January 18, 2017
Copyright C.S. Poe
Artwork: Dianne, Lyrical Lines
Genre: Mystery, contemporary romance, choose your own adventure
The Murder Collection
Pt. 2 ended with two options:
Dean confronts Mob-Man Charlie.
Readers chose for Dean to stay safe and hide!
That seemed like an extremely sensible thing to do.
I turned and looked around the studio, scanning every nook and cranny I could shove myself into, but besides the water closet, my options were limited. It was an open floor plan with big tables and shelves of supplies.
Mob-Man Charlie smashed against the door again and the chair under the knob gave an ominous crunch.
I was a dead man.
Sweet Jesus. I was only twenty-two. I had student loan debt. I hadn’t been laid in six months.
What the fuck is going on?
Another crash against the door and I was running. I leapt onto a table in front of a window, reached up, and unlocked the top. I crouched down, shoved hard on the pane, and yanked it up just enough to wiggle out onto the fire escape. The cold winter air bit at my exposed hands and face as I ran along the metal support to the stairs, but something made me stop in my tracks.
What was Charlie going to do once he got into my studio?
Was he there for the soupy body in the closet?
If I ran now and didn’t find out what was going on, or at least know where the big dude went afterward, I mean… he could return at any point in my future. And it didn’t matter if I changed the locks, doors didn’t seem to stop him! If I couldn’t provide enough information, would the cops be able to find him?
I swallowed the nasty, sour taste in my mouth and hesitantly crept back. I ignored the fact that I was several stories above a busy New York street. Getting low, I glanced through the bit of open window in time to see the chair break and fly across the room as Charlie got inside.
He stepped over the threshold and looked around briefly, but the smell of decomp was kind of obvious, and he turned to the closet nearly immediately. Charlie tucked his gun into the waistband of his pants and walked to the far end of the room, back to me.
I leaned over a bit more, trying to get a good look at him around some supplies obstructing my view, but when I shifted my weight on the fire escape, something below me rattled.
I looked underneath, through the grates, and the lowest level’s ladder that drops to the street suddenly crashed down from its hold. The sound reverberated so loudly it made my bones shake. I looked back through the open window, and Charlie had spun around, meeting my gaze.
Crap. Mother fucking crap!
“Hey!” he shouted.
I scrambled to my feet and ran to the end of the escape, all but falling down the first set of stairs to the next level. Mob-man’s voice grew as he reached the window. Then the first shot rang out against the metal.
I think I screamed.
I’m not sure.
My life was condensed to tunnel vision. I saw nothing but the stairs to the last level. I lunged forward, slipping and sliding my way down. The fire escape shook as Charlie climbed onto it and chased after me.
Another shot cracked the air.
I swear the bullet whispered in my ear as it passed.
I reached the final ladder hanging down over the sidewalk.
Another shot. I ducked my head.
CHOOSE DEAN’S ACTION!
Dean climbs down the ladder.
Dean jumps to the street below.