Before we hop into the more festive season, it is finally time to announce the winner of A Very Spooky Writing Competition. Now, you finally have a chance to read the winning story. Trigger warning: graphic violence.
Ruby and the Ruby: The Last Act by Edu14463
Droplets, droplets of something vital for life, yet they are always unsettling when laid before us. Droplets were cascading down the desk of one of the most pivotal penguins in this cold island. On the wooden floor of that room, an ominous pool formed — a reservoir of inexplicable sorrow, a sorrow that surpassed any other in Blizzard’s history.
Who could have done such a thing?
Some time before…
A profound silence reigned in Detective Hammer’s office, broken only by the relentless rain outside. Jacques Hammer stepped into his office and, as was his habit, proceeded to his desk, spending his afternoons lost in books when no cases beckoned his attention. As the city of Blizzard had a very low crime rate, Hammer rarely had a case. Yet, a premonition hinted at an impending occurrence.
“Good morning, Mr. Hammer. Your early arrival is rare. What happened today?” Spoke a delicate voice, a voice that held the power to uplift Hammer’s spirit.
“Good morning, Miss Ruby. I woke up suddenly, unable to return to slumber. Therefore, I deemed it prudent to arrive earlier.” Replied Hammer with a drowsy tone, suggesting the detective’s unrest.
“Very well, Mr. Johnson. Should you require assistance, I will be in my chamber, as always.” Assured the assistant.
“Thank you, Miss Ruby.” Replied Hammer, still with a drowsy tone, but lighter upon hearing his assistant’s voice.
Hammer went to prepare a tea to continue his reading of a book he had fallen for, unable to put down. It was a crime novel, very well written, a masterpiece in the detective’s eyes. The telephone rang. Who could it be? Right now, early in the morning? There was no time for leisure anymore.
“Good morning, this is Jacques Hammer speaking” Said Hammer in an attempt to control his agitation.
“G-good morning.” Replied an old lady’s voice, with fear perceptible through her tone. “We need you to come to the Plaza as quickly as possible!” She said, alarmed.
“Please, calm down, and explain to me what ha…” Before Hammer could finish his sentence, the voice on the other end yelled.
“There is no time for that! Please, come, a colleague of mine will explain what happened when you arrive at the scene.” With that said, the frightened voice hung up.
Hammer placed the vintage model 302 telephone on the desk and hurriedly left his office.
“Miss Ruby, we have a case at the Plaza.” Said the detective while wearing his overcoat.
Hammer and Ruby swiftly made their way through the streets of Blizzard, with a heavy fog rolling in, thickening the air. As they approached the Plaza, a team of police officers were next to the Pizza Parlor. That usual bustling place was now devoid of life, and an unsettling chill ran down both penguin’s spines. Amidst that scene, the detective recognized a very familiar silhouette.
“Good morning, Mr. Hammer. And Miss Ruby, it is always a pleasure to see you.” Said a well-known voice to both. It was agent Dom, a senior member of the Penguin Secret Agency and an old acquaintance of theirs.
“Good morning, Dom.” Replied Ruby, unmoved by the agent’s pleasantries. “Was it you who called us here on this foggy and rainy morning?”
“Indeed, it was I. Please, accompany me.”
The trio entered the Parlor, flanked by policemen. Upon their ingress, Hammer noticed a few umbrellas leaning on the wall, in the process of drying. There was no piano playing in the background. How could that lovely and cozy pizzeria be the scene of a crime? As they ascended the stairs to the office, Hammer observed more officers awaiting their arrival.
“Detective Hammer, I must warn you about what you are just going to witness.” Cautioned Dom, with his voice filled with apprehension.
Hammer and Ruby then entered the room. The double could not believe their own eyes. Sat in his chair, immovable, one of the most distinguished entrepreneurs of the island had his head laid upon his desk, with a grievous wound across his neck, nearly severing it. There was blood splattered on the floor and on the chair, not yet entirely dried. Thunderstorms then took over the environment.
“Mr. Anthony Tenor?” Shouted Hammer, in a roar of shock that came from the depths of his heart.
That office exuded meticulous organization, with several documents and paperwork arranged in Mr. Tenor’s desk. Despite the room’s pristine appearance, a thin veil of dust coated all the cabinets. These glass doored cabinets were almost full, or at least gave such an impression. One of them, however, had conspicuous empty spaces. Hammer, trying to keep composure, chose to unlatch the cabinet, inspecting for traces in the dust. The detective discerned a marking. It looked like something had been removed. There were four imprints in the dust forming a geometric shape when connected. It could be a box, perhaps.
“When the officers arrived, they found Mr. Tenor in this state. There were no witnesses, unfortunately.”
“Do we have any leads or evidence?” Asked Ruby, with her delicate and composed voice.
Agent Dom handed over a sealed evidence bag containing a small vial with a golden clockwatch inside.
“This was found on the floor near the desk. It doesn’t seem to belong here. Do you recognize it, Ruby?” Inquired Dom.
Ruby carefully examined the object, noticing its peculiar design. That clockwatch was strangely familiar to her. The design patterns, Hammer’s initials on the inside… Hammer’s initials on the object? What was his clockwatch doing at the scene of a murder?! Who would harm Mr. Tenor, a beloved figure on the island? What could be the motive behind such a chilling and meticulously executed crime? Hammer’s mind churned with possibilities, theories, and unanswered questions as he continued examining the crime scene. The gravity of the situation was palpable, weighing heavily on his shoulders. The sorrow surrounding this tragic loss deepened the sense of urgency within Hammer.
Agent Dom, observing from a distance, spoke to Ruby.
“Miss Ruby, I am afraid you know the implications of this… Piece of evidence.” Said Agent Dom, with a fearful tone.
The discovery of the clockwatch with Hammer’s initials at the scene of the crime was a disturbing twist in the investigation. Ruby, torn between loyalty and the truth, felt the weight of the situation pressing down upon her. She couldn’t bring herself to believe that Hammer, her mentor and friend, could be involved in such a horrific act.
“Miss Ruby… What do you have in your hands?” Inquired Hammer, staring at his assistant, now walking in her direction.
“Jacques, please, do not come any closer… I… I can not believe it.” Stuttered Ruby, not being capable of completely discerning the truth.
“RUBY! PLEASE, GIVE ME THE CLOCKWATCH!” Screamed Hammer, accelerating his pace.
“Stay away from her, Mr. Hammer!”
The room was seized by the abrupt crack of a gunshot, with the tension seeming to lower. An eerie silence filled the space, laden with the weight of the fateful events that had just transpired. Jacques Hammer laid motionless, forever silenced, sprawled on the floor at Ruby’s feet.
“I must apologize, Miss Ruby. This had to be done. It was the only way that we could ever catch… Him.” Said Agent Dom, putting his gun in the holster.
“Officers,” Continued Dom, “clear the premises, the operation was a success.”
And so, the story ended in a realm of uncertainty and unanswered questions. The urban legends tell that the remnant ghost of the damned detective continues to haunt the Pizza Parlor seeking revenge. However, was Jacques Hammer truly the culprit behind the murder? Who was the old lady that called the detective on that fateful morning? What was the motive behind Anthony Tenor’s assassination? This tale remains shrouded in mystery, one that only a brave penguin would dare to investigate.
Wow! What a thriller. Congratulations to Edu14463 on winning A Very Spooky Writing Competition. Credit to myself for the title though. Additionally, thanks to all the participants who shared their spooky stories with the judging team. As a friendly reminder, you will all be receiving a participation role on the Discord server. Was Jacques Hammer framed or was he truly the villain of this tale?