• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Even If You Were Looking

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“Beverly Jean makes fans out of everyone, officer. She’d love to give you an interview.”

I put the cigarette out against the theater’s back-alley wall and clap the pudgy man on his shoulder. Ash grits off my fingers onto his herringbone sport coat. You’d barely notice it even if you were looking. He could afford to appear too busy to be clean in his own establishment. I tug a moleskin notepad and a pen from my uniform pocket, say, “Police detective. Lyman Vance.”

A glazed, confused look coats his mud-brown eyes. “Detective? I thought you hired detectives.”

I lean under twin gaslights flanking the back door, then tap the badge pinned on the navy-blue cloth with the pen. “We do. Especially after Prohibition. Some schmuck's selling hallucinogens in this area. Those are still illegal.”

He shakes his head, balding wisps fluttering round in a gust. “I meant from the outside. There's Bev now.”

Heels clacking on wood behind the door catch my attention. I step away from the gaslights as the thick metal door whips open. A doll of a woman a head shorter than me stands there in a floor-length emerald dress. Shadows from the lights in the alley cast themselves behind her, yawning all the way into the backstage set-up and out of sight. Her gloves are elbow-high and match the dress, as do her eyes. So much green.

She tilts dark, curling hair at me and the theater owner. She purrs, “Last show of the night’s done. This the interrogation man here?”

I face Beverly Jean and smile. “Those are some enchanting first words. Ma’am, I’m detective Lyman Vance. Have you got names for anyone selling hallucinatory drugs? Can you confirm veteran politicians have disappeared in this area? They’re saying it’s cultists.”

She quirks one pale shoulder, then puts her back to me and says, “Come on in, Vance. Watch where you walk though. It’s a dreamland in here. Are you a fan?”

Ms. Jean’s heels don’t tap on the woodgrain as I follow her inside. She hitches up her dress more with each step. Such flexible legs beckoning under the folds.

Blinking, a spike of terror pierces me. I peer sideways at the pudgy owner. His eyes glaze over even more, a lazy grin sliding along his lips as he enters alongside me.

I could swear the actress’s skin turned a shade greener beneath the dress.

You’d barely notice it even if you were looking.

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