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 2020 contest:
| Shutterstock.com / Destinyweddingstudio
by Jim R. Angelo
Solly the tiger was dead. Poisoned. The rare Siberian giant was the main draw of the Henry Martin Zoo. Attendance suffered, but a new attraction was promised. The crowd would be back in numbers larger than ever.
The night guard stood silhouetted in the moonlight. The unmistakable zoo odors surrounded Mike as he slipped over the fence. Smells just like when I was a kid, he thought.
He melted another nitroglycerine under his tongue. The squeezing chest and neck pains lessened.
Mike crept behind the guard and tightened the garrote until the old man fell lifeless. He entered the unlit laboratory and began looking for evidence of Martin’s impending attraction. The zoo was too much competition for Mike’s amusement park. If he couldn’t compete with them, he’d destroy them.
Mike heard a chuffing sound, then a low snarl, and turned to see the tiger step out of the darkness. It was Solly.
“You can’t be alive! I killed you!”
Solly stood almost as tall as Mike as they faced each other. Mike stumbled to one side, and the tiger turned toward him. Solly crept toward Mike, head down, tail swishing. The tiger moved faster with each step.
Mike emptied his .44 magnum at Solly as the tiger pounced spread-eagled with jaws agape and teeth gleaming with saliva.
In the morning, Mike was found dead, clutching his chest. Lab techs discovered that the secret attraction, the Solly hologram, had run all night.
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