Moon Goddess Festival by Kent Ostby

 Each month the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine holds a “short short” contest where authors submit a 250 word story to go with a picture.  The following story was written about a picture with an Indian scene.  It won me a runner-up for the contest which got my name, but not my story into the magazine.  Here is the story: 

I caught my breath as the techno-generated fog covered the open-air stage and a soft August wind blew some of it backstage. For years I had waited to play the Moon Goddess during this festival and to wear the necklace of Tivara, worn by the oldest teenage girl at each year’s festival.

Suddenly, a thick, hairy arm wrapped around my neck, and a point of cold steel touched the other side.

“If you try to run, tonight’s sacrifice of the Moon Goddess won’t be an act.”

The smell of the man’s breath flickered through my memory and brought to mind the stranger who’d spent an hour staring at the ruby broach that now swayed on my neck.

He dragged me to the entrance of the ruins and told me to take off the necklace.

“You’ll have get the clasp, it’s too hard with my long hair.”

The man swore, but the knife moved away. As he pushed my hair aside, I back heeled him in the knee and dodged into the ruins that had been my playground since before I could remember. Dodging into the dimly lit area near the ongoing excavation, I kicked the safety cones lining the hole and walked the narrow edge until I was on the far side.

“Hey creep,” I yelled.

The bandit ran straight for me and fell with a scream. The police pulled him out of the ten foot pit with a broken leg, and the necklace was returned safely to the museum.

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