Mystery Historical Fiction Western

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I've killed a man.

I don't really know how else to say it; I've. Killed. A. Man. And looking down at his slumped form, I feel a hint of humor tugging at the corner of my lips, a laugh bubbling from my gut. Don't think me insensitive, please. This wouldn't be so funny if he was slumped over his desk, or bleeding out on his bed, or even fell back in the chair...

No. The man fell face down in his food. It was a rather good dinner, might I add, dry roasted, Northern-style herring. Very delicious, a bit heavy on the salt. This scene just makes me laugh a bit more. It's like looking through an artist's eyes, a painting I would love to see. His wine has been knocked over, spilled onto his hands and the tablecloth and his clothes, which he droned over only moments before. Such a vibrant red, crimson maybe? Or rather a bit darker, sanguine, perhaps. With a sigh, I lift his head up by the oily strands of his hair, taking a towel to wipe away the fish grease that coats his brow. His strong jaw has gone slack, his dark eyes now empty and dull. His lips, still slightly pink despite how pale the rest of him has gone, is covered with rosemary. I stroke his jaw softly.

I will admit that my beau is a very handsome man, or corpse, rather. He's tall and brooding and ravishingly sweet. And he has a soft spot for children, as he was always dreaming about ours. Their hair would be curly like mine, he said. Their eyes would be the slate gray of his.

Another smile, crueler this time, graces my lips.

Oh, how he used to be so wonderful to me.

I remember when he would take me for strolls along the estate, picking roses for me so delicately, pinning them in my hair. He would compliment me, whisk me to my room when the moon bode its greeting. It was like a game, one that I loved playing, hoping it would never end. We would ride horses throughout the courtyard, reading in the November winds or watching the December snowfalls. Valentine's day was truly a sight, one that brought gifts and chocolates with it. The rings, the necklaces, the dresses. His lips, paling slightly now, would beckon me like soft clouds. His hands would guide me to his strong form... until that changed.

I toss his head back so his body flings back against the chair, my lips curling into a sneer. His head hits the wood of the chair with a clunk. I've got to get this cleaned up. I smooth my skirts, glancing around. See, I've never committed murder in my life. Never. I'm a very dainty woman, I like my things clean. Blood is messy. And so is covering up a murder.

Think of it like a game. That's what I did. Killing him was the first level.

It wasn't hard, in case you were wondering. My fiancé is very naïve and me being so intelligent made killing him surprisingly simple. I'm set up well in this world, and I can get poison from just about everywhere. That's what I did, although cliché, and it was worth it. Laced his wine and his meal, which might've been a tad bit dramatic. Regardless, I'm relatively sure that they won't trace it back to me. The poison has been long disposed of, and it's off my hands, rid of my touch. Besides, I'm me. I'm the lady of the court, I could never be of suspect, and I'm going to play this smart. I'm going start a new game. One that I'll beat everyone at.

I have to clean this up, dispose of the body, do something. I clean up our plates, setting his on the ground for my dog, Kingsley, to eat. Halfway through, I pick it back up. I can't have it look as though a dog ate it. I pet his smooth black head as he whimpers. Kingsley is the most loyal mammal in this forsaken estate.

Then I decide that it would be much better if I made it look like someone attacked him. I make sure to have it seem as though he--I mean, we-- were caught unawares, forcing tears out of my eyes to drag down my mascara and ruin my makeup. I frizz up my hair, leaving strands curling in front of my eyes. I tug an earring out of my ear, tossing the diamond studded piece on the carpet. Women in distress don't look pristine, you know. It's a classic 'my life is falling apart, please help me' look. All the best women have mastered it.

I catch a look at my disheveled appearance in the mirror. I never thought I would go this far for power, but life always goes where you never expect. This will be everything I've ever wanted.

Now for my fiancé. The dagger I've kept in my quarters for the past month is finally coming into use. Not for what I hoped, though. I drag it along his neck in a clean, deep slit. I want it to look like they were experienced. No one would kill the innocent lady, she is of no use and already claimed by their enemy, and taking her would result in having her father come after them.

Let's stop here for a moment. I'm not a natural born killer, I just have intent. I have a reason for doing this. My handsome, stupid fiancé, made of sweet promises and nice intentions, was cheating on me with some rosy-cheeked summer girl who picks apples for a living. He would always slip away from the palace, claiming he had things to do outside of the castle. I noticed. I noticed how he smelled when he came back, I noticed the bits of hair on him that weren't mine. Despite my already confirmed status, this infuriated me. He chose her, with her cotton dresses and apple pies and copper coins.

I was planning from the start. I've been putting up with it for months, getting all my evidence in order, organizing my framing methods... I had to get it right.

Back to where I was.

I plunge the knife into his chest and leave it there, frowning at the blood that covers the upholstery. Kingsley looks quite put out by all of this, pouting at the foot of my bed. He always did latch on too fast; he gained an obsession with my fiancé, just as I did. I nudge my pet into the closet, then lock it for now.

One last thing...

I take the vase my darling fiancé had given me and hurl it out of the window, breaking the glass and leaving jagged teeth in its wake. A few flowers catch on the window, petals sliced by the glass. The wind gushes in like a popped blister, cool and soft. This. This is exactly what I needed.

Let the game commence.

Perfect. I smear the blood from his wounds onto my hands, making it look like I've been tending to him, and then scream. I do it twice for good measure, squeezing more tears out of my eyes for the best scene I've ever made.

I'm an artist. I have made a beautiful setting, and the characters, both bathed in red, pop from the drab of it all.

When the door to my parlor opens, the maids' mortified expressions do much more justice than their words. I hide my smirk as they all scream and rush over.

I know what they see: A lady, bent over her future husband with despair that he is gone. Her dress is bloody, her hands the same sticky crimson shade. Her eyes painted wild with fear, her hair with frizzed strands stroked by a fine brush in the most steady hand. Her soon-to-be husband laid on the chair, his head lolled back, death in his face, death scribbled on his body with a sloppy ink. The knife in his chest is still glittering at the hilt, the cut on his neck bleeding ceaselessly. It's horrifying...

...ly amazing.

"Someone's killed the King! The King is dead!"

I let them drag me to my bed, dropping my head in my red hands. It's all I can do to contain my joy. What a wonderful sentence to hear.

"We-- We were j-just having dinner!" I stammer, keeping my voice thick and wobbly. "And h-he just got in, somehow! He-- he killed--" I layer on the sobs, drawing sympathy and a slow resolve to my maids.

"He's really dead." The King's advisor murmurs.

But even better than that?

"...You're the Queen now, Miss." One gasps. "We've got to get you ready!"

"The-- The first ever sole Queen?" I gasp. "O-oh, no I can't do that. I--"

"But you must!"

I shrug along with insistence, for what simple court lady would want to take over the kingdom on her own? What selfish woman would kill her own king out of spite to earn his power?

This one.

Oh, have I changed the game.

September 11, 2022 22:59

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


Marty B
23:17 Sep 21, 2022

I think your story is more historical -non- fiction - I am sure there have been many intelligent women who have knocked off their naive and powerful husbands! Long Live the Queen!


Show 0 replies
Shirley Medhurst
15:08 Sep 20, 2022

Great story! - I love the voice of your wicked narrator & the way you gradually reveal all her inner thought processes- getting more & more ruthless as you go. No real criticism at all, other than your repetition of the word “gasp” right at the end - IMHO, a different word for one of them would be an idea… Bravo!


Show 0 replies
L.M. Lydon
19:24 Sep 18, 2022

Some great phrases and imagery here. I particularly liked "Women in distress don't look pristine, you know. It's a classic 'my life is falling apart, please help me' look. All the best women have mastered it."


Show 0 replies