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Through Tangled Nerves (short story) - ebook


When Officer Rau screws up a bust that takes the life of his partner and innocent citizens, he's offered a chance to join a new experimental program that promises to make officers more effective and objective.

But even if it works, will this new program only make everything worse?

In this sci-fi crime short story, readers will follow the journey of a man tangled inside and out. If you enjoyed the sci-fi, action-packed stories of Phillip K. Dick, you'll love Officer Rau's journey in this thrilling read. Buy it now!

From the collection The Morrows.


The slogth flashed one of their customary dumb expressions that made me want to punch them in the face. Its snout dripped mucus into its slit mouth where the blue tongue peeked out. The wide brown, unblinking eyes with multi-pupils stared so hard that I could slap the back of its slimy head and pop them right out. Based on the skirt revealing muscular wet legs and the long sleeve pink top I assumed this one was female. Jeez, why couldn’t the beasts have hair?

“You are polithe?” she asked.

Seltzer, my partner, pointed to his police armband. Although we’re Interplanetary Custom Enforcement agents we did work with cops and sometimes wore the bands for project uniformity. But that wasn’t the case tonight.

“We’re looking for a human who escaped custody a few blocks from here,” Seltzer said. “We believe he might be hiding in this domicile complex.”

“No,” she said. “Juth my thouthe an I.”

“We still need to search the premises,” I said, pushing through.

The project apartment was full of human custom. Couch, television, desk, chairs, and a small table. A fruity scent laced the air. They probably hid their wading pools filled with corn syrup in the bedroom and slaughtered arachnids and fungus juice in the kitchen.

As Seltzer walked in, the slogth asks, “Donth you needth a warranth?”

We did need one if we’re telling the truth of why we’re here. If all went well tonight then I could word the arrest report just right like we had done before.

“This will just take a moment,” I said.

“Are you sure it’s just you and your spouse?” Seltzer asked, arching his dark brows to his receding forehead. “You should call everyone out here.”

The slogth fidgeted, stuck two of its four fingers into its mouth, and nodded. “Yeth. Anth our lawyer, thou.”

Seltzer and I stone-faced at the word lawyer. Never show fear of the word.

The slogth called out in its language of sputters and spatters to the hall. Soon two slogths, dressed in tight men’s clothes of jeans and wet tanks that showed off their sinewy arms, walked out. One approached the female and took her hands, exchanging worried words. The isolated one, our man, our slogth, eyed us suspiciously. I think. With all those pupils it’s hard to tell.

“My thouthe doethnt underthand whath ith happening?” she said. “He wanths you to show your idethithicathion.”

Before I could respond, Seltzer said, “Mrs. Crackjaw, please.” I tensed at Seltzer’s mistake. “Calm down. Let’s get our stories straight here. If this is your husband. Who is this one here?”

The couple exchanged sputters again. I eased my hand to my holstered sidearm. The second male took a step back to the hall. The female shook her head in denial as the husband glared at us in anger. Frustrated, Mr. Crackjaw crossed the room to a desk in the corner.

“I did noth identhify mythelf thu you,” she said. “You muth leave now. I thith noth inthithe thou in.”

Crap. And we’re so close.

“Please, Mrs. Crackjaw. Who is this other man?”

The slogth pulled out a hand cannon from the top drawer of the desk and aimed it at Seltzer. We drew our weapons. Seltzer squared at the husband and me at the second male. Mrs. Crackjaw squealed and squirted out her mouth.

“Put the weapon down,” I shouted.

The husband screamed back, probably ordering us out of the house or he’ll shoot, which he has the right to do, but we weren’t going anywhere now until they identify the other man who we knew was Jackson Crackjaw, an illegal wanted for deportation.

A cannon burst off. Electricity cracked the air. Mrs. Crackjaw screamed.

The charge burned right through Seltzer’s chest and into the television behind him. Heart frantic, sweat pouring, I turn and fired one off at Mr. Crackjaw. The charge picked him up off the floor, over the desk, and against the wall. Mrs. Crackjaw, sounding like a child blowing a wild raspberry, ran over to him on the desk and comforted his dead body.

The hallway where Jackson Crackjaw stood was clear. I ran down it to find the two bedrooms and bathroom empty, and a wide-open window that led out to the alley. Jackson Crackjaw was nowhere in sight.

“Grahhhh,” I scream out the window, scaring a cat off a garbage can.

Sirens grew. Voices asked if they heard shots and if anyone knew what’s going on.

I took a few deep breaths, returning to the grieving Mrs. Crackjaw and my dead partner. Some nights I don’t get paid enough for this job.

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Through Tangled Nerves (short story) - ebook

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