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News & Features » July 2018 » “Murder by Croc” by JJ Munro

“Murder by Croc” by JJ Munro

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 businessman takes his girlfriend camping in Kakadu—with sinister intentions. 

Murder by Croc
by JJ Munro
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Kakadu. That vast floodplain, a wilderness as green as the eye can see, in Australia’s Northern Territory. That’s where I’d brought her to die.

We pitched our tent ten yards from the creek. Not a ripple broke its surface. The air was heavy, stifling, trapped beneath the thick trees. Maybe rain was coming. Sweat bathed our skin.

“I feel like a swim,” Samantha said.

“Not a good idea,” I reminded her. “You’d never come out of the water alive.”

“But we’re okay here?”

“Of course. According to the locals, you just don’t camp on the bank is all.”

Poor, trusting Sam. She busied herself unpacking our stuff from the four-wheel drive. I set about building a fire to fry up some chicken we’d bought in the last town. As I worked, my mind was checking every detail of my plan. It was six o’clock, still light. But by the time we’d eaten, and I’d thrown some chicken toward the creek for bait, Sam would be in her sleeping bag. Once she was asleep, I would cut the pull-tab from the zipper so she couldn’t easily extricate herself from the bag. She would be trapped well and truly—unable to move, unable to stand, unable to run. Then everything would be set for her accidental death, death by misadventure.

It’s not that I didn’t love Sam. I mean, she always aroused me. Don’t ask me why some bodies are so appealing, I don’t know, but times had changed. She didn’t know that my company had turned sour. She had invested money in it, and of late she’d been dropping hints about me paying her back. How could I tell her the money was all gone? Well, all but a few thousand that would buy me a ticket to Bali, a new start, and freedom.

We ate as the first stars appeared. We drank more beer. It always made Sam drowsy. She was chatting about tomorrow’s visit to the waterfall. Water… The very word began to prickle my flesh. I glanced at the creek, saw an old log floating on the surface. Remembered reading about the damn fool fisherman who’d gone out on a river in a tiny dinghy; it had been flipped over and he was dinner.

At last she called it a day. I told her I’d follow her into the tent as soon as I’d cleared up. Said something like, “Gotta be a responsible tourist,” and heard her laugh.

I tossed some fresh, uncooked chicken toward the creek, hoping to stir up some interest. Making sure that nothing had left the water just yet, I carefully doused the fire. When I opened the flap, the tent was filled with Sam’s gentle snores. I checked the zipper. It was firmly secured. I pulled out my knife, worked on the pull-tab, sliced it off clean. There was no way she could quickly get out of that bag.

I looked my last on her beautiful face. But I felt no regret. Death would be quick.

Outside once more, I hurried to the four-wheel drive. I climbed into the cabin, closed the door as quietly as I could, and rolled down the window. And saw if I’d delayed in the tent another minute, I might have perished with Sam.

It was leaving the water, a gigantic brute, crawling forward on its stubby legs, its massive jaws slightly apart, the moon silvering its awesome scales. It was all power, must have weighed half a ton. It wasn’t wasting time. It hauled itself across the ground toward the tent, its jaws opening in a sick kind of leer.

Sheer terror attacked me. I couldn’t let Sam die. I couldn’t let that hideous thing rip her to shreds. In that instant, as the beast brought the tent down and savaged the sleeping bag, I shouted her name at the top of my voice. I was shaking wildly in my seat, the whole vehicle rocking in my panic.

Something brushed my elbow.

I glanced down. A single scream burst from my lungs. Damn you, Samantha, I cursed. How many times did I tell you never to leave the Jeep door open? A brown snake was curled up on the passenger seat, its head lifted toward me. I caught sight of the black Y-shape on its neck. I recognized it at once—the Territory’s most venomous snake, the western brown—just as its fangs punctured my skin.

***

JAMES AITCHISON is an Australian author and poet. He writes noir fiction under his pseudonym JJ Munro. Under another pseudonym, James Lee, he writes horror and mystery stories for middle readers in Asia; published in Singapore, these books have sold more than three million copies and have been translated into Chinese, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian. A former advertising creative director, Aitchison judged many award shows, including those in New York. Following the example of global consumer marketing corporations, he believes that using pseudonyms allows one author to span many genres without confusing readers.

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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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