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 2022 contest:
 

TSTW-skydiving 
© 
Art by Shutterstock.com/Mauricio Graiki

 

CHUTE OR SHOOT

by Eve Elliot

The target had been easy to tail: six feet of muscle, dreads down to his butt, goofy smile. Heading to work every day to strap people to his torso and jump out of a plane.

And since the client didn’t care how the job was done (“Just get rid of him before my wife spends any more money on him.”), Swift figured his first-ever pro hit would be easy.

And God knows he’d tried. A bullet from the bushes whistled right past the dude, a switchblade in a crowded subway missed the mark when the car lurched. Swift had even tried garrotting him in a theater, but the dude had guffawed at the wrong moment and sent Swift’s piano wire flying.

The dude was Rasputin, all but impossible to kill.

So there was nothing for it. Disguised as an accountant on his fortieth, Swift went up in the plane and let the dude send them both hurtling out into nothing.

The switchblade would make short work of the dude’s parachute, he’d reasoned. All he had to do was cut the right ropes.

*   *   *

Swift’s mother thought it was in poor taste to use a blowup of her son’s last photo at the funeral, especially since she would never know why he’d decided to cut his own parachute rigging and plummet to his death. But as the nice young skydiving instructor said, gesturing to the mid-air, thumbs-up Instagram picture taken by another jumper, at least he had died doing something he loved.

 

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