A Quiz Show On Snuffworld: a Snuffworld story by: GF Willmetts.

January 6, 2019 | By | Reply More

Detective Inspector Baratty Rabatty watched the quiz show, ‘Call My Death’, clearly unimpressed. The quizmaster showed a lot of teeth with obvious false smiles, even when it came to the losers being walked off to be eliminated by the hostess, the smile kept beaming. He hadn’t even bothered to learn their names before the purge.

‘Wasn’t this show cancelled when the number of contestants suddenly dropped off, Grand Emperor Borro?’ he asked slowly in deliberate terms.

‘That is true, my man Rabatty. You would have thought the winners would be glad to lose the competition.’

‘They probably didn’t like the odds of losing if they failed in a second game. You could be risking a brain drain, offering no disrespect, Grand Emperor. The really clever people would avoid these quiz shows than risk being shot.’

Borro picked a leg of borksa of the plate and chewed it, delaying his reply.

‘The Earthers have plenty of these quiz shows to choose from. We settled on some for less smart people so everyone had a chance. The Earthers create many of these shows to whittle out their people. They plainly use the word “eliminate” and another example of how they reduce the population of their people.’

‘They had many of those shows. My apologies for my lateness, Grand Emperor,’ Forensic specialist Jumpee Morbrondo interrupted, trotting into the room. ‘The Earther population liked variety and only became gruesome.’

‘You are somewhat expert, Mistress Morbrondo.’

‘It has been a hobby of mine recently, Grand Emperor.’ Jumpee said, looking at Rabatty’s raised eyebrow. ‘I have been investigating why the Earthers never succeeded in killing themselves all off. They have a smaller population than ourselves. They made a mess of their planet but still kept going out to the stars.’

‘That is clearly why we were not called to the palace, Grand Emperor,’ Rabatty injected. ‘How may we help?’

‘This Granolan,’ Borro pointed at the screen, ‘is show host Flambeau Gidwaddi. He was popular but someone killed him. I liked him. I would like you to investigate and find who and why.’

‘That would leave,’ Rabatty consulted his compotator, ‘several thousand possible suspects if we include his live audience.’

‘Easier than usual for a Granolan of your talents, my man Rabatty. I have faith in your detecting ability.’

‘I will do my best, Grand Emperor.’

‘I will look forward to your progress.’

It was a dismissal. They bowed and left.

As they trotted down the corridor, Jumpee whispered, ‘Can we talk?’

Rabatty gave a slight shrug. ‘You have a hobby of quiz shows?’

‘I found answering the questions faster than those contestants was good for my synapses. It passes the time usefully than vegetating and I don’t have to compete for real. You should try it.’

‘I’m rarely home long enough, Jumpee.’ He consulted his compotator. ‘Gidwaddi’s body is still in situ.’

‘Then let’s do some detecting.’


At the film studio, the auditorium was deserted with a list on the table with the audience details of that day. Rabatty entered the data into his compotator with a flash as Jumpee studied the body.

‘Seems an odd choice to kill him after the show here than in a deserted alleyway,’ Ratbatty said. ‘The cameras might have picked something up.’

‘Perhaps he didn’t go down alleyways. ‘These TV people have peculiar agendas, Rabatty. In the alleyway, he wouldn’t be alone but signing autographs to fulfil his ego or escaping in his car. Maybe this was the only place where his murderer knew where he would be alone. Well, at least alone enough to be shot. Three times at that.’

‘Well, that won’t limit the suspects.’

‘Is there anyway you can cut the numbers down?’

‘Can you tell what killed him from here?’

‘Help me move the body. Thank you. Three bullets to the hearts. See the exit holes. Could be a crime of passion. I’ll have more after the autopsy.’

‘I’ll look for the bullets.’

He looked down, positioned his own body and followed the eyeline. There were three pits in a pillar. ‘There they are.’

‘Mark them, Rabatty, and I’ll pull them in a minute. I assume you’ll check on film footage.’

Rabatty put chalkmarks on the wall. Never disagree with a forensics specialist’s orderly list. Detecting came from making order out of chaotic clues and a matter of removing wild clues that didn’t fit. Even so, film footage would make the task easier. He consulted his compotator looking for who was in charge and their role. Oddly, it was not the director or producer but a floor manager with a name badge declaring him to be Phambingo Stalklegs. Flamboyant names seem to be rife on both sides of the camera.

‘You are the floor manager?’ he addressed the Granolan before him.

‘That’s what it says on my badge. You are?’

‘Detective Inspector Baratty Rabatty,’ who showed his own badge.

‘I’m sorry, Inspector. We get a lot of sightseers.’

‘Before or after the show?’

‘We are a successful show. The camera always gets celebrity guests in the audience. Some want a discrete way of leaving after the show and cross the stage.’

‘Can I see the coverage for this part of the stage.’

Stalklegs jaw dropped.

‘It might show what happened to your host.’ Rabatty continued.

‘The editing suite is over here. All the feeds go into it.’

As they trotted in that direction, Rabatty continued. ‘Did Flambeau Gidwaddi have many enemies?’

‘No, everyone loved him.’

‘Not everyone. What about the families of those who were eliminated for failing the game.’

‘Oh Flambeau was never blamed for that. He was charm itself. Hostess Pokey Thrillbibi took care of that business and no one’s ever attacked her. You would have liked Flambeau, Inspector. Everyone did,’

‘Let’s see what the cameras show, shall we?’

They entered the editing suite showing a display of camera screens all turned off.

‘I’ll turn them on.’

‘That would be appreciated.’

Stalklegs flicked his hand over a row of controls, every camera lit up showing different aspects of the studio. On one was obviously live, showing Jumpee Morbrondo examining the wall, behind her laid out on the floor was Gidwaddi’s body.

‘Can you show any back footage from that camera?’

Stalklegs pressed a button and the material on the camera went in reverse.

‘Do you watch the programme, Detective?’

‘I am kept busy solving murders.’

‘We are preparing a quiz show devoted to it.’

‘My investigations?’ Rabatty raised an eyebrow/

‘Oh no! I mean murder mysteries.’

‘I deal with the real thing. Can you slow the pace down.’

Stalklegs pressed the button.

‘What are those numbers there?’ The detective pointed at the screen.


‘There seems to be a gap.’

Stalklegs looked at a small monitor below it and then back.

‘How much is missing?’

‘Ten minutes.’

‘I need to see where the cut is and when it begins.’

‘Certainly, detective.’

Rabatty watched closely. One moment Gidwaddi was standing waiting for something or someone, the next he was dead on the ground.

‘Can you do that through frame by frame?’

Wordlessly, Stalklegs replayed frame by frame.

‘Stop! I would like the original of this film.’

‘Digitally, every copy is an original.’

‘I also want this room locked down. No one in or out. I also want all the keys to this room.’

‘We have other shows to run here, Detective Rabatty.’

‘This is a crime scene. You will also assemble all the staff here for fingerprints.’

Ashen, Stalklegs handed over his keys and fled under Rabatty’s glare. The detective realised a long time ago that keeping his voice low and calm was more productive than shouting at people. Locking the door, he trotted back to Jumpee.

‘Any progress, Rabatty?’

‘It might be an inside job. Someone edited the camera of the crime. I’m going to need prints from inside the editing suite and of the staff please.’

‘You’re all hearts, Rabatty.’

‘Better them than trying to track down the audience.’

Jumpee shrugged and pulled a scan box from his saddle-bag. ‘Bring them on.’

‘Do a powder burn check as well, I smell a…what is the animal?’

‘A rodent?’

‘A rodent. Exactly.’


Rabatty pointed at the camera and whispered, ‘It might not be dead. Been led to a major clue.’

‘Let me get those prints and you can watch then.’


They drove back in silence to Jumpee’s mortuary, more so as Rabatty pointed out that someone had planted a bug in his car but hadn’t turned on his anti-surveillance jammer. Other than a quick handshake with all of the show’s production team, Rabatty hadn’t really selected anyone for a more thorough interrogation, telling them all, that he would be doing it later.

In the mortuary, Rabatty used his compotator to do a full sweep for bugs and turned on a radio.

‘I think we can talk freely here, Jumpee. But not too loudly.’

‘Why didn’t you neutralise the bug in your car.’

‘There’s a need to find out who planted it but not reveal how much we know. We might have to misdirect them when we talk there.’

‘You hinted a lot back in their studio.’

Rabatty put the disk into the compotator and showed the footage to Jumpee.

‘Their floor manager was all too willing to show me footage in their editing suite but got caught out when I spotted a difference in the time and ten minutes was missing. See, here and here. I spotted something though.’

He froze the frame and did an enlargement. There was a couple frames left here. See the shadows.’

‘Are we looking for more than one murderer.’

‘Only one fired but two others abetted. Maybe. It could be a combination.’

‘So much for Flambeau Gidwaddi being so well liked.’

‘I will also guess that you have three people with powder burn marks as well.’

Jumpee looked at Rabatty for a few seconds before checking her scan box. ‘It’s only just finishing the analysing after I took the hint not to reveal anything in the studio. Three Granolans. You’re spotting clues I haven’t seen, Rabatty.’

‘Two obvious clues that novice detectives would find.’

‘Are we being set up? Yipee Brutus still isn’t happy with us, is he?’

‘He would be more subtle than this. The fact that we’re being bugged means they want to see what we would do.’

‘Gidwaddi is dead, Rabatty. It’s still murder.’

‘Are there any Earther game shows that show murder?’

Jumpee paused and checked her own compotator. ‘A few. The Earthers would even do it as an event to solve as well and then the victim would get up and walk away. Of course, that might be fake.’

‘The Earthers aren’t consistent with who they kill.’

‘It’s like they want to see how detectives work.’

‘That might be closer to the truth. There is supposed to be a crime quiz show being prepared.’

‘So what do you want to do, Rabatty?’

‘They are undermining our work and I have no desire to reveal all my…our techniques. I refuse to be their idiots.’


‘We play their game but to our rules.’


‘Who are the suspects, Jumpee?’

‘Is your bug detector working?’

Rabatty nodded. ‘I’m talking about double pet rodents now.’

‘So what do you think is going on?’

‘Something more than the three suspects you’re going to name to me. Someone pulling their strings.’

‘Could it be the Grand Emperor?’

‘He wouldn’t need an excuse to…eliminate any of them.’

‘Maybe someone wants to gain favour with him. Who better to manipulate than his favourite detective?’

‘This is a flushing out exercise then and we need to ensure the Grand Emperor sees that…and we are doing our job. Show the picture matches but don’t say their names aloud.’

Rabatty studied the three. He wasn’t surprised that one of them was floor manager Phambingo Stalklegs. Jumpee stopped at Pokey Thrillbibi and pointed at her compotator showing she was the show’s hostess and official executioner. A motivation to climb the ladder. The third was Flapjack Horndog. Again, Jumpee pointed at her compotator. This was the producer. Another one with strong motivation if they didn’t get on. Who didn’t get on with their boss all the time? Stalklegs didn’t have any motivation other than continuing the show and perhaps ambition to rise through the ranks but he did seem surprised at the video footage cut.

‘They couldn’t have picked the gun up after the action?’

‘There were no prints on the gun.’

‘They could have been wiped?’

‘Or wearing gloves. All I can do is show you the evidence, Rabatty.’

‘Do these media types always change their names?’

‘It’s all to do with hype. The Earthers do it a lot…apparently. They want to be one of a kind.’

‘You’re getting your head out of your work a lot, Jumpee.’

‘It’s working with you. Did you talk to the Grand Emperor about giving the mediocre work to other pathologists? I only seem to be getting the special cases from you now.’

Rabatty shook his head. ‘It’s probably to give you more time to help me. So you’re watching more television?’

‘It fills the time and helps me understand Earther motivation. It’s work really.’

‘That’s a hobby?’

‘You have any hobbies?’

‘I like my work too much.’

‘Confirm the data and corpse. Can I borrow your office for a nap? Meal later.’

Why, Rabatty, you’re becoming quite noble.’

‘I think we should stay together on this.’

Rabatty touched his holster as he left and Jumpee whistled as she began her autopsy.




Late evening, Rabatty took Jumpee for a meal…outside.

‘Really splashing out now, aren’t you, Rabatty?’

The detective pointed to a far table.

‘You old romantic, you.’

‘I’ll even play music.’

‘You’re spoiling me. Can we talk now?’

Rabatty nodded as he adjusted the music volume on the table. ‘There wasn’t any close bugs but I remembered these TV people have long-range microphones. They wouldn’t have to be close to pick up what they were saying.’

‘So you think it’s an inside job.’

Rabatty nodded again. ‘Either they want to watch us to see how we solve a case and show it on screen or they are looking for tips for their new crime quiz show. There might be others but they appear to be the top two. I doubt if there’s any other possible options.’

‘These murderer or murderers could be planning to stop us, Rabatty.’

‘Which is why I didn’t leave your side. I wasn’t that sleepy, just thinking.’

‘Touching but appreciated, Rabatty. I detest killing people with my autopsy scalpels.’

‘You’ve done that, Jumpee?’

‘Being around you and prepared, Rabatty, anything’s possible.’

‘I think they’ve been studying my MO. Remove any bystanders.’

‘But they’ve already made themselves the only suspects. Convict them and the case goes away.’

‘All the evidence leads to them but if it’s twisted later, the original police procedure could be forced on us and kill all suspects.’


‘Less work for you.’

Jumpee stirred her food and then ate a couple mouthfuls thinking.

‘That’s not a good idea but it wouldn’t be Borro. We’re in the Grand Emperor’s favour still…aren’t we?’

Rabatty nodded. ‘Which is why he needs to be involved. Let him watch the manipulation. Get this crime quiz show stopped in its tracks.’

‘How do you propose that?’

‘Do you know how to run a quiz show?’

‘Maybe but you need to hear the evidence first.’




Two nights later at the studio, the main lights came up and an urged applause from the audience. Rabatty shook the hands of his three contestants or suspects, as each of them walked onto the stage and into their positions.

‘Your producer, Flapjack Horndog, here tells me you are preparing for a new quiz show based on crime-solving and that you wanted to see how myself and my forensic colleague, Jumpee Morbrondo, solve homicides. Mr. Horndog has also offered me the opportunity to act as quizmaster to test whether I have, what did you call it, star quality?

‘Doctor Morbrondo will act as my assistant behind the scenes as usual. We are also recording a copy for Grand Emperor Borro because…well, like you, he took a keen interest in our detecting skills and how our accuracy has bought finesse to the police department in capturing the purveyors of homicide.’

Rabatty stopped and looked out into where the audience was, noting how the lights blinded him from seeing too much detail. He had already reasoned that seeing too many Granolans out there would have sent a continual shiver down his spine. His autocue, written by himself and Jumpee, had made reciting his opening speech rather easy. He only hoped his voice would stay the same when he had to go off-cue.

‘Solving crimes is putting together the clues to finding the murderer. Doctor Morbrondo, in her capacity as a forensic specialist, provides me with confirming evidence. Our method had to evolve from simply eliminating all the suspects in the area simply because the real murderer could and has walked out of the immediate area. Police teams were simply not doing their jobs.

‘The choice for this crime and what we are currently working on is the death of your showhost Flambeau Gidwaddi of “Call Your Death”. Grand Emperor Borro confided in me that he was a firm favourite of his and yourselves.

‘We saw it as a dash of irony that we could show how we worked from this, our current case.’

Rabatty paused again. Jumpee had urged him to talk slowly, reminding him that it took time for information to sink into most Granolans who watched such shows.

‘Flambeau Gidwaddi was shot to death over in the corner of this very studio. Floor manager Phambingo Stalklegs showed me footage leading up to and after his death in the editing suite. Someone had removed footage of the actual murder, which immediately removed all the audience as suspects unless they had back-stage passes. I checked. There were none for that day. The frames leading up to Gidwaddi’s death only showed a few frames of shadows. However, the ten minute gap would not be needed. It only takes a few seconds to commit murder so some other misdirection was in order.’

The spotlight dimmed on Rabatty and behind him, the screen showed these frames.

‘What they do show and confirmed by Doctor Morbrondo that the three shots were all fired at the same time before Gidwaddi hit the ground. A very good quickshooter but it only took a few seconds. The examination of the bullets revealed whoever fired would have powder burns. Doctor Morbrondo’s check of employees revealed the three standing contestants or what we call suspects in homicide before you. Only Mistress Pokey Thrillbibi would have any reason to have powder burns as she is the show’s executioner. All three were in this building at the time.’

Rabatty waited for the camera to move from them back to himself.

‘So we have to look at motivation. More so as Gidwaddi was also popular with everyone. Well, not everyone or he wouldn’t have been assassinated.’

The camera panned back to the three suspects as he spoke. In the background, handprints showing the powder burns.

‘We call them powder burns but actually they are traces of holding what we would call a smoking gun. As you can see and expect, Mistress Pokey Thrillbibi has more powder burns than the other two suspects.

‘Mistress Pokey Thrillbibi’s motive is rather simple as it is already known that she is ambitious to move up to showhost.

‘Floor manager Phambingo Stalklegs showed me around the editing suite and he seemed surprised by the missing footage as well. However, he also has powder burns. Like all ambitious people in the TV business, I’m sure he would like to be a director one day and helping someone else could further his ambition.

‘Then we have the producer Flapjack Horndog, which was a bit of a surprise and I appreciated him joining the line-up on the stage today. Already successful, his job is very much linked to that of Flambeau Gidwaddi and they have moved from quiz show to quiz show. One could presume that Flapjack Horndog would like to prove he could be successful alone. Motivations are easy to invent. Evidence has to be backed up.’

The camera returned to the waiting Rabatty.

‘The clues were so easy that even a junior detective would have little problem putting this case to rest. With only three suspects, we could actually apply the original police protocol and execute all three with the knowledge we would have killed if not one but probably all three working together in the murder of Flambeau Gidwaddi. It would also vindicate that the old detective method was more effective than the one I currently employ. The fact that myself and Doctor Morbrondo realised we were also under observation throughout the detective process was also a matter of concern as well. After all, a TV crime quiz show would be more effective if the contestants couldn’t work out his committed the murder then all the witnesses were eliminated. The losers of the current quiz shows are already duly eliminated following the Earther quiz shows depiction. It would be nothing new in that respect.

‘Recently, Grand Emperor Borro asked me why the number of contestants for quiz shows had fallen. My answer was simple, the smartest Granolans would not like the odds of losing, especially in shows where the winners move from show to show. A change to the quiz show format was already likely to happen and this would affect all three of the suspects here. It would also affect Flambeau Gidwaddi, the king of the quiz shows. What better way to start a new show by him being its first victim?’

Rabatty looked away from the camera and saw Jumpee waving her hand over her throat.

‘Time for a commercial break.’

The three suspects stood agape as Rabatty left the stage. Jumpee had a glass of water waiting for him.

‘Can’t you do the rest of the show, Jumpee?’ he complained. ‘This is taking a lot of self-control.’

‘You’re doing well, Rabatty. You haven’t pooped. A ratings success according to the data. I put all the evidence on the screens. I’m better as a background gal.’

‘No word from the Grand Emperor?’

‘I think he’s as curious as to who did it now as the audience is.’

‘Have you figured out where he is?’

‘Sleight of hand.’

Jumpee whispered in his ear, which prompted him to rely the same way.

‘Ready to go, detective,’ another PA called out. ‘Three…Two…One…’

Rabatty trotted back onto the stage as the red light on the camera switched back to green and the audience was prompted to clap.

‘Thank you,’ he said as they quietened down. ‘Police work doesn’t normally get applause. It is our job to find murderers in the homicide department. Perhaps I ought to rephrase that and say, we in the homicide department look for murderers.’

There were a few chuckles from the audience, picking up on his slip. Rabatty noted that for later. Some Granolans obviously thought there were murderers in his department.

‘The problem with detection is having all this useful information but drawing only one conclusion instead of looking at other interpretations. Our studies of Earther police has shown that is often where they stop and leave it to civilian lawyers to find the correct murderer. Later shows we have received have shown the Earthers have moved away from this option and reinforced the police authority to solve their homicides. We Granolans were as smart as them but we have a better attitude to crime.’

Rabatty waited in case there was anyone daring to clap but the audience were back with him. They wanted to see where this was going to lead.

‘All three of our suspects have the motivation to kill Flambeau Gidwaddi but equally one should ask who would benefit should they be executed? None of the other staff at this quiz show have the seniority to rise up through the ranks higher than one or two places. They might as well wait or move elsewhere. The studio would certainly want top people for the top positions, even if they started a new quiz show.’

‘Maybe it’s one of them,’ came a catcall from the audience.

‘That’s an interesting point you made, sir. However, if that was to happen then they couldn’t guarantee they would get the job unless they started murdering all the other job applicants. At that point, myself or one of my colleagues would be called in to solve the case.’

Rabatty smiled to himself. Time for the finale.

‘The person who stands the most to gain is Flambeau Gidwaddi himself. He removes a producer who he thinks is not promoting him enough. He can even bring in a hostess of his choosing. As to the floor manager? Well, who likes taking direction when your ego is big enough to decide what to do for himself.’

‘Gidwaddi’s dead, though,’ the same voice from the audience.

‘Resurrections had quite common in Earther culture. A few months and anything else would seem like a dream…just like trotting out of a shower. Isn’t that right, Mr. Gidwaddi?’

A spotlight suddenly beamed into the audience at a bespectacled catcalling Granolan. He wasn’t going to go far. Rabatty had already arranged for the police to block the exits.

‘My colleague, Doctor Morbrondo had no tissue of Gidwaddi on file and had to assume that the body was the showhost. After all, he had on the right clothes and he looked like him. Doctor Morbrondo is a fan of some of these quiz shows and pointed out that fans often dressed as their heroes. It wouldn’t have been difficult to choose one of these and then turn around and shoot him. Indeed, he would be able to leave the same way and no one would question him as he would be part of the audience dressed that way. The perfect disguise. The 10 minutes was probably persuading the victim to stand in the right position for the camera for a mirror shot…so to speak. There was a murder but it wasn’t Gidwaddi or rather the real Gidwaddi.’

Rabatty waited for a response from the audience but there was a gasp instead from the real Gidwaddi as he was led away and the audience left. The original three suspects bowed and also left.

Turning, he saw Borro trotting onto the stage behind him. Only he and Jumpee knew he’d been concealed in the editing suite throughout the performance.

‘My man Rabatty, that was a brilliant piece of detection,’ the Grand Emperor boomed. There wouldn’t be a need for a microphone, although he saw Jumpee pull his own connection.

‘Not mine alone, Grand Emperor.’

‘The indomitable Mistress Morbrondo.’

‘Yes, Grand Emperor. Her efficiency made all this possible. However…’

‘Yes, Rabatty?’

‘Detective shows like this will get in the way of our detecting if too many people understand my methods. Gidwaddi was using the previous techniques of our department. Had he understood how we do things now, he would surely had a better chance of getting away with it.’

‘Would he, this time?’

Rabatty whispered, ‘Even this time by saying that a fan had been shot in his place. We enticed him out simply by running the investigation as a quiz show. He wouldn’t be able to resist showing us how clever he was.’

For once, Borro reduced his own voice, ‘This has been shown publicly?’

‘We lied. Gidwaddi has been watching everything from afar. It was important for him to believe everyone see how clever he had been.’

‘You are cunning, my man Rabatty.’

The detective gave a curt bow. ‘I presume it is because you like my methods.’

‘And these people…the audience?’

‘Chosen relatives of the police department. All likely to keep quiet. It is unlikely that they will spread our methods but appreciate their spouses work more.’

‘You think of everything, my man Rabatty.’

‘With Doctor Morbrondo.’


‘And Gidwaddi? He was one of your favoureds.’

‘I do not favour murderers without my authorisation.’

‘Then he will have his trail and be executed, Grand Emperor.’

‘I prefer poetic justice. Mistress Thrillbibi can do the honours.’

There was a boom of a blunderbuss. So much for a trial.




(c) GF Willmetts 2019

This also includes, at their request, the names:-

DI Baratty Rabatty

Forensics Doctor Jumpee Morbrondo

Grand Emperor Borro

Show host Flambeau Gidwaddi

Hostess Pokey Thrillbibi

Floor manager Phambingo Stalklegs

Producer Flapjack Horndog

all rights reserved

ask before borrowing

For Rebecca, who told me it was time for another ‘Snuffworld’ story.

Category: Scifi, Short fiction

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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