The Disappearance of Vicky Stevens

Submitted into Contest #235 in response to: Start your story with one or two characters going for a run.... view prompt


Mystery Suspense

Jen and I have been running together twice a week for about six months. It was my idea as I was waking up early every day no matter what time I went to bed and instead of wasting the hour before the rest of the house woke up, I wanted to do something productive with it. I run past Jen’s house at around 6.15am and she’s usually just stepping out of her front door. The last couple of mornings we’ve met she’s been a bit late and I’ve been jogging on the spot at the end of her drive waiting for her.

I’m waiting for her now, my legs pumping up and down. I check my watch and see that it’s 6.20. Still no sign of Jen. I’ve been worried about her this past week. She hasn’t seemed like herself at all. Jen is usually full of energy, encouraging me to pick up the pace when I’m lagging behind. She’s a much more experienced runner than I am, but during our past few running sessions she’s been the one lagging behind, her face pinched and expression suggesting that she’s somewhere else entirely. 

Jen’s front door opens at 6.23. “Morning!” I call out to her, still jogging on the spot. She jogs down her dive and joins me. We start off on our usual route, Jen quiet and not responding to my greeting.

”You okay?” I ask. 

“Tired,” Jen replies. This has been her usual response of late. The dark shadows under her eyes back up what she's saying. “I’m not sure if I’m going to keep running, you know.”

”What do you mean?”

”It’s getting a bit much for me to be honest, Soph. I’m knackered by the time I get to the office. I know everyone raves about running but I’m struggling to see what the fuss is about.”

This surprises me as Jen was really up for it when I suggested we start running together. She’s gone for runs on and off since she was a teenager, and us running together twice a week has made her stick to a schedule. This revelation deepens my worry about her. 

I get back home just before 7.30 and bend down to pick up the local newspaper which is lying on the porch. I let myself into the house and immediately switch the kettle on. I shower in about four minutes and settle down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and the paper. This is my routine every morning after a run. Like clockwork, two minutes later I hear the stirrings of the rest of the house waking up upstairs and know that I’ve got about five minutes before my husband, Harry, and our daughters, Alice and Lily storm downstairs and start making breakfast and general mayhem.


The headline on the front page shouts out at me and I feel that anxious flip in my stomach. Vicky Stevens has been missing for five days now. She was out running with her dog one evening and never came back home. I read some of the story which tells me that Vicky’s jack russell has turned up outside her house, seemingly fine physically but not acting his usual self, according to Vicky’s mum. Although Meadsfield is a relatively small town I don’t know Vicky personally, though I know plenty of people who do.

“Muuuuuuuum!” And my five minutes are up. “Do we have any apple juice?”

I sigh. Despite having hands and eyes themselves, my daughters still ask me to confirm the contents of the fridge every morning. I give my usual reply which is “the fridge is over there, darling” and kiss them both on the head.

The next week I’m running alone as Jen has a nasty cold. Vicky Stevens still hasn’t been found and there is a feeling of fear in the local community. I work in the hairdresser’s in the high street and being a hub of local gossip I’ve heard every theory going about what could have happened to her, what the police have (or haven’t depending on who’s talking) been doing and how her boyfriend has been taking her disappearance. It’s been fourteen days now since she went missing.

Jen has disappeared off the face of the earth. I’ve text her a few times but she hasn’t responded, the tick staying the unread colour grey. As her house is on my running route I’ve been past twice but at that time of the morning the curtains are closed and no lights appear to be on inside. 

It’s been nineteen days since Vicky went missing and ten days since I’ve seen Jen. I’m finding myself mentally ticking off the number of days each morning when I get up. I’ve started to associate the two incidents, though of course that makes no sense. The knot of anxiety in my stomach has been getting worse the past two days. I knocked on Jen’s front door yesterday on the way back home from my run. There was a light on in the front room but no one answered the door. I’ve considered going to her office but I don’t want to look like a nutcase. I think Vicky going missing has heightened my anxiety. Jen must be fine. I had checked the last time she was active on social media and was slightly reassured by the fact she was last online yesterday evening. 

Harry kisses me lightly on the forehead which wakes me with a start. I’ve fallen asleep on top of the duvet, fully clothed. I was reading the girl’s a bedtime story and had laid back down after seeing them to their respective bedrooms. 

“Hello darling,” I smile up at him. He has a grim expression on his face. “What’s wrong?”

”They’ve found her.” He says. I don’t need to ask who he means. Being a fairly small community, everyone has been following the news about Vicky closely. 

“Oh no.” I say. He doesn’t need to say anymore, his face says it all. I slump back down onto the pillows.


We’ve not had a murder in Meadsfield in twenty years and even then the victim wasn’t a local. The police are treating Vicky’s death as suspicious. The gossip in work has escalated. I can’t listen to it any longer so I’ve started wearing ear pods whenever I can get away with it. I haven’t heard from Jen for three weeks. 

It’s 7.15am on a Wednesday and I’m jogging past Jen’s house when the front door opens. I stop. Her eldest son, Shaun, walks out of the house, closes the front door and walks down the drive. He looks terrible, his hair unwashed and unbrushed, his shoulders stooped and there are stains on his tracksuit bottoms. “Hi Shaun!” I call out to him, he looks over his shoulder at me, frowns and walks off in the opposite direction. He looked at me as if he didn’t even know who I was. I haven’t heard from Jen for twenty-five days.


My stomach flips and I feel very close to being sick. The picture below the headline is a mugshot of Shaun Field. Jen’s son. I pick up my phone and call Jen’s number. I hear the beeping tone which tells me the call hasn’t connected.


His second victim was his own mother.

January 27, 2024 17:51

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Timothy Rennels
01:32 Feb 08, 2024

So much to say in so few words! Therein lies the challenge of the short story. Write on!


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John Rutherford
07:06 Feb 07, 2024

This is a good story, meaning there is a good storyline. May I suggest something to make it a great story. You your MC up and close to Jen, here is where you could create more drama, and suspicion, perhaps Jen confessing about her son meeting Vicky in the woods or something like that. The regret that your MC didn't do more to engage with Jen, she feels guilty about Jen's murder. Just a few thoughts.


07:59 Feb 07, 2024

Thank you for your feedback John :)


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