Adventures of a Self-Aware Character

Ever read a book where you questioned a character's decision? Maybe you felt the way they acted was cliche or just plain stupid. That's life for Martin, a man in his early twenties who lives in a world where every character is predictable and every story is predictable. Worse, when he tries to alter their cliched lives or point out their stupidity, he only ensures their cliched ways will continue.

Meet the self-aware character.


4. Chapter 4 - Crime sometimes pays. Just not that much.

Chapter 4 – Crime sometimes pays. Just not that much. 

“So what’s your name again?”

“Martin…didn’t I already tell you that?”

“Perhaps. But I’d rather like to finish this case before the end of the day, thank you very much.”

An awkward silence fell over the two, Martin standing in front of the desk as Kilton did his best to ignore him. There wasn’t much to the little office room – two chairs with faded fabric by the window, a couple of shelves behind the detective. On the lower shelf, a dishevelled pile of folders had come to rest, papers sliding out slowly from between them. The shelf above provided a home for a dusty photo frame. Martin could just about make out a woman’s face in it, along with a much younger looking Kilton. Noting the lack of rings on Kilton’s hand, Martin wisely decided to stay quiet about this lady, whoever she was. Next to this photo was a glass bottle and, alongside this, a tall pint glass. He scanned the rest of the shelf, only to find more bottles and a cigarette packet.

“An alcoholic, huh.” Martin muttered, more to himself than to provoke a response from Kilton, who was intensely frowning at the paper. Despite the terrible handwriting, it was obvious that the ‘case’ involved nothing more than a simple theft. It seemed to be open-and-shut, yet Kilton had spent hours on it.


Suddenly, Kilton shot upright.

“Got it!” he shouted, making a beeline across the room for his coat, pushing Martin aside into the wall. Martin stood in shock for a moment, regaining his balance, before running off after Kilton.

“Hey, Kilton! What’re you doing?” Martin shouted after him. Kilton didn’t respond, disappearing round the corner. Martin didn’t follow him. He returned to the office and stood by the window, watching Kilton run to his car and manically drive away down the street. Martin sighed.

“So much for that job.” Martin groaned. He began to lower himself into one of the faded chairs when he heard the clacking of a set of heels approaching the office. Whoever it was, they were in a hurry. The footsteps stopped outside the open door, revealing a woman in a tight business suit clutching a folder under her arm. She strode into the room, overlooking Martin as if he was another piece of furniture.

“Uh…can I help you?” Martin said apprehensively. She jumped slightly, turning suddenly to face Martin. Her nose turned up slightly when she saw him sitting there in his hoodie and trainers.

“Unless your name is Kilton, then no. Where is he?”

Martin looked towards the window.

“Dunno. He ran off down the road.”

The lady groaned dramatically.

“I can never trust that man with anything” she muttered. “Here.”

She pushed the folder towards Martin’s chest, who took it before he could protest. She spun around and began walking towards the door.

“Hold on, what’s this?”

“Kilton’s next case.”

She stormed out of the room, her shoes tapping along the corridor. He sat for a moment, his head whirring. Wishing he’d spoken to Lance in more detail about his eccentric new boss and his unfriendly new co-workers, Martin watched the folder, letting his curiosity build up.


“I bet it says this was a suicide.” he mumbled, pulling the folder open. Inside were several pieces of paper: A report listing things discovered at the murder scene – including several photos of the bloody corpse – and a photocopy of a letter, written as a suicide note from the victim. From the report, it looked as though the man had stabbed himself below the rib cage, killing him quickly from blood loss.

“Keen to get going, Martin?”

Martin jumped and closed the folder as Kilton walked into the room, rubbing his eyes from lack of sleep. He walked over to the shelves at the back of the room and grabbed a bottle. Martin watched him, shaking his head in disbelief.

“And here I was thinking the drunken detective was a simple cliché.”

Kilton laughed, tipping the bottle back as he took a long drink.

“You can’t spend all day looking at dead people without being slightly drunk.” Kilton replied once the bottle was placed back on the shelf. He wiped his mouth with a coat sleeve and grabbed the folder from Martin.

“So what’s this, then? Murder? Suicide?” He studied the photos for a while, before throwing the folder back on the chair and walking out the door.

“Hold on!” Martin shouted. Kilton stopped walking and turned back to Martin, a grin on his face.

“Any problems?”

“Several, actually. What am I doing here? Where did you go? Why were you making such a big deal over a theft?”

Kilton blinked.

“Oh, yes, you’re new aren’t you.”

He walked back into the room and opened his desk drawer. Inside was a wallet, which he casually tossed towards Martin.

“That wallet has a standard police ID in it. Use it to get access to places easily and, you know, get free alcohol.” Kilton said, nudging Martin in the arm.

Martin put the wallet in his pocket, expecting Kilton to continue.

“So…where did you go just now?”

Kilton shrugged and started towards the door again.

“Don’t worry about it. There’ll be plenty of that later. Right now, I suppose you want to get going.”

“Yes, but where exactly?”

Kilton turned around with a smile.

“You’ll see.”




Fifteen minutes later, the two were standing over the corpse of Andrew Stone. He hadn’t been moved from his bedroom floor, the blood already crusting on the pale blue carpet. Kilton wasted no time in running his eye over the body, taking in every detail from the obvious stab wound to the freckles on Andrew’s nose. Finally, he stood up.

“Anything?” Martin asked, slightly taken aback at seeing a dead body so soon into his new job. Kilton sighed, looking back down at the body.

“Well, he was definitely stabbed. But the blade was poisoned in some way. Forensics made that clear.”

He looked at Martin, willing him to add something.

“Yeah…wait, why would a man who committed suicide bother to poison the blade? The knife itself would do the job, right?”

Kilton grinned.

“I knew you’d be right for the job.”

“Does that mean this is a murder?”


Martin peered into Kilton’s eyes.

“You’re not just adding stuff to make this case more interesting, are you?”

Kilton feigned surprise.

“Who, me? No, of course not! Why would I want this to be a murder over a boring old suicide case?”

Martin smiled, glad Kilton wasn’t the type to take offense easily.

Suddenly, a police officer burst in through the back door.

“Detective Inspector Kilton! You’re wanted outside for help interviewing the suspects.”

Kilton sighed, peeling his gloves off.


“Know anything about the Stones, Martin?” Kilton asked, walking down the corridor towards the exit. Martin shook his head.

“I’ll take a wild guess and say they’re a rich family with plenty of rivals.”

Kilton looked impressed.

“Are you sure you’ve never done this before?”

Martin grinned.

“Nope. Just read a lot of books, that’s all.”

“Experienced or not, you’re spot on. The Stone’s run a large food manufacturing company in London. Worth millions. The owner, Hugh Stone, is said to be near retirement. Word is that his son was due to take over the company any day. ‘Course, not anymore.”

The two fell into a silence as they walked, unsure how to continue.


It didn’t take too long to reach the Stones house. Inside the gates was a flurry of activity – police officers everywhere interviewing relatives and staff members, other people taking photos of the house and checking for break-in damage, others still guarding the entrance gates. These officers frowned at Kilton, obviously upset that their investigation had attracted his attention. They opened the gates, but not before one of them glared at Martin and whispered to the other officer.

“So…I take it you aren’t the most popular around here?”

Kilton grinned, hands in pockets as he approached a group of officers talking to a well-dressed business man.

“No, they hate it when I arrive. I have a nasty habit of solving cases they can’t even get close to.”

“Jealousy, then?”

Kilton pulled the flask from his pocket and took another sip.

“Most likely. Although some of these really just hate me for no reason.”

True to his word, the police officers gave Kilton a scowl as he drew near, parting reluctantly to let him past before dispersing, leaving Kilton and Martin alone with the man.

He was shorter than both of them, with red eyes and a pale face. He looked exhausted, barely able to remain upright. Kilton wasted no time in starting the interview.

“High Stone, am I correct?”

The man nodded, looking past Kilton into the distance. Martin waved a hand in front of his face to regain his attention, but to no avail.

“Ok then, Mr Stone, would you like to follow me?”

The man nodded again, following them to a nearby seat. Once he was near enough, Hugh nearly collapsed into the seat, resting is head in his hands and closing his eyes. The two waited in silence for a while, until finally he spoke.

“I’ve already told those others everything I know. I came in from work at ten yesterday, watched TV for two hours, said goodnight to Andrew and went to sleep. That’s all I know, I swear!”

Hugh burst into tears, sobbing loudly into his palms.

“Well, it’s not you. It’s never the first person you suspect, right Kilton?”

Kilton smiled at Martin, before turning back to Hugh.

“Look, Hugh, I believe you, but we need to know if you saw anyone.”

Hugh paled.

“S..Saw anyone? Didn’t my s-didn’t Andrew kill himself?”

Kilton shook his head slowly. Hugh’s eyes widened in shock.

“I..I’m sorry…I haven’t seen anyone…”

Kilton nodded and held out a hand for Hugh to shake. When he didn’t, he continued talking.

“Thank you for your time, Mr Stone.”

Kilton stalked off across the garden, Martin hurrying after him as Hugh stared after them in surprise.

“What was that about?” Martin asked. “Obviously Hugh didn’t do it, so why bother interviewing him?”

Kilton smirked, but didn’t respond immediately.

“Who do you think did it, Martin?”

Martin looked around at the people in the garden. There was Hugh, still sitting on the bench. Two women stood on the opposite side of the garden – one in floods of tears, the other comforting her. From the initial case notes, Martin recognised them to be Mrs Elizabeth Stone and Miss Rebecca Ellis – Andrew’s mother and fiancée. Several staff members stood around the garden as well – a cook, two maids and a footman. Standing at the gates looking increasingly more suspicious was a figure peering through the bars of the gate, the shadows falling on his face.

“I reckon it’s the man at the gate.” Said Martin, pausing before continuing. “…But the police will probably assume it was either Hugh or that cook over there.”

“My thoughts exactly, Martin” said Kilton, replacing the flask in his pocket.  “I shall go and talk to that man, you go and speak to the ladies over there.”

Before Martin could protest, Kilton was storming off towards the gate, notebook in hand. Martin sighed and began to walk towards the weeping ladies.


“Hi…erm…hello, Mrs Stone and Miss Ellis?”

Elizabeth looked up at Martin, frowned slightly and turned back to Rebecca, who hadn’t responded.

“Thank you, we’ve already spoken to the police.” Said Elizabeth in a dismissive tone. Martin coughed awkwardly and tried again.

“Um…I really do need to speak with you…”

Elizabeth sighed, rubbed Rebecca’s shoulder in comfort and turned back to Martin. Strangely, she didn’t look like she’d been crying.

“Right then. I suppose I’d better talk then.”

“Yes please.”

She sighed, not meeting Martin’s gaze.

“You’ve spoken to Hugh, I presume?”

“Yes, we-”

“He’s told you all he and I know. I watched the television with him from ten o’ clock until eleven thirty. Then we went to bed. Andrew must have been alive then, because he wished us goodnight.”

She paused, unsure of herself.

“Who found his body, Mrs Stone?”

Without warning, Rebecca began to howl, prompting Elizabeth to wrap her arms around her.

“Rebecca did. Nasty business – she’d visited her mother up north. Came home to find him like that.”

“Uh-huh. What time?”

“Six, I believe. Now please, leave us alone.”

Martin thanked the ladies and decided to check up on Kilton. He was leaning against the gates, drinking from his flask again. The morning sun glinted off the silver casing.

“Find anything out, Martin?” he said cheerfully. Martin was surprised at his attitude, but told him what Elizabeth had said anyway. Kilton nodded in a mocking fashion until he finished speaking.

“That’s great, Martin, but I’ve just found the killer.”

Martin’s eyes widened in surprise.

“So it was the man at the gate, huh?”

Kilton nodded, his eyes sparkling (though if this was from alcohol or from joy Martin was unclear).

“That man was Max Rivon, Hugh’s major business rival. He asked me what was going on; I told him someone had been killed. I kept talking, and he eventually said ‘Poor Andrew’. That was when I had him, see. I never said who was killed. Classic rookie mistake, that is. He ran off down the road.” Kilton pointed to his right as he said this.

“Why aren’t you going after him!” Martin shouted. Kilton laughed.

“No point. I’ve got no proof. Besides,” he said with a note of sadness, “these cops will probably just arrest Hugh over there.”

Martin looked across at Hugh, puzzled.
“But…it wasn’t him.”

I know that! But they’re too stupid to see otherwise.” Kilton yelled, throwing his hands in the air.

A police officer ran over to Kilton, a notebook in hand.

“Detective Inspector? We’ve found the murder weapon.”



Eight hours and many arguments later, Kilton was back at his desk, head resting on the wooden surface. Martin sat by the window, staring out at the street.

“It’s useless. They won’t believe me. I don’t have any evidence.”

Martin ignored his mutterings.

“How was that knife covered in his prints?” Kilton continued. “Hugh’s not stupid, he wouldn’t do that. No, there’s something else at play here. But what?”

Kilton groaned and placed his hands on his head.

“I’ve got a headache.”

Martin rolled his eyes.

“You’re drunk.”
“Not that much.” Kilton groaned again, struggling to push his head upright. Martin checked the clock.

“Kilton, it’s late. Go to bed.”

Kilton chuckled to himself, standing up and wavering slightly.

“Nah, I’m going out. You coming?”

Martin shook his head, eyes following Kilton as he walked out the door and staggered down the corridor. The thud that came a moment later indicated that Kilton had just passed out. Martin sighed and stood up, preparing to retrieve his drunken boss from the corridor.




“I’m sorry Inspector. There’s ample proof that Hugh Stone was the murderer. His prints were all over the knife.”

“That’s not ample evidence. That’s one piece of evidence.”

“There’s nothing I can do. Unless, of course, you find better evidence.”

The officer laughed, returning to his paperwork. Kilton stormed out of the building only to come face to face with Martin.

“I won’t ask how it went. Obviously badly, judging by your face.” Martin said, studying the red-faced Kilton fuming in front of him.

“We’re going back to the house.”

“Why? The case is over.”

Kilton’s expression darkened even further.

“If it’s evidence they want, it’s evidence they’ll get. Come on.”


Luckily for Martin, the Stone residence wasn’t too far from the police station, yet Kilton’s brisk anger-fuelled walk seemed to make the journey seem much more exhausting than it should have been. The officer at the gate, posted to keep intruders out while the investigation was ongoing, let them pass without a word. Without any hesitation, Kilton stormed into the building and through the living room. A shriek from the left caught his attention as Rebecca sat in a luxurious-looking chair, a pillow clutched to her chest. Kilton gave her a friendly smile, before marching onwards towards Andrew’s bedroom.


The corpse had been moved yesterday, but the stains where his body lay still remained, impossible to remove. Martin hurried into the room after him, handing his boss a pair of gloves. He grabbed them and forced his hand through the opening as he set about examining every object in the room – magazines, bedsheets, carpet, drawers all came under close examination. He drew close to the wall next to his bed and stopped.


There was a faint stain on the wall near his pillow. Kilton stared at it for a moment, thinking intently, before moving the bed away from the wall to find several more of the pale stains.

“Martin, what do you think these are?”

Martin joined Kilton by the bed and examined the stains.

“I’m no expert on blood but…this is definitely blood.”

Kilton nodded thoughtfully.

“Yes. Rather odd, don’t you think?”

Martin stared at the inspector in puzzlement, wondering what on earth this comment meant.

“It all makes sense.” Kilton said with a smile, replacing the notebook. Martin continued to stare at him, hoping for an explanation. He didn’t receive one.

“I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you’ve figured everything out.” Martin said. Kilton nodded, darting out the room. Martin had to follow him closely to keep up. They passed  Rebecca, who was half-asleep as they passed her and almost running head-long into Elizabeth on the way out.

“Oh, Hello Mrs Stone.” Kilton said as he narrowly missed the drink she was carrying. “So sorry to enter your house without permission. However, we have solved the case.”

Kilton didn’t stop to answer questions – he kept on running out the door. Martin had little more to offer the distressed lady than a nervous smirk as he tried desperately to keep up with the detective.

They reached the gates, Kilton not even slowing down, when Martin stopped.

“Kilton, stop!” he shouted after the inspector. He didn’t show any signs he had heard Martin, not even attempting to slow down. Martin looked back to the house, an unsettling feeling growing larger as he stood there. Something didn’t quite add up. Once more, Martin had the feeling that there were a number of ways to go about this.


Option 1. Follow Kilton, ignoring his gut instinct and hoping he really had solved the case with what little evidence he had.


Option 2. Go back to the house. Hope nothing too bad had happened, if anything, and pray this went better than it had in Romania.


Option 3. Stay put and wait for Kilton to return. No doubt the police would want to see this ‘evidence’ (which was really only compiled of a stain on the wall).


Not willing to run after Kilton, martin decided the best thing to do was to wait a little longer for the police. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, dialling the number for Kilton’s mobile.

“Of course he wouldn’t pick up.” Martin complained to himself. He replaced the phone and shoved his hands into his jacket pockets, looking around the grounds of the house. Everything looked exactly as it had yesterday – grass still green, bench still in the same spot…


Martin squinted across the garden. Next to the wall, exactly where he and the ladies had stood, was a small white object. Granted, from this distance it didn’t look like much, but it could have been something useful. It took moments to cross the lawn to the spot, and mere seconds to realise what the object was.

“LENNY’S RAT POISON. GUARRANTEED – NO RATS AFTER ONE WEEK! Apply for free sample BELOW!” was written on the paper. Below that, a phone number and a clip art picture of a man giving a thumbs-up.


Martin pocketed the slip, wondering why ladies of high social statue like Rebecca and Elizabeth would have this, when they had maids and staff on hand to deal with it instead.

In his pocket, the phone began to ring.

“Hello? Martin? Are you there?”

“Yes…Kilton, is this yo-”

“Martin. No time. Are you are the house?”

“Y-Yes. Why?”

There was a pause on the phone.

“Listen. Stay put. The police are on their way. I’ll explain when we get there.”

There was a click as Kilton hung up the phone. Martin shrugged, deciding to wait inside the house if he was to wait anywhere. But something made him stop as he approached the doorway. The sick feeling began again, along with a distant memory. Reading a book…no, a murder mystery…he didn’t recall the characters, but the plot was clear as day. The detective left the house, and while he was gone…


Martin gasped. He didn’t need to confirm his suspicions. He already knew.

A second murder.




How could this have happened?”

“I should have realised earlier.”

Nearby, a man was taking photos of the body. A couple of police officers were interviewing the staff members again, all of whom seemed shocked and confused. On the other side of the living room sat Elizabeth, staring down at the floor with her glass of wine in hand. Opposite her, the body of Rebecca. A knife sticking out of her chest – slightly higher than where Andrew had been stabbed. A glass smashed on the floor below her lifeless hand. She was still propped up in the chair. If her eyes had been closed, it would seem she had simply fallen asleep. Kilton was staring down at the corpse, deep in thought.

“If I may ask, what was the revelation you came up with, Kilton?”

Kilton sighed, rubbing his forehead.

“I thought Rebecca was the killer, working in league with that Max Rivon. It wouldn’t take much for her to sneak away into his room – he wouldn’t scream either, seeing his lovely fiancée in the night. She probably wanted the inheritance Andrew was down to receive. The stains on the wall were probably from where she stabbed him in bed, then she moved him to the floor and washed the blood, probably to through us off the scent. Played the part of the grieving woman perfectly well, I must say.”

An officer appeared behind the two. In his hand, a piece of paper.

“The analysis of the origin of the stains, sir.”

Kilton’s eyes lit up for a moment.

“And whose blood was it?”

“Wasn’t blood, sir. It was wine.”

Kilton stared down at the paper in defeat as the officer retreated. He closed his eyes and sighed wearily, reaching for the flask of spirits in his pocket.

“There goes that lead.”

He shuffled out the room, tipping the flask upside down and greedily gulping the contents, leaving Martin alone to stare at the corpse. Already, many of the officers were beginning to leave, sure that Hugh had done it somehow (even while locked away). Elizabeth hadn’t moved since the police arrived. Martin decided now would be a good opportunity to talk to her.

“Hi Elizabeth.”

She jumped as he sat next to her, paling slightly.

“What d’you think of this? Can’t be good, knowing your husband’s a killer.”

“He’s not.” she replied sharply, gaze narrowing.

“Oh? How are you so sure?”

“I just know. He’s not like that.”

She took a sip of wine with a trembling hand. The body was already being moved away, and they watched as Rebecca’s body was lowered into a stretcher and covered with white cloth. Strangely, there wasn’t a lot of blood on her blouse. The more he thought about it, the more Martin began to realise what was happening. He would have heard Rebecca scream if she had been stabbed here. It was at that point that the pieces finally slotted together.

“Hey, Elizabeth…” Martin said, turning to her. She didn’t meet his eye.

“Who’s going to run the company now your whole family is either dead or in prison?”

She didn’t move, staring at the carpet like it had just changed colour.

“Will it be you?”

Again, no response. Martin leaned back in the chair and yawned.

“Ah…..I’m quite tired, Elizabeth. I think a glass of wine would just about make me go to sleep. Of course,” he continued, watching Elizabeth carefully, “a nice red wine.  I hear rats drink the white wine. Wouldn’t want to catch anything from them, if you know what I mean.”

At this, Elizabeth stiffened. Her hand clenched around her glass, the shaking growing worse and worse.

“Who told you.” she said, her voice eerily monotonous.

“I found your dealer. Lenny, wasn’t it?”

She tensed further, and Martin smiled.

“Whoops. Gotcha, Elizabeth.”

She dropped the glass on the floor, the wine spilling everywhere as it splintered into a thousand pieces.

“No, don’t tell me how you did it. I can guess. You slipped rat poison into their wine. A large dose, considering Andrew smashed his glass against the wall as he passed out. You probably got scared and stabbed him afterwards, hoping to throw us off.” Martin grinned, putting a hand behind his head and looking at Elizabeth. “Thing is, you left stains on the wall. And then you repeated the murder. I’ll guess Rebecca figured you out, right?”

Elizabeth’s silence was all the confirmation Martin needed.

“Nice touch, stabbing them with one of Hugh’s antique knives. The only thing I can’t quite place is Max Rivon…care to help me?”

Elizabeth buried her face in her hands and began to sob.

“Oh. I get it. You loved him, right?”

Elizabeth nodded. Martin looked around the now-empty room, hoping at least one of the officers had heard this. As if on cue, Kilton staggered through the door, a hand to his head. He was groaning, the flask dangling from his hand.

“Figured it out?” he said, slurring his words. Martin grimaced at the inspector’s appearance, nodding. Kilton grinned, his head bobbing around widely.

“Good. Tell the idiot policemen then and we can go home.”

One second later, Kilton fell to the floor in a drunken stupor. Martin sighed, and reached for his phone once more.




Martin sat in the old chair once again, hand resting on the faded fabric as he watched the street. Behind him, Kilton was frantically typing up the report, occasionally grumbling to himself. Finally, though, he was finished.

“Thank God that’s over.” he said, leaning back in his chair triumphantly. “One of my best cases, if I do say so.”

Martin shot him an angry look, before he caught the teasing glint in his eyes.

“Agreed. Needlessly complicated, too. Why didn’t she just kill all of them and lay the blame on Max? Would have been a lot simpler than poisoning some of them, using certain knives, washing the walls…what a mess.”

Kilton stretched and lay both his hands behind his head.

“Well, you’d better get used to it. I’ve seen more complicated than that.”

Martin raised an eyebrow.

“No, seriously. One time, there was a lady who killed her step-brother’s daughter just so she could gain entrance to the house and steal a diamond necklace. Very contrived.”

Martin grinned.

“So…what’s the next case?”

Kilton yawned loudly, closing his eyes.

“Don’t know. Probably another murder. There’s more than you think around here.”

Martin snorted at this.

“Yeah right. London? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.”

“I’m being honest.” He smiled. “At least, even the simple kidnapping cases look a lot like murder to me.”

Martin laughed.

“I knew you made things up to get ‘interesting’ cases!”

Kilton chuckled softly. The two of them were jolted back to reality as the familiar sound of clicking heels grew louder. They shared a look, grinning.


Time for the next case.

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