Extra: A Mystery Short Story

Jun 27, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by Michael Guillebeau

Enjoy this never before published mystery short story.

You’ve seen me a hundred times and never known it and I’ve changed your life every time.

I’m a movie extra. I take care of the details. And I’m a pro. Cheap extras show up for the paycheck; I show up for the movie. Like this one, pirate film, could be a breakthrough if we do what it takes. Sometimes extras just stand in the back and smile. Sometimes, I do a lot more.

Or less. The director’s snapping his fingers at me, wants coffee. I’m not the caterer, but I go and get it anyway.

Peter Lorton comes on the set. He was supposed to be the star of this one, but a young actor got hot in the tabloids so they’ve changed the script to make him the star. In this scene, Peter has a swordfight with the king’s soldiers while I’m trapped against a wall with some other townspeople.coffee

Scene starts, swords flashing, crowd following them with horrified looks. He slays the king’s men and looks up at the stairway. It’s empty now, but the next scene will start with Desmond Nova, hot young actor, standing there. Peter’s supposed to look up and yell, “Avast,” but nobody’s going to buy that. I whisper in Peter’s ear and he smirks, “So, one more for the party?”

We cut. The director compliments Peter on the adlib. Finally, Desmond comes on the set, high again and feeling the munchies, like every time he’s on the set. We’ve spent a lifetime waiting for the caterer to bring him his sugar fix he’s got to have when he’s high.

We get back into places and he and Peter start to fight. Peter is acting and bringing the picture to life. Desmond is just posing with a glamorous idiot smile and turning the film to trash. Peter stabs Desmond and Desmond goes down. Originally, Desmond was supposed to stay dead here, and the movie moves on starring Peter. But, since Desmond got hot in the tabloids, Desmond is supposed to jump up, only wounded, and take over the movie. Dumb. This movie’s going down the tubes, unless somebody does something.

ambulanceDesmond’s not moving. The director shakes him, waves over the script girl/medic who looks up horrified. He’s dead. The director looks at the ceiling and yells for somebody to call the police, an ambulance and Desmond’s agent. The director and the writers huddle in the corner, going back to the original script. People say this is a cold business. Maybe, but we care about getting the story right. Besides, it’s hard to have sympathy for someone who probably did it to himself with something he put in his arm or up his nose.

donutOr maybe something he ate. I pick up the wrapper from the doughnut I brought in from the floor and ease out the door, unnoticed again, before the police get here. After the autopsy, they’ll blame the caterers, like the other times. When the movie wins an Oscar, I’ll add one more little plastic Oscar on my mantel, one for each movie I’ve saved.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

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Michael Guillebeau’s first book, Josh Whoever (Five Star Mysteries, 2013) was a finalist for the 2014 Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel: Literary Suspense, and received a starred review in Library Journal, and was named a Debut Mystery of the Month by Library Journal. His second book, A Study In Detail (Five Star Mysteries, 2015) received the following praise from the Midwest Book Review: “Recommended for romance and mystery readers seeking something different… fresh, original and witty.” Guillebeau has published over twenty short stories, including three in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.


  1. So THAT’S why some movies are so good. Love the story!

  2. Oh, very good ending. Just enough to be perfect.


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