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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: A Dead Man Walking
By Shari Armstrong


When he darkened my door, I knew he’d be trouble. However, the job he offered me wouldn’t be any trouble at all. This case would solve itself. I continued listening to what he wanted.

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I’m convinced he faked his death. There was too much at stake for him to just walk away right now. Plus, some have claimed to have seen him around town. So, I’m hiring you to find the truth.” He handed me a piece of parchment. “Here is a list of cohorts you can investigate. They are a motley bunch, and I’m sure they would… um… share information easily with you, considering your reputation.”

“I have been known to get a man to talk himself to death.” I grinned.

“Yes, well, I don’t need any more dead bodies, if he is indeed dead. I just need to expose this farce.”

I stood and extended my hand. “It’s as good as done.”

* * * * *

I kicked at the rubbish, both human and non, as I made my way down the dusty alley. I finally found the pile of rags that held what I wanted--Joel. He saw and heard everything that went on in town.

“Hey, Joel, wake up.”

The pile of rags groaned and then sat up. A pair of tired eyes gazed up at me. “What do you want?”

“I want your help. I have some people I need to track down.” I rattled off the list of names.

“Yeah, They all holed up for the last couple days.” He took a sip from his flask and coughed. “Word is they wanted to keep from getting themselves strung up. That mob was pretty ugly.”

“Yeah, so I hear. So where can I find them now?”

He coughed again and gave me directions.

* * * * *

I made my way outside town and soon found myself at the scene of the alleged death. I looked around the scene, and there was quite a bit of blood soaked into the ground. I was surprised more of it hadn’t been washed away already. If it wasn’t this guy’s blood, someone sure was killed here.

I wandered around, feeling a chill creeping down my spine. I felt as if someone were following me, which was ridiculous. That was my job. I looked behind me, and of course, saw no one.

I continued checking my usual sources. Nobody was talking, at least nothing that made sense. Everyone swore this man had died; yet people kept seeing him around town. What else was I to think? A double? Faked? What? This was proving a tougher nut to crack than I had originally thought.

I made my way to the house at the edge of town, the one everyone kept pointing to. They said I’d find the answers I sought there. I slipped up to an open window and took a peek inside.

I saw my mark in the middle of the room. He fit the description I was given to a tee. I ducked down in the shadows and listened. The more I heard, the more evidence I had that he did indeed fake his death. It was him. That is until I heard him tell one of his followers to touch his wounds. I took a chance to stand and peek in again.

There, as he said, were wounds in his hand, feet and side. Nobody could have survived damage like that. But, here he was, a dead man walking. There was more to this man than met the eye. I knew I wasn’t done investigating this, and I knew my client wasn’t going to be happy with the results.

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This article has been read 1162 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 04/12/07
Chills! Great job for first person and I didn't have a clue about this one! VERY GOOD!
Steve Uppendahl04/12/07
Wow. Great concept and excellent writing. I had no idea until the final paragraphs. This one is going far and deservedly so.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/12/07
Oh wow, you totally got me! I even knew this story had a surprise ending and I still didn't have a clue what it would be. Great, great job!
Lauren Bombardier04/12/07
Excellent twist! This is very well done.
Catrina Bradley 04/13/07
Yikes! What a surprise twist! (And I love stories that do that.) Very nice use of the topic - who woulda thunk it?
"Dead" man walking, indeed.
Julie Arduini04/13/07
Excellent mystery all the way through. I loved the title, the suspense, and the ending. Great work!!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/14/07
Great writing here. I loved this mystery.
Jacquelyn Horne04/16/07
Interesting account of what may have happend after the death of Christ.
Sandra Petersen 04/17/07
I really liked this, Shari! About midway I started suspecting where you were going, but I still enjoyed it through and through. I especially liked the part about Joel. . .you almost had me thinking that perhaps this wasn't about the Resurrection. The name Joel sounded, well, a bit too biblical, but didn't ruin the story at all.

Great job! You got the mystery genre down pat.
Jan Ackerson 04/17/07
What I love about this is that you played absolutely fair to the readers--misleading them on the one hand, but when the ending is revealed, we go back and nod "yep." That's one of the crucial elements of a good mystery, and you nailed it perhaps better than anyone this week. Glad I found this one!
Sara Harricharan 04/17/07
This is GOOD! I love the first person view and the descriptions, it's very 'you are there' atmosphere. Great writing!
Joanne Sher 04/17/07
Excellent! I caught on a bit earlier than some, but this is EXTREMELY effective writing. A wonderfully done mystery.
Rita Garcia04/17/07
Master Writing!! Creative and a great read.
Val Clark04/17/07
Great story. Very creative. Well crafted. The word 'parchment' gave it away for me. But still I did enjoy it. yeggy
Helen Paynter04/18/07
I agre, with the comments above - this was great - good writing and a suspense-filled story to boot. And a powerful message.
Cheri Hardaway 04/18/07
You had me for the first half, and then the Light began to dawn. Wonderful job! Impressive. Blessings, Cheri
Loren T. Lowery04/18/07
I didn't see that end coming, but it packed a powerful wallop. I especially like the message found in your last line.
Betty Castleberry04/18/07
I didn't see this coming AT ALL. It's well crafted and kept me guessing till the end. Thank you for sharing this well done piece.
Marty Wellington 04/18/07
Wowza - awesome construction of a story we all should know, but kept me guessing all the way through. You did a masterful job weaving this story together! Bravo!
LaNaye Perkins04/19/07
Oh My Gosh, what a great read. I had no clue till it was almost to the end. I look forward to the day when my writing reaches this level!
Sara Harricharan 04/19/07
Congrats on highly commended!
Bonnie Way04/19/07
WOW, good story! That twist at the ending completely threw me - I hadn't seen it coming! Great mystery. :) Congrats on being highly commended.
Sharlyn Guthrie04/19/07
Congratulations! I was hoping someone would submit a well-written piece written from this angle, and you definitely delivered!