Plugs

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

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

Assume

by Trent Walters

Raven-haired from the womb, Anan Muss was a swimmer, circling the same lane eleven months out of twelve for a dozen years. The pool chlorine bleached his hair. After high school, he quit. The hair on his head went back to its natural color while his eyebrows remained a bleached sandy blonde. His classmates asked why he dyed his hair, or had he received gene therapy to look more like Lizard Breath? His brothers thought his eyebrows were turning gray.

#

Was it Anan’s imagination, or were his eyes now covered in scales? Perhaps the increased number of Lizard Breath spottings made him nervous. What at first seemed simple petty arson was now looking more complicated and sinister.

#

Anan Muss jogged long distances, slowly. He plodded through quiet, unpopulated industrial districts to soothe his mind. In case thieves happened by, Anan left his wallet at home, giving no one any reason to molest him. One night, after three years of jogging the same route, Anan was arrested. The cops escorted him around town, to an officer who didn’t think Anan was the suspect since the suspect wore different clothes and was of a different species—if not phylum. The friend of the suspect did not recognize Anan (nor did Anan recognize the friend). However, since Anan did not have a wallet on him, ergo, he must be the arch-criminal, Lizard Breath, who exhaled methane gas and set it ablaze with his cigarette lighter. When DNA samples came back negative, the cops let Anan go, with reluctance. As Anan waved goodbye, he found two pits where his ears had been. Where had he last seen his ears, the cops wanted to know.

#

From vending machines, Anan downloaded a newspaper at a café and, like everyone perversely fascinated by the criminal element, bought a cigarette lighter. Idly, he flicked the flint lighting mechanism. It took more dexterity than he had supposed. He spread the newspaper before at one of the tables under the glare of the sun. The misdeeds of Lizard Breath were now ubiquitous as well as notorious. Entire buildings had gone up in flames. Criminal profilers suspected a syndicate. Anan raised his head from the newspaper accounts of Lizard Breath to contemplate why someone would do such a thing. A woman slapped him for scoping her out. He belched and lit his breath on fire.

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