Author Anne Riley is having a Murder Scene Blogfest on her blog today at annerileybooks.com/blog/. Participants are to write a murder scene and post it on their own blog, then go to Anne’s and click on the other names to get to their blogs and read theirs.
A murder scene is the last thing I’d ever write on my own, so I did it as a personal challenge to expand my comfort zone. Here it is:
Unconvinced by Tom that she was overreacting, Meredith latched the door and hauled the desk chair over to brace it under the doorknob. Carefully balancing her dinner fork on the knob, she was confident that if anyone tried to enter, it would fall onto the metal seat and wake her up in time to call for help on her cell. She picked up her phone and punched in Tom’s number so that she would only have to hit the green button, and set it next to her pillow.
Feeling calmer with a plan in place, she went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. She felt herself relax as she brushed her teeth, letting the water run out of the tap at full force, a remnant of her childhood rebellion against Nanny’s constant criticisms. As she rinsed the brush, the sleeve of her flannel nightgown slipped down her wrist and was quickly saturated. Distracted, she grabbed a hand towel from the rack and squeezed it around the heavy fabric.
She glanced into the mirror and was shocked to see Roald standing behind her with a pair of black gloves on. Meredith whirled around, panicked. Her phone was on the bed, and no one would hear her screams inside the bathroom.
“Thought you were pretty clever with the chair, didn’t you?” her brother asked quietly. “Too bad that you didn’t hear it, anyway, with the water running like that. What would Nanny say?” He leaned past her to shut it off.
She shot around him, hoping that he wasn’t expecting it, but the long nightgown ensnared her legs and he caught her easily. Quickly pinning her to the floor, he grasped her neck in a terrifying chokehold and started to squeeze. She tried to scream, but was more of a strangled gurgle as he shook her and she fell back, limp. He released her and stood, widthdrawing a lighter from his pocket. He lit the candle that was perched on the back of the toilet, then leaned down and lifted the hem of her gown, passing the flame under it until it caught fire. He dropped the pink ruffle, and threw some towels on top of her for good measure.
“We’ll see who laughs last,” he remarked to her still form, slipping the lighter back into his pocket. He was stealthy as he left her suite, looking up and down the hall before moving quickly to his own room, unnoticed.
Smoke curls were wafting from the crack under her door by the time the alarm went off. The guests came out of their rooms in various states of undress, quickly herding downstairs and outside onto the manor lawn. Fire engines could be heard in the distance.
“Where is Meredith?” asked Tom in a panic. Everyone looked around, but she was not among them. “I’m going back in!”
Roald held him back, saying, “No – it’s too dangerous. You have the children to think of – I’ll go.”
Before Tom could protest, Roald had dashed back into the house and up the stairs. Throwing open the door to Meredith’s room, the fresh air fed the flames and the room became an inferno. Shielding himself with a blanket, he charged into the bathroom and swept her charred body into his arms.
The others rushed over as he carried her out the front door. He laid her body on the grass. “I was too late. It must have started in her room.”
Tom sank to the ground next to his fiancée. “No!” he cried, anguished. He grasped her shoulders and pulled her to him, sobbing. The fire engines pulled up and a paramedic ran over with his bag. He pressed a hand against her neck. “She’s dead,” he confirmed.