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28th June
posted by amber

The Cliff

The body lay at the bottom of the cliff. Craig had been on the trail for two hours and, since it was his day off, he hadn’t brought his cell phone or his Parks radio or any other way to contact ‘civilization.’  All he had was a bivvy sack and enough munchies for 3 or 4 days.

The body was nearly 60 feet down, he estimated, but was it a body or someone in need of rescue? There was only one way to make sure. No one else was going to come by to help. He’d deliberately chosen a trail that was not open to the public, wanting, hoping and needing some alone time to figure things out.

Before he’d picked his way down through the steep dense brush beside the cliff, he’d had another glimpse of the body and realized this was not a member of the public, this was one of his own. A woman, but he couldn’t tell who. She hadn’t stirred from her original position, splayed across the boulders at the foot of the cliff. He could see blood now, red blood on the ochre rocks. A lot of it.

When he emerged from the woods and ran toward the body, he recognized her before he reached her. One puffy upper arm emerged from the regulation Park Service tunic, mouse brown hair obscured her face. Steva. Alive and dancing at the party last night. Undeniably dead today. The extreme angle of her back arched over a huge boulder left no doubt.

When he reached her, one touch to that cold and contorted body confirmed what did not need confirming. She was dead and he could see how it had happened. A mountain bike lay in the bushes a little further down the hillside.

Alive and dancing last night. He’d danced with her, too polite to refuse when she asked. Later, in the kitchen, Bart had teased, “I saw you dance with Steva.”

He’d gripped Bart’s arm fervently. “Only because she asked me.”

“You don’t fool me. You like your girls meaty, don’t you, Craig?”

“No, I don’t,” he protested, meaning that he didn’t like girls at all, he liked Bart. “She’d have to get on the trails and loose like a hundred pounds before I looked at her twice.”

A sound, like an indrawn breath. And her ample ass disappearing rapidly down the hall.

Steva was dead. And he had murdered her.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story is a good one for me today, as tonight I’m doing a murder mystery event for a group of guests at our Black Cat Guest Ranch.

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