Orange you glad you didn’t turn on the light?

The title is a joke on the old urban legend of the girl who walks in on her room mate’s murder, thinking the girl is just having some sex, and neglects to turn on the light.  In the morning “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light” is usually scrawled across the wall in the victim’s blood.

That doesn’t happen in the story.


‘Constable, do you know exactly how fast an orange has to travel to become a lethal weapon?’

Constable Morris mulled this over for a moment. It was certainly the strangest murder scene he had ever been ordered to attend. Citrus juices as far as the eye could see, dripping from the ceiling and the walls and, in the centre of it all, lay a man with a single orange embedded in his face. Just to make things worse (although he doubted it mattered to the victim) the man was a greengrocer.

‘I imagine it would have to be really rather fast, sir. Shouldn’t it just have splattered when it hit him?’

Sergeant Haul twiddled his moustache for a moment.

‘One would think so.’

An unusual silence flooded the room, the sort of silence you can only really experience in a place where a fruit has been used to end someone’s life. Morris took another look at the body.

Apart from the orange, the man seemed quite healthy. From the position of his body he had been filling in a Sudoku puzzle when the murderer struck, and he’d been cheating. Most of the rows had been filled with nines. As far as Morris concerned that was enough evidence to build a working profile of the victim. The victim was clearly a man who liked the satisfaction of finishing a puzzle but lacked the scruples to cheat properly, so long as the puzzle looked finished he was happy.

It also was useful that the man was known to the police anyway.

They didn’t know his name yet, they had all referred to him as “That Mad Bastard”. He’d come running into the station about a week ago, screaming something so fast that no-one could understand it, then he stomped off. Naturally, the story quickly worked its way around the station although no-one cared to actually check up on the man. They were the police, they had a switchboard that was designed specifically for people to tell them when they needed to be checked up on.

Sergeant Haul was investigating a large collection of pulp that had stuck itself to a nearby window. It was clearly not from the fatal orange, which told Morris that other fruit had been involved, which was just wrong. He could just about accept one fruit being deadly, but more than one fruit at a murder scene? Unlikely. Something was fishy here. Or orangey. He wasn’t sure either way.

‘Constable,’ Haul hollered from his position by the window, ‘Would you mind taking a look at this?’

Morris crossed the room and directed his gaze to the part of the window Haul was pointing towards. The pulp looked somewhat more structured here, as much as pulp can form structure in any event. There was something familiar about the shape. He turned his head to one side, squinted, and finally saw something unexpected.

‘Certainly not, sir!’ he cried. ‘Is that… a word?’


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