“The Adventure of the Unburied Hatchet” — a Flash Fiction Mystery by Sanguine Woods

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Art by Clifford Michael. (Pinterest)

I had so much fun writing this! It was published in a book of murder mystery flash fiction stories and it won a fiction contest.

I hope you enjoy it, too.

Sanguine Woods


Last Saturday found me waiting out a storm at 221 B Baker Street. A fire roared. My tea was hot. My tobacco mellow. The daily news curled in my lap.

Three pipes and a mountain of ash later: still no Holmes. “Well, Old Boy,” I thought, “seems you’ve a “three-pipe problem” of your own!” Lightning lit the window. A minute or two later, I heard footsteps on the stair.

Into the room burst Sherlock Holmes, wet as a drowned rat.

“A new disguise?” I said.

“Funny, Watson.” He shook out his hat. “But I am afraid we’ve no time for jesting. The game is afoot! Grab the lantern! We must get there before the rain stops!”

Our Hansom rolled to a stop at the churchyard. The iron gate screeched to wake the dead. Holmes disappeared inside. I lit the lantern and followed at a trot.

Ten rows down, and a dozen over, I found him, crouched behind an obelisk.

“Quiet, now, Don’t frighten them off!” He was pointing at a faint light in the distance.

“What in blazes—?”

He beckoned me follow, and off he crept, like a spider.

As we ducked behind a tree, I heard voices.

I chanced a peek. There, one per gravestone, sat an old man and woman clad in the garments of yesteryear: he, a uniform; she, widow black. They were glowing.

“Oh, Edward. Must you go on! Night after night. It’s the same story! Battle my foot! It was your grandson found you, laying there. A bean lodged in your throat!”

“Confound it all, Maude! And I tell you one final time! I was shot dead on the bloody field!” He smacked his hands together: “BAM!”

Maude was up now, stomping all over Edward’s grave. “You mind that cursing! A big fat butter bean it was! And me, mourning you like a proper lady, found dead a day later by the god-damned cook!” Her hand flew to her mouth.

“Well, it sure wasn’t the cook who did me in with her cooking, was it? Those beans were hard as gallstones!”

“You’ve known it all along? Why—you horrid little man!” And with that, Maude ran straight into a hedge and disappeared. The sound of sobbing hung in the air.

“Watch now, Watson! A most peculiar phenomenon.”

As the last raindrops fell, Edward, too, began to fade. In thin lines, at first, then, like water dripping upward. In a few more seconds, he was gone.

“Incredible!” I said.

In the lantern light, Holmes read aloud: “Here Lies Granny Maude, Poisoned by Grandpa Edward, Who Choked to Death on Her Bean Soup.”

(c)2016 Sanguine Woods. All rights reserved.

***


The Adventure of the Unburied Hatchet originally appeared in the anthology: Family Memories ~ An Anthology of Murder and Mischief, ed. MJ Sydney.

Sanguine Woods is the pseudonym for Denver-based poet and writer, Michael Albright Quinn. He is a technical writer by day, and a creative writer all the time. You can find his blog at https://thesanguinewoods.wordpress.com. Woods lives near Denver with his partner, Joe, and their daughter, Olivia; a cool cat, a wicked cat, two dogs, and two birds. He reads a bunch, and is a nut for vintage mysteries and ghost stories—and all things horror.

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