Mysterious Photograph

Each issue features a Mysterious Photograph. Readers are invited to submit a 250-word (or less) flash fiction story based on the photo. The person who invents the best mystery story receives a prize of $25, and the story is published in a future issue.

The Story That Won the May/June 2020 contest:

Mysterious-Photo-Contest_Never-Dull-Moment © oscarhdez /


by Rosemary Herbert

The kitchen of Leroy’s Lobster Shack was so thick with smoke and the floor so slick with steaming liquid that Police Detective Monday tripped on the knife sharpener on the tiles and fell hard onto her rump beside the lifeless body. The knife itself was buried in the dead man’s chest.

“Last thing I knew, he was sharpening that knife,” the shack’s owner, Leroy, said. “Then the place filled with smoke, I heard a crash, and I found him fallen on that knife. What a tragic accident!” he exclaimed.

Sitting in puddled liquid was far from dignified, but it had its sleuthing advantages.

“You’re in hot water,” Monday said, as the atmosphere cleared. She lifted a lobster from the puddle with one hand and a blackened sauté pan with the other. “This was no accident. It’s clear that this cook was boiling lobster, a task that requires neither sauté pans nor carving knives.”

“But he was always trying out new dishes, which we can’t sell in a place like this. Never a dull moment with this cook.”

“Tell that to the judge,” Monday said, standing and taking handcuffs from her belt. “When I leapt through the window where I was ordering lunch, this place was still steaming. And the victim was lying on his back. There was no time for you to turn him over if he fell on the knife. And this pan was still smoking with no prepped food for it anywhere to be seen. You are under arrest.”


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