Ellery Adams Month Continues…
Today I am sharing with you my 3 favorite stories submitted for the Storeyton Story Contest. I never expected such amazing storytellers but then we all do read our share of mysteries so I should have not been surprised. Picking just 3 was not easy so I asked for a little help from my personal family of readers.
If your stories are not below that doesn’t mean they were not wonderful. I wish everyone that submitted a story could win a prize but that would surely put an end to be blog budget.
Here are our Top 3 Picks in Random Order
Storyton Story #1
Ahh, Storyton Hall. I’ve finally been able to get away for a few days. This is where I always come to unwind when I get the chance. Who am I, you may wonder? While I can’t reveal my name or any physical attributes to you, I can tell you a little about my job. I am a deep cover operative for the CIA. Of course, even I get a break once in a while. It helps to prevent ulcers as you can imagine are common in my line of work.
My drive through Storyton was pleasant, and being unaware that this was not my first time here, my chauffeur pointed out some interesting spots in town that I may want to visit during my stay. I definitely must visit Geppetto’s Toy Shop to pick up a little gift for my nephew, Charlie. I don’t get to see him nearly enough. My sister says I spoil him, but it is my right as he is the only child in my life to spoil. Though he is only six, he loves reading, so I’ll pop by the Run for Cover Bookshop while I’m in town as well. I’m just hoping I come out of the bookshop without buying too many books. Charlie lot his love of reading from me.
But first, I must rest. My last assignment was brutal. I can’t give you the details. Let’s just say, I won’t be looking at The Statue of Liberty without chills for quite some time. Unpacking is easy for me. I’ve learned to travel lightly and to be able to jet off at a moment’s notice. One thing I will not do without is my e-reader, but I realize the restrictions of technology at Storyton Hall. It is fine though as I’ve brought some of my beloved paperback cozy mysteries with me, and Mr. Sinclair always helps me find something new in the Henry James Library.
What better place to rest than by the Jules Verne pool. Though there are several other guests staying at Storyton Hall, none of them are in the pool area. Perhaps they are planning their costumes for tonight’s Murder and Mayhem Costume Ball. I have enough murder and mayhem in my line of work, thank you very much. I believe I’ll just pop down to visit with Mrs. Hubbard to see if I can help her out with the refreshments rather than get in on the mayhem. Though if I am helping, mayhem may ensue in the kitchen…..
Ah, here comes Jane, the resort manager. She looks rather upset. I wonder if her twins have been tearing through the William Faulkner Conference room again rather than staying with the caregiver in the Beatrix Potter Playroom. Now she’s running….and screaming…and is that blood on the front of her dress? It looks like my stay may include more mayhem than I bargained for.
Storyton Story #2
I hitched up one of two slips that were digging into my middle-aged waist, each of which made up one of the many components of my costume allowing me to portray mystery writer and sometimes sleuth, Ariadne Oliver, Agatha Christie’s underused dowager, and acquaintance of Hercule Poirot. Too young (and way too tall and bulky) to dress as Miss Marple, but too long in the tooth to pass as Nancy Drew, I was now seriously questioning my choice, and the uncomfortable attire, chosen for tonight’s detective theme costume ball here at Storydon Hall.
“What is this place?” a familiar voice asked behind me.
I turned to stare into the eyes of my best friend, Carla, short, slightly stocky, and almost unrecognizable in her clever (and clearly much more comfortable) costume of Poirot.
“It’s the ancestral home of current manager, Jane Steward, an old college friend who arranged this little shindig. The place is mysteriously losing money; this $200/plate ball is supposed to help. I only agreed to come if I didn’t have to do it alone, which is where you and your last minute invitation came in. Something is wrong here, and we are here to find out what.”
Paying little attention to me, her eyes roaming rapidly around the room, Carla said, “That good looking guy over there is giving me all kinds of feelings. Who is that hunk of huggable man flesh.”
“Last name’s Gavin, head of recreation, and too young for you…ten years ago.”
“I can think of lots of recreational things I’d like to do with him,” she twitched her mustache.
“Down Hercule,” I ordered.
“Champagne?” A nasal voice made us both jump as Mr. Butterworth, Storyton’s enigmatic butler, presented a tray of expensive looking glasses filled with what turned out to be cheap bubbly. Tall and imposing with a lugubrious face, he nodded as we each removed a glass, turned on his heels and silently moved away.
“How long had he been standing there, do you think?” Carla whispered.
“Long enough,” I replied. “Let’s mingle, and keep ours ears open.”
The room had filled up nicely. All shapes and sizes of Miss Marples wandered about sipping single malt scotch in delicate cups so as to pass for tea, as well as a dozen Sherlocks, numerous Poirots, Brother Cadfael, complete with herbal bouquet, and a pudgy, balding, bespectacled, Bible-toting gentleman who must be Father Brown.
“My dear friend, Ariadne!” Remarked an unfamiliar voice. “I’m Father Frank Dowling.” Ah, I thought, so not Father Brown, and we were hardly contemporaries, but I played along.”
“Frank! How good to see you,” I replied, with what I hoped to be a believable, well, frankness.
“My dear, you look smashing tonight.” As he spoke he placed a wizened hand on my arm that slowly crept upwards, turning inward on its journey, until it reached my breasts where it hovered until I backed away. Whoa, grandpa, I thought, as I politely excused myself. What kind of place is this, indeed!
I raised my right hand into the air, wiggling my fingers as if to summon a drink, which was the distress signal that Carla and I had devised whenever we were cornered by some revolting creep. I wriggled my fingers until they went numb. Carla, clearly, was not coming to my aid. Smiling and nodding at Father Frank as I slowly backed away, my eyes darted around the room until I spotted Carla in a dark corner near the exit from the kitchen, asking for “recreational” advice from Mr. Gavin. I won’t say that Carla is easy, it’s more like, accommodating. This is the 21st century after all, but those hormones of hers have caused trouble in the past, and they were at it again now.
Father Frank was still talking, what was he saying, when a masculine arm slipped behind mine and turned me around. Caught nearly off balance, I steadied myself and stared up into the bluest eyes that I think I’ve ever seen, peering out from under dark curls and a tweed deerstalker. Rescued by Sherlock Holmes!
A shriek from the kitchen area had all of our heads turning in unison to stare at the door that was slowly opening as a man holding a bloody knife backed out with a look of horror on his, no her face. That was no man, that was Carla! It was going to be a long night.
Storyton Story #3
The whole place seemed surreal to me, and I was eager to share some pictures with my friends and followers. “Damn,” I muttered under my breath as I realized that I had no cell phone to post about any of this on any of my social media pages. Mr. Buttworth, Storyton’s butler, and, a better butler than even Christie herself could have created, turned and gave me a reprimanding look, obviously not appreciative of my expletive. I rolled my eyes. “Get used to it and be thankful,” I thought quietly to myself this time as I continued to follow Mr. B. “It will give you plenty of fodder for the article on people’s obsessions with classic literary characters you promised to Vance.” Mr. Butterworth stopped at the front desk, and I completed my registration and stored my luggage until my room was available.
I tried to convince myself that a good old-fashioned weekend without the latest-and-greatest gadgets at my immediate disposal may be just what I needed to get my creative juices cooking once again. I had been feeling stagnated lately and was suffering from something that was even hard for someone like me who never had a problem with admitting to years of on-again, off-again therapy: I had been struck down by writer’s block. This time away from the city and my cluttered desk, though uneventful as it had seemed it was going to be, may be just the ticket to relaxation and rejuvenation. I quickly started to get used to the thought and even started to LIKE the thought. The country air must have been working on me.
As I walked through Storyton Hall, I realized I was truly awe-struck. It really WAS magnificent like their website said; in fact, their website virtual tours didn’t even begin do it justice. Each room was dedicated to a either late-great author or classic read, so realistically decorated and appointed that I expected to be greeted by either Kipling, Faulker, or Potter herself around the next corner, cleverly disguised as a waiter, concierge, or housekeeper. I found myself catching the eye of everyone who crossed my path, looking for that sign of recognition. “Stop it!” I told myself. “Some of these authors have been dead for hundreds of years, and even if someone like Jules Verne WAS a ghost, why would he be here haunting the halls of sleepy Storyton? With a creative mind like his, he could choose anywhere, and I don’t think he’d choose here!”
I decide I was starting to actually get a tad creeped out by the authenticity of it all, and realizing Mr. Butterworth had left me on my own, I headed out to the Green Gables Gazebo where I saw staff serving afternoon tea; a little caffeine always grounded me. Anne Shirley had always been a favorite heroine of mine and I decided that would be a good spot for me to rest my feet, especially after running through the airport to make my connecting flight. Avonlea had always given me comfort when I was a child, especially through my parent’s nasty and noisy divorce. It seemed like a quiet, happy place where nothing really bad ever happened and all the neighbors looked out for each other.
A hostess dressed up as Diana Berry, Anne Shirley’s bosom friend and confidant, brought out a tray with tea and little, dainty cakes. “There goes the diet,” I thought, but I wasn’t disappointed. I devoured several of these bite-sized treats, downed two cups of Darjeeling, and feeling revived, decided to stay outdoors in the late afternoon sun and walk the grounds. It was early fall and the leaves were starting to turn in this little New England village. I headed towards Milton’s Garden.
I no sooner got off the gazebo steps when I saw a pair of black men’s loafer sticking out from one of the bushes on the Lewis Carrol Croquet Lawn. Since no one was playing the game at the moment, I walked over to the bush…had someone already had one too many martinis in the Ian Fleming Lounge? As I got closer, I recognized the highly polished shoes and stocky build as none other than Mr. Butterworth. He was starting straight out, eyes fixed and glazed, a knot almost the size of my fist on his forehead and a croquet mallet and ball nearby. That’s when I realized someone else had walked up behind me and had let out the proverbial blood curdling scream. It was Mrs. Pimpernel, the head housekeeper.
I would obviously be on my own carrying my bags up to my room later. Mr. Butterworth was clearly dead.
Now it is all up to you!
You can only vote once!
I will announce the winner on September 2, as we wrap up Ellery Adams Month!