Stories

Skeleton in the Closet (Mystery Short Story)

“You sure you’re sure about this one, boss? She just a sweet old lady.”

His wrinkled face pinched into a scowl as he glared at the muggy March sky. “Dreadful weather today.” He grumbled, fastening his coat. Cold and rainy, my mother would call this ‘soup weather’. Clutching the handle of his cane, he teetered down the pathway of the Madam’s estate.

Keeping with his turtle slow pace, I held an umbrella over both of our heads. “Are you even listening?”

“Of course.” Mister Barnaby assured me. I had worked with him long enough to know he was certainly not listening.

It was an awfully big house, far too ritzy for my taste. May as well live at the Plaza. Upon entering the sprawling mansion, a church mouse dressed as a maid met us at the door. Glancing behind her, she presented us with a simple key, the last piece of the puzzle. As we were led into the living room, I stuffed the skeleton key into my vest pocket.

“Detective Barnaby, come in. Come in!” A gracious greeting offered by the lady of the house. Mrs. Matilda Pierce, a well kept woman, with pristine makeup and not a hair out of place. Trust me, this broad didn’t look a day over 50. Perched by the fireplace, she sat in her antique rocking chair, wearing a dressing gown embroidered with orchids.

“Fiona, dear,” Mrs. Pierce beckoned for her timid maid. “Bring some more tea for the detective and his assistant.” The maid scurried off. After sipping her cup of tea, her lips curled “Did you find him?”

Three months Franklin Pierce had been missing. His shiny automobile still parked in the driveway. Most of his personal possessions were still in the home. And none of the staff members saw him leave either. An odd case, wouldn’t you say?

Tipping his tweed cap like a proper English gentleman, Mister Barnaby eased into the chair opposite her. “Unfortunately, your husband is still missing. We are still investigating. Your granddaughter is quite concerned, last we spoke to her.”

Her hand waved dismissingly. “Oh she worries too much. Franklin probably went on another fishing trip.”

“One of your maids said that you were arguing with you husband before his disappearance.”

“Couples have disagreements. Couples take breaks,” She patted my cheek like a long lost grandmother. “You’re young, sweetie. You will learn soon enough.”

“I see.” Mister Barnaby gave me a measured nod, a signal that meant ‘fetch, dog, fetch’. Oh, the joys of being a detective’s right hand man. I excused myself to go to the restroom, leaving my employer and the madam alone by the fire.


Last night, the detective lectured me on old homes with their various hiding places. How he suspected Mr. Pierce was still on the property, one way or another. How the maid promised to give us the skeleton key when we arrived tomorrow.

“Check behind every door, every closet.” Mister Barnaby instructed. “Mr. Pierce is still in that house.”


I searched anything that had a hinge. Cupboards with hidden compartments. Closets within closets. What kind of maniac built this house? Then, I checked a closet in one of the guestrooms. Behind fur coats and cardboard boxes of leftover Christmas decorations was a narrow wooden door. A secret passage, if you will. The door led to stairs, and the stairs led to a basement.

I found Franklin Pierce. Strangled to death and left to rot in a cement room under his home. A kiss of red lipstick stamped on his cheek. Early stages of decomposing. Poor fella had seen better days. When I returned to the detective’s side, Mrs. Pierce was reapplying her red lipstick in the mirror. And she began to laugh. “Oscar, darling, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“More like a skeleton in a closet, boss.” I muttered to Mister Barnaby, lighting a ciggy in my mouth. The mad madam continued to laugh.


To end May of Mystery, here’s a story based on a prompt of the week, featuring characters from my WIP, Detective Barnaby and his assistant Oscar. Enjoy!

– Lady Jabberwocky

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The Artist Who Paints Sunflowers (Flash Fiction)

My therapist told me, for once, write a happy story. What a writing prompt for a gloom and doom writer such as myself. A difficult task, I admit, what with all the death and tragedy and misfortune in the world. I sat at my writing desk, pouring a glass of whisky and pushing notes of cynicism aside. Like some Peter Pan, I instead grasped for blissful thoughts.

Then, I thought of Gertrude. A friend, you could say.

A twinkling lost soul in a lost generation. Worries never seem to stain her coat. I can’t recall where she lives, but wherever it is, summer is eternal. Her life is simple. Perched on her sunny balcony like an exotic parrot, she paints flowers at her wooden easel. Daisies, roses, poppies. Sunflowers are her favorite.

When Gertrude laughs, her head tilts back and expels champagne bubbles from her lungs. With Sinatra crooning through the speakers, she slow dances with lovers in the living room. She relishes even the most boring of dinner conversation. A nymph perfectly content with simply existing.

Every morning, she returns to that easel, a servant to the art. She makes love to colors on a blank canvas. Gold drips from her paintbrush. Satisfaction curves her lips into a smile. Leaning back with a mugful of coffee, she appreciates her painting. A sunflower smiles back at her.

Gertrude is fiction.

A mere wisp of delight on a page. Although I would not be surprised if some form of Gertrude walks the earth today, an artist who paints sunflowers on a light soaked balcony. Still, there is a joy that comes with flights of fiction, isn’t there?

Perhaps my therapist was right about these so-called happy stories.


The other day, I was talking to my boyfriend about what I should post for you all during quarantine, to help uplift other writers. He simply said “Write a story. People want to read happy stories right now, to take their mind off things.”

Thank you to my better half for inspiring this story.

Keep writing, writer bees, and stay safe.

– Lady Jabberwocky

The Charlatan (Fantasy Flash Fiction)

“Excuse me, kind sirs. Could I have a moment of your time?” A plump gnome woman approached a table with three half orcs clad in leather armor. Cradled in her arms were three cork-topped bottles filled with burnt orange liquid. The opal ring on her finger winked at the weary adventurers. “I’m selling home brewed health potions.”

The group exchanged looks, grunting and crossing their arms. “100 gold for the whole lot.”

A sigh in surrender as she glanced over her shoulder. “Well, I didn’t want to say anything but… See that fellow over there?” Stationed at the lonely table near the tavern door was a figure wearing a dark cloak and a crow like mask. He appeared entranced by the lute playing bard across the room.

The trio of warriors leaned closer, now intrigued. Her tragic tale of woe began. “Would you believe it, a bolt of lightening set his house on fire. Left his face severely burned and hideous scarred.” After setting all three vials on the table, she dabbed the corner of her eye with a handkerchief. “100 gold per bottle would greatly help him get back on his feet.” Her offer was coated with a honey sweet voice.

Coins clattered onto the table.

Hooking her arm in the crook of his elbow, the two strolled into a secluded alleyway, embracing the shadows. “Severely burned and hideously scarred,” He mocked while he counted the coins in the pouch. “You really laid it on thick this time, Poet. Those poor fools.” His cape enveloped her, eyes faintly glowing silver behind glass windows. Autumn leaves skittered across cobblestone streets.

For a brief moment, the opal ring shimmered. Her entire body transformed. A sly grin spread across burgundy lips as she snickered like a conniving witch. Lavender painted her skin. On both sides of her head, ram horns curled. No longer a mere gnome, but a roughish Tiefling.

“The world is built on poor fools.” Poet kissed the beak of his mask, her devilish tail swishing like a pendulum. “Come along, Endymion. We need to make a new batch of Poppy flower tea.” With her masked companion trailing behind, the charlatan disappeared into the night.

“On to the next town.”

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Since our DnD is suspended until further notice, I decided to write this short story inspired by the game and our characters. And it’s based one of my prompts of the week. Stay safe and stay healthy out there, everyone.

Lady Jabberwocky

Bianca and the Mysterious Happenings (Mystery Short Story)

“You suffered a serious loss this summer, Bianca. The school faculty was concerned, even the principal wanted me to check up on you.” Let me assure you, I did not have time to have a conversation with the school’s psychiatrist. Sitting amongst a sea of throw pillows in a cramped office, I adjusted my Edgar Allen Poe patterned socks. On his desk, a wooden crane dipped up and down, moving on its own accord.

“Oh I’m fine.” Reassuring others that I was fine seemed to become a common occurrence nowadays. Students treated me like I was some tragic mess, fragile and ready to crumple at any moment. Hardly. There’s more to my story than that.

“It appears so.” The therapist shuffled his paperwork. My life condensed in a manilla folder. “Excelling in all of your classes. Writing for the school newspaper. Volunteering in the school play.”

My shoulders bounced. “I try to keep busy.” And Chester always did like the theatre.  

“This is a safe place to talk about him.” Mister Raphael reminded.  Yes, because the motivational poster of a polar bear climbing a mountain really made me feel safe to express my feelings. “Grief takes many forms.”

Fingers fidgeted with the sleeve of my wool sweater. My eyes kept glancing at the clock. This meeting lasted 6 minutes and 47 seconds, 5 minutes longer than necessary. Why did I give up free period for this?  Although my jaw tightened, I forced a smile. “He was my boyfriend since freshman year. We were planning to go to the same college together. Get married. Kids. White picket fence.” Excuse the cynicism, it had been a long semester, with more sympathetic looks than I could count. Some of them didn’t even know Chester.

“He’d want me to keep going.” Not very poetic, but very true, nonetheless.

After a couple seconds of silence, I informed Mister Raphael about the pieces I planned to write for the school newspaper. I had a journal filled with notes and outlines for possible articles. While talking about news topics, an eagerness returned to my voice. Are the tofu burgers in the cafeteria really vegan? Did last year’s valedictorian cheat on his SATs?

“And I’m also looking into the recent disturbances at the graveyard.” Mysterious happenings were happening in the Westminster Cemetery. The reporter in me must investigate. The ceiling light flickered above.  “Or maybe I should write about the school’s faulty wiring.”

We share an uneasy, cordial laugh. Then, It was time to leave. “Well, my door is always open, if you need an ear.” 

With my chin raised and a sigh of relief, I exited the office. Ponytail swishing from side to side. The halls were mostly clear, except for a few lingering students and a security guard distracted by his smartphone.

“Grief takes many forms.” Those empathetic words felt lackluster on my lips. I stared at my reflection in the vending machine window. “How am I supposed to grieve when you won’t quit bothering me?” One of the metal rings in the machine spiraled, releasing a snack from it’s grip. A bag of honey wheat pretzels, my favorite.

I couldn’t help but smile. What a charmer, even in death.


Hey Writer Bees! Hope you enjoyed this little scene. Lately, I’ve been playing around with the idea of a having fiction series on this blog, updating with a new chapter each month. This is just a snippet of a mystery plot, following Bianca, the school reporter, and the unusual events happening in Baltimore.

Want to read more of this story? How do you feel about a regular series on this blog? Be honest, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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The Cinnamon Witch (Slice of Life/Horror)

“Hey Jude. Don’t make it bad.”

A baker sings a Beatles song while sifting flour into a mixing bowl. Amber hair tied into a low ponytail. Freckles and flour smeared across her cheeks. She works on a shiny metal counter, disinfected daily, per the Health Inspector’s orders. Halloween banners hang in the window. It’s sunny today. 

Add sugar. Add baking soda. Time for seasoning. Ground nutmeg. Ground cinnamon. Ground finger bone. Freshly sourced, of course. She whisks until her elbow goes sore. 

“Take a sad song and make it better.”

Wet ingredients next. Crack an egg. Make that two eggs. A splash of milk. Cold butter. A spoonful of blood, for color. Who needs red food coloring anyway? Mix again.

“Remember to let him in to your heart. And you can start to make it better”

Her hand finds a rolling pin. Roll out dough. Flatten like roadkill. Cut into cute pumpkin shapes. Line the sheet. Bake at 350 degree for thirteen minutes. Lips curl into a smile. Wait thirteen minutes. Take out of the oven, let chill. Finish with a final dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Perfect. 

“Hey Hazel!” A voice bellows from the front of the shop. “How much longer on those cookies?”

She does not answer him, only keeps singing as she piles the cookies on a plate. Ready to serve.

“Hey Jude…. Don’t be afraid.”


Happy Halloween, Writer bees!

– Lady Jabberwocky

Lyrics from ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles

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Two Young Adventurers Walk Into a Tavern (Fantasy Flash Fiction)

“Juniper…This….This…. Is a bad idea…”

“Why do you say that?”

A young fae and a novice wizard stood outside of a tavern. Shouting and laughing and glass smashing rumbled the stony building. Candle light spilled into the dirt road through a crack in the door. A burly patron wobbled out, a stein of ale in his mits.

Cecil quivered behind her. An exasperated sigh huffed out her lungs. Wings tilting downwards. “Oh come on. We have to find this Brutus guy. He knows about the dragon.” Chin raised, she dragged her friend into the seedy establishment. “Brave adventurers fear no danger.” She reminded proudly to her nervous companion.

Busty barmaids hustled around the room. Brawny men and women clinked glasses, toasting to successful quests. A heated game of darts was being played in the corner.

Look for the man with serpent tattoo. That’s what Ramona had told them. In him, you will find the answers you seek. Over by the roaring fireplace, a chiseled dwarf. A winged serpent painted on his bicep. Smoke from his pipe billowed into the air. A Warhammer strapped to his back.

“Are you Brutus?”

“Whose asking?” His voice gruff and disinterested.

“Me, obviously. Or are you blind?”

He scoffed, eyeing the fae girl. “Haven’t seen a fairy around these parts in a long while.”

“Good. Now you have. My friend and I are looking for information, about the Dragon of the South.” Juniper plucked the rolled up scroll from Cecil’s hands and unfurled the map for the dwarf.

He stiffled a laugh and shook his head, dismissing them with another puff of his pipe. “Fly away, little moth, Or you’ll – ” The tip of her gleaming rapier appeared inches from his face. Incoherent words stammered out of Cecil’s mouth. Juniper’s scowl never wavered. A growl gargled in his throat. Everything in the bar halted to a stop. Then, impish cackle broke the silence.

Perched on a table, a scrawny man strummed a lute, shoulders bouncing in giddy giggles. Pointed ears and eyes like lost emeralds. Opal white hair tied into a pony tail. The dwarf jabbed his thumb in the bard’s direction. The elf bowed his head, holding his instrument in his arms, ready to play a tune.

“Brutus P. Capatrius the Second, at your service.” With a dramatic wave of his hand, he beckoned the barmaid over. “Some cups of apple cider for the youngins.” A sly grin smeared on his lips. “You two are awfully adorable.”

You’re Brutus?”

“Miss Ramona, our mentor, sent us. To find the exact location of the dragon. A-And she also said…-”

“That we were lovers? In our youth, of course. Though I suppose it’s not a story for children.” He gestured for them to sit. “Sit, Sit, little dears.”

“Wait,” Juniper’s head shook in disbelief. Wings aflutter, she hovered off the ground, drawing closer to Brutus. “You’ve fought a dragon?”

“Definetly not. I simply sang it a lullaby.” He grinned, beaming in his mirth. “But I have seen the nasty bugger.” His fingers stroked the strings once. “I wouldn’t go chasing him if I were you.” He warned in a sing song tone.

“We must collect….” Cecil tossed Juniper an uneasy glance. “something from the dragon’s lair, for one of Ramona’s spells.”

“And what Ramona wants, Ramona gets, no?” He snickered, gingerly taking the map. This dragon was notorious for being difficult to find. Lots of tunnels and caverns, he explained. The two children drank cider as he told his tale of the dragon of the south. With a feather quill, Brutus marked a point on the map with a circle. “This… Something…. That you two are searching for better be worth it.”

“We can handle it.” Sticking her nose up in the air, she grabbed her companion’s hand. After giving their thanks to the carefree bard, the two adventurers scurried outside.

Cecil hugged his stomach, letting out panicked breaths. “I can’t believe we survived.”

Lifting off the ground, Juniper swooped the wizard up underneath his arms and carried him through the night sky. “Now all we have to do is find that dragon egg.”


You’re In Charge (Short Story + Self Critique)

Hey Writer Bugs!

Today, I’m taking a look back in the archives and sharing a story I wrote from 2015 from Fiction Writing Class. Since this piece is four years old, and my writing has evolved over time, I’ll be self critiquing myself at the end of this post. This is me learning from past mistakes.

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    “Audrey?”
            “Yes, Arthur?”
            “Is our house gonna get blown away? Like in the Wizard of Oz?”
            We crunched potato chips as the wind howled outside.
            “That was a tornado,” I answered “This is a hurricane.”
            “They called it a super storm on the news.” He said
matter-of-factly. He was a small boy, with blonde hair and big curious hazel eyes, wearing Batman pajamas. My little brother was six year old, an age where he had a question for everything.
            We were sitting on the sofa, a pile of junk food between us. Our elbows leaned against the windowsill. Mrs. Goodrow’s tree across the street was teetering from side to side, threatening to fall. She was a wicked old bat, who would yell at children, including my brother, for playing in the street too loudly. Said the kids were ‘disturbing Winston’, her bird. Nutty weirdo. Part of me wished that tree did fall.
            “It’s an extra big hurricane, so they’re calling it a superstorm.” I explained, rolling my eyes, thinking we could wait out the storm, like the last one.
            “Mommy would be mad,” He started, digging his tiny hands into a bag of gummy worms. “Cause we’re up past bedtime, eating candy and chips and watching a scary movie.”
            Our parents left to Florida for a couple of days, for a business conference,  leaving me, a fifteen year old in charge of a six year old, Arthur. All I heard was “You’re in charge”, so I spent
my allowance on junk food and rented movies. They thought the storm’s route would redirect, that it wouldn’t hit New York. It did.
            “They said I was in charge, right?” I reminded with a smile. I glanced at the flat screen t.v. in the living room. An old scary movie was playing. There was a close-up on the werewolf’s face, which looked more like a cheap Halloween costume. “Look Arthur, you can see the zipper on his mask.” I laughed as I ran a hand through my messy strawberry blonde hair. He giggled too.
            “Are Mommy and Daddy ever coming back?”
            “Of course they are, they’re just stuck in Florida until this storm blows out of New York.” I answered, my gaze returning to Mrs. Goodrow’s tree, still swaying from side to side. The roots were beginning to peek through the ground.
            The lights began to flicker. I stared at the lamp in dread. “Oh no.” We were then engulfed in darkness.
            “The lights went out.” He informed, his Batman pajamas glowing in the dark.
            “I see that.” I huffed. This was perfect. I stumbled quickly into the kitchen, rummaging through the junk drawer for a flashlight.
            “I can’t see anything,” Arthur said, following behind me. “This is scary.”


Notes from Lady Jabberwocky

  • I like how the story begins. This is a good example of in media res. When the reader is dropped into the middle of a scene, or in this case a conversation, with little context. Grabs the attention of the audience quickly.
  • At this time, I hadn’t learned about Hemingway’s Ice burg theory. Some bits have too much unnecessary exposition. Like explaining how old the kid is, or why the parent’s are away. Show, don’t tell, Lady.
  • For some reason, I wish there was more physical interaction between the two siblings. Just to show more of their relationship as brother and sister. Their movements seem so staged. However, I made some interesting choices with a few verbs, like the boy digging his hand into a bag of candy, rummaging through a junk drawer.
  • Both setting and character descriptions need to be bumped up. I should’ve added more detail on the inside of the home itself. Right now, it feels like two kids floating in empty space, with only a window and a television to occupy them.
  • The idea of a young teen spending all her money on junk food and candy and movies while her parents are away makes me smile. Also, the boy’s glow in the dark Batman pajamas is an easy to imagine picture. It’s details like that that make this simple story feel real and relatable.

Back during peer review, we had to offer comments like this on stories written by fellow students. A proper, honest critique can really help someone grow and learn as a writer. And looking back at old work is definitely an enlightening (and cringey) experience.

What did you guys think of this short story (and my self critique)? Should I do more of these? Let me know in the comments. Have a great weekend, writer bees!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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