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      Gumroad Library

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      Death by Advertising

      Her closest friends didn't know she was dead.

      Until they saw the full page ad in the paper advertising her funeral.

      They mystery was in how she died. No corpse, just an urn filled with ashes that was distributed over the harbor without any witnesses. Shown by a slick video played at her funeral.

      No motive. Just a disappearance. The coroner's report from an upstate, rural county stated natural causes. For a young 20-something advertising executive.

      But there were no details left unaccounted for. Funeral arrangements paid for inadvance. Even the police chief said it was a closed case. That didn't stop Detective Johnson from being curious.

      He stopped in to see her partner to answer his many questions. On his own time. The day after the funeral.

      Excerpt:

      I.

      The day she died, an ad was run.

      And you saw it, everyone did.

      Because it was a perfectly composed ad, with a perfectly chosen photo. Perfect clickbait headline. Not a word out of place. And it had a 30% click-through rate. For the mortuary.

      That service was the most highly-attended event the mortuary had ever held. And pre-sales of burial plots and cremations spiked. All bought by impulse.

      Yet the mortuary didn’t run that ad.

      The deceased did.

      It has come from her ad account, placed the day her body was delivered.

      No one knew that. Until the I showed up in the agency’s office a day after the funeral service.

      II.

      Wednesday. Another grimy, gritty, overcast day in the Big Apple.

      Tess, her partner, inherited the rest of the ad agency. That had been set up when they formed the company. Judy was the creative end, while Tess kept it running along.

      Tess thought it odd when when Judy didn’t show up on Monday and didn’t call over the weekend. But it was a real shock to find out she had died on Friday, been cremated over the weekend and was buried on Tuesday.

      All thoughts to distract her from the Pine Sol scented elevator with the faux wood paneling as she rode the it once again to their 23rd floor office suite. And again she missed her Midwest college town with the Victorian-styled two-story they used to rent for cheap. Clean air, parked out back. No constant street noise. No closed elevators with Muzak and filtered air pumped in.

      She could see from her desk through the glass walls into Judy’s office. The work had arrived as usual, piles of ad copy, printouts of the newsprint runs and magazine inserts. All making a small pile on her desk. Like every work day. Just as Tess expected Judy to walk in with some wild story of bedding some young college stud and completely losing track of time,

      Those days were over now. Tess sighed and felt some real grief rising. But shook it off with a shrug. Then sat down to make sense of all their projects.

      Since Judy’s phone was ringing constantly and unanswered, the calls started getting routed to Tess. As the details were in her partner’s computer, Tess had to go into Judy’s office to get the data.

      It was then she saw the ad. A full page newspaper treatment, centered on the blotter.

      Her funeral services ad...

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        Gumroad Library

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