Flash Fiction: The Crossword Killer

flash fiction font print letter text alphabetThis weeks Flash Fiction challenge hosted by Terribleminds.com was rather tricky. Mr Wendig gave us a randomly generated sentence which we had to include somewhere in our piece of 1000 word flash fiction. The sentence was…

“A novice revenges the rhythm”

It is a rather difficult sentence to use in its natural form due to a few grammatical inconsistencies. However, after a few days of mulling, ideas slowly started to brew and ferment like alcoholic tea. Then like a thunderbolt from the sky, or more accurately one of those little lightning bolts on the sensitive teeth adverts, struck me and suddenly I was on to something.

So, as always I hope you like and you must leave a comment. Yep, I’m making it mandatory now. If you try to leave the page after reading this without leaving a comment, I will send my army of molluscs after you. Don’t think I won’t. They’ll just wait for you, clinging on to your shower curtain to take you by surprise and take very small bites out of you.

Have fun, peeps.

Flash Fiction: The Crossword Killer

It had rained for hours by the time Detective Green had found his way to the latest victim. The area had been sealed off, and the usually abandoned sewage tunnels were filled with forensic experts in white boiler suits, uniformed officers, and one very tired detective drinking a cheap and nasty black coffee.

The Crossword Killer had struck again, bringing his tally up to six. The only thing connecting the victims were the newspaper letters left in the pocket of each victim. Victims one through five had been found with the words ‘A, NOVICE, REVENGES, THE, and RHYTHM’ a sentence which made little sense to anyone.

Detective Green drank the last grainy drops of coffee. He hadn’t seen the body yet. It was 03:00 in the morning and he needed to wake up properly before seeing any corpses, although he knew what to expect. The victims may have been random but the MO wasn’t, each victim had been stabbed once in the heart, with two further post-mortem stab wounds to the kidney and right eye.

The detective walked over to the body and looked down. Victim number six was female, mid-thirties, blonde hair, blue eyes and was sporting the same characteristic wounds of the Crossword Killer.

‘Looks like we have victim number six, eh sir?’ said a voice from behind making the detective jump.

‘Jesus sergent! Have forensics gone through her pockets yet?’

‘The bits of paper have been taken back to the lab for further testing, but they told me the letters were ‘W, I, F and E.’


‘Yeah or Fewi…’ the Sergeant was grinning cheekily, but it was too early in the morning for the detective to find the humour so he responded with a glare.

Detective Green took out his notebook and write down the word ‘wife’ underneath the other five words. ‘A novice revenges the rhythm wife’ What the hell does that mean? ‘What do we know of the latest victim?’

The sergeant took out his black and tatty notebook ‘The latest victim is a Miss Gloria Florence, works as a receptionist at Hunstable and sons. No prior convictions.’

‘So she’s not a wife then? Does she have any musical connections?’

‘We are speaking to her roommate now, so we should know soon.’

‘I doubt that there will be any anyway. There hasn’t been with any of the other victims.’

Detective Green turned back to the body and stared at it. There was something about this body that he didn’t like. It was the mouth. Gloria was still smiling, as if she was having nothing more than a pleasant dream. Her smiling lips were slightly parted. The detective crouched down and looked more closely at her mouth. There was something in there. What was it? A thin sliver of white showing through her teeth.

‘Sergeant? Gloves, tweezers and evidence bag, please?’

The sergeant handed the detective some gloves, the tweezers and dutifully held the evidence bag open for him. Now fully gloved Detective Green pulled at the strip of white and millimetre by millimetre it came free. It was paper that had been folded to be no larger than a postage stamp. He unfolded it and read the message. ‘1,2,3,4,5 and 6 help you find 7. Quick’. He dropped the paper in the evidence bag, and sealed it, pulled off his gloves and wrote down the message in his notebook.

‘So somehow within the six words is the identity of our next victim?’

‘It looks that way Sergeant, yes.’

‘…but the words don’t make any sense. We’ve tried re-arranging them but these are the only words that make any kind of sense. What other words can be made from W, I, F and E?’

‘Not sure yet sergeant, I think I’ve seen everything I’m going to here so I’m gonna head home. Keep me updated.


By the time Detective green had got home, his wife Laura and daughter Bonnie were awake. His wife was making waffles for breakfast and Bonnie was sat in the middle of the floor with her building blocks. They were the brightly coloured blocks with printed letters on them, and despite being only three was getting good at spelling. She’d already spelled out ‘CAT’, DOG, APPLE and DOCTER albeit misspelled slightly. The detective stepped over them and walked into the kitchen.

‘How’d it go?’ said Laura as she poked and prodded the cooking waffle.

‘It’s him again.’

‘or her…’ Laura corrected.

‘Yes, could be. Are any of them for me?’ he said gesturing towards breakfast.

‘Go and get cleaned up and I’ll throw a few more in for you.’

‘Thanks gorgeous.’ He said giving her a peck on the cheek. The detective walked out the door, completely forgetting about Bonnie’s blocks and kicked them halfway across the floor. The CAT, DOG, APPLE and DOCTER had gone and had been replaced with CPLCTE TGA AE and DODOPR. Then it hit him. Quickly taking out his mobile phone he pushed number 3 on his speed dial. After a few rings his Sergeant answered.

‘Sergeant, have we tried anagrams of all the letters of all six words at once?’

‘No not yet, sir. Hang on, let me run it through the system and see what comes back.’ There was a pause and the sounds of keys being pressed. ‘It’s got something’


‘Well those letters don’t match anything exactly but they’re an anagram of ‘row seven five three eighty then manch.’

‘Sorry, sergeant could you repeat that.’

‘Sure, we’ve got four numbers, seven, five, three, eighty, then the word row and then the letters M, A, N,C , H.’

There was a few seconds of silence from the detective before ‘Was it seven five eighty three?’

‘Yes sir.’

‘…and Manch Row?’

‘Yes Sir. Is there a problem?’

‘That’s my birthday and address…’


8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The Crossword Killer”

  1. But… But… There are no zombies! 😀

    I really liked the feel of this story. It reminded me of any number of British murder mysteries I’ve read/watched over the years. Nicely done. (Even if there weren’t any zombies.)

    1. I know, i think they’re all on holiday or something.

      I love British murder mysteries, especially Agatha Christie. I was born in the same town so maybe I got infused with a little bit of her spirit or something.

      (Oh, I back-filled your details on to your comment. Apparently, many other people are having the same issues with commenting on WordPress blogs. Got to use your Gravatar email address I think. WordPress now owns Gravatar or something.)

    1. Thanks. That’s the trouble with the random sentences, they rarely make complete grammatical sense.

      With enough jiggling you can crowbar them in.

      Glad you liked it.

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