January 18, 2017
Copyright C.S. Poe
Artwork: Dianne, Lyrical Lines
Genre: Mystery, contemporary romance, choose your own adventure
The Murder Collection
Pt. 1 ended with two options:
Dean opens the closet door.
Dean leaves it be.
The overwhelming majority of readers want to get Dean in trouble and opted for him opening the door!
I yanked the closet open.
It took a second to register the body half submerged in a big wash tub full of what smelled like turpentine. But once the reality of the situation kicked in, I screamed.
“Holy mother of God! What the fucking fuck!” I threw the door shut.
My heart was pounding and adrenaline was making my entire body shake. I saw that, right? I saw the dead guy? I wasn’t going through some artist psychosis thing, was I?
I opened the door again and let out another scream.
Yup. The guy was still dead.
“Satan’s goddamn nut-sack!” I slammed it shut a second time, stumbled back several steps, tripped over a broom, and fell to the floor. I ignored the shooting pain from my ass all the way up my spine, and fished my phone free from a pocket.
I called my publicist.
“Dean,” Jeff answered, voice smooth like a glass of excellent whiskey. “Honey. You better be calling me from studio, where you’ve been diligently working on new art. Because so help me if you’re at home in your star-spangled booty shorts, deep into a second carton of ice cream, and crying over your third or fourth re-watch in a row of Love Actually.”
“He— he— the— it’s so dead!” I babbled. “It smells so bad and it’s like— like— oh my God! Human soup!”
Jeff sighed. “How much have you had to drink? Dean, it’s….” he paused, then said, “it’s not even two in the afternoon. On a Tuesday, no less. I know it’s always five o’clock somewhere, but that mentality is usually saved for—“
“Jeff, come save me, there’s a dead man in my water closet!”
The smell— the knowledge that I’d been inhaling human rot— it finally got to me and I lost it. Literally. I turned onto my knees, dropped my phone, and barfed all over the floor.
I heard Jeff sigh loudly from the earpiece. “I’ll be over in fifteen.”
He didn’t believe me!
And fifteen minutes? There was no way I was sticking around here for even another fifteen seconds!
I wiped my mouth on the sleeve of my coat, grabbed my phone, and ran for the door. I threw it open and nearly fell into the hallway in a blind panic to escape my own work studio, but ended up freezing in place.
At the end of the hall, with his back turned to me, was a huge man. I’m talking tall and wide in ways that suggests he was born to crush and grind up his fellow man in like… underground fight groups or something. He was bald, wore dark clothes, had a big plastic drum of what looked like maybe cleaning supplies in one hand, and a gun in the other. I think he might have been listening for sound coming out of any of the other studios rented out on this floor, but when my door opened I saw his posture perk and he started to turn.
I moved back and quickly shut the door again before locking it.
I looked through the peephole and saw the mountain’s shadow before his distorted, fishbowl image appeared before me.
Maybe forty. Huge handlebar mustache. A jagged scar under one eye.
What was he, a mobster?
He gave my door the hairy eyeball before jiggling the knob.
The gun, the gun, the gun, he had a fucking gun!
Was he connected to the dead guy enjoying a bath in his own decomp, or was this a whole unrelated situation of utter shittery?
I heard him swear through the door and try the doorknob once more for good measure.
I was trapped. You know how people say they see their life flash before their eyes?
I saw nothing.
Like a television station that only gets static.
I lunged for a nearby chair and propped it under the knob before taking a step back. I heard Mob-Man Charlie set his bucket down on the floor of the hall and then he slammed his body against the door.
CHOOSE DEAN’S ACTION!
Dean confronts Mob-Man Charlie.