This is a cute (in the sense of lightly amusing, not in my late grandmother’s sense of slightly smutty) detective story that hints of being part of a series or part of a novel. It’s what we call a cerebral mystery (all talk and no action), with the detective solving a mystery and uncovering a larger one.
I would read the novel or a collection of interlocking stories to learn the ultimate solution and to spend more time with this writer.
A. C. Spahn wanted to be an interstellar starship captain when she grew up. Since nobody was hiring, she became a writer instead. She enjoys training in martial arts, organizing messy rooms, and researching a hobby-of-the-month. When not commanding imaginary starships, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and feline overlord. She is the author of the Endurance series of comedic sci-fi novellas and short stories appearing in Outposts of Beyond, Disturbed Digest, and other publications.
And now, my story, inspired by that one. The Story A Day prompt for today is to sketch a beginning and an ending, but concentrate on the Inciting Incident and a response that doesn’t go well.
They say that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. For the first month, though, I couldn’t find anything wrong with my new rental house.
The plumbing worked. The electricity worked in all the rooms. There were plenty of electrical outlets. The closets were roomy. The new carpets and fresh paint were colors I could stand to live with.
Then, when I was in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee, a swift shadow on the floor caught my eye. Not a shadow–a mouse!
I gasped and roared. How dare a mouse invade my kitchen! Was it helping with the rent? No! Was it cleaning up after itself? The evidence I found when I looked behind appliances told me it wasn’t.
And the mouse wasn’t the end of it. I bought a catch-and-release trap, baited it with peanut butter, and hoped to evict the little freeloader before too long, but the blue-tailed lizard that showed up in the hall the next week wasn’t likely to fall for that. And the ringed garter snake that appeared in the middle of the living room floor was highly unlikely to go into a trap, not for peanut butter nor anything like peanut butter.
I called my landlord to complain, and he said living in the country meant living with wildlife. He said he had called an exterminator before, but they wanted to know where the “critters” were nesting or getting in, and who could tell him that? He told me to spread mint in the corners to repel the mice and he brought me a clear plastic bowl to clamp over lizards and snakes and a thin piece of plastic to slide under the bowl, so I could carry the invader out and release it.
After a month, it got on my nerves. I considered collecting my catches and releasing all of them in my landlord’s house, but I was saved before it came to that.
My landlord had also failed to inform me that the house was haunted.
The ghost showed up just as I shrieked with rage at the sight of another tiny snake, this one next to my footstool.
Between one blink and the next, a translucent woman in a floor-length gingham dress stood next to my chair, glaring at the little snake as savagely as I had.
The snake went stiff as a pencil, then wriggled off double-quick time.
I haven’t seen any pests from that day to this. A ghost, I can live with.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: “Muddle in the middle”, ghost