Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May 2013)
As modest as I try to be, I have to admit that it's always a kick to get some recognition. I don't know how it happened but my first ever mystery story is getting some traction.
In the Mysterious Photograph contest, entrants submit a 250 word mystery story inspired by a supplied photo. In this case, an old crate with dusty wine bottles reveal a secret...
“For the last one,” murmured Karl as he absently gazed upon the wine bottles unseen for many years, many decades. Heinrich gone now, sturdy Heinrich whose body fought every step of the way but inevitably failed him. And Gerhadt early on. Johan somewhat later but in the end all from his infanterie kader gone until he was the last one and his duty to drink a final toast to his comrades.
His comrades, his friends who had gone through hell together. But the pact was made before that, in the glorious days when they swept through France and took what they wanted as invincible victors. At the farmhouse, they took what they wanted –including the girl. Her father, her stupid French peasant papa’, ignorant of what went on in the barn while presenting them with the case of wine and wishing them further glorious adventure.
They thought it a great joke and that’s when they made the pact, the wine to be saved until the last one was left and the dead ones brought back together for a final toast, for a final moment of glory. And from the vantage point of youth, it was a day never to come. But here it was at last.
Karl raised his glass in salute and drank, ignoring the bitterness of a wine improperly stored, a bitterness masking the taste of the poison put there so many years ago.
“For the last one.”