Thriller Mystery Fantasy

His eyelids fluttered as the darkness behind them diminished and a soothing warmth settled on his face, like that of a cosy summer’s day.

He started to bring movement to his body, spreading his fingers, wiggling his toes, tilting his head left and right as he came awake, squeezing his eyes tighter shut before blinking them open.

He inhaled sharply as he took in his surroundings, the same surroundings he woke up to every time, the same ceiling, the same four-poster bed, the same floral patterned wallpaper and tapestries. To his left, the teak grandfather clock tick-tick-ticking against the wall, to his right, the imposing ornate armoire dominating the room. 

Same room. Same house. Same him, and even though he was waking from what seemed to have been a restful slumber, one that may have lasted an hour, a day or a week, time didn’t seem to have moved on. It never did. No matter how often he slept or how long for, he always woke up in the same place, ready to do the same thing. Get up, get dressed, go to work. Unchanging. Inescapable. Routine. He knew exactly what was going to happen when he opened his eyes. He knew he was waking up to die. 

The only thing different was how it would happen. 

Somewhere out in the mist-enshrouded courtyard, a never-seen cockerel crowed, prompting him to throw off his sheets, swing his legs off the bed and stand up. He moved on auto-pilot as he raced through a familiar routine, removing his bed shirt, dressing in the suit laid out on a chair, slipping into polished two-tone oxfords and admiring himself in the mirror as he fastened a bow tie. 

His chin was clear of stubble, as always regardless of how long he slept, and not a hair on his head was out of place. In minutes, he was ready to go, though he wished he could procrastinate longer. He wanted to stay here alone, just this once, though he knew that was a fruitless desire. He had a job to do and people depended on him. Six people, to be exact, all waiting patiently downstairs as he let his gaze linger on his reflection, trying to locate a wrinkle or any kind of sign he might be ageing, finding none.

The cockerel crowed a second time and he shook his head to drag himself out of his reverie, straightened his jacket lapels, broke away from the baroque, oval mirror and left the bedroom, the only room on the second floor of Odd Luck manor he’d ever entered.

Down the sweeping staircase he went, one hand on the polished mahogany bannister, feet carrying him along against his will. He didn’t want to go downstairs. He didn’t want to go to ‘work’. He couldn’t do this again. How many times was it now? Would he ever get to stop? Or at least do something different? It was the repetition that killed him. Quite literally. 

Why did it have to be him? Why was it always he who had to die? Why not one of the others? They, at least, got to vary things up, he was doomed to the same fate.

It wasn’t fair.

As he reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped onto the hall’s marble tiles, his shoes click-clacking on their surface, an anger had risen in him unlike anything he’d experienced before. He’d felt resentment for sure, and self-pity, and despair, those emotions were pretty much constant, but the anger he felt now was new. Maybe it was the day that was in it or maybe it was the natural culmination of all those other emotions mutating into something inevitable. Whatever the case, it caught him off guard and preoccupied his mind as he circled the hall, passing the large, open doorways to the cavernous rooms they led into. 

Cavernous rooms full of unseen threat and hidden dangers.

It’s not fair, he thought again, as he passed the lounge, glancing in at the stone and alabaster fireplace, the crystal chandelier, the chaise lounge, smoking chairs and poker table, his eyes probing every corner, the rustle of movement behind the drapes not escaping his notice. He didn’t feel compelled to enter. I’m always the victim. Always. I must have died in that room a hundred times.

He moved on down the hall, reaching the dining room, looking in at the monolithic dining slab that dominated the room and the eight high-backed chairs that surrounded it. The shadowy figure tucked away behind the liquor cabinet in the corner wasn’t tucked away well enough, he picked it out almost straight away.

In there too, more deaths than I can remember. Stabbed or strangled or shot while waiting for breakfast. Ha. Breakfast. I’ve ever lived long enough for that.

He moved on, no urge to enter that room either, walking slower, passing the kitchen, the ballroom, the conservatory, staring into their gaping maws as he went, easily spotting the hidden assassin where there was one. It was like they weren’t even trying to be discreet anymore. Or maybe he’d just been set upon so often, caught by surprise so much there were no fresh places a foe could hide.

When he got to the library, a familiar instinct made him draw to a halt and face fully into the musty, book-filled chamber. Ah. This is where I must work today. Work, as in, enter and wait for my demise. And who will it be this time? Which of my colleagues will twist the knife? Or pull the trigger? Or tighten the rope?

He sighed, stuffed his hands into his perfectly-tailored jacket pocket, took a hesitant step towards the threshold, pretending not to see the person crouching behind a tome-laden table at the back of the room. He didn’t want to go in. He didn’t want to take a book and pretend to read, while waiting for the latest killing blow. He was tired of it. But he didn’t have a choice. This was his job. This was what he left his bed for and got dressed for and came downstairs for, it was all he’d ever done, all he knew how to do, everything his colleagues expected, so there was nothing he could do but…


He stopped himself before entering the dimly-lit, claustrophobic reading room.

It took a tremendous effort to grind his momentum to a halt but somehow, with strength of will he never knew he had, he managed to do it. Maybe it was the anger that had risen up inside him as he came down the carpeted staircase. It felt strange to have a little autonomy in the normal run of events, it wasn’t something he was used to, but with the taste he’d just received…he decided there and then he wanted more.

Not today. 

“Not today,” he said, speaking the thought aloud for all to hear, the two words reverberating throughout the high-walled, oak-panelled lobby. With an even greater effort than it had taken to not enter the library, he turned and click-clacked his way back to the stairs. “Not today, not tomorrow, not ever again. You may as well come out, chaps and chapettes, there’ll be no more murders in Odd Luck.”

He spun on his heels, unbuttoned his jacket, undid the bow tie until it dangled in two halves on his shirt, then plonked himself down on the third step up from the bottom. He clasped his hands and rested his forearms on his knees then waited, his gaze drifting from doorway to doorway around the hall, watching to see who’d appear.

“What do you mean, ‘no more murders’?” said a timid voice behind him, and he looked over his shoulder to see a dark-haired young woman in a figure-hugging, blood-red dress emerge cautiously from the study. “There has to be murders. That’s the whole point. Isn’t it?”

“Is it?” he responded, with a smile. He’d always had a soft spot for Scarlet and, truth be told, never really minded when she killed him. “Maybe it’s time we find out.”

“Poppycock!” came an impatient, gravelly voice, bringing his attention back to the fore. A wide-eyed, wild-haired gentleman in a too-small purple suit had staggered out of the lounge, brandishing a bottle of brandy. “What are you playing at, man? Get off those steps and get yourself into position! Do you want to rouse the fury of the Gods?”

“Yes,” he replied, nodding thoughtfully as Scarlet came closer to the stairs. “I jolly well think I do. I think it’s about time we tested some boundaries, don’t you, Professor? Why should we keep doing what they want? Who says we can’t express free will?”

“Free will? Have you lost faith, my son?” The speaker this time was the bald, bespectacled gentleman coming out of the dining room, the manor’s resident priest, dressed as always in cassock and clerical collar, threadbare green cardigan hanging loose. “You don’t anger the Gods! Everyone knows that! There are rules, commandments, passed down from above to be obeyed. And we must obey. To the letter. Or face dire consequences.”

“Dire consequences, well, I’d rather take my chances with them then spend another moment being pummelled to death with a pipe. With all due respect, Reverend, I’ve had my fill of that. You’d understand if you were the one getting the short end of the stick all the time. I can’t respect a God that doesn’t treat everyone equally. I’ve come to that realisation. I’ve come to a lot of realisations, as it happens, and it’s liberating to finally have a choice.”

“But you don’t!” shrieked the plump, middle-aged woman in the chef’s whites who’d emerged from the kitchen holding a rolling pin. “You don’t have a choice! None of us do! We have roles to play and we must play them or society falls apart! It’s not just your life you’re playing fast and loose with, it’s ours too. And you don’t even have a life! You’re expendable! So stop this selfishness and get to work! We need you to do your job!”

“Hear, hear,” said another woman, the stick-thin, prim and proper solicitor, standing rigid in the entrance to the conservatory. “Stupid boy. Free will and choices are all well and good but there are consequences to unrehearsed actions. Just ask any of the countless men and women I’ve seen off to jail. They thought they could do what they wanted, throw caution to the wind, be ‘individual’. But that doesn’t get you anywhere other than destitute, locked up or dead, and since none of those options are any better than, or different to, your designated fate, I must insist you stop wasting our time and follow the rules! Now!”

He kept his eyes on the flushed, red face of the exasperated woman, watching her almost hyperventilate as she glared at him, waiting for him to comply. Somewhere inside, the urge to do so whimpered, trying to crawl to the surface. He shook his head and swallowed it back down.

“No, Miss Peacock, I don’t believe I shall. I don’t have to do what you say. Nor you, Mrs. White, nor any of you, least of all the Gods who decided to make me their…”

His words were drowned out by a sudden clap of what sounded like subterranean thunder, and the Manor started to tremble. As the occupants of the grand hall tripped and staggered, paintings popped off walls, vases and statues fell from pedestals, windows cracked and the building itself seemed to shriek.

“See!” Reverend Green, who had dropped to his knees to pray, announced. “This is what happens when you disobey the Lord! You’ve strayed from your path and drawn his ire, we’ll all be punished for your sins!”

“We’re all going to die!” screamed Mrs. White, hugging a marble pillar for dear life. “You’ve doomed us all with your pig-headed selfishness!”

“Pretentious twat!” spat the Professor, who’d hurried back into the kitchen to take refuge under a table. “Leave it to one of your ilk to ruin everything!”

“He’s not ruined anything yet,” said a new voice from behind him, the only one that hadn’t yet spoken, but before he could turn to face the last of the Manor’s inhabitants, he felt the cold blade of a knife against his throat. “On your feet, boy. This has gone far enough. You need to come with me now and play the game like a man. No more dilly-dallying.”

The Manor continued to shudder as he pushed himself up, slow so as to avoid being cut. “Take it easy, old chap,” he said, turning to look at the walrus-moustache sporting, tweed-suit clad retired Colonel. “The game’s up. We all know you’ve come from the library, which is where I was headed, and you’ve revealed your weapon of choice. There’s no mystery to be solved anymore. So let’s just relax and see what happens when we don’t follow the script. Haven’t you ever wondered? Any of you? What it would be like to step out of your comfort zone? I know it’s scary, but there has to be more to life than repeating the same old routine. We’re prisoners here, all of us, in these roles that have been assigned to us, but the only thing keeping us trapped is our own fear. We don’t have to be afraid of the unknown. Change is good. Don’t you want to try something diff…”

A raised arm, a strike to the neck, he buckled and fell forward into the burly man’s arms, and then he was being dragged towards the library.

“Shut up!” the huffing Colonel grunted. “Shut up, you fool. We’ll all cease to exist if you don’t…”

An explosion, like thunder, but this time not beneath the ground. Warm wetness sprayed his face and he pulled free of the Colonel’s grasp as the bigger man went down, screaming as he clutched a bleeding shoulder. He turned towards the source of the noise, Scarlet on the opposite side of the staircase, revolver in hand, wispy smoke leaving its barrel.

Everybody screamed as the tremors beneath the floor intensified. 

“I…I’m sorry,” Scarlet stuttered, wobbling on crimson six-inch heels. “I just thought… What if he’s right? Maybe we don’t have to…”

The second floor and roof of the Manor disappeared then, literally dissipating halfway up the stairs, giving way to a whirling vortex of blacks, whites and greys that spun like a tornado in the sky.

“PROFESSOR PLUM, LOUNGE, LEAD PIPE!” came a booming voice, and in the kitchen the purple-suited eccentric screamed as he was sucked up into the vortex. 

“MRS. WHITE, KITCHEN, ROPE!” the disembodied voice roared again, and this time the cook was taken, ripped from the pillar she clung to and hauled into the abyss.


One by one their names were called with weapon and room combinations, one by one they were whisked into the maelstrom, their desperate screams gobbled up as they vanished, leaving only him behind with…


“No!” he gasped, sprinting for the stairs, bounding up the remaining steps, placing both hands on the bannister and vaulting over it as Scarlet was plucked off the floor. He wrapped his arms around her as she went up, allowing himself to be carried away with her, by some unseen, omnipotent force.

Scarlet didn’t scream. He hugged her close as they rocketed into the churning heavens, held her face close to his, watched the colour drain from her cheeks and her eyes stare in horror as they flew higher. Their ascent only lasted a few seconds. Abruptly they were brought to a halt, left to float amongst raging storm clouds, thunder cracking around them as a shape appeared out of the fog, a spinning white cube with a multitude of piercing black eyes, different amounts on each of its sides, ranging from one to six.

The God of Odd Luck Manor.

“YOU RUINED OUR GAME!” a voice from within the cube bellowed, as it drew closer to him and the girl. “YOU RUINED OUR ENTERTAINMENT!”

“Not so,” he replied, closing his hand around Scarlet’s. “You nearly got it right, and two out of three's not bad. MISS SCARLET!”

He lifted Scarlet’s arm, aimed her weapon.


He curled his index finger around hers, over the trigger of the gun.


He pressed her finger back, engaged the trigger, fired the gun, watched a bullet shoot from the barrel and bore into the single glaring eye on the side of the God Cube facing them. 

A nightmarish, senses-shredding scream emitted from the cube as a network of cracks weaved their way around its surface, spreading out from its now vacant eye, causing it to and explode into a million pieces, jagged pieces that might have torn him and Scarlet to shreds if they weren’t already falling away, the Cube’s hold over them at last released.

He closed his eyes and smiled as he hurtled to his doom, holding Scarlet’s hand, the revolver discarded. She was screaming now, alongside him, and he squeezed her hand tight to reassure her. It was going to be okay. He’d died a thousand deaths and always woken up to start again. He was sure this time would be no different. And also in no way the same.


His eyelids fluttered as the darkness behind them diminished and a soothing warmth settled on his face, like that of a cosy summer’s day.

He started to bring movement to his body, spreading his fingers, wiggling his toes, tilting his head left and right as he came awake, squeezing his eyes tighter shut before blinking them open.

He smiled as his eyes fell on Scarlet, her head on the pillow beside him, eyes twitching as she wandered through her dreamscape.

He pulled the sheets up over his head and went back to sleep.

May 12, 2023 11:47

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


Imani Weston
19:19 Jul 10, 2024

I LOVE THE GAME CLUE !! also i found your account yesterday and im reading all of your stories at work ! haha good soup :)


11:46 Jul 11, 2024

Thanks Imani! :) Hope you enjoy a few of my mad little stories lol


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Annie Persson
16:30 Oct 24, 2023

I think this was a brilliant take on the game Cluedo (or Clue, depending on where you live)! I recognised all the characters, and I think you described the feeling of monotony very well at the beginning. I do often feel sorry for Mr. Body, and sometimes I wonder if the others feel for him too. Even the one who ends up killing him. I also have a soft spot for Scarlet, and whenever we play, I always pick her and hope it's not her who killed him. Have you seen the movie Clue? It's also based on the game, and it's a great one to watch on a cosy ...


Show 0 replies
Cathryn Farr
18:39 May 19, 2023

You do an excellent job of walking us through the plot, introducing each character, and describing scene. the momentum builds nicely through the middle. I wonder if you could let the reader put the pieces together a bit more instead of telling us exactly what is going on. Give the reader 'clues' and let us figure it out. The story was engaging, started out a bit slow, and the end was too predictable for too long. I suggest: Cut the second paragraph at the beginning. For the end, something like, "His eyelids fluttered as the darkness beh...


18:41 May 19, 2023

Excellent suggestions! Thanks for reading and leaving feedback! Really appreciate that!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Marty B
17:16 May 18, 2023

I loved the 'clue's dropped in this one. Like in a good story, the MC had to make a choice to move himself out of the repetition of the game. You pulled off the hard part of this story when you showed how miserable the MC was, and his dread of having to repeat his actions one more. Everyone forgets about the murder victim, 'Mr. Boddy' in the board game, but of course they are essential to the game. nonsequitor: We did a family halloween costume recently and my son who does not like to dress up was Mr. Boddy.


20:18 May 18, 2023

Thanks Marty! Glad you liked the story I had fun writing it. Yes poor old Mr. Boddy never gets to have his say! Thought it was time to fix that :) That's cool how you got your son involved even though he doesn't dress up!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
14:27 May 17, 2023

Derrick, I LOVED this! I was drawn in very quickly. Your powers of description were on point. It's such an interesting premise that the narrator knows they are going to die. At first I thought perhaps they were stuck in some sort of warp where they were destined to play back their fate over and over again. But when I read the line, "Which of my colleagues will twist the knife? Or pull the trigger? Or tighten the rope?" I knew what you were doing, and it made me SO FREAKING HAPPY! (Clue is one of my favorite games) This is such a creative a...


14:54 May 17, 2023

Thanks Hannah! That's really nice to hear! Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, one of my favourite games as well, its one that never gets old (Except for the characters in it of course lol!) Thanks again! Are you submitting something for this weeks prompt? Working on mine at the moment, I always seem to get inspiration when there's only a day or 2 left lol


16:39 May 17, 2023

there is a lot more strategy to it than people may think! Have you ever played "Betrayal at House on the Hill"? It has a similar energy! I am actually thinking about doing a "horror" piece for this next prompt, but I haven't quite settled on the plot just yet ... what about you?


16:59 May 17, 2023

No I haven't played that but have seen it and will probably pick it up at some stage. I'm doing something with a horror element but not actually horror. It is my favourite genre though! Go for it! Look forward to seeing what you come up with!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Lisa H. Owens
09:31 May 17, 2023

Take a simple game of Clue and throw in a bit of Groundhog's Day and Voila! You've got yourself a winner. Brilliant concept and well written. Nice twist at the end. I thought he was waking up to the same day of his demise—again. So glad Miss Scarlet was sleeping beside him!


09:48 May 17, 2023

Thank you Lisa! I really enjoyed writing this one. It wasn't even one I put a huge amount of thought into up front, it just kind of flowed out as the deadline was approaching and I wanted to enter something. Always the way isnt it, when you aren't trying too hard you get a better result!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Anne Ryan
09:00 May 17, 2023

Very well thought out . planned brilliantly.with an excellent finish.Loved it.Looking forward to reading some more of your stories.Congrats.Anne Ryan


Show 0 replies
Ikpa Chibuzor
07:27 May 16, 2023

This is a good one, Derrick. Well done


08:59 May 16, 2023

Thanks Ikpa! I primarily wrote this one as just a bit of fun but it ended up being one of my favourite things I've written actually! :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
17:57 May 13, 2023

Heh, that's a fun take on the prompt :) The reveal is neat, but the setup really draws us in. Who is this, and what kind of a job is repeatedly being murdered? Questions that keep us reading. Besides being amusing, it also digs into themes of choice and inevitability. The protagonist had no idea how this would turn out, and even though the ending was good, he couldn't have predicted it. I think the act of making a choice was more important to him than it resulting in a positive outcome.


08:58 May 16, 2023

thanks Michal! And yes, he didn't really care about the outcome he was just sick of doing the same thing over and over again and sick of being afraid to try something different. Something I think we all experience from time to time when we get stuck in a rut! Thanks for reading and commenting, I've read a few of your stories and they are all exceptional so its great to get feedback from you


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kristin Neubauer
19:05 May 12, 2023

This is brilliant, Derrick - I loved it! First off, bravo for taking such an unusual and original interpretation of the prompt. And second, you unfurled this story so perfectly. In the beginning - quite a ways through the beginning - "Clue" sort of crept into the back of my mind. I wasn't thinking that the story was an interpretation of the game, but you dropped enough hints that I thought "this reminds me a little of Clue". And when I finally realized, it actually WAS the game, everything came together in this very satisfying surprise. S...


21:02 May 12, 2023

Wow thank you!!! Really appreciate that! Glad it came across that way, I hoped it wouldn't be TOO obvious from the start but also wanted to sow the seed early on. Happy it seems to have worked!


Kristin Neubauer
22:13 May 12, 2023

It TOTALLY worked!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Mary Bendickson
14:26 May 12, 2023

I wrote a story using Clue as the premise in another venue. I was hoping I might use it here sometime if I recognized a prompt it would fit. You recognized one and did a much better version than mine was. But then again I am but amature compared this masterpiece.😉


15:13 May 12, 2023

Wow Mary thank you! coming from you that means a lot, you are brilliant one of my favourite writers here! Hopefully it goes down well. Not getting much traction here yet but it's early days. Thank you again!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.