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A Prompt Response for Flasher Friday
This is my response to a prompt from Our Write Side to their Friday Flasher prompt. A short story in no more than 500 Words using four elements.
- Place: Japan
Character: the new guy
Object: an ashtray
Weather: drifting snow
By John Yeo
We are an exclusive club of travelers. Our writing fraternity has visited a different exotic venue each winter for the last ten years. We have been to the ends of the earth in search of inspiration. We explore an unusual destination, then write like crazy for a fortnight using our holiday destination as a backdrop.
We decided to holiday this year in Japan, It was Harry, the new guy to our group. who had the idea of visiting Hokkaido, I can clearly remember when he addressed the group at our annual meeting.
“Thanks to the prevailing cold winds from Russia: Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost and second-largest island usually gets a good dumping of snow. Sapporo, Japan’s fifth largest city, hosts a magical snow festival that attracts over two million people every year in February to see hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures.”
There was a generally positive reaction to this idea.
Jim Trimble the chairman responded with, “Yes, I’ve heard of this massive unusual event, we ought to get some great inspiration from the displays and the atmosphere there.”
Peter Drake our secretary and treasurer looked up from the laptop he had perched in front of him on the table. “Sapporo is within our budget and has some interesting features to visit whilst we are there. I can probably get a good deal if we book early,”
“Any questions, or alternative ideas?” asked the chairman.
Millicent Summers, then asked, “What is the temperature like there in February,?”
“Cold!” said Peter
The chairman then asked for a show of hands and the decision to visit Sapporo was carried unanimously.
That is the background to how we found ourselves marooned in a luxury hotel in Sapporo after a freak snowfall had dumped ten inches of snow on this part of the city causing widespread chaos. With devastating snowdrifts piling up, bringing delays to all transport, thousands of people were stranded at the airports.
We were called together to be questioned by an officer of the Japanese police investigating the murder of one of our fellow guests, an Australian man who was traveling alone had been found dead in his hotel room with a severe wound to his head.
The investigating officer arrived with two colleagues and began to question all of the hotel guests individually.
The police made an arrest and left with the suspect in handcuffs. We were shocked to discover that Harry, the new guy in our club was under arrest for murder.
Jim Trimble said the evidence was cast iron as the victim had been assaulted with one of the large heavy glass ashtrays that can be found in every room throughout the hotel. The only missing ashtray was from Harry’s room, this was almost incontrovertible evidence.
Millicent was soon on the case, and angrily cornered the night porter and questioned him vigorously, she hated to admit Harry had spent the night with her.
Harry was quickly released from custody; an innocent bystander in a planned assassination.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.
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Writing Practice from a prompt by The Write Practice
Let’s twist things up. You show up to Mrs. White’s Tudor style mansion to meet with your writing critique group, as you do every week. You expect to have a fun time talking about writing and getting feedback, not to find one member of the group murdered in the drawing room. First, describe how you find the murder victim. Then, after the police lock you in a room with the rest of the guests, write about your suspicions of who-dun it as you look around the room at your fellow writers. (Set your timer for thirty minutes.)
by John Yeo
It’s Tuesday evening once again, My favourite evening of the week. We are off to take part in our evening of literary congeniality together, at Madeleine White’s mansion at the top of the hill, overlooking the village. Gilbert White is a wealthy industrialist who likes to play at being a Lord of the manor.
The drive up the steep hill is very pretty, with the estate farm and fields spreading out into the distant horizon. The huge ornamental gates with a statue of a horse’s head on each gatepost, are always left open on Tuesday to welcome the writing group.
Mrs White opens the door herself, in response to the chimes of the doorbell that resounds hollowly through the rooms of the mansion. The butler is off-duty on Tuesdays. We always receive a welcome from our lady hostess. There are just six of us in the group at present. Annie, Dorothy, Jill, Richard, Margaret and I.
We usually meet in the impressive library, where there are many leather bound books from floor to ceiling, and many comfortable chairs and tables. Tonight is no exception and we get ourselves comfortable as we wait for Jill, who has gone to fix her torn jeans in the drawing room full length mirror.
We wait a good ten minutes before we begin to work, we all leave one after another to get drinks in the drawing room, and visit the toilets situated there. Jill still hasn’t got back after another five minutes, and Mrs White leaves us to find her. Suddenly there is a frightening high scream from the drawing room. We all rush in there at once to find a shocked Mrs White and the prone figure of Jill on the floor of the drawing room. There is a pool of blood seeping over the carpet under her body. “She’s dead,” gasps Mrs White. somebody call the police.”
Soon after the police arrive to investigate and to the horror of everyone, we are all locked up in the library by the police.
Looking around at our fellow writers, I try to work out who is capable of the killing and why? Presumably we are locked up here because the police suspect one of us.
I immediately rule out Margaret and myself. This leaves Annie, Dorothy, and Richard and of course Mrs White. I think my suspicions lie with Dorothy, she has always held a competitive grudge against Jill.
Sometime later we are all interviewed by the investigating officer, who is still without a suspect, not a single clue has been revealed during the questioning.
Then after a search of the pantry, a man with blood on his clothes, found hiding there, is led out handcuffed by the police. Mrs White is in a state of shock as she identifies her butler.
The sensational twist in the tale occurred a week later when Madeleine White was arrested for the murder of Jill Dyson who was blackmailing her, for an alleged affair she had with her father. Jill claimed Mrs White was her Mother who had abandoned her to marry Gilbert White.
The butler was released after admitting smearing himself with blood to protect Mrs White.
Gilbert White is moving away soon. Sadly our literary group is no more.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.