in the bedroom. Josh, any luck on social media?”

    “Well there seems to be a short history of trouble in the marriage on her Facebook pages but more hints than direct statements.”

    “Now the photograph the sister provided, gave us the registration number of the MX5. Any response from the APNR?”

    “There is a sighting of the Mazda driving through the Thames Valley region and we’ve alerted local motor patrols.”

    “What about the whereabouts of the phones?”

    “No responses so far although the wife’s phone was last tracked to the Warwickshire area, but that was a couple of days ago.”

    “That could mean nothing,” said Jaunty. “But we’ll alert the force up there to keep an eye open. I’m off to interview the sister.”

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

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  • Short Stories

    Writers Retreat – Famous authors

    Writers Retreat

    Peter L. Barnes

     

    The girl looked out over the swift flowing river, as raindrops tumbled out of the sky, creating crowns of glory, as they crashed into the water. Mayflies, hit by the sudden downpour, plunged into the water, only to be gobbled up by the ravenous school of trout, delighted at the unexpected windfall.

    She surveyed the old tumbledown station behind her and the forlorn space, where once, twin tracks of freedom and travel lay, bringing monsters of metal, surrounded by steam and smoke and their greasy drivers. Cracked and worn platforms beneath her feet, where once upon a time, happy holiday makers, full of excitement and laughter, had once disembarked for their summer holidays.

    No hustle and bustle today, even the birds had fallen silent, hiding amongst the larger leaves attempting to keep their feathers dry, until the storm passed over. The girl’s large brimmed hat dripped water in a circle around her feet, before running down the cracks and over the platform edge. The faintest blodges of white paint remained, long past the time when pristine lines once warned passengers not to get too close.

    The rain turned into hail and Kathy moved back under a canopy that was growing over her head. The hailstones became larger and larger but now in a narrow band along the disused track and the edge of the platform. The noise level increased as the hailstones turned to granite, hammering into the thin area in front of the platform, becoming the full ballast that would be needed for the track.  The noise of the falling stones stopped, to be replaced by the heavy crunch of sleeper logs dropping into place, one by one as they slammed into the ballast. Metal on metal clanking reached Kathy’s ears as two rods of steel approached, hammered into the sleepers and screwed down. Shiny rods of rail track stopped past the end of the platform and huge buffers with new shiny red paint, solidified at the terminus of the line. A gantry with green signals appeared on the far corner of the track and at a road crossing an old car was stopped from crossing.

    “Are you waiting for the train?” asked a rumbling voice from behind her.

    She spun around to find a concerned gentleman, holding up a brightly coloured umbrella to protect his perfect station masters uniform. A peaked cap with a red band, navy blue coat with bright buttons in two rows down the front. Kathy could see that the station was now far from the dilapidated building she had found when she first arrived. A row of lamps, now lit because of the dark thunderstorm; pretty green doors and perfect white writing on all the signs. Waiting Room, Ticket Office, Exit, Ladies and Gents, proclaimed the signs. A new clock proclaiming the time of 6.31, ticked loudly for the first time.

    “I’d have to wait for a long time, wouldn’t I?” said Kathy.

    “Sadly yes. Beecham and the car have certainly spoilt the romance of travelling,” said the stationmaster. “George by the way.”

    “Kathy. Nice to meet you,” said Kathy. “Writers made the most of unexpected meetings of strangers on long journeys, leading to romance or maybe just lustful encounters.”

    “There are lots of love stories set on trains it’s true,” said George. “But think how many murder stories were set on train journeys, especially Agatha’s novels.”

    “Well I suppose she had many journeys on the trains to and from Devon.”

    Talking of which, a whistle in the far distance heralded the arrival of the 2.45 from Paddington. The station and its surrounds were now fully restored, complete with colourful flower beds and new posters welcoming guests to the mini Riviera of England.

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

     

    ©Peter Barnett 2018

     

     

     

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  • One liners and comments

    The Love Triangle a short Story

    Heather stood at the back high enough to see over the heads of the others, picking out the heads she knew and the one that she desired. Love could be a wonderful experience, if the novels in her bookcase were anything to go by, although she had not yet had the full experience yet. Well from her side she had, but it was all in her mind as she lay sleepless at night dreaming of romantic candlelit dinners.

    But it seemed as if the object, sorry person, of her love was oblivious of her, despite all her efforts to be noticed. Maybe he was also shy and not versed in the ways of true love. In fact, he was the reason she was standing here in the first place.

    She had met him in the local café where he sat in a corner, nursing a large cappuccino, huddled in front of his laptop. Well ‘met’ was probably too strong a word, she had passed him and said “Hello,” and he had muttered something but that may have been at something on his screen. Hiding behind a newspaper she had snapped a picture of him engrossed in his work, which she had blown up and was now hanging in her bedroom.

    She heard the barista greeting him one morning, after she had set her alarm early to catch better look at him. Paul was definitely the man of her dreams, tight chinos showing off his athletic legs, chest hugging blue shirt, highlighting his toned torso and a brilliant smile as he greeted his server. Once he had gone she quickly got up for a refill.

    “He’s a bit of a dish, isn’t he?”

    “Yes too good looking for his own good,” replied the barista. “Bit wrapped up for me though.”

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

     

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  • Short Stories

    The Jewel Thief – a short story

    Jewel Thief

     

    A spark reflected in the torch and caught the eye of the caver as she squeezed her way into an unexplored chamber. Why on earth had she decided that this was a great holiday, scrambling down dark, damp, cold holes, covered with mud and underground roots, but it had been on her friend’s bucket list before she had died. The challenge of dealing with her passing, was nothing compared to the promise she had made to live out her friend’s bucket list. She had already suffered a bungy jump, a climb up Kilimanjaro, frightening, white water rafting down a swollen river in Wales, a death defying Skydive and potholing was the last on her friend’s list.

    Jane’s preferred bucket list, had been sitting in front of a log fire, sipping Bailey’s, chocolate in hand, being hugged by her special girlfriend. But as with all rash promises made to a dying partner, she was determined to finish them all. She hoped that living out her friend’s wishes would take away the deep pain Jane had felt since she had gone.

    Jane was drawn closer to the sparkle and dragged her body towards the source, trying to reach the mysterious object. One last heave and she was close enough to see a white diamond, surrounded by a pink flower, glistening in her head light. She grasped the jewel and screamed as she realised it was still on the skeletal remains of a finger. Recovering from her fright she played the torch into the alcove to see a complete skeleton, half submerged in the mud floor. How on earth did that get down here, obviously old, maybe even an ancient burial, or worse a murderer hiding a body. She quickly extracted her phone and took a picture before she backed away, retracing her passage through the cave until she could turn around, still clutching the finger and jewel, as evidence in case she was not believed.

    Once on the surface she couldn’t help blurting out about her discovery. “There’s an ancient body down there,” said Jane. “Well a skeleton anyway.”

    “Really,” said James. “Where?”

    “In that unexplored chamber you told me to try,” said Jane, taking out the finger with the jewel fused to the bone. Now she could see it, there was a central diamond, set in a ruby shaped like a rose with green emeralds, depicting leaves, set around the outside.

    “We’ll have to call the police,” said James. “Even if the finger seems to be old.”

    “The ring is amazing,” said Fran. “I hope you can keep it.”

    “I’ll have to hand it in to the police and inform the local antiquities department,” said Jane. “So, I suppose my chances of keeping my hands on it are probably slim.”

    They tidied up all their potholing equipment, whilst waiting for the police to arrive.

    “Was there a whole skeleton down there?” asked Fran

    “I think so, unfortunately I got a bit of a fright and I don’t think the photo will be that clear.” She showed them the fuzzy picture outlining the skull and ribcage.

    “Wow a ‘skeletie’,” said James, trying to make a bit more of a light-hearted comment, to brighten up their mood.

    The police finally arrived complete with an expert potholer. Jane showed them the finger with the jewel and the dim photo she had taken. The police agreed that with the level of decomposition and the fact that it was half buried in silt, suggested it was ancient and not some sort of modern murder case.

    “Where did you find the body?” asked the potholer.

    “I don’t think ‘body’ would describe what I found,” said Jane and showed him on the map where she had made her discovery.

    The police asked Jane and the others for statements and contact details before asking them to keep the discovery to themselves until they could determine exactly what had gone on.

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

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  • Short Stories

    Worst Christmas Ever

    Julie had woken refreshed and over excited; she had always loved Christmas mornings and this one promised to be the best ever, only to have her dreams shattered by one simple text message.

    She had met John last Boxing Day on a blind date, set up through an internet dating site. She realised she had hit the jackpot from the first meeting, a gentle giant, full of interesting stories of his travels but grounded by his love for his family. He had been attentive from the first, fascinated by her looks and enchanted by her conversation. He had even been understanding of her compulsive tidying of the table as they enjoyed a meal at the local Chinese restaurant.

    She looked back fondly at their interesting dates, not only the usual trips to the cinema and theatre but also to the museums and historic houses that she loved. Many of these visits prompted by her role as contributor to House and Gardens magazine.

    When it eventually happened, their lovemaking had been wonderful and mutually exciting. In truth she had secretly visited the ‘naughty’ sites on the web, to make sure she was doing everything right.

    This Christmas promised even more joy, as she was convinced that John would propose, as they had been looking in jewellers’ windows, discussing engagement rings and she had picked out one she especially liked, as it reminded her of her mother’s ring she had always admired. Sadly, it had been lost when her mother had been killed in a plane crash over the seas in Asia.

    She had adorned her house tastefully, with exquisite Christmas decorations and a perfectly shaped tree, symmetrically hung with twinkling blue and white lights. They had switched on the lights in a little ceremony, pretending to be superstars invited to turn on the town’s lights. A small pile of neatly wrapped presents huddled under the tree, heralding a joy of secrets, waiting to be opened on John’s return. One of the boxes could even be her ring, although no visible box was small enough.

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

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  • Short Stories

    A House is Forever not just for Christmas

    Pauline woke with a start. Someone was creeping into her bedroom. Her heart was thumping in her chest and she could hardly contain her excitement. She was sure that Father Christmas could hear her, despite desperately trying to keep still. Why did she have to have such a squeaky bed, any movement would betray the fact that she was awake. Convinced that if she made any sound, Father Christmas would rush out without leaving her any presents. She controlled her breathing as the shape cautiously crept around the room to the foot of the bed.

    Earlier in the month, she had helped her father put up the lights – greens; whites; reds and her personal favourite, blues. Draping them across the small tree in the corner of the cottage, with a special angel on top for her mother. They were only allowed to put up the decorations after 1st December, so that was always when Pauline started counting down to the big day. Her father had taken her to the local toy supermarket where the dazzling and bewildering array of fantastic toys were beyond her imagination and also beyond her father’s wallet. They had bought nothing at the till and Pauline’s eyes started welling up at the lost opportunity. Maybe if they had been to a smaller shop, she could have picked out something affordable that she really wanted.

    The door quietly closed behind her welcome intruder, but Pauline waited an age before she felt comfortable in checking the anticipated gifts. Finally, she had waited long enough, her curiosity too demanding to leave well alone. She crawled to the end of her bed and cautiously pulled the stocking onto her blanket, thinking back to the days before Christmas break, when the children in her class had talked about all the presents they would be getting for Christmas, from the latest dolls and their outfits; prams and pushchairs; kitchen sets; fashionable clothes; shoes; typewriters and even sewing machines.

    Pauline had kept quiet, in case she revealed that her chances of any meaningful presents was slim. Her father was a mere carpenter, didn’t earn a lot, and since the death of his wife, Pauline’s mother, seemed to be in a state of quiet shock, left without his soul mate and unable to properly console his daughter. Pauline tried her hardest to cope without her mother who had passed away suddenly, last Christmas, the worst present ever.

    Pauline felt the lumps and bumps in the stocking. A most wonderful feeling, desperately trying to guess the contents. The apple and orange were too obvious, and disappointing, but then a square box crackling with wrapping paper, held more promise, as did the strangely shaped, unfathomable oblong. Something soft and squishy, promised maybe the cuddly teddy she had seen in the shop. Maybe her father had snuck back into the shop and selected the one she had coveted.

    She daren’t switch her light on, as it was far too early to get up, so she tucked the unopened stocking under the covers, unwilling to let it out of her arms.

    Pauline felt something pressing into her side, before realising that daytime had finally arrived and she had turned over onto her wonderful stocking. “Yippee,” she cried. “Time to get up.”

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

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  • Short Stories

    Merlin’s Travelling spell goes wrong. Short Story

    “I’m sorry,” said a burley man, as he bumped into me on a crowded byway.

    I stood up and backed into an open room away from the crowds, but was thrown forward to the floor by an invisible force. “What!”

    “Careful,” said the strangely dressed man. “You’ll break the glass.”

    “Glass?”

    The man picked me up, “Yes glass,” he said, tapping on the invisible barrier. “What are you doing, promoting a play.”

    “I have no idea, what is this place.”

    “Oxford Street. I assume you’re lost, here let me show you.”

    From nowhere he plucked a black box and showed me a picture, all lines and squiggles and red dots.

    “Here you are. Where are you going? I’ll set it up.”

    “I’m here to see King Arthur,”

    He tapped the black box, “Ah yes that’s on at the Odeon, just up on the left past the Virgin shop.”

    “Uhh thank you.” I replied, a little amazed. “There’s a shop where they sell virgins, how interesting.”

    “Sorry?” asked the man.

    “Nothing,” I said making my way through the crowed market place, full of people in the strangest garb.

    My last travelling spell had obviously transported me to a major town with all these people, but what were those big red square boxes, full of people, moving along the road without horses.

    “What’s the matter with you,” said a young woman as I brushed into her. This one was dressed in more respectable clothes of a lady of the court.

    “Sorry, miles away,” literally I thought.

    “Love the outfit.”

    “Outfit? Oh, you mean my clothes.”

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

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  • Short Stories

    Flights Of Fantasy

    “Do you need a lift,” said a growling voice beside Casey, as she walked along the country road, making her turn and jump out of the way.

    She hadn’t heard the car draw up beside her, but when she turned it was not a car at all but a purple eyed flying dragon.

    “Where are you going,” she asked, thinking it best to humour the scaly monster.

    “The hills,” said the dragon, between its huge whiter than white teeth. Trails of smoke drifting out of its wide nostrils.

    “There are many hills around here,” said Casey, edging further into the hedge.

    “But only one that matters.”

    “Why does it matter?”

    “It holds my stash of gold.”

    “And no doubt the charred bones of unsuspecting maidens.”

    “Only the ugly ones.”

    “Not the gold diggers?”

    “Oh yes, maybe a few of those as well,” said the impatient Dragon, growing tired of trying to make conversation.

    “Where do you think I fit in?”

    “Well you’re very pretty of course.”

    “How would you know. I thought beauty for you would be another lady dragon.”

    “Few and far between these days.”

    “Dragons or lady dragons?”

    “Both. St George has a lot to answer for you know.”

    “Yes, bit of a tyrant that one.”

    “Yes, he killed my father. Mind you he was a bit long in the tooth.” said the dragon, baring his foot-long incisors.

    “Well he was attacking the village, what do you expect.”

    “He used a long sword and that wasn’t in the script.”

    “There was a script?”

    “Figure of speech. Talking of which you do have a fine figure.”

    Casey twirled around. “You think so?”

    “Yes, so what’s it to be?”

    “I prefer to keep my flesh on my bones.”

    Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.

     

     

     

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