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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Mysteries By Members  / Short Mysteries  /

Age old deceits
This is just a short story trying to apply the conventions of hard boiled crime fiction to historical crime fiction. Any thoughts?

A thick mist rolled in from the Hellespont, a veil of corruption that settled on the town near Granicus, snaking between closed doors, eclipsing the lights and draining the earth of its warmth. I shuddered as I walk the empty, muddy street, abandoned except for a group of Persian boys, who prostrate themselves but hide their faces from the white of my robe. When I come back here, they will be men, still in the street, prostrating themselves. Nothing I can do will change them. They have nowhere to go, and no one will help them. A woman screams as she gives birth to a child in her house. These mud-brick walls betray the townspeople of everything, even their warmth. I keep walking, but the only life I encounter is a horse, spooked by the noise of my coming. Slivers of light flicker and wink at me from under closed doors, but their escape is quickly subdued by the dense, wet air. After counting houses, I open a door, but find only a man sitting on the ground, weeping at the loss of his wife to slave traders. His debt was reclaimed, whether he owed anything or not. I quickly leave him to his mourning, and enter the neighbouring house. Its warm glow greets me, but does little to lighten the grey face of Tyre, wife of Philotas. Her brow wrinkled with concern. She bid me welcome, and thanked Zeus that I came to her safely. ďAlexander, the danger of which you are familiar with in battle is but half of your worry now. This new enemy is from your own ranks. I know because of what my husband tells me when he is drinking. He says your father and he crafted the greatest achievements of your campaigns. He thinks of you as a mere boy who owes his title to him.Ē I didnít want to believe that my own man, my Companion, could say this about me. But I knew its meaning. There was too little evidence to go on, but I knew the warning she was giving me. I left to retire, and to indulge in my own thoughts. I walked back through the street, muddied by the damp air. Dew collected on my sword, and my hand struggled to maintain grip of it. One can never be too sure.

I confined myself to my room for the rest of the night, weaving thoughts together between drinks, as I had become accustomed to the Persianís wine, and found it helped me ruminate better. It was very late when I stumbled into bed, and I did not see what light the next day brought.

I was woken to receive Philotas the next evening, on his second visit of the day. A tall man with crude but vivid features, a thickset jaw, a nobleís nose and scars that testified to his bravery. He was somewhat apprehensive on his entry, but immediately upon seeing that I slept in my Persian robe, he gained courage enough to question me. He reminded me of the service he had done for me, the same service I received from his father, and his family in my quests, and that if I wished to ignore them I could spend all my time with the Persians I conquer but love so much. I failed to see how my path of reconciling my Macedonians and the Persians meant that I was a traitor to them. Why should I have to change my ways for him? He doesnít understand what Iím doing. Not for Macedonia, not for Persia. Iím uniting the entire world under me, and he wants me to dress as a conqueror. I am a conqueror, but I am also a statesman for Macedonia. Heíll never understand, that he is just an ant in all this. He must busy himself in carrying more than his weight to serve the empire, not himself. I found solace in another drink of wine, which I failed to finish yesterday. I swallowed my pride and invited him to join me. He was the son of my best general. He refused. He called it spoilt Persian wine for a spoilt Persian. How dare he insult me after what I have done for him! He made me dizzy with rage. I clutched me sword and stabbed the ground for balance, but he leapt at me. The traitor was trying to assassinate me, but I wouldnít have it. Not after what I had accomplished, to be destroyed by this ant! We struggled together as he through his weight against me. I ran him through, and he collapsed in my arms. His noble features contained no more prestige, covered in blood from his mouth and dirt from my boot. He was dead by the time he hit the floor in a cloud of dust quickly, which was quickly suppressed by the wet air.

I confined myself to my bed and my thoughts. I would have to make an example of him, of his lack of loyalty, so that none dared to try again. His family must join him. Wives, children, brothers and sisters. All would pay for what this treasonous snake tried to do. I would show the world what treachery against me holds, so that truth would reign in my empire. They would be exemplified. All but Tyre.

The following day I woke, to be greeted by the same wet air as the day before, and before that. It was

kathleen himmer - 06:25pm Apr 9, 2003 PST(#1 of 2)

I like your concept and you write very well.

Investigator Smurf - 07:58pm May 4, 2003 PST(#2 of 2)
If the Lone Ranger has an Indian companion, he's not alone.

I like the concept!

I fear that i missed something that would tell me when/why the narrator was shifting from discussing present events to discussing past events. Is there a memory/flashback thing going on? I clipped a couple phrases to show you what I mean:

"I shuddered as I walk the empty, muddy street...."
"A woman screams ...."
"He must busy himself in carrying more ...."
"I swallowed my pride and invited him ...."
"After counting houses, I open a door...."

While present tense can be really exciting, i guess if I were writing something "hard-boiled," I would probably stick with past tense, since just about all I know about hard-boiled is the phrase: "And then she walked in." You can use both, of course, but I think in the case of the portion you posted, i got a little lost as the tenses changed.

One detail I wanted to know is what led the narrator to go slyly to speak to the wife of another man. Did she secretly have a message slipped to him? Were they involved in an illicit affair?

Vey cool! I like the way your details really made the story come to life in this "other world" of another time. The scene was set very well.

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