Next in Line

Short Story by: rsjakovac


A mystery about a person that is framed and a killer that is never caught.


Submitted: April 28, 2013

A A A | A A A


Submitted: April 28, 2013



Next in Line


*Told by Ronald Langer*

I look at the bloodied body and smile.  Another mystery.  I find the police staring at me so I stop smiling.

“What?” I ask.

“Well, you’re smiling.  Why are you smiling?”

“I like mysteries.” 

“Don’t we all?”

“Exactly.”  I walk out of the room to see the evidence and suspects from the other detectives. 

I find myself in my office in no time.  I sit down on my spinney chair and spin around a couple of times as I analyze all of the data I have seen.  The body was bent in a strange direction as if the murderer tried to break the victim’s neck.  I imagine the victim (Charlie Mana) trying to get away.  He manages to get to the door but the murderer grabs him.  The murderer grabs a kitchen knife and stabs Charlie to death.  The murderer drops the knife in the toilet and flees through the window. 

This all happed in a small first floor apartment.  The neighbor heard the entire ruckus and called the police. 

No footprints were found out of the door and the police found a bloody towel (that I suspect was used to dry of the murderer’s feet).

The best evidence we found was a paper that says just the number ‘1’.  The victim had a matching number ‘1’ in his pocket.

The next day I managed to find my way back the crime scene.  Police tape covered the perimeter of the room.

The window was broken from the murderer escaping.  I carefully tip-toe my way through the room all the way to the window.  I look out and find just what I was looking for.

“Hey, I need some police over here!” I yell.  Laina (the only girl here) comes over and says irritably,


“Look at this; no footprints.  There aren’t any footprints in the dirt.  Not even a sign of someone trying to cover up footprints.  This means our killer escaped through the door.  This leads to me knowing that the butler would have seen someone enter and exit.”

“Which means the butler did it?”  Laina asks.

“No, no, no…!  This means that we need to ask the butler!”  I run from the room and tell the police that we need to ask the butler if he saw anyone suspicious come in.

“Okay, butler, did anyone that doesn’t live here come in the day of the murder?” I ask, “Anyone that looks like a killer and came in before the killing and left afterwards?” I continue.

“Well…  There was this one person who had a bunch of tattoos and a hoodie.  But I don’t think he left after the killing…” The butler looks around with his black hair swishing around his ears.

“Uh…  Wait!  Maybe, in the entire ruckus the killer snuck past you…  And maybe they even changed clothes just in case you would recognize him…!”

“Her— It was a her.  She had hair that was dyed so many colors that I couldn’t even tell what her natural color was…”

“Okay, so I need to go see if any of our suspects match!” I run to my car and almost start to speed because I am so exited.

When I go to my office I remember to check the suspects. 

‘Dwight Varney’ No, male.

‘Robert Martinez’ No, male.

‘Harold Bradshaw’ No, male.

‘Ronald Langer’ Me?




*Told by Robert Martinez*

I can’t believe how the police and detectives are on my back for murder.  Their evidence was that I was across the hallway from Charlie Mana and ‘didn’t call the police’.  I was just about to after I saw what happened but my neighbor agreed that she should call the police.

She just recently got her hair dyed and got some tattoos.  She is hardly recognizable.  I saw a splatter of blood across her shoe which I suspected was from Charlie’s dead body.  I had a little bit of blood on my shoes, too. 

The police immediately suspected me because I was just standing there, staring, when they arrived.  I tried to tell them what happened but they just immediately cuffed me.

When I got to a small room with bars for windows and a suspicious mirror the police started asking me questions like ‘What happened?’ and ‘Why didn’t you call the police?’ and ‘Why were you just standing there?’. 

I told them the same answer over and over again. ‘Me and my neighbor agreed for her to call the police’.  They never listened…

Right now I’m in a court room while the jury decides if I am innocent or guilty.  I wish I could just yell ‘I plead me innocent!’ 

The jury says,

“We plead the defendant— ’’

“Innocent!  Innocent!”  A detective runs in, “His story is true!  We talked to his neighbor! His story is tr—’’ He takes a couple breathes of air, “—ue…!”

I take a sigh of relief as the jury agrees with the detective.

“Go home, Robert.” The judge says. 

I walk slowly from the room, out of the building, and to my car.  I drive below the speed limit (which is unusual for me) and find myself at home in no time.  I tip my hat to the butler and find the hallway cluttered with news men, detectives, and police.  I can barely make it to my room which is across the hall from the crime scene.

I find my apartment room to be cleaner than the hallway.  I smile in spite of myself.  I look around and see a small little piece of paper on my desk.  As I walk over to get it, there is a knock at my door.

“One second!” I pick up the piece of paper and see one number on it.  The number ‘2’.

Hmm… That’s weird… 

Bang, bang! Wow, whoever is at my door must be really impatient.

I walk over to the door and open as quick as I can because the person at it must be in a rush.  To my surprise, I get pushed almost to the back wall by a pair of masculine arms. 

I look at the strange man who pushed me in surprise as he rummages through my kitchen for something.

“Yes…!” I hear him mutter as he holds up a knife.  He has brown hair that reaches to his shoulders.  I try to look for more details on what he looks like but it is all covered with a brown sweatshirt. 

I see him start to run towards me with the knife as he says,

“You’re next in line.” Then and there I finally realize, I’m being attacked.




*Told by Ronald Langer*

I forget to check the rest of the suspects because I am so scared.  I run to my car and speed all the way to the police station.

“I’M A SUSPECT!”  I scream to the police men.

“Oh, no, you aren’t…  We changed that.” Laina says to me.

“Why would anyone think I would be suspicious?!” I’m still a little bit steamed up from the suspect list.

“The police men saw you staring at the body and smiling, you looked like you were looking at your own piece of artwork.”

“Oh…  I just like mysteries and crime.  It keeps life interesting.”

“You better see this.  One of our suspects – Robert Martinez— was just proved innocent.  But, he was killed this morning.  The weird thing is that he had a paper that had a number ‘2’ on it in his pocket and a matching one in his kitchen.  They looked just like the ones from the last murder.  I have a hunch that the two murders are connected…”

“Whoa there, Laina…  You aren’t the detective here.” I laugh a little but then go back to being serious, “But, I think you’re right…  Those papers are a little mysterious…”

I find myself in crime scene before I have even had lunch. 

The victim (Robert Martinez) looks very gruesome.  I can hardly even make a fake smile at the sight of him.  Both of his legs appear broken, one arm is bent at a weird angle, and his other arm has strayed all the way across the room.  He must have been a fighter. 

He also has gouges in his upper chest area.  They look like they came from a kitchen knife like the last murder. 

I walk across the room to the kitchen to look at the note.  The number ‘2’ is in the same scratchy handwriting as the last two notes…  It must have been the same person…

As I walk back into the hallway I spot a girl with dyed hair and tattoos.

“Hey! What are you doing here?” I ask.

“Uh, I live here?”

“How long have you lived here?”

“About two years…”

“Thank you!” I yell as I run to the butler.

When I reach the butler I say,

“The girl with the dyed hair lives here.”

“Oh, I was just about to tell you that.  The hair and tattoos were new that day…” I try not to glare at the butler as I run back to the crime scene.  The killer must have been really strong.  There is no sign of a knife mark on the arm that is lying across the room.  Why would the killer go to the trouble of breaking off the limb?

Oh!  I forgot to check the rest of the suspects and the reasons they were chosen!

I finally make it to my office and check the list.

‘Dwight Varney- Lives next door to victims.’

‘Robert Martinez- Dead’

‘Harold Bradshaw- Found with a knife while being near the crime scene’

‘Linda Noyola-Butler says that she was hanging out near the building while looking suspicious’

‘Janice Neumann- Lives across the hall from victims’

Hm…  Linda Noyola and Harold Bradshaw are the most suspicious.

That night I fall asleep at my desk while looking over the evidence, suspects, and victims.




*Told by Janice Neumann*

I start to pace around my small apartment.  Evidence, evidence of my innocence is what I need.  I also need a better lawyer…  My witnesses are my next-door neighbor and my mother.  My father died in WWII (world war 2) fighting when I was just a baby. 

They don’t have evidence that I am guilty, but I don’t have evidence that I’m innocent.  We are kind of stuck at cross-roads here. 

This is the first time my lawyer has ever ‘lawyered’ and he is pretty nervous.  But I think that I am more nervous than he is.  My future is at stake here, even though I am innocent.  What I find strange is that the killer killed the second victim after he was proved innocent.  Plus, the killer is making it easier to find the actual murderer because he is narrowing it down…

But maybe, just maybe, Robert killed himself because he was ashamed of killing the first victim…

Whoa, I need to stop being the detective and start being innocent.  I have to go the court tomorrow…

*the next day*

I walk into the court room with my lawyer next to me.  Everyone is staring at us; it is kind of awkward…  I sit down at one of the desks at the front of the room.

The judge starts to talk and I doze off.I almost fall asleep, but my lawyer nudges me and it is my turn to speak.

I speak very slowly, for I am nervous, but once my speech is done, I doze off again.

Finally, when we are done, the jury has to make their decision…  I cross my fingers, and I think everyone else is too.

“Has the jury reached their verdict?”

“Yes, we plead the defendant…  Innocent!”

“Yessssss…!”  I mumble as I sigh with relief.

I walk out of the room with an ear-to-ear smile.  Well, I guess it wasn’t from ‘ear-to-ear’, I think that is just a saying that they use in books and stories.  Whenever people say that, I imagine the joker from Batman.

When I make my way to my car, I’m still smiling, I’m innocent!  Jail sounds horrible; I went there for one day, two days before I went to court.  It was complete H-E-double hockey stick.

I don’t really swear.  I grew up in a place that if you ever swore, the expression on the people’s faces was scary.  They look as if they we going to explode like hand grenades, and if you said a bad word again, it would be like pulling the pin.

I have heard people swear many times, and I’ve gotten looser with my words, but if I ever say the ‘F’ word, I will never forgive myself…

Town is very calm today.  I’m not sure if it is because I’m in a good mood or because I’m spacing out so often, but I just love this calmness.

When I reach my room I fumble with my keys.  My eyes look lazily around in my purse until I finally find my key.  I unlock the door to my room and walk into the typical apartment setup. 

When I make it inside I shut the door very quietly.  My eyes search the room for anything unusual.  I find a small little note on my T.V. stand.  I walk over and read the note, ‘3’.

Wait, the first victim got the ‘1’ notes, the second victim got the ‘2’ notes.  The third victim gets ‘3’…

I know there is no way for me to survive, but I know what to do.  I look for my camera that prints pictures as is takes them.  I hide it so guests don’t see how lame it is. 

I grope around my bags and in my closet for the old thing.

I wonder what they will do to me…  Stab me and let me exsanguinate, or make it quick and stab me many times. 

Knock, knock!  I hear them,

“One second!” I yell. Ah ha!  I pull out the camera and turn it on.

Knock, knock!

“One second!” I yell again.  I run to the door and get my camera ready.

I unlock the door, open it, and,

Click! Bang!  I throw the camera to my left as I’m pushed nearly into my kitchen.  I lay on the ground so this will be quicker.  The killer walks right up to me and says,

“You’re next in line.”




*Told by Ronald Langer*

“One more death…  Why can’t this killer just stop killing?  C’mon, just stop killing!” I am kneeling at my bedside and praying (quite informally).  I stand up and move into my bed.

I keep on rolling left and right because of the thought of a killer getting past us so many times, I’m an expert detective.  How can I not figure this out?

I eventually fall asleep with the thoughts of murder, mystery, and crime in my head.

Ring! Ring! I open my eyes with a start. I hate alarm clocks, they are so loud!

I roll onto the floor and lazily make my way to the shower.  At first swaying, I eventually get used to the water fiercely hitting my back.

I get ready in a flash and almost speed to the crime scene.  The person lives close to the other two victims.

“You better see this, Detective Langer.” Laina shouts over to me.  I speed walk over to the room and look at what she is looking at, “They found a number ‘3’ paper in her pocket and on her desk.”

“Ugh…  What are they telling us?”

“I think that they’re trying to tell the victim.  Maybe they are warning the victim that they are coming just to shake them up a bit…” She says her hypotheses a bit nervously.

“You know what, I think that you’re right!” I search around the room for some other clue, “What’s this doing here?”

“What?” She asks.

“This camera, this really old camera.”

“Um…  I don’t know, go check it out.”

“Okay.” I walk over to the camera.  It is the very old fashioned style that prints pictures as it takes them, “Hm…” I start to rummage around the couch and find just a crumpled up picture.  I stuff it in my pocket and look around a little more, “WAIT! NO ONE DO ANYTHING!”  I scream at the top of my lungs. 

“What?! What?!” Laina screams a little quieter.  She had taken her gun out as well as the rest of the officers.

“Cameras!” I am nearly out of breath so I try to talk briefly.

“What?!” Laina repeats.

“S-security c-cameras…!”

“Oh…”  She sighs and puts her gun back.  She signals the rest of the officers to do the same.

“What?” One of the officers shouts.

“The security cameras might have caught some useful footage.” Laina replies with ease.

“Yes!”  I say.  I run out into the lobby, “Butler!  Show us the footage from your security cameras!”

The butler leads me to their room with the footage and he plays the footage from before the killing.

It shows the butler walking into the victim’s room then coming back out and disabling the camera.  The look on his face is sad as if he is regretting this.

We watch the footage from before the other two killings and it is exactly the same.

“Cuff him…” I say sadly.  He was my friend…

I watch him look at me sadly as he sticks out his arms so he can get cuffed.  I see what appears to be a huge bruise on his arm.  I sorrowfully spin around in the spinney chair.  I start to watch over the footage of before the most recent death.  I’m half paying attention until I stop completely.  I pause and rewind the tape.

“You can’t tell anyone or I will kill you personally.” A strange man in a hoodie says.

“I w-won’t, I p-promise…”  The butler appears to be crying.

“And destroy the security cameras before I come in.”

“Th-they will s-see me d-destroying them…” Then the man slaps the butler and pushes him across the room.

I gasp and realize what the bruise on the butler’s arm was for…  He was being abused and framed by the killer. And…

I run to the desk and see the same scratchy handwriting as the notes, the same handwriting…  The butler was warning them, trying to save them.

I drive to my office with the collected evidence. 

Once I get there I look around.

Wait, the picture in my pocket.  I take it out and look at it.  A picture of  Harold Bradshaw standing in the doorway with a knife. 

I look up in thought.  Wow, he did it…

What!?  I see a note on my desk, it reads ‘4’.

I run to my kitchen and get out a knife so I can defend myself.

But then I remember how gruesome the other bodies were…  I want to die peacefully…  I take the knife and raise it to my chest.

“Ronald,” I say to myself, “You are next in line.”

© Copyright 2017 rsjakovac. All rights reserved.

Next in Line

Status: Finished

Genre: Mystery and Crime



Status: Finished

Genre: Mystery and Crime



A mystery about a person that is framed and a killer that is never caught.
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