Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Parts 1) and 2) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021. Week #37.
Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1)By John Howell and Entry 2) My own contribution.
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Here is the image prompt.
This one-line contribution by John Howell.
“The guy in 13 wants his walls painted fuchsia. Says he’s sick of brown.”
John Howell can be reached here …
Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
Here is my own contribution.
Police Captain Henry Weisman lifted the crime scene tape and approached the officers guarding the stairwell and the doorway to Apartment 13. “Evenin’, Cliff. What have we got?”
“Same M.O as the last five deaths, Hank.”
“None that the CSI guys have come up with yet.”
“We have any ID on this one?”
The officer handed over the details and waited.
“Oh, God. Tell me this isn’t Senator Parker’s wife?”
“Wish I could. But yeah, it is. Thirty-seven-year-old Katherine Parker.”
“Has the Senator reported her missing?”
“Not as of a couple of hours ago when the 911 call came in.”
“Thanks, Cliff. I’ll take a look. The 911 caller?”
“Woman from the floor below called it in.”
“Good. I’ll talk to her shortly.”
Captain Weisman walked around the now familiar sign on the easel, pulled on his gloves and entered the apartment. He stood back away from the other investigators. He needed to absorb everything about his surroundings.
He inhaled deeply and the acidic stench of fear and urine permeated his consciousness. Katherine Parker’s body lay curved into the fetal position, she was fully clothed and looked to be sleeping. She had a crucifix clutched in her left hand, just as the other victims. And in a phenomenon equated to the onset of sudden stark terror her dark hair was now white.
The room had no windows. Henry was drawn to the closest wall and placed his gloved-hand palm down against its surface. He felt it again. That sudden jolt of adrenaline cursed through his body, he could feel a heartbeat pounding against his hand and moved back hurriedly. Before it overwhelmed him with its presence.
The room contained no furnishings. He knew from past experience that the only identifiable prints they’d find would belong to the victim.
He nodded his farewells to the team and gave the go ahead for the body to be removed. Now he needed to talk to the woman who’d called this one in.
Connie Barber opened the door to Apartment 12, checked the man’s identification and asked him to be seated.
“Thanks for speaking with me at such a late hour. I need to hear what prompted your call to 911 while it’s still fresh in your memory.”
“I understand. Guess this means that poor woman is dead. Go ahead, I’ll help in any way I can. But even I know how crazy what I have to say is gonna sound.”
“I don’t label things I don’t understand as crazy, ma’am. What prompted that call?”
“A couple of days back I heard someone upstairs using a buzzsaw, and there was thumping on the ceiling, and I figured they were finally converting that empty floor into apartments. The noise didn’t last long.”
“Yesterday I was down in the lobby and a workman carried a sign and one of those easel things in. He took the lift up to the floor above mine. I’m a scrabble junkie and I didn’t recognize the wording on the sign, so, my curiosity got the better of me and I keyed it in to my iPhone.”
The woman leaned forward and removed a piece of paper from the coffee table, she handed it over. “I don’t know how to pronounce it, but I Googled it. Triskaidekaphobia Treatment Clinic was what was on the sign, and Triskaidekaphobia means a total fear of the number 13.”
“I know the term. Did you get a good look at the workman?”
“I didn’t pay him that much attention, sorry. I was too intrigued by the sign.”
“Did you see the woman enter the building?”
“No, but dear Lord I heard her. She screamed and it was the most agonized sound I have ever heard. I don’t know how long the screaming went on for, but I rang 911 as soon as I could move across to the phone. It was almost as if I was frozen in place. I never want to feel that way again.”
Captain Weisman thanked her for her time.
He reached his car and called his boss.
“Chief. Forgive the late hour, sir. I’m afraid we have another one. This time the victim is very high profile. No way we’re gonna be able to keep the press away from this one.”
“Still not a damned thing to link back to that ‘clinic’?”.
“Nothing, sir. No trail whatsoever on the clinic. No social footprint. It’s as though they never existed.”
“I can’t tell that to the six families now mourning the loss of their loved ones. How long till the next Friday the 13th?”
“No more cold cases, Hank. Find that damned clinic!”
Henry ended the call.
He let himself into his house and poured a double shot of whiskey, then headed down to the basement.
He smiled and his eyes glowed red with pleasure as he began to create his next Triskaidekaphobia Treatment Clinic sign.
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