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Mystery Suspense Thriller

Midnight

As the bells in the church below the cliff sang midnight in a melancholy choir, the world smelled of lime zest and metal, and a dark-masked villian slipped away unnoticed. 

One

Grandfather O’Brien found the body as he went up to bed, his eyes red from exhaustion and his brain dizzy with pipe smoke. His feet slid in the blood, but he barely screamed as he looked down. Zooey had always been his least favorite grandchild anyways. 

She lay across stairs, the long train of her dress spread out beside her, soaked deep red, her head tipped back over the top step, lips full and soft and speckled with her own blood. 

“Mariah!” Grandfather hollered, voice crackling and uneven, “Come help me on the stairs.” He eyed the body with distaste until his daughters’ footsteps fell on the stairs below him, at which point he turned. 

Mariah’s eyes went wide, welling first with tears and then anger like a bed of nails. She pointed with a shaking finger, “What did you do?” 

He shrugged and rolled his eyes, “Nothing. I just found her here, but you need to help me clean it up.” 

“No!” Mariah crossed her arms, and tilted her chin so the strands of hair that dripped around the edges of her face fell behind her ears. “That is my daughter, and I will not touch her dead body.” 

“You didn’t even like her. Not a week ago you said she was eccentric and a disgrace to your name.”

Mariah frowned back down at Zooey’s bloody torso, where the pale fabric of her dress mixed with her shredded flesh, “Yes, but I didn’t want her to die. And you know I don’t like dealing with blood anyways.” 

“Fine,” Grandfather tried to sigh, but it was interrupted by a barrage of coughs that bent his body forward, tugging at his spine like the wind in the boughs of a willow tree. Once he recovered, he raised his hand to cup his mouth. “Jamie,” he shouted, voice sliding down the banister to fill the marble-floored hall below, “Come help me with something.”

Mariah rolled her eyes, face up to the ceiling and body angled away from her daughter. “He won’t help either. That son of mine is almost worse than she was. Always so emotional.”

“Well, what do you expect me to do?” Grandfather grimaced and gestured with one wrinkled hand. “Call your other son in here?” 

Eyes narrowing, Mariah bared her teeth at him, hissing, “Don’t you dare bring Matthew into this.”

Jamie’s feet thudded up the stairs below them, “Hey, what do you need help with…” He trailed off, eyes following the dark stain on the carpet up to Zooey’s sprawled out corpse. His pajama shirt hung limp from his shoulders. “Oh my God.”

Two

Tears slipped down Jamie’s cheeks, rolled down his temples through the stubble on his chin, trailed along the edge of his jaw and slid down his throat to pool in the hollows of his collarbone. The sky above him was at its darkest, when the night is so pure that it creates a whole new reality, where day is night and night is day and the predator becomes prey. 

His chest heaved as he rolled Zooey’s body off the cliff into the ocean below, her long skirts catching on the rough rocky ground. She fell slowly, dress fluttering around her, the white fabric speckled dark from the blood, and Jamie watched her until she hit the water and sank too deep for him to see her pale silhouette beneath the waves. 

When he turned, he saw two shadows in the highest window of the house, bathed in yellow light and standing still, watching him. 

Three

All slept but two. 

One paced. The windows were flung open to the frigid night. The floorboards creaked. 

The other donned a dark mask, brought out a knife, sharpened the blade. 

Slipped through a door.

Crept up the stairs.

Sunk a blade into an innocent heart. 

Four and Five

The waves crashed against the rocky shore. 

Six

As the sun wavered on the watery horizon and drew the town from sleep, a second body was found. This time, its discovery brought much mourning. 

“Who is doing this? Why would they kill my Cameron?” Mariah wailed, crouched beside her young daughter’s body, so small lying in its crib. 

Grandfather O’Brien leaned on his cane, holding a carved pipe in one shaking hand. “It must be the McMahons.” 

Jamie looked up from where he sat leaning against the doorframe, eyes red from the crying and the smoke and the lack of sleep. “No, they’re good people. Why would they do this?”

“There were stirrings of a blood feud a few decades ago,” Grandfather shrugged, tapping the stem of his pipe with stained fingertips. His nails were torn and uneven. “Johannah pushed them down, said she didn’t want her family name tainted with death.” 

Mariah tilted up her tear-stained face with a snarl twisting her lip to show her square teeth, “As if she wasn’t a killer herself. What a hypocrite.”

“Now that she’s underground,” Grandfather ignored his daughter, “I guess they don’t care what she told them to do any more.” 

“Well,” Mariah cracked her neck, “If this is a blood feud, we need to strike back.”

Seven

Mariah didn’t want to throw this body off the cliff. So smothering her sobs, she dressed Cameron in a pretty purple dress. She curled her hair, tied it up in ribbons. Mariah’s breath shook and her chest heaved as she wrapped the body in a quilt and tucked it back into bed. She left a book out on the nightstand, as though she might read Beauty and the Beast before bed one final time.

Eight

For breakfast there were eggs and bacon and slightly stale biscuits, tucked into a basket and placed on the table beside a bouquet of white flowers. 

“Where are Zooey and Cameron?” Matthew asked as he sat down, his plate piled with food and water sloshing up over the side of his glass to land on the tablecloth. 

Grandfather and Mariah rushed to talk over each other. 

“They both seem to have come down with a cold,” said Mariah, “They’ll be staying in their rooms today.” 

“They’re in their rooms,” said Grandfather, “Don’t go in. They don’t want you bothering them.”

Matthew shrugged and sunk his teeth into a biscuit, warm yellow butter dripping over the edge. “Alright. I think today I’m going to keep working on my poems anyways.” He snapped his suspenders as he stood, setting down his unfinished biscuit and smiling at his mother. Gesturing at his plate, he grinned, “You know what they say, hunger is good for the imagination.” He winked and strutted off, hat tilted on his head of golden curls. 

Jamie put his head in his hands. 

Nine

Grandfather stood above Jamie, blowing smoke rings into the air. “Do you understand what you have to do?” He asked, voice rasping. 

Jamie nodded, “Yes, but I don’t understand why--”

Mariah cut him off. “Good. Then go do it. Don’t be slow. We’ll be waiting.”

She pulled him up by the arm and handed him the sword from the mantle. He had always thought it was decorative, but now he saw speckles of long-dried brown blood on the edge of the blade and in the cracks between the jewels on the handle.

Eyes on the door of the library, which sat slightly ajar at the top of the stairs, leaking the cheerful sounds of Matthew’s humming, Mariah and Grandfather ushered Jamie out the back door. 

Ten

The town below the cliff seemed empty, seeming to avoid Jamie like oil and water. The sword bounced on his hip, rough, ruby-encrusted hilt rubbing digging into his skin. He walked a loop, dirt crunching beneath his feet. On his way past the flower shop for the second time, she was there. Her back was turned, the pale pink ribbon tied around her hair falling out, a bouquet of white roses clutched in her hand. 

She was speaking to the shop owner, and each time she gestured with her arm, petals fell from the flowers and fluttered to the ground. Jamie stopped in the street, watching her, and felt his throat tighten, tears burn in his eyes, his heart swell up and break in half and shatter into a thousand pieces in his chest. 

She turned, skirt spinning around her knees, and he saw her eyes light up as she saw him. “Jamie!” She cried, throwing her arms up into the air.

He smiled and patted her back as she embraced him, white roses pressing into his back. “Hi Lucy.”

“Why do you have a sword?”

“Oh I don’t know. I just wanted to feel fancy.” Jamie tried to smirk, blinking past the image of the blade sinking into her chest, of the blood weeping down the front of her dress. His voice cracked.

She frowned. “What’s wrong? You seem sad.”

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

Brow furrowed, she grabbed his hand. “No, I can tell you’re not. Come on. I’ll take you to my house and make you some tea.”

He couldn’t resist, and she pulled him along. The fingers of her left hand were twined with Jamie’s, and the fingers of her right were wrapped around the roses.  

“Have you been here before?” She asked when they arrived, leading him over to a worn loveseat to sit. He shook his head. Everything hurt. The pain pulsed out from his heart, running down his arms and making his fingers shake. Words bounced from side to side in his head. “Well,” she pirouetted the short distance to the kitchen, “Welcome to the McMahon home.”

Eleven

The house smelled of ginger and honey and the color orange. Lucy sat with her head curled up against Jamie’s chest, eyes half-lidded, lips curved into a smile. Jamie’s hand was wrapped around the hilt of his sword, which lay beside him on the cushions, and he could feel the sobs building up in his throat. 

He shifted, and Lucy’s eyelids fluttered open. “What?” She mumbled. 

“I can’t do it. I was supposed to come down here and kill you, but I can’t do it. I love you too much.” He crumbled, hands coming up to cover his face as the tears finally fell. Sobs hissed out from between his teeth as he made one final attempt to restrain them. 

She sat up straight. “You thought about killing me? Why? Is that what the sword was for?” He nodded. She screamed and stood, “Oh my God. Get out of here. Get out.” Her eyes watered as she pointed at the door. “I can’t believe I ever trusted you.”

“No, Lucy,” he stared up at her, misery and saltwater slipping down his cheeks, “Please.” 

“Get out of my house.”

“Let me explain myself.” 

“No!” She screamed, picking up the sword and driving it blindly towards him. It sank into his chest. A look of horror dawned on her face, “No. No no no no no.” Her words came out in a whisper as she grabbed the hilt of the sword and tried to pull it out.

Jamie’s eyes were blank; it was too late. 

Noon

Grandfather was called down from the house on the cliff. Mariah came instead. 

She marched into the McMahon’s house with fury twisting her features and the wind in her hair. “How dare you.” She hissed, stabbing her finger into James McMahon’s face. “You have already killed both my daughters, and now my son? This is a blood feud, not a slaughterhouse.”

He blinked. “I’m sorry about your son, but we had nothing to do with your daughters. We are not in a blood feud. I am going to defend my daughter in the courts. She said your son was threatening her, and so she retaliated in self-defense.”

Mariah snarled. Their faces were inches apart, and her spit landed on his crooked red nose as she spoke. “Your daughter is a murderer, and so are you. Do not pretend any different. Do the honorable thing and take responsibility for your actions instead of blaming them on my son, whose body is still warm in your living room, bleeding onto your couch.”

The crowd of people around them rustled, tiptoeing to try to see Mariah and James face to face. Whispers ran within the crush of people. The flourist pointed to where Lucy cowered behind her father, dress splattered with blood, face streaked with tears. “I was just speaking to her,” he boasted to everyone near.

One

Back up in the house on the cliff, Grandfather’s body lay in his chair by the fire, a bloody hole in his chest, pipe dangling from his stiffening fingers, and Matthew sat beside the open library window, face shining with sweat and joy, cleaning the blood from his dagger.

November 11, 2020 21:49

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24 comments

Scout Tahoe
21:55 Nov 11, 2020

This made shivers ripple down my spine. Literally. Ah-ha! So glad you've posted and this is better than I could ever imagine. Please stay active. Okay, this story. It's wonderful. It's a thriller. It's freaky and you're so good at twists because I totally didn't expect that in the end. I knew Jamie couldn't do it but I thought he would. That twist was also quite unexpected. The title fits too and I can see you've been growing as a writer because your descriptions are lovely. Keep it up, really, please.

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Genevieve Taylor
22:06 Nov 11, 2020

Ahhhh thank you so much for reading this! Your comments always make my day. I'm going to try to stay active from now on haha. I want to write more finished pieces instead of just scribbling random stuff in my notebook, and Reedsy motivates me to do that. I'm so glad I got you to shiver. Writing about murder is one of my favorite things, so knowing that I evoked even a little bit of emotion makes my heart happy. Congrats on how well you've been doing on here! You definitely deserve it, and I can't wait to see you climb up the leaderboard....

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Scout Tahoe
22:26 Nov 11, 2020

Aw, thank you, Vieve. You deserve more points and to be known. Your stories are wonderfully written so please post more. :)

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Genevieve Taylor
23:17 Nov 11, 2020

Hey which of R.K.'s stories would you recommend? I'm looking to read one of them and I'd appreciate your input :)

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Scout Tahoe
23:19 Nov 11, 2020

Okay, so I heard she's posting a new one soon so I'd recommend that one but it's not out yet, haha. So I'd say Glass Promises. It's beautiful. ;)

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Genevieve Taylor
23:20 Nov 11, 2020

Okay, great! Thanks for your help!

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R. K.
22:53 Nov 11, 2020

I came here because Scout told me to (she's always praising your work ;) but now I'm ashamed I never did before. You have such a captivating writing voice, the first lines had me glued. I don't know if it's just me but, I got a negative energy from Matthew right when he "sank" his teeth into the biscuit, (oh well, I do love cookies). What would you say is the reason Matthew is killing his family members? I realize I've read you Princess and the Newcomer one too before. Now, I'm excited to follow your future pieces. Keep writing!

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Genevieve Taylor
23:00 Nov 11, 2020

Thank you so much for reading my story! I've heard all about you from Scout, and you seem super nice! :) I had in my mind that Matthew is killing his family because of all the pressure they put on him to be this "perfect son," so he decided to kill them all to take revenge. I'm not really sure. I also thought about him just being a plain old psychopath. Thanks again for reading! I'm going to ask Scout for her recommendations for what to read from you. Hope you have a great day!

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R. K.
23:03 Nov 11, 2020

I love the concept! Psychopaths come in all shapes and mental disorders. I really look forward to you being back and writing more soon when you can. Ack, don't, haha. My stories aren't really that great, but I will have some new ones by Friday hopefully (though they won't be any better). Keep writing, stay healthy and smile.

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Genevieve Taylor
23:12 Nov 11, 2020

Oh you better believe I'm going to read your stories :)))) If Scout is friends with you and appreciates your writing, then I'm sure I will too.

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Rayhan Hidayat
12:10 Nov 15, 2020

Freaky stuff. It reminds me of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, how we have a whole family to pick the murderer from. The way you described Matthew at the dining table and his little remark about writing poems was just enough to make me wonder if it was him. Kudos 😙

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Genevieve Taylor
00:05 Nov 16, 2020

Thank you so much for reading!

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Faith Hunter
23:36 Nov 30, 2020

Oh my god this was so creepy. But your words were really good. I didn't think Mathew was the killer at all. Keep writing because you're so great at it!! -Faith

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Genevieve Taylor
04:08 Dec 01, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

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Bianka Nova
12:57 Nov 12, 2020

Nice to see you're back. :) I really liked the hour spacing of the paragraphs. Makes it easy to read and follow. The suspense part was very good too. You killed characters left and right, almost like Tarantino, so by the end Matthew was the only option left. What I miss a little is some more background info on this family. Because they all kind of looked like sociopaths. At some point I even thought they might not be human ;)

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Genevieve Taylor
16:15 Nov 12, 2020

It's good to be back, and especially good to see a comment from you! :) Thank you so much for reading and leaving feedback. Yeah, I see how I missed out on putting some background info in there. I'll have to think about that. I was trying to make everyone but Jamie seem a little off their rails. Did Jamie seem crazy to you too? Thanks again for stopping by!

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Bianka Nova
16:25 Nov 12, 2020

No, that's right. He was indeed the only normal one :) And I suppose the baby was indeed quite innocent. Those were some merciless killings :P

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Genevieve Taylor
17:06 Nov 12, 2020

Okay good. I'm glad I got that bit across. :)

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Lina Oz
04:12 Nov 12, 2020

This story is just deliciously creepy. I couldn't stop reading until I figured out the cause of the mysterious murders (ahh, Matthew). Your descriptive voice is so immensely powerful. Just looking at this sentence: "Grandfather shrugged, tapping the stem of his pipe with stained fingertips. His nails were torn and uneven." WOW. In just these two short sentences, I already develop some certain *feelings* about him (also with his cold reaction to his Zooey's death). The minuscule details about his fingernails and fingertips is just s...

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Genevieve Taylor
04:45 Nov 12, 2020

Ahhhh thank you so much for reading my story! This comment just put a huge smile on my face. I'm so glad you like my descriptions, because they're one of the things I think the most about while writing. :) Thank you for making me smile!

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23:43 Nov 11, 2020

Oooooh! Awesomeness. The creepiness is strong with this one! I’ll be back later with a full review once I can get to my laptop. :)

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Genevieve Taylor
01:04 Nov 12, 2020

Yay! Thank you. Can't wait to hear your thoughts. Please don't be afraid to be harsh. :)

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01:23 Nov 12, 2020

I’ll be 100% honest. :)

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