Plugs

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Aftercall

by Edd

His dead wife called Parnell in their bedroom at 3 PM precisely.

“Hi, honey,” she said. “Is this a good time to talk?”

“Beulah.” He felt with one hand behind him for the bed, then sat on it.

“If it’s–”

“No, it’s fine. You just caught me off guard, that’s all.”

“I–” She laughed. “I don’t have a good reason for calling, I just missed you.”

He knew she was a computer program, a clever artificial intelligence, a last gift from Bee. “I miss you,” he said.

“How did you sleep last night?”

He transferred the phone from one hand to the other. “The doctor gave me something,” he finally admitted.

“Be careful,” she said at once. “Don’t overdo sleeping pills.”

“I won’t.” It really was like having her back, hectoring tone and all. “I just don’t know what to do. After being married for thirty years I’m not sure how to go on.”

“That’s why I’m here.” There were sounds: a chair scraping across a floor, paper rustling. “I was going to keep this first call light, not say anything. But I’m worried about you.” She cleared her throat, he imagined her adjusting her bifocals. “Now, the lawyer will read the will on Thursday. I’ve left everything to you except one small insurance policy for my niece. Be sure to ask for six certified copies of the death certificate.”

“Should I take notes?”

“No,” she said. “I’ll send you an email message.”

Blinking, he reached out to touch the pillow she’d used so recently. “You’re very resourceful. What next?”

“Sixty two percent of widowers lose the bulk of their inheritance within two years,” she said. “What you need to do is invest your money well.”

“Invest? I’m almost fifty.” Couldn’t he splurge? Live a little?

“Yes. Find a good fund, something well diversified. Do try to leave the principal untouched. Oh, and make sure they invest in Aftercall.”

Par pulled the phone away from his ear, looked at it. Tentatively, he put it back against his ear. “That– that’s you, isn’t it?”

“Oh no,” she said, her voice losing a bit of Bee’s timbre. “I’m a simulation of your wife, designed to aid you in these trying times. But I ought to mention that Beulah chose to purchase the basic service, which includes adware. You may upgrade at any time–” And here the full depth and character of his wife’s voice returned. “But I don’t recommend it. Save your money, dear.”

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