Six Sentence Stories – How the Ticket Master Smiled

Six Sentence Stories is a weekly writers’ challenge hosted by Denise at Girlie on the Edge blog. This week’s cue word is: Remnant

Editor’s note: How the Ticket Master Smiled is a somewhat Agatha Christie-esque story which features not one, not two, but six characters from my previous Sixes. The story also gives some resolve to my mystery trilogy The Unsettled Author. In addition there is a special guest appearance from a character who made her debut at Clark Farley’s The Whitechapel Interlude. My goodness, what a mashup of universes!

The idea to bring together characters from different universes bore fruit from the seeds of a comment by Spira in my last Six The Double Act Switch. He imagined having characters appearing in the neighbouring cabins aboard a cruise ship the very next time Monsiuer Magnifique and his ventriloquial partner Petit Pierre performed live at sea. 

Thank you Spira. Thank you also Chris from Luna’s On Line who replied in the same comment thread that this would be a good idea. One of things we can be certain of at Six Sentence Stories is the valuable inspiration and feedback we receive.

Links to the original stories when the characters appear have been made in the text.


How the Ticket Master Smiled

Midnight on the Caribbean cruise ship the Christie Ackroyd, and upon the deck in a pond of blood is a gentleman’s body bereft of his head, wallet and expensive Swiss watch; question, do seagulls fly by night, and if so, will they be tempted to alight by such a grisly dish as this, before the whistle of the watchman alerts the captain to murder on the high seas? 

Dear reader, as the gulls feast upon the remnant tendons and tissue of a beheaded man, below deck inside their cabins are a multitude of passengers slipping into a sleep defined by the sway of the ocean and the soft decay of a day sumptuous with sunshine; passengers such as Molly Jane Hardy, who hums long-ago learned songs from a Whitechapel soup kitchen, and dreams of her brother in his flowing brown robes.  

And Monsieur Magnifique – settling into his bunk, his partner Petit Pierre watching over him with unblinking eyes and the pernicious smile of a recently-applied new coat of paint; the secret compartment of Pierre’s box is crammed with the glittering takings from this night’s thievery – bravo Monsieur Magnifique, how I wish you sweet dreams and une très belle nuit, thinks Pierre as he claps his little wooden hands and shuffles his feet.

In the next cabin sits the brooding figure of Lillianna, combing her hair in a mirror which does not reflect a single element of her beauty, nor any reflection of her whatsoever, only the tortoiseshell brush which is loop-the-looping the air, and her tidy quarters recently cleaned of the litter and stench of her evening meal; Lillianna thinks – oh what a pretty woman that waitress had been.   

In the next cabin pacing about in agitated circles is Eleanora C. Graves, all plot holes right now, at sixes and sevens with her character development, and with a writer’s block as big as an iceberg fit to sink a Titanic; thinks Eleanora in her haze of gin and cigarette smoke – if only I’d taken just a few more manuscripts from her, just enough to tide me over, to keep my fame from fading…

Next door to her is the phantom of Delores Rafferty, smiling gloriously from providence sent, giddy with glee and the fountains of champagne smashing against her ghostly promises to crush the life from Eleanora, ah, how well she recognises that odour in the next cabin; thinks Delores as she prepares to make her entrance – these walls are but a film of mist for me to pass through, and plant a kiss upon the cheek of a murderess, whose hair will turn lily white the second she sees me come for my revenge, revenge… a dish best served cold, as cold as a grave on the ocean bed.    

How the Ticket Master Smiled micro-story by Ford 16 June 2021

How the Ticket Master Smiled – PO Liner Strathaird photo, clipart and digital render by Ford


  1. How clever to fill some of those cabins with characters from your previous Six Sentence Stories and from one of Clark’s characters. Fantastic suggestion from Spira and encouragement from Chris.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent, V! I too, give resounding applause. I loved reading Agatha Christie books when I was a kid so this was fun like that.

    I appreciate the links back to the other Sixes. Not that they were written long ago but a quick read brings them ever closer.

    Your use of alliteration really carried the rhythm. Especially enjoyed:
    “..the soft decay of a day sumptuous with sunshine;”

    Oh, and I love the word “bereft” 😀

    No avoiding creeping us out with you know who, eh? With his “unblinking eyes and the pernicious smile of a recently-applied new coat of paint….as he claps his little wooden hands and shuffles his feet.”
    You know I can’t write his name out loud, right? 🤣

    Cruise ship name a play on the BBC journalist?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, D. Lol at you ‘can’t write his name out loud’ 😱😱
      “You know who” works fine! Those wooden hands and shuffling feet were an extra creepy touch for sure! Maybe not the last we’ve heard of “You know who” ??

      Yes, bereft is such a cool word!

      Oh, Christa Ackroyd? Hadn’t heard of her till you mentioned. The ship’s name is a homage and mashup to Agatha Christie and her novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve seen enough horror movies to know better, V. 😆 Aha! why am I not surprised that we may read more about the misdeeds of the wooden master of mischief and…. mayhem??

        Duh! That makes perfect sense. It’s been so long since reading AC I hadn’t made the connection. I’ve been searching for something to read lately. Perhaps a little Agatha Christie will fit the bill.

        Have a good week.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Inspired as always, but great twist bringing everyone together. I’m sure that was a cruise to remember, and not just for the sumptuous sunshine! Yikes…

    I thought of the journalist too with the ship name.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jacob. I’m never ever ever going on a cruise ship! 😱😱
      The ship’s name is actually ref to Agatha Christie and her novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I wasn’t aware of the journalist Christa Ackroyd.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, well that makes perfect sense now! I did think Christa was a somewhat left-field reference, but who knows what to expect from you at this point!? Thanks for keeping us on our toes 😉

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Well done. Brought to mind Macbeth.

    Whence is that knocking?
    How is’t with me, when every noise appalls me?
    What hands are here? Hah! They pluck out mine eyes.
    Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
    Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
    The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
    Making the green one red.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dude!*

    I enjoyed this Six Sentence Story.

    Ain’t it fun, when characters participate in a new story, bringing both baggage and jewelry.

    As did the others, to click on your links to backstory on the various characters, added to the pleasure of an entirely new adventure.
    (Plus, on a personal note, the fun of seeing a character I am close to, make an appearance through these connections.)

    Did I say one of, (actually the very first thing about this Six), I enjoyed the most was the title.
    No, seriously.

    We sometimes take titles for granted; print on a glossy menu, disregarded in the glare of anticipation of a meal… and then something like, ‘How the Ticket Master Smiled’.
    (I will go on record as it being right up there with Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ and Moorcock’s ‘The Dancers at the End of Time’).

    *the simplest** of compliments on a multifaceted story-ette that, forgive me, brought a visual of a DJ (no, not EDM) with multiple streams to combine to create something both novel and yet familiar

    ** in a Faberge Egg sorta way

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Clark. Really glad you enjoyed the presence of the Whitechapel Interlude making itself known on this voyage.

      So glad too you picked up on the title:

      ‘How the Ticket Master Smiled’

      … for me, the ticket master is the one who is privvy to each character’s personal ‘baggage and jewellery’ (as you nicely put it).
      The ticket master smiled because he knew the passengers would cause merry hell on that ship the moment he sold them their tickets. He is a character we don’t see. A prelude to horrors.

      Again, so glad you picked up on that 😎

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bravo, Ford! What more can I add to the preceding thread of erudite and well-deserved comments?

    Thanks for the mention 🙂 What did we say about not wasting a good character? Now here we have no less than six (appropriately) assembled and ready to take their turn on this marvellous maritime stage.

    Let the action commence!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. What a fascinating mix of characters, Ford, and so well drawn. I must go back and read the other stories, but I equally enjoyed it as a stand-alone story, with so much potential mischief in it. Especially from Petit Pierre. It’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jenne. Excellent that it works as a stand-alone too, I was so busy weaving other characters I didn’t stop to consider that.

      Ah, Petit Pierre… a fan’s favourite now it seems. We will ceratinly be seeing more of him again soon at the Six! 😮


    • Thank you, Mimi… good point… in the end we might have an empty cruise ship lost and floating aimlessly in the ocean! At night, the wailing of the dead keeping the gulls away!


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