Chapter 1: Time of Death

Hurray! Hurray! Today is the first day of Pilcrow & Dagger’s round robin writing event! From now through October 16, 2017, LeeAnn and I are going to take turns telling a story that is related to our Nov/December theme: The Box. In case you missed it, we posted a poll to our Facebook and Instagram page asking our audience to pick the opening line for the story from three different options.

So now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, I present to you the first line that received the most votes!

“Time of Death”

The ticking was faint but incessant. A bright light penetrated my closed eyes. I was not ready for it to be morning. Not that it’s unusual. Most people who work at night aren’t ready for the morning. Fortunately I got off early, allowing for some sleep. But getting off early for me was also the same time Grandma woke up.

I rolled over, forcing the comforter over my head. I pulled too hard on it and it came untucked from the end of the bed and rested above my ankles. Now my feet were exposed to the chill in the air. 

“Rude.” I groaned, trying to cover my feet.

And then there was that ticking sound. Tick. Tick. Tick. It grew louder with every passing second.

I gave up trying to get back to sleep and crawled out of bed. My breath clouded the air in front of me. I rubbed my arms, shivering. Grandma was a bit conservative when it came to her electric bill.

“You kids don’t know what cold is,” she said, time and time again. “You think you’re cold now. Try using an outhouse in the middle of a snow storm. We had to take a pot of warm water with us to use in case our behinds froze to the seat.”

Grandma should’ve written a book on how to be a drama queen. She would’ve made a fortune.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I knelt down on the floor, searching for the source of that ticking sound. I have a high toleration when it comes to sounds. Nails on a chalkboard, cracking knuckles, nose sniffles: these are all noises that have no effect on me whatsoever. But ticking sounds make me crazy. No particular reason for it; they just do.

I went through all of the drawers in Grandma’s guest room. They were filled with quilted afghans and miscellaneous fabric pieces she used for a variety of projects. Not one of these drawers contained the source of that ticking sound.

“Ouch!” I yelled, cursing under my breath. I sat down and rubbed my large toe. It fell victim to a blunt encounter with my tactical bag. I pushed the bag into the corner of the room and turned my sight toward the only place I hadn’t search – the closet.

Cranky and injured I was now on an official seek and destroy mission. I’d find the source of that ticking and make it pay.

I swung open the closet door with such a force that the clothes swung back and forth on their hangers. 

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Oh yes. I was in the right place. The elusive source of this vexing sound was definitely in the closet.

“What in the hell?” There were no words to describe the horror at my feet.

The floor of the closet was covered in piles of old junk. Grandma wasn’t the most fastidious person when it came to good housekeeping but this was definitely not her style. I knelt down and dug through the clutter. Pushing my way through moth-eaten clothing and smelly old shoes, I came across a suspicious paper bag. I opened it up.

“Gross!” I turned my nose away and shut the bag.

I’d have to find a way to sneak the bag out later when my aunts weren’t around. A couple of greedy bitties, they were anxious to move Grandma out of her house so they could sell it and collect all the profits. Grandma made it very clear she wanted to remain in this house until the day she died. For the most part, she did quite well. But a bag of rotten, maggot-infested apple pies wouldn’t help her case.

I took a break from my quest and walked the damning evidence to the other side of the room. Opening up the tactical bag, I removed the body bag, digital camera and clipboard. Setting them off to one side, I placed the paper bag inside of it and zipped it shut. The beautiful part about being a death investigator is that – on occasion – my gear smells. My family has learned not to ask why and I hoped for Grandma’s sake, their curiosity would remain mute.

Back to the closet I went. I cleaned out the remaining crap on the floor until the only thing left was a checkered handkerchief that was covering something in the corner. I lifted up the precariously placed fabric. There it was. An old clock covered with a sticky note. I lifted the clock up so I could read the note.

“Seriously, Grandma?” I chuckled, crumpling up the sticky note. And to think my aunts think she’s demented. Demented, she’s definitely not. Devious is better used to describe her.

I shook my head as I examined the clock. It was a black, wind-up clock with Roman numerals on the face and two bells on the top. Either my ears were over-sensitive or Grandma put a hex on this clock. Either way, it was hard to imagine that something the size of my hand could be so loud.

I smashed the alarm clock against the dresser three times.

“Oops,” I said, looking down at the clock pieces scattered over the bedroom floor. “It was an accident, Grandma. I swear,” I rehearsed in front of the mirror.

I gathered up as much of the broken fragments as I could and dumped them into the trash can. I glanced at my watch.

“Time of death, 10:02 a.m.,” I said, giggling. It’s not everyday I get to pronounce time of death on a clock.

(To Be Continued)


  1. A. Marie Silver (Post author)


  2. Roger Schumacher

    You’ve got a knack for fun stories, this one keeps the train rolling. An enjoyable read! Looking forward to the next one.

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