Mystery Fiction

Holly walks out from one of the tall towers in New York City. She sets her jaw as she walks out from one of the tall towers in New York City. She has had a long, hard few days of working to write an article about space but more importantly, the stars, and then when she finally turns it in…her manager says it’s too scientific. What does he want? Is it a fun bedtime story with kittens and teddy bears? It’s about space! It’s not a bedtime story, and it’s definitely not cuddly.   

Being a reporter is difficult, but she can’t just quit. She loves her job. Even though it has its challenges. What she needs is a really good story. Something that will catch people’s attention. Like her managers. 

Something her teacher told her in her science class in third grade comes to Holly’s mind. 

“Every eighty-eight years, the stars disappear. No one knows why, and after it happens, people forget. If someone could get to the bottom of it…” 

“Ok.” Holly takes a deep breath and smooths her deep blue skirt. Her brown hair, in its short bob, hangs just below her ears. She stands up straight, clutches her notebook and pen in her hands, and knocks on the dark red door. 

It’s an unusual design. Speckled with stars and constellations. She sees Andromeda, Casiopea, Orion, and the Big Dipper, just to name a few. Before she has time to find any more she knows, the door swings open, and she steps into the house. 

Holly examines the man standing in front of her. He is old, but he has aged well. He is not frail. 

 “Hello Mr…” she glances down at her notes, “Altair.” She says. 

 He nodes. 

 “I’m sure you know why I’m here?” She questions. 

He nodes again. He is a man of a few words. 

“Well, then, I’d like to ask you a few questions about your experience with the disappearing stars. But first, let me get a few things straight.” Holly looks at her notes again. 

So, eighty-eight years ago, you, your family, your mom, and your little brother went to see your town’s festival of the disappearing stars. 

Altair’s nod is grim. 

“OK, what happened after you got there?” 

Altair takes a deep breath. 

“I was sitting under the stars…the lights were shut off and we waited for the stars to disappear…”

Holly’s hands shook over the pad of paper she was clutching so hard it was making her knuckles white. 

“Is that everything?” She asked. 

Altair sat back and looks stricken. 

“I believe so,” He says. Then his voice trails off as he stares out at nothing. 

        “Thank you,” Holly says as she stands up from the couch she sat on through the interview. “You have been very helpful.” 

         As she walks towards the door, Altair’s soft voice slices one final bit of information at her.

         “It will happen again.” 

That’s all she hears as she walks out the door. The red door, with constellations, and stars. 

         “I’m telling you, Henry, this is the breakthrough we need!” Holly says excitedly as she walks back and forth in front of her manager. “This story will reach all the astronomers out there. We can help figure this mystery out.” 

 “I’m not sure Holly, it’s a story that doesn’t sound very believable, told by a very old, kinda crazy man.” 

           “Henry! Be optimistic! You’re a cloud of deep despair and pain.” 

           “I feel like I would have heard of this happening…wouldn’t you?” Henry questions, ignoring her comment. 

           “I do! My teacher told me about it.” She frowns. “Maybe only certain people remember it. I mean, if everyone knew we probably would have figured it out by now…” she trails off, lost in thought. 

           “Do you realize how crazy you sound?” Her manager asks. 

           “Maybe it only sticks in some people’s minds cuz they can process the complexity of the matter.” 

           “Ok, I’m not sure if you heard what is said, but what you just now said states that you think you can process thoughts better than me.” 

           “That would explain everything! Well, a lot of things. There is still the matter of why they disappear…


Her head snaps up and she jumps.   

          “Oh my gosh, Henry what?!” 

          “I WILL not run this story in the paper, and I WILL not send this to any astronomers or whatever the other ones are…” 

          “They’re called a—” 

           “I don’t care. The point is, I will not be running this story and I need you to stop even thinking of this ridiculous thing. It’s a fantasy!” 

           Holly looks her manager straight in the eyes. 

           “I guess you just lost your best reporter.” She says, before walking out the door. 


            But she shuts the door behind her…loudly. And she can’t hear him anymore. 

           If what Holly was told by Altair is true…then it seems that most people don’t remember the disappearing stars until it’s close to April 11th. Altair said that his mother said it was the first time in recorded history that the vanishing happened on a night with a full moon, so the people who track the vanishing must have a way of remembering when the vanishing occurs. 

           “I need to get in contact with an astronomical genius.” She says. Before picking up her phone. 

          “Hello, can I please speak to your head astronomer? 

         Yes, my name is Holly Bracken.

         Here about the mystery of the disappearing stars. 

         Yes, I’m a reporter. 


         Yes, thank you.


         Have you heard of it?

         No? Well, it’s not a super well none thing I guess. 

         Ok, alright.

         Yes, please call this number anytime as soon as he is available. 


         Thank you. 


Holly takes her phone from her ear with a sigh. She is trying to reach a certain Mr. Johnson, an astronomer, one of the best, but he is supposedly unavailable. Holly grinds her teeth. Why will no one believe her? The stars vanish! They vanish…Holly pulls out her phone and dials…


          Yeah, it’s me.

          Who else would it be? 

          Ugh Nevermind, I have an idea.

          Yes, it’s a good idea.

          I’m going to see the Festival of Stars.

          Yeah, it’s real!

          Ugh, this conversation is pointless. 

          I’m going. 

          Bye Henry.” 

Holly rips her phone away from her ear. Henry is such a pain to deal with. She is going back to talk to Altair. She has more questions about the night the people disappeared. 

          “I want to know why the stars disappear,” Holly says as she sits across from Altar’s hunched form. 

          “I used to as well.” He says in a dry, cracked voice. “But after experiencing it, I now realize that it is better left unanswered.”

   Holly sighs and rolls her eyes. Is she the only one who wants to get to the bottom of this? Or is she the only one who remembers? 

“Look, I get that you went through this crazy traumatic thing, but I think I can figure out why they disappeared. It’s going to happen again. I’m going to go see it.”

“I have made my peace with it.” Altair's voice is resolute. 

 “Agh!” Holly screams. “Why won’t people understand?!” 

“It would be best for you to leave now,” Altair says, standing and leading her to the door. 

Holly pushes his arms from her shoulder. 

“I am going to get to the bottom of this mystery!!!” She yells. Before storming out of the house. She knows why the stars disappear, or she thinks she does. 

        On the night of the Festival of Stars, Holly drives to the field. Lanterns glitter all around. The tasty smell of barbecue fills her nose. It’s magical. She glances up at the sky. The moon is half full. All the stars are there twinkling softly. 

        “Five more minutes till the stars vanish folks!” A man yells out to the crowd. People begin to douse the fires scattered throughout the field. 

        “Three minutes until the vanishing!” The same man yells again. 

        “One minute!” 

Holly closes her eyes to prepare for it. For several weeks she has been wondering, skeptisising, and imagining this whole thing. Now she is finally there. Now she is finally ready. She opens her eyes and waits. 

       She blinks, it’s like a switch was flipped. The stars are gone. She feels empty and desolate without them. Her heart aches her body trembles. But through that, this moment is still magnificent, and amazing. It’s empowering, and a humbling reminder that there is so much more to the world than being right all the time, and finding the answers to everything. She closes her eyes and feels the way Altair does. She is at peace wondering silently about this mystery. Because this one is better left unanswered. 

  After the hour is complete, the stars pop back into existence. Holly is refreshed. She now understands the importance of stars. She shakes her head to clear them, but traces of questions still linger. Still waiting in the back of her mind. Maybe someday she will open them up to look closer, but for now, she was going to go home and rest. The next day she was going to try and get her job back. 

The End

April 11, 2024 04:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Mary Bendickson
16:28 Apr 11, 2024

When Altair says,"I have made my peace with it." it needs to be new paragraph. Otherwise, star studded story! Good she is so persistent then at peace with the knowing.


Kaelyn Klaus
18:16 Apr 11, 2024

Thank you Mary! I really appreciate your advice, and opinions. I fixed the paragraph!


Mary Bendickson
19:21 Apr 11, 2024

Glad I could help. Thanks for liking my 'Because He Lives". And my other stories. And 'Because He Lives '.


Kaelyn Klaus
19:05 Apr 16, 2024

Of course!


Mary Bendickson
19:18 Apr 16, 2024

Thanks for liking my Too-cute Eclipse.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Felicity Fender
05:27 Apr 11, 2024

The was so perfectly executed. How I got to know the characters in such a short amount of time, and the ending was just brilliant. Great job!


Kaelyn Klaus
16:10 Apr 11, 2024

Thank you so much Felicity! Thanks for commenting.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.