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News & Features » July 2018 » “Danger at Discovery World” by Chris Chan

“Danger at Discovery World” by Chris Chan

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, a school’s private detective plays bodyguard for the day to protect the child heir to a tremendous fortune.

Danger at Discovery World
by Chris Chan
Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, WI

“Mr. Funderburke, I think my cousin is trying to kill me.”

When an eight year-old boy at my school tells me he’s in mortal danger, I pay attention. Especially when he’s the heir to a humongous fortune.

“What makes you think that, Tyler?”

“Have you heard about my late great-grandfather’s will?”

I had. It was popular gossip at Cuthbertson Hall. Tyler was an orphan being raised by his grandmother. His recently deceased great-grandfather hated most of his relatives, so he’d willed almost everything to his great-grandson, with the provision that Tyler survive him for thirty days. That was twenty-nine days ago.

“Yes. Your cousin will inherit everything if you die, right?”

“Exactly. She’s all smiles to my face, but I’ve seen her shooting me death glares when she thinks I’m not looking. Last night, I overheard her tell her boyfriend, ‘Relax. The little brat will be in the ground soon and we’ll be rich.'”

I felt chills. “Tyler, have you spoken to your grandmother about this?” 

“Yes, and she doesn’t trust Maycey either. She sent Maycey away to Chicago on an errand for the family business. Grandma told me that at 2:38 P.M., exactly thirty days after Great-Grandpa died, the money goes into my trust fund where Maycey can’t touch it or inherit it, and I’ll be safe.”

I checked my watch. “So I have to protect you for another three hours. I’ll talk to your teacher, take you out of class, watch you in my office . . .”

“Yeah . . . thing is, we have our big class trip to Discovery World today. I’ve been looking forward to it for months. I know it’s riskier . . .”

“No, I understand. Your cousin’s not going to get your inheritance, and she’s not going to take away your trip to the science museum either.” I made some quick mental calculations. “I’ll clear my schedule and go with you to Discovery World. Nobody’s going to harm you, I promise.”

As the bus pulled up to the big white building on Lake Michigan’s shore, I realized that I’d been a bit overconfident. I may be a private detective working for a school, but I haven’t had much experience as a bodyguard. Tyler would’ve been much safer at school, but it was too late to turn back. Cousin Maycey might’ve been in Chicago, but her boyfriend was still at large. Fortunately, I’d found a picture of him on Maycey’s social media account—a short, slight fellow with a scruffy beard and buzzed brown hair.

I kept close to Tyler, scrutinizing every room we entered, looking for Maycey’s boyfriend, but I kept coming up empty. As we moved from the Energy & Ingenuity wing to Innovation Station, to Les Paul’s House of Sound, to the model ship, to the City of Freshwater and Liquid House, to the Great Lakes interactive model, Tyler and his classmates were having a great time exploring Discovery World. I, in contrast, was too worried to enjoy myself.

Finally, we reached the aquarium. Normally, the walk-through tunnel, where you’re surrounded on all sides by water and fish like you’re strolling on the ocean floor, is one of my favorite places in Milwaukee, but today all my instincts were blaring like klaxons.

When we reached the touch tank, Tyler ran up to the edge to pet the animals. There were sturgeon, lobsters, a stingray, and . . . nine crabs? The last time my girlfriend and I went on a date at Discovery World, there weren’t any crabs. Especially not with little rubber bands around the claws, like on crabs sold at the supermarket.

Tyler blanched. “I just remembered. Last year I ate crab at a family reunion dinner, and I got terrible hives.”

I scanned the room, eventually spotting a small woman with long blonde hair and a tan pantsuit. Sticking out of her oversized purse was a red plastic grocery bag. Big enough to hold nine crabs.

I raced up to her, and after a flash of recognition, ripped off her wig. Underneath very thick makeup was Maycey’s freshly-shaved boyfriend. I pinned him against the wall when he tried to run, and a hypodermic syringe fell from his sleeve. I guess the plan was to stock the petting aquarium with crabs, and when touching one sent Tyler into anaphylactic shock, he’d jab Tyler with a poison-filled needle and hope the doctors chalked the death up to allergies. 

I checked the time as the police dragged Maycey’s boyfriend away. 2:50 P.M. Tyler was safe. And filthy rich.

***

CHRIS CHAN works as a researcher and “International Goodwill Ambassador” for Agatha Christie Ltd. His work has been published on the official Agatha Christie website (http://www.agathachristie.com), in the magazine Gilbert! (https://www.chesterton.org), in The Strand (https://strandmag.com), and on NerdHQ (http://www.nerdhq.com). He also teaches graduate history classes for Southern New Hampshire University.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 12, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , ,



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