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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 May/June 2022 contest:

Art by Elena Schweitzer /

by Ryan Shanz

Pull. Toss. Pull. Toss. Books filled the table as Brian searched hopelessly for the right one. One of these was fake. He just had to find it.

He stood back, examining the colossal bookshelf. It doubled as a secret door, and he needed to get behind it. He needed his gun back.

Which one was it? Brian stepped on a chair to get a better view. He looked, really looked at the countless books for any slight difference. Finally, he saw it. To the left, near the top. A large hardcover with a bookmark sticking slightly out of it. Could this be it? He moved his chair in position and pulled the book. Suddenly, the shelf swung open, knocking the chair and Brian over. Standing up, he peered inside. Finally. His father’s office. He looked behind him, ensuring his solitude, and entered.

He moved quickly. At any moment his father could walk in, ruining his plan. Brian had never been a thief, but he wanted his property back. If a heist was needed, a heist would commence.

He opened the left drawer of the desk. Nothing. He took a deep breath and opened the right one. There it was. His gun. He held it in his hand, basking in its glory. Then, a voice.

“Brian!” In the doorway stood his father. “Give me the water gun. You shouldn’t have sprayed your grandmother if you wanted to have it. Go play with your sister.”

Sulking, Brian exited. The heist was thwarted.

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