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The Unfinished Manuscript

Part I

By TestPublished 5 months ago 4 min read
The Unfinished Manuscript
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Robert Quine's manuscript lay scattered on the desk. His wife—Clara Quine—stood there staring at the many messy pages, tears welling up in her eyes.

Robert was in the process of writing a sequel to his first novel: Caged Bird.

Robert Quine was the kind of author who thrived primarily on controversies garnered by shock value: Readers bought his books to see what he would say about the political system of America with his fiction and just how far he would go.

In this particular installment, he'd created a detailed blueprint for assassinating President Max Gulligan. The guy had voiced his many policies which Robert felt were oppressing minorities, so he despised him.

Albeit fiction, the novel had been met with mixed reviews, some condemning its decidedly political nature; others praising it for the same reason.

Despite it only having 3.5 stars, it had sold many copies, primarily out of curiosity for the customers, so Robert had been satisfied at first, though that was before protestors lined up in droves outside of their New York City apartment.

Despite the situation, Robert Quine had began working on his somehow more controversial sequel, though he hadn't revealed its name to her: He never had until he'd finished and published his work, but she'd heard rumors swirling around from the editors that this installment was about killing not only a sitting president, but his entire staff as well, along with a few decidedly dislikable people who held positions of no noteable importance.

She'd dealt with her husband disappearing on many occasions while he was consumed by his work, and tried to convince herself this was no different.

All she knew was that he'd boarded a plane to Cozumel, Mexico, planning to return in a week or so, and she hadn't seen him for months.

***

In an attempt to drown her sorrows, Clara knocked on the door of room 12 of the Warwick New York hotel. It was opened by a handsome stranger: Alejandro Alonso.

"Hola, bonita!"

She blushed, then swayed into the room.

She loved it when he spoke in Spanish, saying, "Hello, pretty," as he greeted her.

She was wearing a snug black dress that hugged her body tightly, her brunette hair curling over her shoulders, with red high heels complimenting her tall figure.

She slipped them off and locked lips with the man wearing nothing but a pair of denims. His abdominals rippled and his deep brown eyes swooned at her as he pushed her onto the bed.

They made love that night, and she drank wine in the morning to get rid of the guilt. A cabernet.

When she arrived home, Clara called 911 reluctantly, knowing she had to at least appear worried about her husband, and she was, deep down.

The only problem was that he was never truly here. He was always distant, dreaming up his next project, so she'd missed him since they'd gotten married five years ago, in a sense.

"Hello? This is detective Richard Jansen. How may I help you?"

"My husband has disappeared."

"Where was he last?"

"Cozumel, Mexico, as far as I know. He told me he was there last."

"Done. I will look for him."

***

The next evening

***

A businessman by the name of Chad Wiseman was walking down the street to his apartment on the Upper East Side when he saw a figure in the dark. The figure had short hair and looked disheveled, even from a distance.

There was another shadow: a woman with high heels and long hair, it seemed.

There was a bang as a bullet shot through the air, and the disheveled figure immediately keeled over.

He ran to his apartment immediately and called 911.

"Hello? Richard Jansen here. How may I help you?"

"Someone has been shot on the corner of Madison and Fifth."

"We will be there immediately. Did you see the shooter?"

"It appeared to be a woman. I don't have any other details."

"Okay. Thank you."

***

Monday night, 9:00 p.m.

***

Clara Quine sat in the empty apartment that was once theirs.

She drank Carbenet. She wobbled to bed, dropping the empty bottle on the floor.

Shards of glass scattered around the bedroom, and, as she attempted in vain to clean each piece up with her bare hands, a line of red blood seeped from her skin, crimson across pale white.

Her phone rang.

Richard Jansen.

She fumbled through her bathroom drawer for a bandaid, placed it on her hand, then quickly picked up, hopes rising in her chest that this would be good news.

Maybe they've found my husband. I do miss that bastard.

"Hello?!"

"Hi," the voice on the phone was solemn.

There was a long pause.

"I'm afraid I have bad news."

"What?"

"Your husband has been shot."

"No!"

"Yes. I'm afraid so. On the corner of Madison and Fifth. We have the body."

"Who did it?"

"I'm afraid we don't know yet. We think it was a woman, but we don't have any other information."

"Thank you, detective," she said, then hung up the phone in shock, her heart sinking to the floor.

FictionMystery

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