The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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Cri De Coeur

bruja

Found at multiple locations including imagekays.pw, alkeemia.delfi.ee, taringa.net, and Wicca España – Image credit unknown.

Brittany concocted the nostrum with the finesse of a lover, both in response to Neil’s desperate cri de coeur to save his son’s life, but also for the obscene amount of money he offered. She practiced her witch’s craft with masterful illusion, knowing the potions she created, the billionaire could not find in some pharmacology catalogue.

“So this will shatter the parasitic crystalline growth surrounding his organs and cause them to dissolve into harmless waste?”

Medical science had failed Neil Barrett and he had been forced to turn to the ways of his ancient ancestors, the bruja of the Antillies mountain region on his home planet Slora. Oliver was eight years old and his only child and heir. A mysterious curse had rendered Neil sterile, and if his child died, the Barrett empire would die with him.

“I practice brevity if not empathy, benefactor. The child will live.”

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Lunar Manqué

the moon

The Moon – Found at chamaeleon-observatory-onjala.de

He called himself Manqué Manx because no matter how much resolve he managed to muster in any state of emergency, he would ultimately falter.

This time though, facing the unknown adversary entrenched in the Plinius crater between Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquilitatis, he couldn’t afford to wring his hands in desperation and let government red tape take six months to come up with a list of possible contingency decisions.

The aliens had taken out both America’s Lunar Base One and the Chinese’s Yuèliàng Outpost from orbit and had landed by the time the supply ship was on approach. They couldn’t change course in time and were knocked down as well.

Manx was the only survivor, but he would let that weigh upon his conscience later, if there was a later. Although the hull breach and subsequent atmospheric blow out took everyone else, Manx made it because he was already in his pressure suit, doing a final check on the support vehicle’s systems. He launched right before the Tycho class cargo ship impacted, and was now flying a hundred meters above the surface, approaching Plinius from the southwest.

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Wanderjahr Interrupted

spacecraft

Image credit: iStock – Found at numerous sources including thepromiserevealed.com

Chi Crain was temporarily marooned on Niophus halfway into his wanderjahr through the outer rim systems. Middle-aged and an apparent wastrel, he mused to himself that the Anonymous Saloon on the outskirts of Wastacarro City wasn’t such a bad place to hang out. He still hoped the repairs on his ship would be done soon. Chi was boozing it up too much, even for him.

He had just ordered another pint of ale to chase down his shot of Aldebaran whiskey when she walked in. She was human, like him, but the redhead’s beauty left him breathless, something he thought only happened in pulp fiction novels. She wore a common one-piece jumpsuit, but it hugged her well placed and amply proportioned curves like a second skin.

Sitting on the stool to his right at the bar, she parted full, luscious lips and said to the barkeep, “Random Revolver, please.” She produced her payment disc, and once “just call me Al” produced her drink, she transferred the cost. “Keep ’em coming.”

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Deasiling with Brady

starbucks closed

Scott Mayerowitz/AP

Twenty-four year old Brady Walsh authentically enjoyed it when people called her a ginger. It was much better than being a drab brunette or a vaunted blonde, and anyone meaning to insult her with the term were doing so out of envy.

She had resolved to deasil, invoking only positive qualities and expressions of her personality, now that she had arrived in America, as a counterweight to all of the negativity in the world.

“Oh damn,” the former Dubliner muttered. “There goes my resolve. Bloody Starbucks is closed because of negativity. No. Postponing my afternoon caffeine is a finite problem. Plenty of other coffee places in Portland.”

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The Eshana

desert planet

Wallpaper found at wallpapersafari.com.

The eastern horizon bled the color of garnet, quickening a new morning and the possibility of survival. Once the air temperature rose to somewhere near four degrees C, Tatiana could shed her alien enhancements and revert to humanoid form. She had survived the night crossing of the Gael badlands and once she made it to the northern shore of the Lilthe Sea, Daron would pick her up.

She was beginning to nurture the small bud of hope that was sprouting within her breast when her comm channel crackled to life. There was no doubt that it was Balin and he had been tracking her.

“You really did think you were going to get away with it, didn’t you?”

Tatiana toyed with the idea of remaining silent and pretending he wasn’t sure of her location, but it was pointless. If he was close enough to reach her on her private channel, she had as much chance of escape as a duck in a fox den. “Up until this moment, yes.”

“Wait for me. If we can conclude this quickly, I may yet be able to stop the Dissolution.”

She kept walking across the last vestige of the frozen tundra. “Dissolution was inevitable the moment I took the Eshana.”

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Cheating on the Bechdel Test

starbucks

Starbucks on Conduit Street in London – © Google 2018

“She’s right Monet, Mum, but an expert at oblivescence. Can’t even remember my cell number to call me.”

“Stop trying to be epigrammatic, Jilly. Just say that the little tart can’t be bothered with you after your one night stand.”

Jilly and her Mum Sophia were having their weekly chat over tea at Starbucks on Conduit Street. The younger woman, hardly out of her teens actually, wrung her hands against the edge of the table as if it were wrought iron instead of wood. Sophia, who had always exuded sophistication and confidence, even when she was her daughter’s age, kindly tolerated the angst of her only child while examining the cheap vase sitting between them as if it were a spot of rust on a Lamborghini Venero.

“Are you trying to tangle my brain?” Why are you always so critical?”

“My dear, if anything, I’m attempting to tenon your rather random associations. Perhaps if you hadn’t overslept, you’d be able to consider this situation more objectively.”

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The Days of Noah

off the grid

Image found at the “Off Grid Path” blog – No photo credit given

“What are you doing?” Helen poked her head into Glenn’s office.

“Just programming the behavior of the irrigation system behind the house. The collectors have amassed enough rain water, and I want to test the valves before we plant.”

“Well don’t forget you have to do the firmware upgrade for the chicken coop alarms.”

He turned and winked at his wife. “You’re not worried about the deleterious effect our local woodland predators could have just because we’re absent two of our hens, are you?”

“Keep the acerbic comments to yourself, and Henrietta and Goldie were dear friends. I don’t think other hens will ever get over it.”

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The Last Exploit of the Escapist

re-entry

Progress spacecraft re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in a blazing trail of plasma, as seen from the International Space Station – © NASA

The Escapist initiated the landing sequence as the ship began its rapid descent into the stratosphere, his neurochemical link to the spacecraft’s control systems making this nearly reflexive.

“Welcome to my world, Jack. Glad you could join the party.”

The voice of the Beast crackled in his audio receptors sounding as if he were a game-show host speaking offscreen; his tone exuding an untoward friendliness and familiarity.

“I have the Amaryllis with me.”

“The actual item? I’m impressed. Whole armies have been slain, eviscerated by the Negative whose sole task was to guard it unto eternity.”

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The Highjump Mystery

U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5

A U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner in flight – Public Domain

December 30, 1946 – Antarctica

“George 1 calling Little America base, come in Little America, over.”

The radio receiver aboard the US Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner flying somewhere near Thurston Island emitted harsh static but no message of hope.

“Nothing doing, Lieutenant.” Radioman James Robbins turned to Bill Kearns, the aircraft’s co-pilot. I can’t raise anyone. It’s like there’s no one out there.”

“And I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Can you figure out our heading, Skipper?” The expression on Kearns’ face was one of bewilderment.

“Magnetic and radio compasses are useless.” Captain Ted Burns gripped the aircraft’s yoke as if some force were trying to tear it out of his hands. “There’s some sort of interference, but we’re not close enough to the magnetic pole for that to be the cause.”

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