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The Finest in Crime and Suspense Short Fiction

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 March/April 2024 contest:

by Jim Spitzer

Scotland Yard, London

“I’m afraid, Inspector, that we’re never going to find the diamond. By now the ‘Rangoon Queen’ has been smuggled out of the country.”

NYPD, New York

“Sarge, we’ve been finding teddy bears all over town with their backs slit open.”

“I know. We even have a video of a man ripping one out of a little girl’s hand, slitting it open, and throwing it over a fence.”

“Did the camera get a good face shot?”

“All they could tell is that the guy had glasses and a mustache. Probably a disguise.”

Bear Factory and Outlet, London

A man with glasses and mustache approached the proprietor after the other customers left.

“Excuse me. Do you remember me from last week?”

The proprietor smiled. “Sure, you’re the gent who bought a bear and brought it back the next day and asked me to ship it to New York.”

Mustache man scowled. “The bear that arrived wasn’t the same one. Why not?”

The proprietor rubbed his chin. “When I was walking to our shipping department I dropped it and it landed in an oil spot left by a machine. I grabbed another bear off the shelf and shipped it.”

“Where’s the original?”

“Realizing it was an obsolete model with, perhaps, sentimental value, I took it to my dry cleaners. He said he could replace the back and stuffing if I supplied the materials. Next day the shop was closed. A sign on the door said he had retired to Tahiti.”

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