'The Dangers of Prolixity' by Rhys Barter


    “…and this leads us on,” said the funny little detective, “To the only possible solution to the mystery.”
     The detective had been delivering his denouement in the packed library of Hipping Hall for over an hour. It was an elaborate performance, tarnished by prolixity, in which he accused, one by one, every single person in the room and explained their possible motives. His audience, unfortunately, had ceased to pay attention long ago, instead playing on their phones, perusing magazines, and in the case of Lord Astbury himself, cleaning the grime from his fingernails with an antique letter opener.
     “The solution to the problem lies in how the crime was committed,” the detective went on, “We were all there when the Captain was killed. He was giving his speech in this very room, in front of all of his friends and family, when suddenly the knife appeared lodged in his chest. Nobody was anywhere near him when he was stabbed and the police claim the knife could not have been thrown. We were all looking right at him, and yet we all saw nothing.”
     The detective turned his back on them, moving towards the roaring fire in the library’s marble grate.
     “But I,” he announced, staring deep into the flames, “Have solved the mystery. The killer was-”
     Then suddenly he gasped with pain.
     Everyone in the room looked up and saw him spin around to face them, a silver dagger protruding from his heart.
     Someone in the crowd rushed forward, but it was too late.
     The detective was already dead.
     And nobody had seen a thing.

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