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219. Alternative FEATURE: Liquid Bones ~ Whole Chapter~ Cassandra Zaruba ~ Horror

The Emperor of Ice Cream

Bones don’t burn as easily as they break. All Little Johnny has to do is
slip off the swing set the wrong way, and you hear the sickening snap of an
arm or leg breaking. But put those bones in a fire, and the flames will
probably die out before the bones are even charred. The flesh will burn
away fairly quickly, exposing white enamel like wrinkled skin peeling back
off an old man’s griI discovered this during my first killing.

It was when I was living in Dresden, which isn’t far from the border of
Manitoba. A fierce blizzard had swept in from Canada and kept many
people inside their houses for days. And the astronomical accumulation
of snow in those few days was also responsible for causing part of the roof
of an old correctional center in Devil’s Lake to cave in. In all the chaos,
several inmates managed to escape, but within twenty-four hours, all were
caught and hauled off back to prison. Except for one.

The storm knocked out all the power lines, too. By nightfall, I had to
venture out back to the shed to gather up all the flashlights I owned. The
nights there were very, very dark.

In the shed, I could make out a shadowy figure hunkering down in the
corner, shivering. The wind blew the door open wider, and the remaining
light of day distinguished his features. The man was young, probably late
twenties. He had dark eyes and about a five-day’s beard. He almost
resembled a wolf. After the flash of fear had diminished, his jaw
tightened. He stared as if I had done something wrong by entering my
own shed. The folded tarp I kept on the shelf was now wrapped around
him.

“That can’t be too warm,” I observed.

His eyes narrowed suspiciously at first. “It isn’t.” He drew in the tarp
more tightly around his shoulders, exposing a patch of the floor
underneath one corner. Several of the tools from my toolbox were next to
him, including a hammer and wrench. It was a deliberate move, of course.

“This your shed?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Then you don’t mind if I stay here for a while.” It was a statement, not
a question. His eyes dropped down to the hammer for a split second, then
back up at me.

“Actually, I do,” I replied. His hand crept out from beneath the tarp,
snaking toward the tools. “You’ll freeze to death out here in the shed.
Come inside.” I moved quickly to the shelf where the flashlights were
kept, grabbing several. My back was to him; he didn’t take advantage of
it. I turned back around, handing him my heaviest flashlight. “Carry this
one inside, would you? We’re going to need all the light we can get. Who
knows how long the power will be out.”

I could read his thoughts by the look on his face. He took the object
from my hand, and when he did, the tarp slid off his shoulder, revealing
a dirty and tattered shirt.

“Don’t get me wrong now,” I added. “I may be generous, but I’m not
stupid. I know exactly where you came from.”

He sneered. “Is that supposed to be a threat?”

“Nope. Just making everything clear between us. I’m going to trust
you, and you’d be wise to trust me, because you would die otherwise in
this shed. But if it makes you feel better, you can even bring that hammer
or wrench inside the house with you.”

He gave me one last wary look, but left the tools behind, just as I
anticipated. He nervously glanced around in all directions during the
short trek to the house, but no one was outside. And why would they be?”
He practically drooled seeing the fireplace. He absentmindedly placed
the flashlight on the table and plopped himself in front of the fire.

“So how did you get here all the way from Devil’s Lake?” I inquired
curiously.

“Quickly and carefully.”

I chuckled. How slick you think you are.
“So, I should have something to call you by.”

He paused. “Scott. My name is Scott.

I waited for him to ask my name. He didn’t, so I offered it anyway.
“People call me Dr. T.”

His head swiveled with interest. “You’re a doctor?”

I paced the kitchen, my shoes tapping softly against the linoleum.
“Not the kind you’re thinking of, probably. I’m a psychiatrist.”

He smirked cynically. “I’ve had to deal with a few of those.”

“And did it ever help?”

“Nah. Hey, do you have any cigarettes, by chance?”

I shook my head. “Sorry, I don’t smoke.”

“Damn. Haven’t had a cigarette in years.”

“Since you’ve been in prison?”

“Yeah. Eight long years.”

I studied him thoughtfully. “May I ask what you were in for?”

He looked back at me, his eyes darkening. “Why?”

I shrugged lightly. “To satisfy my curiosity, is all.”

“I killed someone,” he stated bluntly.

To read the full chapter of LIQUID BONES, please see the Features page in the February Archives. (Scroll down and click on February 2006 archives).

My Daily Random Question:
———–
Do you have a laptop or a PC/MAC computer?

I have a laptop, because I prefer being portable!

The Happiness Manifesto:
———–
Today I’m grateful for:

1. Going to the pictures.

2. My parents for taking my son out for a meal this evening (and he’s staying the night!)

3. A friend who has been seduced by one of my book catalogues, and wants to review for me! Yay! I have help!

4. My son has started to join in a little more. Last night he joined the local football team for a training session. He came back full of it. Let’s hope this hobby lasts!

5. It’s Friday!

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