Mystery Novels Inspired by a Co-Working Space

Mystery Novels Inspired by a Co-Working Space
CreditIllustration by Greg Clarke

“And Then There Were None—Dry-Erase Markers, That Is”

Ten strangers are lured to a co-working space under false pretenses (subway advertisements featuring racially diverse college graduates happily sharing whiteboards). Despite this promise of harmony, the most observant of the co-workers, a twenty-five-year-old novelist, senses that something malicious is afoot. Sure enough, the dry-erase markers start to disappear, one by one, until finally they’re all missing. Or stolen. Or dead. Who really knows?

“The Hound of the Guy Who Thinks It’s Cool to Bring His Mastiff to Work”

A country lass with an idea for an iOS app is ensnared by a co-working space’s devious six-month contract. Late one night, she falls victim to the unwanted affection of a hound belonging to a man working on a Web series. A novelist turned playwright valiantly protests this clear violation of the personal-space policy by sending several strongly worded e-mails to help@coworkingrules.com. When he doesn’t hear back, he takes matters into his own hands and kidnaps the beast. Only time will tell if he ends up liking the friendly canine way more than the young lady and her app, which is basically Snapchat.

“The Talented Mr. Rabinowitz”

A well-dressed umpire named Ari Rabinowitz and his shady, tank-top-wearing business partner, Rocco, begin using a co-working space to develop a sports-betting Web site. Our protagonist, a playwright turned poet, overhears them talking about their upcoming weekend trip to Miami. On Monday, Rocco returns alone, wearing a pin-striped suit. Is Ari dead? Probably not, but the poet has been meaning to check out Miami anyway—and free verse is really, really hard.

“ ‘A’ Is for ‘Alice Did It’ ”

Someone has been using a co-working space’s microwave to reheat what smells like tilefish casserole. Several co-workers are discussing hiring a private detective when Alice walks in, eating tilefish casserole. Will everyone respond by leaving passive-aggressive Post-its on her lunchbox? Or will a hero, perhaps even a poet turned screenwriter with a torrented copy of Final Draft, rise up and destroy the microwave on behalf of nostrils everywhere?

“The Girl with the Snowden Tattoo”

It seems that an attractive woman with what appears to be a tattoo of Edward Snowden has given a screenwriter turned freelance-investigative-journalist the opportunity of a lifetime when she joins his co-working space. He invites her to lunch, hoping to get material for a raw, gritty BuzzFeed: Culture profile of the infamous whistle-blower. When the woman reveals that her tattoo is actually of the “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson, will the freelancer have a loud panic attack in the bathroom of a Pret a Manger?

“The Postman Always Knocks Twice (And Then Your Package Disappears Completely)”

A freelance-investigative-journalist turned nature-writer uses his mom’s credit card to order eight hundred dollars’ worth of unlined Moleskine notebooks. When the package is late, our modern-day Ralph Waldo Emerson, suspecting foul play, looks up the tracking number and discovers that it was, in fact, delivered, and signed for by Laura, a talented fellow-wordsmith who somehow has a book deal, God damn it. Does the promising transcendentalist broach the subject of Laura’s obvious theft? Will he say nothing, hoping she mentions him to her agent? Or will the box mysteriously appear on his desk the next morning?

“Crime and No Punishment Whatsoever”

A nature-writer turned travel-blogger is super depressed and running out of money to pay for his co-working space. In an act of desperation, he steals fifty Brita filters from the cupboard next to the sink and sells them to a cunning Bed Bath & Beyond employee. Will the blogger continue this vicious circle of petty fraud, or will he finally give up on himself, the space, and his site’s fourteen monthly visitors?

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, M.F.A. Applicant”

With nothing to show for his artistic efforts, a travel-blogger turned Yelp-reviewer decides to apply for a creative-writing M.F.A. program. He resolves to sabotage his co-working space, hoping that its monthly rate will go down, allowing him to complete his application in an environment more inspiring than his mother’s basement. Will his plan succeed, or will he be threatened with bodily harm when the custodial staff catches him replacing the hand sanitizer with warming lubricant?

“Gone Boy”

After receiving his seventh M.F.A. rejection, a newly hired waiter hatches a scheme to frame members of his former co-working space for his own pretend murder. Maybe in faux death his writing will finally be published—or maybe he will discover that he was meant to be an actor all along. ♦

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