• Peter Dowling

Murder On Set

“Hello, I am Mr. Madikleman and I’m going to be your substitute teacher. Today we are talking about Julius Caesar. Does anyone know anything about him?”

Before a student could reply the lights went out and a scream was heard.

When the lights flickered back on, Mr. Madikleson was on the floor. Dead.

Children screamed. Some boys crawled under a table. One kid found a gun. “Oh no! Someone must have shot him!” he exclaimed, pointing to the gun.

“CUT!” yelled John, the director, ”you’re not supposed to find the gun so early. We want a few minutes of mass hysteria first!”

“Sorry, director,” the actor moped.

“You should be,” John replied furiously, “that’s enough filming for today, people. Except for those working on scene two. You five come with me.”

He pointed to Sam, the lead actor, and to a supporting actor and actress, as well as three other crew members.


All of the actors and crew, except the five aforementioned, shuffled out of the room muttering to each other, done with work for the day.

“Alright people, let's head on over to the library set,” John said, heading towards the door.

“Why do I have to go?” asked Barry, one of the five, “I’m just a humble set-builder!”

“Anyone ever told you that you talk like a crazy person? Besides, a rookie designed this set, so things may fall apart, we need you. Let’s go now, time is being wasted.”



They wandered down the sharp corridors of the studio building until they ended up in front of room 3B. They opened the door to see a massive library set, and walked in single file, with John in front, and Sam at the back. There were countless fake books lining the fake wooden shelves.

“Okay people. I trust you all memorized the script, right?” the director asked.

“Uhh.. n- I mean yes, definitely,” Bart, the supporting actor said.

“Really Bart, you have four lines, it’s just a generic side role, come on,” John interjected.

“Hey, don’t pick on us side roles!”

“Just… please shut up,” John sighed, “I have had a hard enough day already.”

Amy and Josephine followed along dragging their feet. The rising tensions on set had put everyone on edge. Amy sighed, she knew John would be blaming her script on the actor’s failings, he always did. Josephine sighed, but she is a side character, and doesn’t get to feel emotions.


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A frustrating two hours later of shooting and reshooting, Director John stood in front of them.

“Okay people, that’s enough for today, we don’t want to be locked in by the automated security system.” He walked over to the door and attempted to open it. It wouldn't budge. He tried harder. Nothing.

“Barry,” he complained, “did you fix the door like I told you to?”

“Fixed it? John, I even oiled it yesterday,” Barry, the set builder, replied. “If it won’t open it ain’t because it wasn’t fixed. The thing worked just fine earlier. Unless you accidentally locked us in, or someone locked it from the outside.”

“Wait, so you're telling me we are locked in here?” Bart, Barry’s brother butted in. “The stupid security system will lock the main doors soon. We’ll be here till morning!”

Everyone started to get angry.

“I didn’t even eat my dinner!” Josephine, an award-winning actress, and the main supporting role exclaimed, sounding like she was still in character.

Luckily, John put an end to this madness. “Guys, stop, it’s only 9:00. I’m sure we can get out before it hits midnight! Let’s all look for a way out.”

Most of the crew went on to find their way out. Amy, the scriptwriter of the story, went to her typewriter on the set to write a script for a movie. She always claimed she did it to calm down, but in reality, she was secretly already working on another script for another movie. John was attempting to pry open a ventilation duck, but he was failing. Bart was calculating the amount of force needed to break one of the walls. Sam was acting casual and laid back, but he was still helping by helping anyone who needed help.

Meanwhile, Barry tried to brute force his way through the door. He whacked it, he slapped it, he even used a ladder prop as a battering ram, but it didn’t work. He quickly became frustrated.

“Who makes these stupid doors?! They are way too strong! This door is literally made of… what is it made of?!”

He started headbutting the door, obviously, to no avail. After a while, he gave up and walked back to the central area.

“Any luck?” Sam, the murderer in the movie, asked, “it sure looked like it was effective… at making everyone laugh, that is.”

“Don’t be mean to him,” said John, who was sitting in a chair not too far away, “at his job interview, he put ‘Bullied at school’ on his resume.” Sam laughed even harder.

“Bullied at school?!” he exclaimed, with tears of laughter running down his face. “That is more hilarious than the first time we tried to act out the first scene! The movie was completely changed by a single typo!”

“HEY, I HEARD THAT,” Amy yelled from across the room. “I WORK VERY HARD ON THESE SCRIPTS!” Funnily enough, the script she was currently writing she had stolen from a kid’s story back when she was a teacher.


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Almost an hour had passed and yet nobody had had any luck. After laughing at everyone, Sam went off to do his own thing. Sam was an incautious man, who loved his roles. There was a prop knife on the table next to him. He picked it up and twirled it in his hand. He stood up and started pacing around, practicing striking with his knife. If he wouldn’t be allowed to play the hero and always got the role of the villain, he might as well enjoy it. He was done being snubbed by this stupid town.

Only John and Bart remained working on the door.

Soon after a scream was heard from one of the side rooms.

“OH, NO DID SOMEONE DIE?!?” Bart exclaimed, running to the room where the scream was heard. He was closely followed by John, Amy, and Sam. There was blood everywhere in the room. On the floor, on the walls, and even on the ceiling. There was also the body of Josephine, who must have been stabbed to death seeing as there was a knife poking out of her eye.

“Oh no! Now we won’t be able to finish the movie!” John said, with immense fear in his eyes.

“Someone died, and you’re worried that you won’t be able to finish a movie?!” Sam exclaimed, obviously thinking that John did not have his priorities straight.

“It was going to be a blockbuster!” John wept, tears streaming down his face and onto the bloody floor.

“I’m calling the cops!” Amy exclaimed as she reached for her mobile phone, not realizing their phones had been confiscated because they were shooting.

“We need to find who the killer is!” Bart said, remaining calm. “I hate to say this, but it might be my brother, Barry. We haven’t seen him recently.”

Sam disagreed. “He does not have a single brain cell in his entire head! This might be a stretch, but he may be even dumber than whoever signs our paychecks! I say it’s you, Bart. You are acting suspiciously calm.”

“So are you!” Bart replied, suddenly losing his calm. “In fact, it would more likely be you, as you have been complaining, over and over again about how you wanted to be the hero in the movie!”

“And what does that have to do with a REAL murderer running around?!” Sam said, starting to get annoyed.

This back and forth argument continued for 45 minutes until Barry remembered the midnight security lockdown. “Guys, we completely forgot about the midnight security lockdown!!!” Following the 10 minutes of hysteria that came from this one simple statement, everyone agreed to send one person to find all of the phones, so they can minimize the likelihood of death, and increase everyone’s chances of survival.


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The first person to go out was Amy. Without much confidence, she strolled out of the side room where the meeting was held. Why am I doing this? I should have stayed home today, and sat around watching Interflex, daydreaming up my next script, not being trapped in a building with a crazy psychopath attempting to murder me. Unfortunately, or fortunately for her, she did not find anything big. She did find a bloody handprint on the wall, but it turned out to be a set decoration.

Next up was John. All he found was a few more imperfections in the set that would have to be wrinkled out, so his movie would be perfect. He had already blown 95% of the budget.

“Okay guys, this is obviously not working,” Bart exclaimed when John entered the room. “Stupid ol’ Sam here thought it was a good idea, and now look where it landed us. It’s 11:50, and we are nowhere closer to escaping. I say we force the door open.” Everyone disagreed, mainly because Barry had already tried, to no avail. But, Bart ends up turning the argument around with this one simple statement. “Do we have any better ideas?”

The stakes were clear. If they couldn’t break through this door and gt off the property within a few minutes the doors beyond would lock automatically, trapping them all inside with a murderer among them. Barry began to hyperventilate while everyone was casting suspicious glances at each other.

Now they are outside trying everything they could to bust the door down. They tried to kick it down, chip it down, and somehow twist it down but, you guessed it, it would not open.

“ATTENTION EVERYONE” A loudspeaker boomed “PLEASE EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY. NIGHTTIME PROCEDURES WILL BE ACTIVATED IN FIVE MINUTES”

They were about to give up hope, when Bart lunged at the door from across the room, delivered a flying kick, and broke the door down. Just in the nick of time, they busted through. They made a mad dash for the exit, only for it to close right in front of them. They were locked in.

As the exit’s steel shutters went down it dawned on everyone that this may be the last night of their lives. They all grouped up and attempted to create a plan. With the first murder that left Amy, the scriptwriter, Bart, the supporting actor, John, the director, Barry, the set builder, and Sam, the movie’s villain.

“What are we going to do?” Amy intoned, managing to keep her composure.

“I don’t wanna die!” screamed Bart, easily the most scared of the bunch.

John continued to bemoan the movie’s demise more than Josephine's.

“My beautiful set!” Barry sobbed, thinking of all of his time wasted.

“My life is meaningless,” Sam solemnly stated, hiding his eyes.

This went on for about fifteen minutes until Bart got himself together and offered a plan.

“Okay, so what if one person goes off on their own, while everyone else stays put, so no one can possibly die.” Nobody was in the mood to argue, so the crew decided to go with the plan. The first person to go out would be Amy, the scriptwriter. After she left, the cast started to discuss what they were suspicious about.

“I think it’s Amy,” Sam exclaimed.

“Why do you think so?” Bart inquired.

“She was very calm when everyone else was freaking out.” Sam replied.

“Oh, you don’t know her. She was just dying on the inside!” John responded.



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Meanwhile, Amy was getting a triple-shot espresso from the coffee machine in a break room, when she realized the power was not working. “Uh no! I won’t be able to get my glorious triple-shot espresso! I should probably warn the others about some appliances not functioning!” She ran back to the main group and quickly told them what she saw. “I found something important! So, don’t get mad at me, but I went to go fetch a coffee, and then I saw that the coffee machine did not work. The killer must have done something with the power! I think it might be Barry, because he knows his way around wirings.”

“Hey! Don’t jump to conclusions! I’m sure my brother is innocent!” Bart exclaimed, “switching off the power is not rocket science, all you need to do is flip a few switches, that are clearly labeled by the way, and boom. Some things have no electricity.”

This was a back and forth argument, and it went on for quite some time until they agreed that Barry should go check the fuse box. He set off to do so. Wandering down the empty corridors of the facility he thought about how gloomy it was at night and resolved to change the lights to ones that weren’t so bad. If he survived, of course. After a disturbing five minutes of walking, Barry finally made it to the maintenance room. Unfortunately, the door was locked. He should have seen this coming. The janitor always locks this room after his shift. But he couldn’t return with nothing, so he decided to get in another way. He went into the supply closet next door, and brought out a paperclip, resolving to lockpick the door. When he got to the door, he realized it was an electric lock! He went through the options in his mind. He could attempt to guess the code, damage the lock, or crawl through the ventilation system. He went for the latter and took off the ventilation cover. He got down, and started to crawl through the vent. While he was there, a few thoughts crossed his mind. This smells like that moldy cheeseburger I ate once, why are the vents this big, and the code to the door is 8219. Damn. By the time he remembered the code, he was already out the other end of the vent, and in the maintenance room. He walked over to the electric panel, and flipped a few switches and hit the main breaker and… nothing happened. Then the lights went off.



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John and Amy were arguing about pineapple pizza.

“Pineapple pizza is amazing, you cannot convince me otherwise,” John stated, crossing his arms.

“Well yeah, pizza is good, I get it, but pineapple is disgusting, it ruins the pizza!” Amy retorted, a deep scowl lining her face.

“Can we shut up about pizza!?” Bart yelled, “You are making me hungry, and besides, don’t we have better things to do than whine about your opinion on pizza! There is a psychopath running around!”

“A psychopath who puts pineapple on their pizza!” Amy exclaimed.

It was then the lights went off.

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Back in the maintenance room, Barry was frantically trying to turn the lights back on. “Flip this, flip that, flip all of your breaker switches activate! (laugh) Oh that did not work.” Using the glow of the deactivated electric panel, he grabbed an instruction manual from a nearby shelf. “If it still does not work, a fuse may be blown, '' he read. Because of the lack of lighting, he decided to replace all of the fuses. He yanked them all out and replaced them. After setting the last one in, he flicked the breaker switch. The lights were back on. He didn’t even manage to sigh a single breath of relief as he heard a scream coming from down the hallway.

He ran down the corridor. It never occurred to him that this could be a trap. He walked in without any bit of care. “Hello?” he shouted. When he rounded the corner, he saw a body, soaking with fresh blood. “OH MY GOD” he wanted to scream, but his mouth refused to open. After finally getting over the shock, he ran to the body. It was John, the director. “Are you still alive?” Barry asked.

“Not for long,” John rasped, “I’m using every bit of my strength to talk.”

“Do you know who stabbed you?” Barry questioned.

“It was Sam,” John replied. This was the last thing he said.


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Bart and Amy were talking to Sam.

“I think it is Bart,” Sam declared.

“Why me?!” Bart asked, with boiling anger in his voice, “I killed nobody! I think it was you, Sam!”

“Why me?!” Sam mocked, “I did not kill a single person, in fact, I think it was you. Anyways, I’m going to leave Mr. Murder here. Amy, you can choose, be with a murderer, or be with a normal person.”

Sam walked out leaving Amy and Bart behind

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Barry dashed out of the room, running like he had never ran before. In minutes he was already at the main entrance, where everybody had set up base. When he got there, he saw nobody. It’s too late! He thought. They are already all dead! He did not let these thoughts get to him, and he turned around to go back. A dark figure, with a bloody knife, walked toward him.

“Sam, I know it’s you!” Barry shouted.

“Well, then you must know what will happen to you as well.”

He charged at Barry mid-sentence, which surprised Barry. Barry quickly turned around and made a break for it. He dashed through the hallways of the building, hoping to lose Sam, but he only drew closer. Eventually, Barry locked himself in one of the sets he was building. It was a wild west set, for the upcoming movie: The Wildest West. He thought he was in the clear when Sam brought out an axe and began to cut through the door. He imagined this door screaming out in pain and then he realized if Sam caught him he would be the one screaming. He banished this thought to the darkest pits of his mind. He ran into one of the buildings and hoped that he would be able to sneak past Sam. He crawled under a table and hoped for the best. He heard Sam outside. He was talking to someone. It took a while for him to realize Sam was talking to him.

“Goodbye, Barry. I always liked your attention to detail, everything had to be authentic, this ax, and this anvil for instance. Maybe use fake iron next time!” he said, slashing at a set of ropes and laughing the evil laugh associated with all villains. The ceiling above Barry cracked, and an anvil fell from the ceiling, straight through the table, and onto his head. He was the maker of his own demise. As his consciousness faded he thought two thoughts: “that idiot doesn’t even know anvils are made of cast steel!” and, “I hope my brother is ok!”


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Bart was wandering around with Amy. “If the killer comes, we both split up so he cannot corner both of us!” Bart said.

“If we split up now it could work even better!” Amy added. It was at that moment that Sam called out from behind them. They both turned around.

“You should be afraid. I have already killed Barry and everyone else. Just resign now and we won’t have to go through the painful process of running around.”

He locked eyes with Bart, “and I do mean painful.”

Halfway through his sentence, Sam charged at the two. Amy bolted to the left, while Bart bolted to the right. Bart quickly slid through passageway upon passageway, as he knew the facility by heart. Unfortunately, so did Sam. Bart attempted to gain access to the security room, but in his panic, he forgot the password. Sam took this as an opportunity.

“Well well well, looks like it’s over for you,” he said while looking down at his ax. He threw a knife at Bart, as sort of a warning shot. It hit the keypad next to Bart. The knife landed on the left of the number “four” and he remembered the code. 4183! He quickly imputed it and slipped into the room. Sam did not even notice for a full three seconds as he was too busy monologuing.

“So then I dropped the anvil on your broth… hey! You aren’t listening!” He darted to the door, but it already closed shut.

“Don’t even try it. The door is deadbolted,” Bart said, through the speakers on the other side of the door.

“If I were you, I would run away as soon as the exit opens, to minimize the chances that the police get you.”

Sam trotted off, disappointed. He had been tricked. Sam, the mastermind behind the death of the director, was bested by a mere bit player? This could not be! He ran back to the door and started banging on it.

“LET ME IN, LET ME IN!” he screamed. However, the door did not budge, as it was 4-inch thick steel. After about 5 minutes, Sam knew it wasn’t working, so he hatched a plan. He pretended to walk away, and after about 15 minutes, he came back. “OPEN UP, THIS IS THE POLICE. DON'T WORRY YOU ARE SAFE WITH US. WE ALREADY BROUGHT SAM INTO CUSTODY.”

“You aren’t fooling anyone, Sam.” Bart sighed. “I have security cameras!” Sam trotted off again, but this time, he was going to try something different. He patrolled the halls, looking for Amy. He was going to use her as a hostage.


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Amy was carefully scouting out one of the sets. It’s really eerie here, without anyone around, she thought, tip-toeing through a small barn. Now if I remember correctly, this is the set of Barnyard Buddies 2, so there should be a secret room if we move these hay bales. Behind the hay was a small door. Amy reached for the handle, but before she opened the door, she thought to herself. What if Sam is waiting to camp here? What if I will be sealing my fate if I open this door? She eventually decided against going into the secret room, and instead walked out of the set and back into the main hallway. But, she heard breathing behind her. She instinctively turned around, yet to her amazement, nobody was there! Must be my paranoia striking up again. She silently walked through the hallway, making sure to not make a single peep. Then, she saw sam. He was walking the same direction she was, with his back turned to her. Now’s my chance! She quickly went through the door to her left, which was the kitchen, and grabbed a knife. She silently walked up behind Sam, ready to slit his throat. That’s when the alarm built into her watch went off.

“COCKADOODLEDO IT'S 5AM!!! TIME TO GET UP!!!!!” Sam looked back and flashed a massive grin at Amy.

“It’s 5 AM, you’re time's up.” He confidently strode over to Amy, fiddling with a knife in his hands.

“You will never get away with this!” Amy shouted, attempting to alert Bart.

“Bart’s dead, I killed him.”

“Why did you kill him?!”

“Because he got in my way”

“You are a horrible person, you don’t deserve the lead role or even a side role for that matter!”

That’s when Sam snapped.

“I DESERVED THAT ROLE. I ALREADY MADE EVERYONE ELSE PAY, SO NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!”

He foolishly lunged at Amy, which allowed Amy to easily sidestep the blow. Amy bolted away from Sam, running into another set. This set was a massive spaceship, with plenty of spaces to hide. She settled for a spot nestled neatly between two pipes. Before long, Sam came crashing through into the set. He immediately spotted Amy, so she was forced to make a bolt for it. She flew down a flight of stairs, and into a glass chamber. There was a control panel in the center. She looked through the buttons, and she noticed one called “Door.” She pressed it, and the door leading to the room slammed shut, right on Sam’s face.

“OW!” He screamed. When he finally regained his senses, he walked out of the room. Amy sighed a massive breath of relief. However, a few minutes later, Sam came back with a sledgehammer and began breaking down the door. I should have ran out when I had the chance. Amy thought. But it’s too late now. The door shattered, and Sam stepped into the room.

“Any last words?”

“The police are going to arrest you! You will never get away from this!”

“You can’t even think of something original?”

“Also you never deserved to be the hero!” He silenced her permanently.


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Bart was still just monitoring the cameras in the security room when a warning flashed on his screen:


WARNING: EMERGENCY POWER FAILURE. FOR YOUR SAFETY, EXIT USING ONE OF THE SUPERSAFE™ DOORS OR YOU MAY BE TRAPPED INSIDE THE SECURITY ROOM UNTIL AMPLE POWER IS ACQUIRED.


Bart quickly exited the room, not wanting to be trapped inside. To his surprise, he found Sam at the end of the corridor, slowly walking towards him. Uh oh.

“Well hello there,” Sam said,

“Go away and die in a hole”

“I don’t think I will”

“Then at least leave me alone”

“Sorry, can’t do that”

“You will never get away with this!!”

“What is with all of you and the clichés?” Sam waited for a reply but realized Bart had used this as an opportunity to sneak away. “You can’t run forever!” Sam shouted, but Bart was already too far away to hear.


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Bart dashed through the halls, making sure to take as many turns as possible. The polished wood walls quickly turned to damp concrete walls as he hopped down a flight of stairs into the basement level. The basement level was musty and damp, and there was a long hallway stretching from the entrance. It was mainly used for storage until a recent expansion made it obsolete. Bart quickly opened the first door on his left, making sure to shut it. Inside the room, there were massive shelves, full of crates marked with various labels such as “Props” or “Costumes.” It looked like something you might find at an Amazon warehouse. Bart slipped underneath one and hoped for the best. His jaw dropped. There was a small, see-through container, with all the phones inside. He opened it and reached out for his phone. When he grabbed it, he immediately pressed the “EMERGENCY” button, calling 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“I am trapped in the movie studio Hollystone, with a crazed murderer.”

“Are you in a safe place?”

“I’m in a hiding spot, but I wouldn’t call it safe.”

“Do you know what the murderer's name is?”

“His name is Sam.”

“The police should arrive within 15 minutes.” He hung up the phone, not wanting to alert Sam of his presence. Unfortunately for him, it was too late.

“Come out, come out wherever you are!” Sam said, walking in between the aisles of storage. He glanced down directly to where Bart was hiding. He smiled. “Your time is limited.” Sam got down to the floor and attempted to stab Bart. Bart quickly climbed out of the hiding spot but got slashed on the arm in the process. 14 minutes. Bart hastily ran out of the room and back into the hallway. 13 minutes. He climbed the stairs. 12 minutes. He dashed through the many hallways, and into the central room. 11 minutes. Sam threw a knife at Bart, hitting him on the shoulder. 10 minutes. Bart attempted to disarm Sam. 9 minutes. Bart fails and Sam attempts to cut him. 8 minutes. Bart dodges the attack and attempts to retreat to the far side of the room. 7 minutes. Sam follows, throwing a knife at bart. 6 minutes. The knife hits Bart’s sleeve, and it pins him to the wall. 5 minutes. Bart takes out the knife and threatens Sam with it. 4 minutes. Sam brings out two other knives, and throws one at Bart, barely missing him. 3 minutes. Bart goes on the offensive, and throws his knife at Sam. 2 minutes. Sam grabs the knife midair, and throws it back at Bart. 1 minute. Bart gets hit in the chest, and starts rapidly bleeding.

“Looks like it’s over for you, Bart.”

“Don’t speak too soon.”

“Good point, but the point of this knife is sharper.”

“I’m not going to die here.”

“And why is that?”

Then, the front door burst open.

“This is the police! Put your hands where we can see them!” Sam quickly turned and threw a knife at the officer. Two more officers then burst in and drew their weapons.

“That’s an extra 5 years imprisonment on your lifetime sentence!” A medic quickly ran over to Bart to treat his wounds.

“You can’t take me alive!!” Sam yelled, bringing one of his knives up to his throat. The police officer took out his gun, and shot the knife out of Sam’s hand. Sam was stunned. The police officer took this as an opportunity, and he handcuffed Sam. Sam was then brought to the police car, while Bart was brought to the ambulance.


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