This story was written for last week’s Cracked Flash Fiction competition. In this competition you are given the first sentence of the story and 300 words with which to finish it. This is what I came up with…

The Short Straw

“Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.” He lifted the cup of poison-laced whiskey and gulped it down before a swift death claimed him.

His friend closed his staring eyes before leaving the room. Those who had drawn the long straws were waiting in the parlour.

“Is it done?” one woman asked, a lace handkerchief pressed to her nose and muffling her voice.

“He is dead.”

“And now we wait,” an elderly gentleman said before adding, “I wonder for how long.”

Outside rain started to fall.

“I still cannot condone what happened here tonight,” the police inspector in the corner said.

“It was suicide, plain and simple. That is all your report need to say. And no one else will say anything else,” he said, eyes filled with a strange fire. “We all want to know if there is an afterlife, after all.” His expression dared anyone to say different.

“It’s not as if he can go to court and say otherwise,” the woman said, the lace handkerchief visibly trembling.

“You wanted him to be chosen,” an overweight man wearing rich clothes said. “If anyone is going down for this, it’s you. You wanted the money, not us. Definitely not me.”

“No one is ‘going down’ for this,” the police inspector said. “No one will ever know. No one will suspect anything. And you won’t say anything, will you, Judge?”

“Not as long as I get my cut of the money,” the judge grinned.

“There is no money,” a thin voice came from the centre of the room before the ghost of the man appeared. The grey figure laughed and cold hung in the room. “Tell me, Judge, how many times have a ghost turned up at their own murder trial?”

For some story notes and an earlier version of the story, you can head over to my Patreon page.

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