Thursday, 30 January 2014

Cinderella: A Detective Story (Flash Fiction Challenge)

This is my entry for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge for 24th-31st January 2014. 

The task: flash fiction, maximum 1,000 words. Pick a fairy tale, then rewrite it in another subgenre, taken from the list provided by rolling a random number between 1 and 20. (Full details of the challenge, including the list of subgenres, can be found on Chuck's website here. )

I picked Cinderella, and I rolled Detective Story for my subgenre. This is the result.


As soon as he walked into my office I knew what his problem was. It was written all over his frat-boy face.

Girl trouble.

I also knew he’d thrown a party the previous night; his dad was King of the Realm, so everything he did made headlines. I flipped open my notebook as he paced in front of my desk. “Okay son, who is she?”

“I don’t know - she left without telling me her name. But I love her – I must find her again!”

This kid was greener than St. Patrick’s Day. “Description?”

“She was blonde. I didn’t see her face because it was a masked ball, but she had a cracking pair of – I mean, great bone structure…”

Cookie-cutter hottie then. Rich kids - so predictable. “Anything else?”

“She left this.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a single shoe. “It fell off as she ran down the palace staircase.”

I examined it. It was small, a size five. This chick wasn’t tall. There were stains inside the heel, like from a burst blister. New shoes. And snagged across the instep was a long, blonde hair. “What time did she leave?”

“At midnight – she said she couldn’t stay longer.” The kid sighed. “I don’t know what went wrong. She said she loved me – but then she ran off, without a word…”

I shut my notebook. “Son, you got a lot to learn about women. But I like you. I’ll take your case.”


I told the kid to give my lackey a list of everyone who’d attended the party. Meanwhile, I returned to the crime scene.

Seems his girl got away in a carriage – and lucky for me it had rained last night, leaving a pretty set of wheel tracks. I followed them for a mile or so… but then right where the muddy ground ran out, so did the tracks. There were pieces of something scattered nearby; I picked a large chunk up and sniffed it. Pumpkin. Fresh, too. And hanging from the end, another long, blonde hair.

Was this turning into a homicide case?


I thought about that smashed-up pumpkin all the way back to the palace. What did it mean? Whatever role it played in this mystery, it sure wasn’t as a snack. The guest list was no help either. My lackey had interviewed everyone on it, and they all claimed they stayed way past midnight. I was looking for a party crasher who needed her beauty sleep – and that wasn’t much to go on.

The kid met me at the palace door looking like an excited puppy. “While you were gone I had a fabulous idea” he said.


He handed me a leaflet. “I’ve had these posted on every public building. It says I will visit every house in town and ask all the ladies to try on the shoe. Whoever it fits, I shall marry.”

“And that’s your criteria?”

“Well… yes…”

Jeez. This kid needed a nanny, not a wife. “Son, you just dug yourself a hole a mile wide – but lucky for you I was planning on making some house calls anyway. I’ll tag along and keep you out of trouble.”


By nightfall we’d crossed most of the town’s women off our list; brunettes and redheads with little feet, blondes with hooves like landing barges… but none with the perfect combination. The kid was a slow-leaking balloon of misery, and I’d given up hope too.

We had one more street to call on – but that could wait until tomorrow. I was ready to call it quits… until I looked across at the first house on the corner of the road.

Right there in the front garden was a vegetable patch. And they were growing pumpkins.

I was knocking on the door faster than you could say ‘exhibit A.’ I knew straight away that the broad who answered wasn't our girl; whoever designed her face must’ve had an off-day. She saw the kid and beamed, which wasn't an improvement. “You've brought my shoe back!” she cried, snatching it out of his hands. “Let me put it on so we can be married…”

“Not so fast” I said, grabbing it back. “You’re nearly six feet tall, so you aint fitting in this shoe. And besides, you’re a brunette. We’re looking for a blonde.”

She looked madder than a cat in a bathtub – but she didn't faze me. “Are there any other ladies in this house?” I asked.

That’s when another girl appeared behind her. I could tell they were sisters; those faces were definitely hacked out of the same rock. “Did you say a blonde?” she said, flicking her pale hair. “That’s me! Gimme that shoe…”

The kid was dying a thousand deaths as she crammed her trotter into it. “I’m sure you’re not the right girl…”

“I must be. I’m blonde, aren't I? And look” – she held up her purple foot - “It fits!”

Like a sausage in a thimble. The kid looked at me in despair - but I knew how to bail him out. “You may be blonde, honey” I told her “but you’re not her. Our girl is the real deal, whereas you” – I pointed to her dark roots - “got yours from a bottle.”

This was another chunk of wasted time. I was ready to split – but then I heard singing outside. I ran out into the garden – and there she was. A girl. Small. And a natural blonde.

“Gimme that shoe” I said, ripping it off the dye-job’s foot.

“No!” she shrieked as our songbird slipped it on. “She’s just – the maid! She wasn't even invited to the party!”

“Well she’s not a maid anymore” said the kid, gazing at her like she was ice-cream. “She’s my bride!”

Another case solved. It was time for me to make tracks. They didn't need me hanging around anymore; they’d made it to their Happy Ending.

Now they just had ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ to deal with…