Trick or… Dead!

Trick or… Dead!

Part Two… FREE Flash Fiction Murder Mystery Story. Enjoy and Read!

Murder mystery table top games are generally where the players are told of a murder that has happened and unknowingly, one of them, who is playing is the murderer, and they must determine who among them is that criminal. The game time is divided into rounds which are devoted into investigating the crime. They finally come to the final round and each guest gives their whodunit and how, why and so forth… the envelope of the true answer is open and the solution is given.

A lot like this flash fiction below… enjoy.

Trick or… Dead!

Inspector Pam Allen and her date, Bob the Hawaiian shirt P.I., left their car in a parking lot and made their way along the wet street toward an unofficial police department Halloween party.

(Read more about Bob the Hawaiian shirt P.I. and other stories of Horror and Murder in our book The Talking Board & Other Stories on Amazon.com)

They met years ago when she was just starting out as a cop and he was getting his nose wet as a private investigator. Their friendship had grown and their competitiveness had grown even more.

She was now a lead detective and he was still a wet behind the ear P.I. Both in their mid-thirties.

As they walk down the alley way you could see police cars parked alongside the dark wet alley.

“It almost looks like a murder scene with all these cop cars parked here. If all the cops are here partying who takes care of the crime in this city?” Bob asked. “Do you have a bunch of rent-a-cops to take over?”

Pam whacked him playfully on his shoulder. “That’s right. We outsource our crimes to the highest bidder at rent-me-a-cop.com. No. There’s always someone on duty, and on call… I’m the one on call tonight. You might get lucky and help solve a crime. You know that you could be a good policeman, you have good insight into the criminal mind. Plus you have taken every class in criminal justice through the online State site.”

“I have to take classes to get my private investigator license and to keep it current,” said Bob.

“True, but you only need to take a few of them. If I remember you have taken all of them, and even now teach a few to our new recruits,” said Pam.

“I like to be helpful to my local cops… that way I can get out of a ticket or two, maybe even a murder if needed.”

Pam laughs and said,“do you see yourself as a Sherlock Holmes?”

“No way, I see myself more like Abbott and Costello meet Sherlock.” Said Bob with a wink. They kept walking down the alley laughing together.

It was Halloween. There was an assortment of Halloween String Lights, aka Christmas lights as well as ghosts and other scary stuff hung on the doors and apartments. Pam and Bob walked up to one of the doors and noticed the mix of holiday décor. There was even a zombie set up in a chair to look like a dead Santa Claus.

“That zombie is perfect—he’s got a bloody beard and a stake through his heart,” said Bob, laughing.

“That’s Tracy, one of my co-workers, macabre sense of humor. This must be her Trick or… Dead! Theme this year. The holidays bring out the beast in her,” said Pam.

As they looked at the display, the door opened and one of Santa’s elves stepped out—but her makeup is like a vampire. She smiled and looked over towards the Halloween display. “Pam, did you add the zombie Santa Claus? It’s a great touch. You know how to add to my macabre setting, girl!” Tracy laughed.

“Tracy meet Bob, and Bob meet Tracy. Sorry we didn’t bring Santa, Tracy. Maybe someone else did,” said Pam.

Tracy, still laughing, touched the zombie’s shoulder. The body fell away from her and the beard came off, revealing a person with eyes wide from terror and what looked like whipped cream coming out of its mouth and nose. The blood on the beard appeared to be coming from the stake in the heart. Tracy screamed.

“Pam,” Bob said, tugging on her sleeve. His face was suddenly ashen. “That’s no stake—it’s a corkscrew. And that’s not a fake zombie. It’s a real dead person.”

“OMG… Tracy, let’s get you back inside. Okay people we have a dead body out here, you all know the drill, there’s no need to call the cops… we’re all here. I’ll need to get my incident kit out of my car and examine the crime scene. One of you call the coroner and tell her we have a customer for the morgue,” said Pam.

“I know him, the zombie… I mean the dead guy. He used to work for HR at the police station. He’s Joey Pinkerman. We used to date. He wasn’t a nice guy. I wonder what he’s doing here dead on my porch”,” said Tracy between sobs.

Pam looked around at all the guests. The news of the dead Zombie Santa Claus was rushing through the crowd. They were in shock. Pam grabbed one of the off duty cops, John, and took his statement, and then instructed him to take the others statements. She walked up to her date, Bob

“Looks like we’ll have to skip our date,” Pam told Bob. “I don’t even have time to take you home.”

“That’s okay, Pam,” said Bob, trying not to look too disappointed. “I guess I got lucky and get to solve a crime with you. Who needs a Murder Mystery Party… I have a real crime to solve.”

“I’ll be right back. I need to get my crime scene kit, and I’m the cop on duty at the moment. Don’t touch anything and stay out of trouble,” said Pam. She kissed Bob on the cheek and rushed out the door to her car for the kit.

Bob might as well have been invisible to the people milling about the apartment. He glanced around at the new furniture, then wandered into the kitchen. He noticed the spanking-new appliances and cookware, and that there was one of everything. He turned towards Tracy. “Is this one of those new efficiency living apartments that comes with all the basics to live with?”

“Yeah. I put my name into a lottery for the apartment and got picked. They’re nice, but you’re limited by the lease to what you can have and they control the temp and how much water you can use. But my bills are lower and the rent is hard to beat here in town,” said Tracy.

Pam stepped back in through the door, smiled and waved at Bob as she talked to the off duty cop nearby that was interviewing people at the party.

John looked over his notes and told Pam what he’d learned “From the statements I’ve been getting, it seems the zombie, Mr. Pinkerman, wasn’t very popular when he worked for HR.”

“Why?”

“He made a lot of unpopular decisions.” John shrugged. “He was a bit of a jerk. Many thought he was a pawn of City Hall, you know—‘the management.’”

“He was a big jerk, and sort of a ladies’ man around the office,” said another guest.

“Did anyone see the zombie here in the apartment?” Pam asked.

“No,” said John. “I can’t find anyone who remembers seeing him at all before the body was discovered.”

“Well, whoever murdered him wasn’t nice about it. Murder isn’t nice no matter how you look at it, but the person who did this really must’ve really hated Joey Pinkerman. The whipped cream looking stuff coming out of his mouth and nose was sprayfoam from a can for installation. If that wasn’t enough… the corkscrew wasn’t just stabbed into his chest and heart. It was screwed in. While he was suffocating from the foam, the corkscrew was being twisted into his heart. That takes a lot of hate… this was Trick or… Dead, not trick or treat!” said Inspector Pam Allen.

“Actually, I think I saw the body,” said Craig, one of the senior accountants from HR. “I got here rather late.”

“Right,” Tracy agreed. “I didn’t even think you were coming by tonight, you hate crowds, sweetie. I was just uncorking another bottle of wine when you walked in.”

“That’s right, pumkin,” said Craig. “I saw the zombie as I came through the door. He must’ve been dead by then. I thought it was just a decoration. Tracy’s great take on a Halloween Christmas.”

“Did you see anything else?” Pam asked.

“No,” said Craig. “I just came in and started to party. About 45 minutes later, you and your date found him out there.”

“Pam,” Bob whispered. “I need to tell you something that might bear on this case.”

Everyone stopped and stared at Bob. He suddenly became the center of attention. Pam cracked a smug smile.

“Looks like we have our own budding detective here. You really think you can tell us who killed the zombie, Bob?”

Bob looked at Pam. “Well, since I’m a P.I. for my day job… yeah I think I can.”

“Go ahead, Bob. Here’s you Sherlock Holmes moment,” Pam said.

Bob looked around the room at all the police personnel and swallowed hard. “It all started and ended with that corkscrew. John or officer, will you please guard that door and let no one out until I’m done?”

“Okay, Sherlock. But you better make it good,” said John.

“I will, and why is everyone calling me Sherlock?” said Bob. He rushed over to the kitchen and everyone watched as he opened the drawers one by one and rummaged through them.

“What are you looking for, Sherlock?” asked Tracy.

“You too, Tracy? Sherlock… I’m looking for your corkscrew.”

“It could be the one in the victim, Bob,” said Pam.

“I know about that one,” said Bob. “I was making sure there wasn’t another.”

“There isn’t another one,” said Tracy. “As you asked before, this is one of those new efficiency living apartments. They furnished it with a bare minimum of essentials and you need to get an act of congress to add two of something. Believe me… I’ve tried. Any way, you should find it there on the kitchen Island. No one left the apartment before you two showed up.”

“Well, I can’t find it anywhere and I’ve noticed that the corkscrew in the victim looks a lot like your other kitchen stuff. Pam did you by change get the corkscrew out of the Zombie’s chest?” asked Bob.

“I did and it’s in an evidence bag in my crime scene kit over there by the door waiting for the CSI group to show up. Why?” asked Pam.

“Could you let Tracy look at the corkscrew and see if it’s hers?” ask Bob.

“Sure, John could you get it for us?”

“Sure, Inspector-“

“NO!” yelled Bob. “Sorry, but police procedure dictates that you, Pam, I mean Inspector, should be the only one to touch the bag at this moment,” said Bob. Pam looks at him with a what the hell look.

“I would rather have you get it Pam, that way we don’t have it become more messed up with other finger prints and stuff,” said Bob. “Plus it’s how we teach police to handle evidence. Just trying to keep it all in its proper cop stuff kit and crap. So, please will you get it and show it to Tracy and we can find out if it’s the object that we are looking for?”

“Sure,” said Pam, she starts to move and stops and look backs at Bob and shakes her head. Bob shews her forward with his hands waving her towards the kit. She gets the bag and takes it over to Tracy to look at.

Bob looks at Tracy and asks, “is that your corkscrew, Tracy?”

“Yeah, that’s my corkscrew, but how did it get in Joey Pinkerman chest?” asked Tracy.

“That’s a good question and we have a huge problem with the time table,” replied Bob. “Because at the same time you were opening another bottle of wine, your sweetie, Craig, says he saw the Zombie out on the porch. The victim with the corkscrew in his chest.”

“Sherlock’s right. How could that be?” said John.

“It couldn’t,” said Pam. “Craig, you lied about seeing the body out there. Why?”

“Alright, alright I killed the scum. He was a date rapist! He would drug women’s drinks and the word ‘no’ meant nothing to him. He raped Tracy when he worked in HR and I don’t know how many others. I saw him earlier at the station. He dropped by to say hello, and the person at the front desk was looking at the invitation from Tracy. He saw it and asked what was going on. The person at the desk told him about the party and how to get there. That person didn’t know Tracy had a restraining order out on the scum. I had to stop him. I followed him to a store, where he was picking up a few things. I looked over at a shelf and saw the can of sprayfoam and picked up a Santa hat and beard. That was when I came up with a plan to kill him for hurting my pumkin. She shouldn’t have to live with that and I was going to make sure no one else had to suffer from that monster. I pretended to bump into him at the store, we talked, and I told him about the party. I told him we could go together—even better, I would go in and tell everyone about him outside waiting to come in and then get him. We would make a grand entrance. I went inside and saw the party in full swing. Tracy was so happy. I grabbed the corkscrew. I sneaked outside and took him around the corner. I wanted to make him suffer. I watched his eyes as I sprayed that foam in and then screwed into his heart like it was a cork. I snuck back in. It was worth all that and more to revenge my soulmate. I wanted to make you all think that Joey was dead before I arrived. I was trying to give myself an alibi. I killed him and would do it again.”

“See, I’m good at crime scenes,” said Bob. “I wish I could’ve told you all how he had done it, like Sherlock Holmes. But Craig was better at it then me… plus he actually knew all the details better. John… Officer, book him for murder. Should we read him his rights?”

“No, Sherlock,” said Pam. “We do that all down town at the booking and just before we take his statement. You have watched too much TV.”

“But you got the right evidence, and solved the murder case,” said John the cop.

“I would like to say beginner’s luck… but this ain’t my first rodeo,” said Bob. “Murder is a foul thing.”


Did you see the ending, the out come coming?… the killer?… not all the info was there, right?… in real life the info doesn’t flow logically. The only part the Bob had was the corkscrew and the timing of Craig, Pam and him coming to the party. With that small amount of info Bob solved the murder.

With freeform murder mystery stories and games the players and hosts are provide with details of their character from the start, but it is up to them to determine how they solve the murder. Often players have other objectives – such as to be the richest player at the end of the game, or to kill (not really, just in the games ;-]) more of the other guest then anyone else, like “Then There Were None.” Many of the suspects will have their own secrets that have nothing to do with the murder murder per-se, but tell of their character, their history, their motives. This provides even more reasons for players to interact with each other and mingle. Some people feel there’s drawbacks to that style of murderer mystery event… often guests feel cheated that they were not privy to all the clues, info, secret, that were quietly revealed to other players. There are a variety of different styles of freeform games available; some encourage engagement prior to the event itself with alliances forming in advance of the evening, or a more open style where all the info is put forth for all to hear and know, (of course that would be public info, not private character info.)

Remember. very few people who sit down at table top mystery games have any real training in solving mysteries, even if they’re playing characters who are police, private eyes, and investigations. While the Master Detective should leave some parts for the players themselves to figure out, the heavy lifting may need to be done by the host running the game at times. In much the same way you wouldn’t expect the the fighter or warrior in a D&D game player to actually be an expert swordsman, it isn’t fair to expect the detective player to be well versed in criminal psychology and the rules of evidence.

Don’t be afraid to throw the suspects and investigators a bone if they get stuck. I’ve known Host’s who were so lost in being true to letting the players figure out the mystery on their own that the whole game dragged to a standstill, and that’s just not fun for anyone. When the game isn’t moving, give it help. throw them some big hints. Reveal huge clues and get the game moving and keep it fun.

Now, make sure you give this info in character… you don’t want to annoyed a player and make them feel that they were not able to play the game well, it’s a good idea to have a story element already established that can deliver the needed information when the story is to hard for the players to more forward. I like to play the foils with shadowy motivations for these fun purposes. Because it’s… well, fun to do so. I get to deliverers the much needed clue(s) without breaking anyone’s suspension of disbelief. The game play moves a long and we have a killer time.

I will take you through four post…

First: LISTEN!

Second: READ! This one.

Third: WATCH!

Fourth: INTERACTIVE!

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Trick or… Dead!

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