“Sometimes when success comes it brings jealousy. Watch your back, you never know who might try to take what you have! This short story will prove that point.”
Victim of Success
Lester Carmichael lived a hermit’s life. He was a mystery author who didn’t go out much and had no local friends. Anyone he talked to was usually from the writing community online. He’d even lost contact with his family in the years since his parents died. So, when Christmas came there was never any presents for Lester. Imagine his surprise when the doorbell rang on Christmas Eve. He opened the door to discover a small square present waiting for him. Smiling with joy, he picked it up and looked about. Nobody was in sight and so he decided to open it. A move which would abate his excitement in a hurry. He pulled the pretty green bow off the shiny blue parcel. Tearing into the wrapping paper, he revealed a small shoebox. As the lid came free, white powder erupted into the air.
Lester swore in shock and dropped the present. He was choking — gasping for air. Clawing at his burning throat, he slammed into the door frame and knew no more.
Sometime later, Lester awoke to the tiny grey-walled room with an old wooden door. It felt like a cell in a medieval dungeon. Lit by silvery moonlight creeping in a window high in the wall, it was a creepy place. As a mystery author there was much which could perplex him. “Hey! Who did this? Show yourself!” He yelled in a way that left his dry throat screaming and him coughing.
His voice echoed around the room and died away. Silence never came, footsteps were heading his way.
The author clambered to his feet as he listened to the approaching feet. They sounded heavy indicating this to be a weighty man.
A key turned in the lock, screeching like a dying owl. The heavy door swung open and banged against the wall. “Glad to see you’re awake, Lester, dear boy,” said a man ducking inside. The light from his lantern revealed him to be wearing a grey suit.
Lester recognised this bald man at once. “Callaway, what’s the meaning of this? Release me at once!”
“You never did have any patience dear, brother. To get out of here you must do something for me.” Callaway lent against the wall by the door. He produced and lit a smoking pipe filling the air with the smell of tobacco.
“Ha! No chance. If you’d have just asked, maybe. But you bloody well abducted me. So, you can go to hell!”
Callaway lunged, kicking his feet from beneath him.
Lester crashed to the floor, bashing his head against the wall. He lay there seeing stars in a groggy daze.
“As a mystery author, I thought you’d appreciate my little present to you. Now, our parents took half of my college fund so you could publish those stupid books of yours before they died. It cost me a good career in medicine. You dear, brother. Are going to repay me!”
“It was never my intention to cost you your college tuition. Our parents decided to do that of their own accord. I even told them I didn’t want the money; I would find a way to publish myself. By the time I realised they paid the publisher, it was too late to rescind it or change the fact.” Lester climbed to his feet. “Now, stop being an imbecile and let me go home!”
Callaway drew an old revolver. He showed all six chambers to be loaded and clicked the barrel into place with a dangerous sneer on his face.
“Are you mad, brother? You don’t have it in you to kill your own flesh and blood. Stop being a pillock and put the sodding gun down!” Lester demanded with his blood pressure and heart rate rising dangerously. He felt himself sweating as he searched for a solution. Callaway had always been quackers and would kill him, he was sure. A little guile was the only way to get out alive.
“Remember when I came to see you a couple of months back?” Callaway asked while puffing on his pipe with nonchalance. The gun never dropped from his brother’s chest.
Lester nodded, “Vividly, I thought you’d become present of mind and we might have a chance to rekindle our relationship then. However, it seems your as insane as—”
Callaway pulled the trigger. A bullet zinged off of the stone walls raining dust and debris upon Lester’s head. “Shut your mouth! I came visited for one purpose. While you made tea, I hacked your computer. I know you have a new contract for your latest mystery. It’s worth a good deal of money to you isn’t it?”
Hiding a smile, Lester took a breath and a step toward his brother. “It comes with a good advance and the prospect of a lot of sales. My hard work is finally beginning to pay off.”
“Stop moving or the next bullet goes in your kneecap!” Callaway aimed. “You will sign the contract and give the publisher my bank details. Every penny you make from that book will be mine, or you will never live to see it published.”
Lester shook his head. “You crazy, conniving bastard!”
“Thanks for the compliment,” Callaway retorted with a grin.
Lester thought for a moment and raised his hands, “Okay, fine. Take me to a computer and we’ll deal with the contract, now, together.”
“There’s a good boy. Let’s go and don’t try anything.” Callaway raised the gun directing him to leave the cell.
With no choice but to comply, Lester did so. Entering the cellar, he recognised it as one below the farmhouse he’d lived in as a child. He was forced to climb the steps and walked through the kitchen. Out in the cedar panelled hallway, he saw something which gave him an idea.
“Keep moving! My computers in the office.” Callaway jabbed his gun into his brothers back pushing him forward.
The author caught his foot on a bookcase and tumbled to the floor. “Ahh, Bloody hell! This bookcase was always in the sodding way!”
“Clumsy, oath. Get up!” Callaway grabbed him by the back of his shirt and hauled him into his knees.
It was then Lester struck. He’d grabbed a thick, heavy book and swung it with all his might.
Callaway saw the drowned victim on the cover for half-a-second before it smashed his face. He screamed and fired two shots from the revolver. Both rounds slamming into the bookcase and wall beyond.
Lester swung his book, batting the gun away and beating his brother into unconsciousness. Shaking with adrenaline, he bound his brother with trussing string from the kitchen and called the police. It was only then he looked at the book he used and smiled.
‘The Drayton Drowner, by Lester Carmichael’
“Well, that was five-hundred-thousand words I’m glad I wrote.” Lester laughed. How ironic that he’d stopped his brother with a book he wrote. “I always knew it was worth penning big novels!”
Thanks for reading my friends, I really do appreciate it.
Have a great day!