Monthly Archives: January 2017

No. 599

Modifications Branch had designed a sophisticated laser, one small enough to fit into a watch. However, the specialised systems took up the entire volume of the watch’s case, leaving no room for timekeeping parts. Agent Huntwood was left unable to use the device for its intended purpose, which was a concern when others noticed the ostentatious brand name and started asking questions.

“Say,” they’d say, “that watch looks pretty fancy. Do you happen to have the time?”, and Agent Huntwood would have to begin improvising. Typically, he would look at his wrist, while simultaneously analysing the angle of the sun, or searching desperately for any microwaves or VCRs in the room. He didn’t have the option of surreptitiously checking his phone, because his phone was a grenade.

More often than not, he would answer with “cough-thirty-cough-cough”, and hope for the best.

His luck ran out one fateful day in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“Ah ha!” said the international smuggler that Huntwood has been tasked to defeat. “I’ve seen one of these before, in a film, I think!” He examined the watch from every angle. “It is a most impressive piece of craftsmanship.”

Then the smuggler placed the watch on a table and picked up his gun. “Unfortunately, Michael, it has let you down, and the current time is ‘to die’!”

Huntwood waited until the last possible second and then threw his phone at the smuggler. “Call someone who cares!”

No. 598

“After you woke up, what happened?”

“I looked up and saw daffodils.”

“I’m sorry?”

“The vase of daffodils. My wife’s flowers. They were in a vase, right under the mirror. I remember thinking that it looked like there was a thousand of them, because of the shards.”

“You say that the intruder broke the mirror, when you struggled, is that correct?”

“Yes,” said Nicholas Hoop. He hesitated, then corrected himself. “Maybe. I’m sorry. I don’t remember exactly what happened before I was hit.”

Detective Jonquil flipped through his notes. “Mr. Hoop, the police report says that when they arrived, you told them that you fought the intruder. He was thrown into the mirror, and broke it with his shoulder. Then he hit you with an object, and you blacked out. You did not witness or participate in the murder of your wife.”

“Yes. That’s what happened.”

“Alright, we’re almost done for today. I appreciate that this has been very hard for you. Thank you again for your cooperation. Please wait here just a little while longer and we’ll get you on your way.”


Jonquil left the interview room, and entered the observation room. “What do you think?” he asked his partner.

“He says that he looked up and saw the daffodils,” she said. “He looked up.”


“How could that be? The first responders said that the flowers were smashed on the ground beside him when they arrived.”

Jonquil realized what his partner was saying. “He’s lying.”

She nodded. “He never blacked out.”

No. 597

“Mom, I’m way too old to get my picture taken with Santa. This is the stupidest thing ever,” complained Austin Giblin.

“Just go,” said his mother. “Your grandmother will enjoy it.”

They arrived at the front of the line a few minutes later. Austin’s mood had not improved. “Look at him,” he said, loud enough for Santa to hear. “The beard doesn’t even fit right. Jackass. I bet this guy makes minimum wage.”

His mother pushed him toward the display. “It will be over quickly.”

Austin stalked toward Santa and sat gingerly on the arm of Santa’s chair.

“Ho, ho, ho,” said Santa through gritted teeth. “Who do we have here?”

“Shut up, and give me Slasher 3,” Austin demanded. “It’s on Playstation. You fight dinosaurs.”

“You say you like dinosaurs?” Santa replied, working hard to make the interaction appear positive.

“Say ‘cheese’,” said the photographer.

Austin and Santa both faced the camera with intensely fake smiles.

There was a blinding flash.

Austin blinked the stars out of his eyes and looked around. Santa was still sitting in the chair beside him, but the mall concourse had been replaced with a very thick, very green forest.

Santa shoved Austin onto the ground.

“What the hell?” said Austin. “What are you doing, you idiot?”

Santa laughed, full and heartily. “I thought you said you liked fighting dinosaurs?”

Austin noticed that one of the green trees was not, in fact, a tree, at all. “Those are teeth!” he yelled at Santa.

“You’re a dick,” said Santa. “Merry Christmas!”

Santa and the chair disappeared with another flash, leaving Austin in the clearing, alone.

He did not last long.