I've been writing short stories for many years. And through several computer crashes I've lost quite a few (sigh...). But a few have remained. Here's one I wrote a few years ago, which is a classic "who - done- it". See if you can find the culprit before all is revealed at the end of the story. Don't you just love a mystery?
He fought for breath, his heart pounding fast. As he reached his hand upwards, out of the water, hoping beyond belief to grasp something – something that would stop him from sinking deeper into the waters of Humber River, Peter could feel an intense pressure building behind his eyes – and instinctively, he began to panic. The lack of oxygen was taking its effect. Peter's battle to stay alive went on for some minutes while the cold and the current of the river conspired to end him there - until finally, providence extended an arm to him in the form of a large waterlogged tree trunk, broken at the base, but not disconnected from the root, which stood securely in the ground by the waters edge.
His hand landed on its solid structure, and Peter came sputtering and gasping to the surface. He hoisted his chest and arms over the trunk, hugging tightly onto the wood. He stayed like that for some moments, trying to catch his breath and clear his head. He could feel the large gash on his forehead beginning to bleed again, and knew that he probably suffered a fairly severe concussion after his car went over the cliff.
Once he'd maneuvered his way out of the water and onto the ground, he stood soaked to the skin, staring into the darkness of the wooded area. He tried to reason which way the road laid from where he was. Without any real comfort that he was heading in the right direction, Peter began to walk through the thicket.
It gave him some time to think about his situation. It was apparent that someone was threatened by him. He wondered how long he'd been followed, and if running him off the road and over the cliff was planned, or just a brazen act brought on by opportunity. The attempt on his life cemented Colleen's death as murder, and not the widely held certainty of suicide.
He'd had his doubts for months, and he'd been subtly – or so he thought - making inquires into her death. Who was it that suspected that he knew the truth? Or at least was close to knowing it?
In his mind he scanned the faces of all the people he'd talked to. Colleen's ex-boyfriend Alan stood out prominently. He could see his 6'4" frame looming over him as he told Peter why he and Colleen had recently split. He seemed to think she was cheating on him. When Peter asked him what gave him that impression, Alan responded with some vague answer about her being distant.
Peter asked him if he knew who the other man was but Alan said he didn't. Peter had a funny feeling that he wasn't telling the truth, but couldn't understand what his motivation would be to lie.
Alan had spoken to Colleen the day she died and he said that she'd sounded anxious and distracted, but otherwise okay. He asked her if he could come and see her, but she said that her sister was coming over for a visit so it would have to be another day. He couldn't really understand why she would kill herself, but he had no doubt that it was suicide.
Next was Patricia, Colleen's best friend. She supported Colleen's sister's assertion that Colleen was in a fog of depression for several months before her death. She thought that in her unbalanced state, she just sank deeper into that depression until she took the subsequent way out.
Colleen's sister, Liesl and her husband Michael, however, had differing opinions about her death. Michael shared Peter's notion that her death was at least vaguely suspicious. He said he'd recently talked with Colleen and she seemed to be coming out of her depression. He'd even said that she'd been seeing a therapist to help her work through her issues. Liesl seemed surprised to hear that Colleen was getting therapy, because she'd had a bad experience in the past. There was not a lot of concrete evidence that supported the idea of foul play, but Peter shared with Liesl and Michael what little circumstantial evidence he felt pointed in that direction.
Even though Colleen's body was found in her bedroom, with the empty bottle of Lorcet lying not far from her, and all indications pointing to suicide, it was suspicious, he believed, that her apartment was almost void of fingerprints – even her own.
Liesl had explained this away as being typical behavior. She said that Colleen would never have left a messy house. She would have cleaned up thoroughly, so not to place any burden on Liesl, who would have ultimately been responsible for taking care of Colleen's effects. She said she knew her sister better than anyone, and she knew that it was an act of kindness and not one that should garner suspicion.
It was true, that there were signs in the apartment that Colleen had been cleaning – a pail filled with murky water and a mop next to it, but even the mop handle had no fingerprints – which seemed to indicate that she'd never once touched the mop with her bare hands, or if she did, she'd taken to wiping the stick clean after every use. Both seemed preposterous to Peter.
Peter went over these things in his head until he finally exited the woods onto a deserted road. He walked alongside the road for about 3 miles when he spotted the headlights of a car coming towards him. He moved into the middle of the street and began to wave his arms in the air in an attempt to flag down the vehicle. He could see the car begin to slow its pace, and a grateful, haggard smile formed on his lips.As the car pulled to a stop, and the driver's window rolled slowly down, Peter's smile froze on his startled and confused face. Liesl appeared behind the tinted glass, and in an instant, Peter knew – knew that Liesl had visited her sister the day she died, yet her fingerprints were not in the apartment – knew that if she and Colleen were as close as she claimed they were, she should not have been surprised when her husband said that her sister was seeing a therapist – knew that Michael and Colleen had been in contact recently, and if she was sharing her private details with her sister's husband, could she not be sharing her bed with him also? – knew that Alan, Colleen's ex, probably thought so – knew that infidelity had caused many victims to sin, even to murder – knew that in that moment, Liesl was afraid, and as she raised the revolver in her hand to Peter's chest, and pulled the trigger, Peter knew that providence was done being charitable to him that night.