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

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

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

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

Connected / Chapter 3: Signal and Noise

by Jonathan Wood

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the third chapter of an ongoing flash serial, “Connected.”  Search for the tag “Connected” to find other chapters.  Subscribe to the Daily Cabal RSS feed for a new chapter every 2 weeks.

Police work is minutia, is cataloging detail upon detail, is studying lacunae—building images from what’s absent.  It is dull and tedious.

But there is another police work—as old as Cain policing Abel.

Morello’s  feed is being monitored by internal affairs.   They connected as soon as Morello requested his meatsack be the one to chase the lead.  Because someone took Morello’s son.  Someone disconnected Caul from his tribe and put him in a terror coma.  And even reconnected, Caul remains a phantom limb, a pain that cannot be eased.

The shop is an old religious place. Hard copy bibles, crosses, rosary beads.  Software overlays the walls with glory—gold and colored light.  NYPD AI hacks through, reveals the squalor beneath.  The store owner’s ‘sack is middle-aged, skin worn thin by an ache that bleeds out around his eyes.

“Can I help you?”  A bright voice mismatched to the body, the expression.  Morello guesses the store’s visual overlay doesn’t just cover the walls.

He throws an elbow into the ‘sacks throat.  Pin him against a wall.  Cuffs him.

“Careful.”  His partner, Chambers also riding shotgun in his head.  Chamber’s voice emanates from where his conscience should be.  IA remains quiet.

“Hack him,” Morello tells Chambers.  “Find his tribe, his feeds.”

Chambers works.  Morello searches.  Just one thing to connect this guy to the disconnections, to the ‘sacks severed from the network, from the minds of friends and family.  But nothing.

“I got zip,”  Chambers says.  “Can’t find him.  Like he’s not even connected.”

“Everyone’s connected.”  Morello can’t keep the frustration out.

Everyone’s connected except the bodies.  Except the dead men.  Except his son.  And there’s no reason for the crime.  Indiscriminate terrorism.  Unless… Morello stares at the paraphernalia of belief in the store, and sees the disconnections not as a threat or a demand, but as a mandate.  Men and women committed to disconnection.  Men and women who wouldn’t be connected.

He looks at the store owner sweating it out.  He sees Caul’s sack lying in the hospital bed.  He feels IA riding shotgun in his head.

“Careful…”  Chambers can feel the rage boiling out of Morello’s feed.  No-one is disconnected.  But there are two types of police work, and one must be done alone.

Morello drops the connection.  Drops all connections.  Everything noise to the signal of his rage.  Alone he sets to work.

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