A Series of Unfortunate Accidents

Submitted into Contest #161 in response to: Write about a character who lives a seemingly charmed life.... view prompt

20 comments

Crime Urban Fantasy Fiction

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

TW: Swearing, mention of murder and various improbable injuries.


“You really think all of these are accidents?” I asked the Chief of Police, Alan Morcom.

            “Of course, what else would they be, Inspector Cole?” He asked, taking a sip of coffee from a mug labelled, World’s Best Grandad.

            “Ridiculous? Impossible?” I said.

            “What’s so impossible about them?” He slurped as he looked at me over the rim of the red cup.

            “This man died of cancer,” I shook my notes at him, a photo of the deceased attached to the front page.

            “Happens every day,” said Chief Morcom, grey-green eyes neutral.

            “It wasn’t his cancer! It was from an entirely different patient.” My voice rose to the point the chief was sitting back in his swivel chair.

            “Then I’d say it was a very aggressive form of cancer then, wasn’t it?” His grey moustache quivered with the first hints of rage.

            “Cancer isn’t a fucking albatross, Chief. It doesn’t migrate. It definitely doesn’t jump into a hole in the head that looks like it was scooped out with a melon baller.” Taking a deep breath, I moved on to matters processed by the police themselves.

            “This one,” I held up a case file of a man with a bullet hole through his glabella. “How do you explain this?”

            He gave a brief glance at the photo with raised dust bunny eyebrows and smirked. “Well obviously the man shot himself.” A skinny hand gestured at the photo.

            “You’d think that.” I agreed, nodding my head. “Unless you knew that he’d been born without legs. He’d never trained with a gun. He was decidedly anti-gun in his stance, according to family.”

            I held up other files. “This list goes on, Chief. And the buck stops with you.”

            “Stranger than fiction is all I can think to say, Inspector Cole.” The man shrugged at me and smiled, ruddy cheeks forming into dimples. It was the shrug you give when you’re owning up to farting in a lift while drunk. It wasn’t the shrug and smile for the Chief of Police to give me when I pointed out that dozens of ‘accidents’ were anything but.

            “These were murders, sir.” I slammed the files down on his mahogany desk.

            He jumped at the sound of cold hard reality hitting the wood. “I’m sure you’re picturing some sort of conspiracy, Inspector, but I assure you this is all a misunderstanding. Check the cases again. I have the best team in the country. They do not make mistakes.”

            He stood, puffing out his bony chest in the black uniform.

            “I think it’s time you leave, Inspector Cole.”

            “You have no authority to dismiss me, Chief Morcom. I’m here to investigate you. Frankly, I should be recommending your suspension immediately. Missing these cases in the first place is deplorable. Dismissing the evidence when I present it to you is just disgusting.”

            He threw up his arms and yelled, “what evidence? There’s been no evidence. Just wild theories that make no sense.”

            I picked through the files on his desk. Pulling out a file he had signed off on personally I turned to the facts of the case. “This woman impaled herself in the heart with a garden rake.”

            “I remember the case, Inspector. It was a tragedy.”

            “She managed to do it twice? You thought that was possible?”

            “We were just as surprised as you are, but accidents happen.”

            “Not as often as they do around here.” I pulled out another file. The picture on the front was of a sandy haired young man with a cheesy smile and a medal over his tracksuit.

            “Oh Derrick. Such a shame, that one. He was the hope of the town, we thought he was headed for the Olympics.”

            “I’m sure he would have been,” I said. “He was an excellent swimmer. That’s why I find it incredible that he drowned in the bath.”

            “Poor Derrick,” said Alan Morcom, ignoring me as he looked at the photo. “He was friends with my grandson you know.” The blithering man before me had calmed down again and spoke casually of a dead child.

            “He had bruises on his neck that weren’t noted in the post-mortem.” I showed my own photos of the body I’d found in the freezer. “And I was shocked to find that remains removed during the autopsy had been incinerated. That’s not what the family requested. They wanted him buried, all of him.”

            “I’ll have a long talk with the forensic pathologist,” said Alan. His forehead was twitching with a facial tick. Behind him, the city stretched to the horizon. People out there expected the police to protect them. Morcom clearly wasn’t up to the job.


I left the office and took the stairs down to the basement where the forensic pathologist, Doctor Henry Clarke, was at work on a corpse.

            “Sorry to disturb you, Doctor,” I said gently.

            “Not at all, Inspector Cole. Nice to see you again, though could you move out of the light for me?” I moved to give him the direct ray from a strip light above. “Thank you.”

            “I found strangulation bruises on the body of a young man you’d autopsied. You didn’t declare them on the report.”

            “The name?” He asked as his steady hand sliced through skin. I looked up into his eyes, Mediterranean Sea blue. He wasn’t the pale specimen of a doctor who spend all his hours under artificial light that I had expected.

            “Derrick McArthur.” I said, looking at the Rolex on a table with his brand new, folding screen phone.

            “Ah, the swimmer.” He gave me a sad smile, showing off perfectly white teeth that had to be fake. “Such a loss. He was a rising star. I’m not sure if he was Olympic material, but he did well locally.” Licking lips straight from a lip gloss advert, he turned back to his work.

            “Does your work pay well?” I asked, looking at the shirt beneath his white lab coat.

            “I can’t complain. It puts food on the table.” He made notes on a clipboard as we talked.

            “And a Rolex on your wrist?”

            “Well, technically it’s on the table right now.” He gave me that smile again, looking damned close to Chris Evans as Captain America. “Is there a problem, officer?”

            “I’m an inspector, Doctor Clarke. And yes, there is a problem. A big problem. You’ve signed off to say a lot of obvious murders were accidents. Unlike Chief Morcom, you seem smart enough to know the difference.

            “I try,” he said. The perfect teeth glistened, all in a row, a show of force. He had a scalpel in his hand. “Smart enough to know when a joke has run its course. I guess I did get a bit too brazen, didn’t I? I’m just a fan of irony, you see.”

            He stepped forwards, scalpel in one hand, needle in the other.

            Where did the needle come from? “What are you doing?”

            “Preparing a meal,” he said. “You look tasty, Inspector Cole. And I was getting hungry.”

            His jaw opened.

            It opened wider.

            And wider.


            “What the fuck are you?” I gasped, reaching on the table behind me, only finding the hand of a dead body.

            “Think magical, Inspector. Have a guess?” Even as he bore down on me, he was graceful.

            “You’re a murderer. A psychopath.”

            “Yes. And?” He wanted me to get it, but my heart was pounding. I wanted to run but I didn’t want my back to him. I wanted to pee, but I was two floors down from the nearest toilet and playing Mexican stand-off with a man holding two weapons.

            “You’re-” I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know.

            “Yes?” He moved forwards, thrusting the scalpel into my shoulder. I felt the arm lose all feeling. He jammed the needle into my neck. “I bewitched everyone in this station. If you’d only been here a bit longer it would be working on you. They believe anything I tell them. They’re more gullible generally. Bad for crime. Good for me.

            I’m a zombie, Inspector Cole. It’s only fair you know, before you die.” He smiled his perfect smile. “It’s how I stay youthful. If you eat enough as a zombie, then you might as well be a vampire. Eternal life. Eternal youth. It’s a great life. It just gets boring sometimes.

            Thanks for bringing back the spark of excitement,” he whispered as my eyes closed. I was paralysed.

            I felt the cold press of the scalpel as he dragged it across my throat.


I woke up on a cold surface, staring up at the harsh light of a fluorescent tube. A smug voice greeted me.

            “Welcome to immortality, Inspector Cole.” Something about the superior voice was familiar. I had the instant feeling that I’d wanted to knock out the owner’s teeth before.

            I sat up and looked around the morgue. I felt my neck. I could feel stitches there. I felt nothing. No pain at least.

            “Would you like a mirror?” Doctor Clarke asked. I sat up, feeling oddly light.

            “What have you done to me?” I asked. Existential dread welled up behind my eyes.

            “Well, I was hungry, so I indulged. I couldn’t waste you though. You’re intelligent and forceful. I could use someone like you. You’re going to work with me. No. I’ll be honest. You’re going to work for me.”

            As he talked, I looked down at my bloody work shirt and opened it. I’ve never been so open. He’d extracted my heart. And my lungs. I wanted to hyperventilate, but I couldn’t.

            “How can I talk?”

            “Magic,” he said, shrugging. “You’ll be better when they grow back. But you’ll have to eat for that. I’ve already ingested your organs. You’re a zombie now. There’s no going back.” His smile was self-congratulatory. He’d turned an enemy into a subordinate.

            “Can zombies eat other zombies?”

            “No. We’re dead flesh now, no matter how fresh we look. Sorry, Inspector.”

            I swung my legs off the table. I was sluggish. Nothing responded as I wanted. Lacking vital organs clearly wasn’t the ideal way to start life as undead. He’d hobbled me.

            “Let me tell you about your new life,” he said, turning his back to me. His Rolex was back on his wrist.

            I picked up a scalpel. My hand jerked up over his head. He never even looked back. I drove it down into his skull and rammed it home with a twitching jerk of my fist. He fell, eyes rolling to look at me.

            “Can you feel it?” I asked. “Or are you numb like me?” I stabbed him until I was sure he was dead. His glow in the incinerator was beautiful. I can only presume the magic he’d been using to dumb down his colleagues had rubbed off on him, no one in their right mind would have turned their back on me. Unless he had just been that pompous.

I felt nothing but hunger. Luckily, I was surrounded by food.

August 29, 2022 12:57

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20 comments

Suma Jayachandar
06:17 Sep 05, 2022

This is such a compelling read. Gave me 'Dexter' vibes but goes farther. I liked the dialogue that works so well. Good work!

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Graham Kinross
07:58 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you, Suma. I really like Dexter. I didn’t see the new seasons they made after the original ending. Did you watch it all to the end? (The first time).

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Suma Jayachandar
08:18 Sep 05, 2022

Yup. And I really liked the series. The latest and the last season was good enough too. But season 4 was the best!

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Graham Kinross
08:23 Sep 05, 2022

What happened in season four? I get them mixed up, is that when he met Lumin? I always liked the bit where he sailed off into the storm. I felt like it should have ended there. A big dramatic finish. I guess they were always hoping for more. I wish they didn’t kill off Deb though.

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Suma Jayachandar
09:11 Sep 05, 2022

Season 4 I guess, Trinity. Yeah me too, loved Deb's character and brother and sister bonding.

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Graham Kinross
09:13 Sep 05, 2022

I liked how much she swore, it was a nice antipathy to his quiet, well mannered act. Was Trinity your favourite of his big season finale rivals?

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Lily Finch
12:44 Sep 01, 2022

Such a better ending. Well done! LF6

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Graham Kinross
07:57 Sep 05, 2022

Thanks.

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Lily Finch
11:46 Sep 01, 2022

I like the premise. Difficult to kill your narrator - at the end - especially first person - not my favourite kind of ending but it works. I guessed something was up but I didn't know until you talked about his teeth. That was the giveaway moment for me that the coroner was the bad guy. The zombie part was the surprise. It had flow and a great voice, and it worked. Great job. I enjoyed the read. Thanks, Graham. LF6

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Graham Kinross
12:33 Sep 01, 2022

I've changed the end. It was a bit rushed before. I think it makes more sense now. Thanks for your feedback.

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Lily Finch
12:39 Sep 01, 2022

My pleasure. Sometimes other people see things that make the story so much better, and other times, not so much. Hope I have helped. LF6

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Graham Kinross
07:57 Sep 05, 2022

You helped a lot, thank you.

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M B
20:21 Aug 31, 2022

Alright not a bad start, I was wondering why everyone was so incompetent and then it became clear there was something supernatural at work. Although the ending I have to say... Killing a first person narrator is one of my biggest personal pet peeves. It happens to often and it lends itself to the question of how is he telling the story unless they're a ghost or something.

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Graham Kinross
21:02 Aug 31, 2022

Or a zombie? Maybe I’ll change the end.

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M B
23:47 Aug 31, 2022

Think that might help, yeah.

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Graham Kinross
12:33 Sep 01, 2022

I changed it, what do you think now?

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M B
22:26 Sep 01, 2022

A much better ending for sure! Well done!

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Graham Kinross
23:30 Sep 01, 2022

Thank you.

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