Stranger Than Fiction

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (October 2013)

Contest Runner-Up

Brad Cochrane


I seem to be on a roll with my mystery stories as I garnished yet another small win.


In the Mysterious Photograph contest, entrants submit a 250 word mystery story inspired by a supplied photo. In this case, crumpled paper and a frustrated writer reveals the truth...



Delmond crumpled the paper in disgust. One good story, that’s all he wanted. Something accepted by any pulp-paper magazine, validation by an over-worked under-paid editor and perhaps a word of well done. When they did write back, the no-thanks answer was nearly always the same “too ordinary” or “unimaginative” or, occasionally, useful advice such as “the stranger your story, the more likely people are to believe it.”


Delmond sipped his coffee and returned to the ledger and the reality of his day job as company accountant. He was careful to line the numbers up neatly. People believed in numbers and never questioned his columns. If a paper ream cost $2.97 and a furniture placement consultant cost $12,452.73 then that’s what it cost. Although the boss may grumble about the high cost of paper he was more than happy to pay the consultant fee. That’s how Delmond was able to silently siphon money from the company to a non-existent consultant to his bank account.


Yet every ledger has two sides and to explain the extra income to the IRS and his wife, Delmond sold imaginary stories to magazines that existed only in his own mind. He was thought of quite highly by friends and family as a successful writer. But for all his manufactured fame, he had yet to sell a single story to a real magazine.


So Delmond spent his days creating fantastic ledger entries and writing ordinary stories. His facts were stranger than his fiction.



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