Sulking – Timothy David Menotti

“Look Mac, here’s a house key” Becky said in the light of a new morning.

“I found a woman’s purse in the bushes, Becky. Identification says Margret Turner, five foot five, green eyes, glasses. Does that look like brown hair to you?” Mac inquired.

“Uh huh, do you think she’s another one?” Becky asked with a concerned look.

“Beck, look here in the alley. There is a lot of blood, some broken eye glasses, clothing. On second thought, maybe you don’t want to…” said Mac, too late to block Becky’s path.

“Mac, I’ve seen enough in my time.”

“That would be 13 so far, Beck” he stated with resignation.

“You’d think his cold storage would be overflowing by now, Mac” as she tried to inject sardonic humor.

“Amazing how the packages show up like clockwork at the community kitchen. No one ever sees anyone deliver them” Mac stated, changing the subject a bit.

“Who was it that tipped us to what was in them?” asked Becky.

“Old man Burns; says he knows the difference between what the labels say and what’s inside. Wartime behind the lines, he says” Mac reported.

“Grizzly old codger; you think it could be him, Mac?”

“Naw, he’s tipped us off over ten times; many before you got to town. I roughed him up the first three; got nothing from him. He’s too shell-shocked to do anyone any harm” Mac said with remorse for what he had done.

“They say it’s the quiet ones…” Becky added sarcastically.

“Becky, you’re not from around here. We’re dealing with a wolf. Maybe he hangs out in bars, scouts the pack, separates a weak one from the herd, and strikes” Mac matter-of-factly informed her.

“Same in the big city, Mac, I’m not afraid” she blustered.

“Probably that’s where he’s from. I bet he’ll be moving on soon” Mac guessed.

“Did we get approval from the Feds to bait this loser?” Becky asked.

“Not yet, Becks. What’s got you going?”

“Marnie, my sister Marnie; that’s what” she said with pain evident in her voice.

“You’re not going to bring her back, you know” Mac counseled.

“I know that, just this guy may have been her killer” Becky said.

“You said that was ten years ago. Do you think it could be the same one?”

“Could be, Mac.”

“What will you do, ask him?”

“I may just, I may just” Becky stated with resolve.

Flame Front – Priya Venkateswara

I must admit, this story is a failure. It is flawed. The events described in the dialogue really wouldn’t happen this way.

“This is some ‘how do you do’.”

“What are you talking about, Bill?”

“Remember those folks who thought there was life on other planets, Steve?”

“Yeah, so? Nothing ever came of it. Not much funding lost there.”

“Well, seems we should have looked harder. Maybe sent out better recorded messages on our satellites. Maybe our television signals should have been more religious than sacrilegious, or something.”

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“I hypothesize that some scientist’s experiment in a star system 12 light years away went seriously wrong.”

“How’s that?”

“Stars are exploding in a particular pattern that indicates the space-time origin of the initial event.”

“Initial event?”

“Yeah, whatever they did, I’m guessing, caused an incursion into our universe of another vacuum, Steve.”

“A baby universe?”

“If you want to call it that, but it isn’t cute. It’s in our universe, our galaxy no less. And I think its growth is accelerating.”

“This is wonderful. Think of the grants we could get to study it. This is the best thing that could have happened to us.”

“I’m dumbfounded. You and I are as good as dead, not to mention the entire world, and you think this is a funding opportunity.”

“Well, we don’t have to mention that in the grant application. We bury it in a footnote to the first year progress report… By the way, how long do we have?”

“I don’t know exactly…”

“See, that should be the first line of inquiry. I’ll get started with an outline and we can discuss it in the morning. We should hit DoE, NSF and some of the private foundations.”

“Why don’t you do just that…”