The Dying Noir Flash Fiction By Cliff Hightower

The Dying: Noir Flash Fiction By Cliff Hightower

Cliff Hightower, author of The Dying, lives in northeast Tennessee and has previously published in A Thin Slice of Anxiety, The Phoenix and Appalachian Voices. 

She lay there.

Her eyes were glazed over, the blue that once was the color of the sky now showed red. Nothing but red. All I saw was red.

Red in her eyes. Red in my soul. Red in my heart.

I had stumbled in, looking for her, and had called her name. There had been no answer, so I opened the bedroom door and, at first, it stopped as it was jammed against something.

It was jammed against her.

She lay there, blood coming from her once beautiful body and those eyes…

Those eyes…

I held back the tears and called 9–1-1.

She lay there, blood coming from her once beautiful body and those eyes…

The dispatcher answered, and took my information matter of factly, except at one point when her voice raised a pitch to ask, “She is dead?”

My voice quivered when I answered.

“Yes, she’s dead.”


The police arrived within minutes. In my mind, it seemed like hours. They told me to stand outside and a detective came to me, asking questions about my wife.

The woman who I had loved and planned to spend forever with.

I told him how I found her and what I knew.

The problem is, I knew nothing.

The officer was just doing his job and I knew that. It was in the middle of summer, but the night air seemed cold against my skin. I sobbed.

The detective finished and a social worker came to me to console me. I didn’t hear what she said. All I could think about was Cassidy’s beautiful blonde hair. The hair was now matted with blood.

The hair that would be cleaned up in the next few days as she was put six feet in the ground, her earthly home.


We had met three years earlier at work. We were both writers at a newspaper and I had smiled at her when she first came into the paper. I asked her if she wanted to go get a drink in the local bar down the road one day.

“You asking me out?” she asked, smiling.

“Maybe,” I said, just smiling back at her.

After that Cassidy and I were inseparable. We tried to keep it quiet in the newsroom, but everyone knew. It became official just after two months. Then we married a year later.

She was pregnant with our first child when I found her. We had been told it was going to be a boy.

Two lives were taken.

Not just one.


“Any ideas on who would have done this?” I heard a voice say.


“Any ideas on who would have done this?”

The detective sat across from me at the table in the police station. I had wandered off in my mind, but his words brought me back.

“I have no clue.”

“Anything unusual lately?” he asked.

“Nothing I knew,” I said.

“Do you know who Devin is?”

“Who?” I asked.


“No clue,” I responded.

“She had been texting him a lot,” the detective said.

I recalled his name was Howard.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes,” the detective said. “She said she was afraid for her life.”

“From who?” I asked.

“From you.”


We had some rough times. Every couple does. And then I found the phone, wide open with the message. I looked at her phone and saw texts talking about leaving me, how she was tired of how angry I was all the time.

I got angry and asked her what the hell this was all about.

She told me Devin was a friend. That’s all.

I asked who Devin was and she said no one.

The world turned black.


“We found the murder weapon,” Howard said.

“Really?” I asked. “What was it?”

“A hammer. It was in your car.”

“That’s strange, why was it in my car.”

“You tell me,” Howard said. “You’re the one who put it there aren’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I think you do,” Howard said.

“I want a lawyer,” I said.

“We will get you one. Sure you don’t want to confess?”

“I didn’t do anything,” I replied.

The detective walked out of the room and I sat there alone. Looking around, I wondered where the camera was. I wondered if I should cry a little more. Maybe wipe my eyes.

The door opened and they led me out of the room.


I walk down the hallway. It’s cold with little light. A door opens and I walk through to see the chair, sitting in front of me. Just hours before, I had dined on steak and potatoes, the potatoes were slathered with butter. They were savory and creamy.

They led me to the chair and told me to sit down.

Tennessee had the death penalty. I had been condemned to die.

The hood came over my head and I was in darkness. I was asked if I had any last words.

I said no. But, I kept seeing an image in my head, the whole entire time until the switch was pulled.

The image of Cassidy lifeless. Her eyes glazed over.

Just like mine were about to be.


If you’ve enjoyed “The Dying”, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

For online archive of short fiction (longer pieces) on Mystery Tribune website, you can visit here.

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