Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: A Dead Man Walking
By Shari Armstrong
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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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