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Shark's Tooth

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Bite me... - Editor

Shark’s Tooth

by Michael Guillebeau

Sunrise at the beach was beautiful, but the dead body wasn’t.  “Funny,” said Detective Terry. “Funny how a hot young girl dead looks even worse than an old fart washed up on the shore.”

“Incongruent,” said Detective Blackbeard.  “Reminds us of our mortality.  A symbol of life, dead.”

“Yeah, you say so.  Still, young girl with a body like that, in a bathing suit like that, all I’m saying is it should make you feel something other than just another sad job.”

“Incongruent.”

They had to park all the way up in the parking lot at Margaritaville and walk in; the lieutenant and patrol officers on the scene had roped off a solid block around Pier Park to keep the tourists and the press away.  Particularly the press.  Dead bodies on the beach weren’t good for tourists.  Terry looked at the body, both of them standing back and taking a long last look before they turned the scene over to the techs.

“Forty-seven minutes.”

“Forty-seven minutes what?” said Blackbeard.

“Until we get the call from the Chamber of Commerce.  Looks like a shark.  We get a call soon, I say forty-seven minutes or less, explaining that that line of deep punctures that look like they could have, just might have come from a big set of teeth, really came from a new secret weapon the gang-bangers are using.  But it wasn’t a shark.  Besides, they’ll probably tell us she was just some tramp from out of town, down here to party, not worth worrying about.  And it couldn’t have been a shark.”
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The Dead Girls

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Memories can flow like water - Editor

The Dead Girls

by Aaron J. French

Chris Evans has heard the rumor of the two dead girls.  But he thought it was only a superstition.  He’s fished this section of Lake Erie since he was a boy, since back in the seventies when the water deterioration was so bad it spawned an article in Time Magazine and the subsequent Clean Water Act of 1972.

His father used to bring him here at dawn, when the sky was lit up with pink and the waters swirled a dark, uninviting gray.  They’d sit in his dented boat and wait patiently for fish to bite.  A peaceful experience, a time for father and son to be alone.

But now Chris is sitting alone on the lake in the middle of the night.  In the same boat, the one his father bequeathed to him; a beer cooler at his feet, the sprawling tackle box on the bench.  His pole leaning out.  A Styrofoam cup filled with dirt on his lap.

It’s the smell that gets him, that earthy fresh aroma.  Nothing fuels nostalgia like soil and worms and fat grubs.

When the pair of luminescent shapes first appeared over the water, he’d assumed it was a trick of light.  But that was more than three hours ago.  They’ve moved over time, drifting slowly across the lake, going up and down the shoreline.

When they passed before the boat, Chris forced himself to watch.  He studied their golden faces, their long flowing hair, their tiny bodies wrapped in grass and reeds.  They glanced at him, each girl putting a finger to her lips, then continued on.

At the moment they’re at the other end, but he still sees them.  The night sky is reflected in the water, so they resemble two planets orbiting the stars.  They’re absolutely silent, and aside from their luminescent auras, they’re undetectable.

Aided by the moonlight, Chris plucks a worm from the Styrofoam cup and splices it onto the hook.  Guts squirt across his fingers.  He wipes them on his jeans then stands, rocking slightly with the boat.
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4-8-2

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2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate - Editor

4-8-2

by Spyder Collins

Sierra Van Tanner stood agape at the mess that spread out before her. The blood that splattered across the room was ungodly in measure. It looked to be the blood from a hundred people, yet only a solitary body rests in the center of the room. The room she stood in appeared to be a living room, she could only gather because of the fireplace that dripped fresh blood from the mantle.

Sierra traced the oval shape of the room, running her eyes from floor to ceiling and back again. Everything, every square inch of the room was blood stained. Everywhere except for the outline of where the body lay. It appeared clean beneath the body, male, Caucasian, late thirties to early forties Sierra observed. From the body the maple hardwood was clean. Sierra gathered perhaps a foot in all directions, like a chalked outline of a body. The blood pooled around the circumference, and seemed to push against the invisible outline, as if it wished to enter but couldn’t

“4-8-2, what is your locale?” Someone at dispatch called to her.

“4-8-2, I say again. What is your locale?”

Sierra drew her hand to her shoulder. “I’m in the apartment,” she replied.

“4-8-2, step away and return to duty.”

“Dispatch?”

“4-8-2, leave now.” The voice from dispatch grew cold and authoritative.

“There’s been a crime here,” Sierra replied. She looked down at her mic as if to reinforce her point to dispatch.

“4-8-2, leave!” Dispatch called intolerantly.

"There is one dead here dispatch, send back-up."

"4-8-2, Back-up?"

"There has been a murder, a damn brutal one I might add. Send help now."

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It's a Wonderful Death

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Perchance to dream... - Editor

It's a Wonderful Death

by Glen Proctor

Alex Knatt sat before a man who represented everything he despised. He hated nothing more in life than a psychiatrist, this psychiatrist, this Doctor Jonathan Worthington. This overly educated, super-professional was the quintessential blond haired, blue-eyed, alpha male. He was tall, handsome and fashionable, wearing clothes that fit just like they do on the mannequins in the windows. He was exactly what the Nazi's had tried to genetically perfect. He was in fact perfect. He was everything Alex Knatt was not and yet this uber-man had been given the task of questioning Alex. Alex was sure he could take the torture, he could take a lot, after all he had only recently died.


"Well Mister Knatt, where would you like to start?" asked Dr. Worthington, casually taking off his extremely thin glasses that Alex was damn sure he didn't need.

"I wouldn't," is what he wanted to say but Alex knew better. Confrontation was what they wanted, what they liked. You played into their hands that way. It only gave them more questions to ask. Alex just shrugged his shoulders.

"Then let's start with the dreams."

The dreams, thought Alex, those were Alex's dreams and no one else's. How unfair, how infinitely cruel that some psycho-swine had the privilege of knowing about his dreams. He wouldn't give up those wonders just yet. He had to stall until he could come up with a plan of action.

"Can't say I remember them all that well."

"Ah. I see."

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Double Dip

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A short Forties throwback... - Editor

Double Dip

by Lee Hammerschmidt

Courier was staring down a double Dewar’s in the Marriott bar when the burly man in the too-tight, off-the-rack suit took the stool next to him, flipping a large, plain postal envelope in front of him.

“That’s the latest batch,” the burly man said in a gruff, whisky and cigarettes voice.  He caught the bartender’s eye.  “Beam, straight up, beer back.”

They were quite until his drink was served.  Courier picked up the envelope and pulled out its contents, a dozen or so photos of him and an attractive, shapely brunette in various creative forms of sexual gymnastics.

“Lucida,” Courier said shaking his head.  “My God, that was three years ago!  How long have these bastards been tailing me?”

He took a gulp of his scotch and looked over at the burly man.

“Okay, Piper, tell me what happened.”

“Same as the other times, only they changed the route again.  I took the cash and the disposable phone and directions they sent.  They had me walk down to 12th this time, where I headed north.  I went about eight blocks when the phone rang. Then I dropped the envelope with the cash and phone and walked another six blocks until I saw this mailer on a bench.”

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The Thief of Souls

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Hmmmmmmm....

The Thief of Souls

by Vincent L. Scarsella

What has been so far done by electricity is nothing
as compared with what the future has in store.

- Nikola Tesla

When Nancy Lane entered my office that Tuesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was her red, swollen eyes.  An attractive, slim blonde in her mid-thirties, she had been referred by her divorce lawyer, Tom Bridge, who regularly used my services to spy on cheating spouses.

“Tom said your divorce became final last week,” I began after Mrs. Lane sat down on the chair facing my desk.  “That begs the question why you need my services in the first place.”  I gave her a kindly smile.  “Perhaps my fee would be better spent on a vacation, a Caribbean cruise perhaps?”

“I don’t need a vacation,” she said.  “What I need to know is why Paul, my ex-husband, left me.”

In the next moment, Mrs. Lane was sobbing into her hands.   I said nothing, letting her grieve. After a time, she drew in a breath, composed herself.

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Is It Deja Vu?

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I certainly hope so... - Editor

Is It Déjà Vu?

By Giovanna Lagana

On the dense city street, the hum of traffic and honking would have deafened any soul unlucky enough to be in the proximity, but Jeremiah Black’s preoccupation with his indecision left him oblivious to the ruckus surrounding him.

He wiped his clammy hands on his shirt while he gawked at the haunting building before him. Its unwelcoming doors made him want to scream and scurry away in fear.

His friend Steve nudged him and shouted so his voice could be heard above the noise factor, “Relax, man. What are you worried about? You were excited about this for so long. You couldn’t wait to get here and try out Déjà Vu.”

Jeremiah took a big gulp of air, hoping it would dislodge the tight ball of tenseness that restricted his breathing and his vocal chords. In a cracking voice, he replied, “Yeah, well I had a change of heart.”

Steve half-laughed with mocking eyes. “Oh, because of the dream you had.”

“Yeah, because of the dream.” He continued to swipe his cursed, wet hands repetitively against his chest. But they wouldn’t dry no matter how many times he rubbed them.

Steve frowned then. “You spent a fortune on this trip and have been obsessing about it forever. Now you want to forget about it just because of a dream.

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Sangfroid

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It's a company policy - Editor

Sangfroid

by Don Norum

I'm an insurance investigator in a small branch office, small enough that I'm half of it. Davis takes care of most of the office's paperwork and leaves the footwork and math to me.

The main appeal to me is the quantifying of inexpressible amounts of human pain and suffering in a dollar value derived from calculations of expected utility.

The office is a two room suite on the second floor of a bail bondsman's nestled downtown. The outer room has a wall of filing cabinets of policy forms and bookshelves with thick binders of guidelines and bookkeeping.

We keep the actual policies, the signed pieces of Bristol board, in the safe in the other room. That's where Davis spends his time, filling out reports for airmail, phoning out for the advertisements and contracting legwork to sell the safeties.

My days in the office are spent on the faded floral couch in the outer room, crunching numbers on the coffee table, using the tidy strata as a coaster.

I know more than half of the city's doctors' kids by their first names, and a fair chunk of the lawyers' - mostly solicitors, a few barristers. It's not a large city, although to be fair New York's only an hour away, so we could have an airport and a mega-mall and be small by comparison, but I've still filled up more than half a Rolodex.

So when Charles Archibald Lowell, a senior partner in Longfellow, Lowell and Holmes and signatory for a one-point-change million dollar life insurance policy, took a large-bore rifle slug to the chest, I wound up looking into it pretty quickly.

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The Bones of Miracles

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Ancient Chinese secret... - Editor

The Bones of Miracles

by Nik Korpon

With the barrel of a gun trained on him, Mr. Chan blinked once and stifled a yawn. The man in the Reagan mask cursed and jabbed the muzzle into his cheek, pulled it back and gave him another fair view of the gun that threatened to paint the bamboo wallpaper of his store a vibrant shade of grey matter. Mr. Chan wasn’t nervous, though, and it gave his eye the look of a target, concentric circles of iris and undilated pupil. Cartoon noises seeped from the apartment above them. He wondered if his daughter was still watching Looney Tunes. He swallowed a laugh, an image of himself with a finger stuck in the barrel of the gun and Reagan with wisps of smoke curling like errant hairs—his own private Daffy Duck cartoon—lodged in his head. In the back room that served as both a storage space and the Chan family kitchen sat four large simmering pots.

The summer breeze blew through the holes in the burlap curtains hanging in the windows. Reagan startled, checked behind him, pushed the muzzle of his gun further into Mr. Chan’s wrinkled cheek. Hung from the ceiling by braided thread, thirty-odd sets of wind chimes knocked against each other, a hollow soulful noise like a wooden xylophone. The tone echoed off the cracked tile floor the color of dried bone and a tsunami of funereal sound waves filled the room.

Although the rest of the neighborhood was round-eyed, it was his wind chimes that gave Mr. Chan his reputation. The carving was so exquisite that a man from the Visionary Art Museum approached him once, offering a place in the self-taught artist exhibition. He later declined, citing the store’s long hours and the lack of anyone else to run the business. But it was more their tone than the artistry, the way they turned a person to a lump of gooseflesh, froze their blood into pellets, that made the chimes renowned.

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Reboot

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A man after my own heart - Editor

Reboot

by James Bloomer

A quantum worm uncoiled itself out of the machine being restored, suddenly collapsing into a specific state and wreaking havoc within the operating system. Alarms sounded and the graphs scrolling across Tom's screen spiked wildly. His laptop was plugged into a large black box of qubits, the liquid hydrogen coolant vented slowly in quietly dissipating clouds. Inside, beneath the desperately stylish matt black metallic exterior, beneath the ultra-cooled chamber, inside the electron traps, sat a countless number of electrons, reduced to acting as quantum bits. The qubit box was plugged into the local network, copying its state carefully in a safe, isolated, two-phase restore of the destroyed machines.

Tom sat in the data-centre, a vast room, full of server racks and devoid of people. His laptop prompted him to instigate the isolation of the worm and to acknowledge the test conditions for the newly discovered dormant state. It would repeat the trigger actions in the next scan. The system learned case by case, trying to unearth worms.

Tom's hands hovered over the keys. His head spun in a dizzy fuzz that dredged up memories of static, the static that the screams had turned into after the explosion. He felt an aching loneliness and only prevented himself from vomiting with deliberate concentration. He cancelled the quarantine, negating the find. Another flurry of keystrokes and the network lowered its defences. Another alarm. The remote traffic graph shot upwards as the machine connected to the network.

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