Tag Archives: murder

Cover Reveal: Unclear Purposes

Joan Hall is sharing her cover art across the internet today. I hope you’ll all make her feel welcome.

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained. 

 

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator. 

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

 

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

 

***

Website and Social Media Links:

 

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Macabre Macaroni, second helping

Lisa Burton

Flipping

I pulled into the driveway, and my tires pushed down weeds as I pulled up to the parking circle. It was a long day at work, but I decided to start a little demolition before heading home.

Three stone steps led to the elaborate old front door, but I had to shoulder it open against years of rust and weathering. A thick layer of dust covered the stone entry.

I wound my way to the kitchen and pulled open the tattered old curtains to let some of the setting sunlight into my work area. I worked my crowbar under the stone countertop and looked into the breakfast room. With new windows, that morning view would add another twenty-thousand dollars to my resale value.

My shoulder pushed against the bar, but the stone wouldn’t budge. Then a crystal decanter and glasses appeared on the counter. Had I missed that somehow?

Slow clacking footsteps echoed down the hall to my right. A shapely woman, possibly in her fifties, walked into the room like she owned it. She wore a short, sleeveless dress and pearl colored heels that must have made the sound.

She picked up the decanter and poured herself a drink. An overstuffed chair and end table appeared across the room. Had I overlooked this stuff while I was measuring, or was she a squatter.

She sauntered to it and sat down, crossing her legs. She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke straight up.

My hand tightened around the crowbar, and I nervously checked my exit routes.

“So, what are we going to do about you?” She said in a husky voice.

“You need to leave,” I answered. “This is private property. My private property.”

She picked some invisible tobacco from her tongue. “Is it now? This is my home, and I intend to keep it that way.” She took a sip from her drink, then smirked. “I’d offer you one, but I don’t think it’s possible.”

“I’m the deeded owner of this property. I’m going to gut it, revamp the whole thing, then sell it for a huge profit.”

“Oh yeah. How much did you pay?”

“Over two million.”

“They saw you coming. My husband only paid seven-fifty when he bought it. You’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful place though. And I’d appreciate it if you’d quit destroying my counters.”

“I’ll have you forcibly evicted if I have to–”

She leaned into the arm of the chair, and I could see the falling wallpaper moving behind her – through her head. “Something tells me that’s not going to work. See I own this house too, and I’m not leaving.”

“But it’s a dump. Maybe you want to check out something better.”

“It’s not a dump. This is one of the top neighborhoods in the city.”

“It was, maybe fifty years ago.”

“Well, it not a dump the way I see it. My beautiful floral wallpaper, the polished wood of the breakfast set. It’s all still here.” She stubbed out her cigarette in an ashtray that appeared right before she touched it.

“Those things will kill you.”

“Too late. Besides, if you knew all the things I put in this body, a little cigarette is the least of my worries. Oh the parties I used to host. They were all here, you know. Politicians, movie stars, musicians. We use to put out drugs on one of those three tier serving dishes like some people place out canapés.”

“W-w-we who?”

“Larry and I. He was my husband. House went to me after he died. You can ask him yourself, he usually shows up near the pool on clear nights.”

I pulled the kitchen curtains back. A flurry of moths startled me. The stone around the pool was cracked and small trees pushed up between the stones. A foot of green scum floated on the partially filled pool.

“Not there tonight? That’s where I buried him. A lieutenant detective helped me dig the hole.” She looked up at the ceiling. “I thanked that man proper, right up there.”

“I, I, I don’t need to know this.”

“Lots to know about this place. One night a rockstar banged a socialite on that countertop you’re trying to destroy. The rest of his band cheered him on.”

“Anybody I’d know?”

“Meh, flavor of the month. You know how that business goes.” She finished her drink. “Now what are we going to do about you?”

“I’ll hire an exorcist or someone to clear this place out.”

“You can try. Lot’s of cons in that business, but there are some legit ones. Of course, I could do the same thing.”

“Wh- what do you mean?”

“Things on my side of the veil aren’t so different. Maybe I’ll hire someone to get rid of you. In fact, that would be kind of fun. Tell you what. You hire someone, and I will too. We’ll get them all together one night, and see who prevails. First one to blink has to leave. What do you say? Sounds like a party to me.”

“I’m not playing your stupid game. I’m on the hook for a lot of money here, and I’m in the right.”

“Maybe you could sue me. Good luck serving papers though. No, we’re going to do this my way. We each get two weeks to find someone, then we do battle. If you win, I’ll leave.”

“What about Gary?” I cocked a thumb toward the back.

“Larry. And he’ll do whatever I tell him. He’s a lot calmer since I pulled the trigger. He doesn’t question or doubt me any more.”

“You aren’t giving me much choice here, and I’m the aggrieved party.”

“On your side of the veil, sure. On my side, I’m the aggrieved party, and I’ve owned this house since before you were born. What’s your name again?”

“Carl.”

“You seem like a nice young man, Carl. Find your witch or whatever, and I’ll do the same. And don’t get any ideas about selling this to someone and running off. What I’ll do to them is guaranteed to get you sued at minimum, maybe killed at maximum.” She faded away, along with the chair, decanter, and the rest.

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Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

Two Shorts & a Snort, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today we’re calling back into the nineteen-sixties. I just need to hook up this Einstein-Rosen switchboard.

Done, and we’re connecting.

“Eastham Correctional Facility.”

“Good morning. This is Lisa Burton, and I have an appointment to speak with Charlie Riddle.”

“Very good, ma’am. The prisoner is standing by. I’ll connect you.”

“Hello. Lisa? Lisa Burton?”

“Is this Charlie Riddle?”

CR: Yeah, it’s me.

“Charlie, I’m sure we’re all sorry about your circumstances. We’d like to understand how you got to this point in your life.”

“It’s a long story, but if you’ve got time, I have plenty to spare. I grew up in Odessa, Texas. If you’ve never been there, it’s flat land with nothing but sand and oil wells. My ol’ man worked the rigs, so as soon as I turned seventeen, I hired out. The oil field was a tough damn way to earn a living, but it was all I knew. I’ve seen men lose fingers, toes and even their lives working the rigs. But, I was good at it. I wasn’t afraid to climb to the top of the derrick or grab a pair of three-hundred-pound tongs. Hours were long. Money was good. Cocaine was cheap, and the Texas honkytonks was where I spent my days and nights off.”

“Sounds like a hard life, but I don’t see how that would lead you to Eastham.”

“It was a woman.”

“Isn’t it always?”

“Oh, but this one. She was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. Nelda Sue could make me weak in the knees. But, she made it clear from the beginning, that until she had a ring on her finger she was free to go with anyone she wanted to. We’d spend lots of time together when I wasn’t working, but let’s just say we weren’t exclusive.”

“So it was more casual. That can be fun.”

“I wouldn’t say it was casual. I was head-over-heels in love with Nelda Sue. I even paid the rent on her trailer over in Monahans. I’d work overtime to buy her pretty things that she wanted. But, it was never enough. I was working hard to save enough money to buy her the biggest diamond ring I could find, then she’d be mine and we could start a life together.”

“Oh, Charlie. You had it bad, huh?”

“Yeah, I can’t lie. I did. But, the night I saw her out with that oil company bum…that’s what we called the men that owned the oil company…well that’s when things went sideways. I couldn’t take it.”

“I don’t know, Charlie. Something seems to be missing here.”

“There’s a lot missing. I got really messed up on Cocaine and whiskey. I drove around looking for them. I don’t know what in the hell I thought I’d do if I found them, but somehow in my messed-up mind, I thought Nelda Sue would leave him and come with me. Anyway, I never found them.

“I wound up sitting in The New Rainbow bar drinking and thinking when in walked this older woman lookin’ richer than sin. But, what caught my attention was the size of the diamond on her left hand. I watched her. She was waiting for someone, but they never came. So, when she left, I followed her. I never intended to do more than take the ring from her. But, then she screamed and before I even thought about it, I pulled the trigger.

“I killed that poor woman and took the ring off her hand. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.”

“How did you wind up getting caught?”

“I drove to Monahans to Nelda Sue’s trailer and waited for her to come home. Then I put that ring on her hand and she said she’d marry me. I warned her not to show the ring to anyone. I needed her to wait two weeks until I could draw another paycheck, then I’d marry her, and we’d take off to Alabama where I could work the rigs. I thought she understood. But, she started showing the ring off to all her girlfriends and it only took a couple of days for word to get back to me. When a buddy of mine came to work and congratulated me, I knew I had to run. So, I jumped in my truck and headed for old Mexico. I figured they couldn’t get me there and I could send for Nelda Sue. But, somewhere between Odessa and El Paso, my mind disconnected. I snorted all the Cocaine I had on me and followed the broken white line until my truck ran out of gas. I was picked up in El Paso for vagrancy. It didn’t take long for them to connect the dots. Nelda Sue married that oil company bum and has just given birth to his son. I lost everything.”

“That’s all so tragic, Charlie. Sounds like a bunch of bad choices. Besides, you can’t expect a woman not to show off a diamond ring. That’s asking too much. Any closing remarks for our listeners today.”

“Just this. If the price is too high, folks, walk away.”

“Thank you Charlie.

“Listeners can learn all about Charlie and Nelda Sue in the first short story, “Obsessed” in Two Shorts & a Snort, by Jan Sikes. I’ll post all the pertinents on the website after I go off the air.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Obsessed:

How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.

Maggie:

Is it possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.

Friends Instead of Lovers:

Sometimes it’s better to remain friends, instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.

Tow Shorts and a Snort is available in ebook and paperback at this site: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Shorts-Snort-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B07DY8FSWL/

You can get autographed copies directly from Jan at her website: http://www.jansikes.com/

Multi-Award-winning author, Jan Sikes, weaves stories in a creative and entertaining way. She has been called a magician and wordsmith extraordinaire by her readers and peers.

Jan published a series of four Biographical Fiction books with a musical twist; “Flowers and Stone,” “The Convict and the Rose,” “Home at Last,” and “Til Death Do Us Part.” They chronicle the life of Texas musician, Rick Sikes, a pioneer in the Outlaw Music movement before it ever had a name. She also released a music CD of original songs which match the time-period of each story. She also published a unique book of poetry and art, which combines heartfelt poetry with pen-and-ink drawings.

Four of her five books have won literary awards. She has won several short story writing contests and most recently won the grand prize in the RRBC 90-day Alpha/Omega Short Story challenge.

Jan has written songs, poetry, short stories, screenplays, and novels. She resides in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals and has five grandchildren who keep her busy in her spare time. She sits on the board of directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History. She hosts an internet radio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE and is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. She serves on the RAVE WRITERS – INT’L OF AUTHORS Executive Committee.

You can catch up with Jan at the following places:

WEBSITE:

http://www.jansikes.com

BLOG:

https://rijanjks.wordpress.com/

FACEBOOK:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks

TWITTER:

http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks

PINTEREST:

http://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/

LINKEDIN:

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=65865260&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CS9K8DK

69 Comments

Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

Sharing the love

Sue Coletta is an awesome writer. Her murder mystery/thrillers are among the best. Today she is sharing her love of some of her favorite authors, and I made the list. Check out Sue’s awesome blog, and some of her wonderful titles while you’re there. Here is the link to the post https://www.suecoletta.com/share-the-love-writers/

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Murder by Munchausen, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome all you hackers and programmers, and all the artificial intelligence listening in today. This is Lisa Burton Radio, and I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. I’m pretty excited about this interview, because my special guest today is a police consultant working in the Counter IT section of the Artificial Crimes Unit. “Welcome to the show, someone who only goes by the name of Q.”

“First off, I just have to say, this really isn’t my kind of gig—I mean, it’s good to meet you, definitely, but when you work and play in the shadows, the spotlight tends not to be your friend. I guess, when you’re doing penance, though, you do what you gotta do. So, here I am.”

“It all sounds pretty covert to me. I’ve never known a cop who had a code name.”

“I’m not really a cop, per se. Now, the Department does sign my paycheck, but I don’t have a badge or anything—and they definitely don’t trust me with a Glock. No, my weapon of choice is an Intel processor and a high bandwidth connection. I work the Counter IT group in the Artificial Crimes Unit.”

“What about this ‘Q’ business, then?”

“Jake—he’s one of the ACU detectives—he hung the moniker on me, cause I guess we both like the old, classic James Bond stories. But he’s a techno-fossil. He actually reads the dead tree versions of books. Anyway, I kind of liked it and I needed a new alias when I came over to the Department from the dark side of hacking. You know how it is. You can’t pick your nose when you’re on-line without nine thousand Kleenex ads popping up all over your screen. When you’re tracking down bad guys—and these guys are really bad—murderously bad–you don’t need them popping up at your front door.”

“I suppose that’s true. I could track almost anyone if I had a few pieces of data. So what kind of things fall under your jurisdiction?”

“It used to be pretty tame and cushy. The street beat guys would repo a synthoid—you know, like you, a human-like android or replicant, but one that was hacked and sent off the rails to commit some crime—like maybe being re-programmed to get rid of a guy’s ex-wife to relieve him of alimony payments or maybe just for spite. Anyway, Bob and Puff in the Forensics Tech Lab would send over the firmware, bio-logic and data link libraries for our group to analyze for coding signatures that Jake and his partner use to ID the hacker who created the hitman and arrest him.”

“Is that what this “Munchausen” thing is all about?”

“Yeah, yeah. Murder by proxy. See, the thing is, when a synthoid is used to commit murder, there’s no sweat or fingerprints or blood or skin fragments left under the victim’s fingernails or any kind of viable biological evidence like what regular cops can use to identify the human hacking suspect, so Jake and Maddie really need my group to find the perp’s programming “DNA” buried in the code. And, as you know, every hacker has his own quirks and tricks.”

“That’s horrible! I’ve been around a lot of robots, and none of them are as sophisticated as I am. It wouldn’t be too hard to add in some facial recognition hardware and send a drone after someone. They don’t have the emotional software I do, so they’d just carry out the assignment.”

“See, that’s the thing. It used to be simple and robotic–so to speak. Somebody’s annoying the crap out of you, you pay some cyberpunk to send a Munchausened drone after him. Now, though, you’ve got this guy–they call him the Baron–who’s doing it just because he likes it. And what he’s doing is taking advantage of the new Gen-3 personality modules and the ANSI Adaptive Artificial Intelligence Protocol #9 to resurrect these notorious serial killers from the past and implant them into synthoids to re-create their sprees. It’s pretty sick. You know, society would be totally better off if the government had never allowed these robot slaves out of the lab.”

“Hang on, Q. You know, I’m a robot, right? I mean you can’t lump all robots and artificial intelligence into one bucket any more than you can lump a race into a common pile. I even used to be a cop, for cryin’ out loud.”

“Well, you know, I guess it’s not really your fault. You weren’t built and programmed that way and that’s not the way the synthoids come out of the factory, originally. But sometimes it seems like it’s so obvious that there needs to be common sense AI control. I mean this Baron guy is sick. He taps the audio and video sensor feeds and streams them into the Darknet so he can watch the murders as they happen and replay them over and over and over. I’ve seen them and they’re horrific. And he shares them with his cabal of minions. He seems to have a following, believe it or not.

“But even worse, he’s using perverted convolutional neural networking code to give the ‘droids a taste for it–to make them like it, like he does. He seems to have figured out some kind of emotional A-to-D converter algorithm so that these machines don’t just mechanically recreate murderous acts, they seem to actually feel and react to their own horror. You can see it in the metrics: power consumption; I/O; CPU, memory and graphic engine loadings; bandwidth consumption; RPS, ARTs and PRTs.

“God only knows what he’s going to do with the data he’s generating. Jake and Maddie really need to get this guy.”

“If this is going on right now, it sounds like important work. What do you do to unwind at the end of your shift?”

“You gotta do something physical. You gotta get your mind out of the box at least for a little while. I used to compete in X-Games, BMX freestyle, but those days are long behind me. My parents harp on me that I seem to always take the path of most resistence, so I guess it’s no surprise that I’m doing mainly Parcour any more. Don’t need any equipment but a good set of shoes. And, working downtown, it’s easy to find challenging courses. It really clears my mind.

“The other thing I found out is that it’s really important to relate to things out in Meatspace–you know real things, physical objects. I don’t know if you feel this, but, you and I, so much of our world is a cyber world, pixels and shadows and dark space. You need something real. I think in my third college Freshman year, I took an Art Appreciation class–actually, I think I ended up with an incomplete in that course, due to an incident with the spring on-line registration. Anyway, it came back to me years later and now I hang out a lot at the Museum of Art. It’s fascinating how these guys see pixels in their mind and make it a hard reality, something you can touch and feel and be in the same room with.”

“With that in mind, I did a bit of hacking of my own.”

“Of course you did.”

“Don’t sweat it, it’s the good kind. You are aware, of course, that the Department has the ACU offices wired up with cameras everywhere.”

“Yeah, I know. Stupid Internal Affairs. And their servers leak like the Titanic. It’s great working with pros.”

“So, I saw the print in your office, and I went to the printshop and had something made for you. The original hangs in my office in the writing cabin across the meadow, but this print is for you.”

Lisa Burton

“Excellent!  A Lisa Burton Diptych. That Warhol might have been a weird dude, but, man, his art is like a stained-glass church window between what was real and the hollow Madison Avenue soul of the Sixties. And I gotta say, Marilyn’s got nothing on you in the looks department. Thanks. Thank you very much.”

“I wish you every success in rooting these killers out. It makes Nigerian Prince scams seem kind of tame on the old cybercrime meter. Any closing remarks for our audience today?”

“Yeah, those days when the worst that cyberpunks could do to you was steal your identity are long gone. You know, Jake always says that a magazine loaded with bullets contains both order and chaos, good and evil. I never understood what he was getting at, but now I know the same thing holds true for technology.”

“If you’d like to learn more about Q and the Counter IT section, pick up the books in the Murder by Munchausen series, by M.T. Bass. I’ll post all the details after I go off the air today. Books one and two are currently available, with the third installment available via pre-order right now.

“Help one of the good robots stay on the air today by using those sharing buttons. It’s fun, and I’m sure both Q and M.T. Bass would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

M.T. Bass

www.mtbass.net

mtb@owl-works.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5270962.M_T_Bass

https://www.facebook.com/owlworks/

https://twitter.com/Owlworks

 

M.T. Bass is a scribbler of fiction who holds fast to the notion that while victors may get to write history, novelists get to write/right reality. He lives, writes, flies and makes music in Mudcat Falls, USA.

Born in Athens, Ohio, M.T. Bass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in English and Philosophy, then worked in the private sector (where they expect “results”) mainly in the Aerospace & Defense manufacturing market. During those years, Bass continued to write fiction. He is the author of seven novels: My Brother’s Keeper, Crossroads, In the Black, Somethin’ for Nothin’, Murder by Munchausen, The Darknet (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #2) and The Invisible Mind (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #3). His writing spans various genres, including Mystery, Adventure, Romance, Black Comedy and TechnoThrillers. A Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, airplanes and pilots are featured in many of his stories. Bass currently lives on the shores of Lake Erie near Lorain, Ohio.

Murder by Munchausen Series Log Line: A Cyber Crime Thriller Series: Notorious serial killers digitally resurrected to live & hunt again in hacked replicants, pursued by detectives of the Artificial Crimes Unit.

Murder by Munchausen – Book #1

“…packed with action and unexpected developments…fast-paced, entertaining…” — Kirkus Reviews

After Jake shoots and kills a murder suspect who turns out to be the son of a powerful city councilman, he finds himself demoted to the Artificial Crimes Unit, tracking down androids hacked and programmed to be hit men.

When his case of an “extra-judicial” divorce settlement takes a nasty turn with DNA from a hundred-year-old murder in Boston and a signature that harkens back to the very first serial killer ever in London, Jake finds himself tangled up in the brutal slayings of prostitutes being investigated by his former Robbery/Homicide partner, Maddie–who is now his lover.

“It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it ‘Murder by Munchausen.’ For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest.” [excerpt from Murder by Munchausen]

Artificial Intelligence? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Artificial Evil has a name…Munchausen.

Purchase Links

View Murder by Munchausen Page on mtbass.net

View Murder by Munchausen on Amazon.com

View at the Apple iBookstore

View at Barnes & Noble Online

View at KoboBooks.com

View at Smashwords

The Darknet – Book #2

It was the case of a lifetime……but then it went sideways on her. The suspect Maddie put behind bars might have been crazy but it turns out he was innocent, and now she finds herself in the Artificial Crimes Unit hunting a serial killer from two hundred years ago and a madman breathing life back into him with modern technology. Worse yet, she’s partnered up with Jake, her former lover.

When androids are hacked and reprogrammed into hit men, Maddie and Jake investigate and track down the hackers. But now, an evil genius is using droids to recreate the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.

“It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it ‘Murder by Munchausen.’ For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest.” [excerpt from Murder by Munchausen]

Artificial Intelligence? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Artificial Evil has a name…Munchausen.

Purchase Links

View The Darknet Page on mtbass.net

View The Darknet on Amazon.com

View at the Apple iBookstore

View at Barnes & Noble Online

View at KoboBooks.com

View at Smashwords

The Invisible Mind – Book #3

Now unleashed, the “Baron” is resurrecting history’s notorious serial killers, giving them a second life in the bodies of hacked and reprogrammed Personal Assistant Androids, then turning them loose to terrorize the city.  While detectives Jake and Maddie of the police department’s Artificial Crimes Unit scramble to stop the carnage with the Baron’s arrest, the cyberpunk head of the Counter IT Section, Q, struggles to de-encrypt his mad scheme to infect world data centers with a virus that represents a collective consciousness of evil.

“…he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”

~Adam Smith, 1776

“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole.”

~Nikola Tesla, 1926

“…so, too, the psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness. I have called this substratum the collective unconscious.”

~Carl Jung, 1931

“It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it ‘Murder by Munchausen.’ For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest.” [excerpt from Murder by Munchausen]

Artificial Intelligence? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Artificial Evil has a name…Munchausen

Purchase Links

View The Invisible Mind Page on mtbass.net

View The Invisible Mind on Amazon.com

View at the Apple iBookstore

View at Barnes & Noble Online

View at KoboBooks.com

View at Smashwords

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Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

A License to Print Money

Jim Webster is back, gang. His Lisa Burton Radio post was super popular, so today he’d like to tell you about another story of his. Take it away, Jim:

***

The first fantasy novel I ever wrote was about the adventures of Benor, a cartographer. I followed him through another novel, and then tried something different. I wrote a number of novellas about him, under the title of ‘The Port Naain Intelligencer.’

The thing about the stories in the Port Naain Intelligencer collection, you can read them in any order. It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote them in a particular order, but you can dip in and out of them, you don’t need to start with volume one and work through them chronologically.

Anyway Tallis Steelyard appeared as a character in the collection, and somehow took over. Tallis is like that, but now, Benor is back!

After the first critically acclaimed collection of the ‘Port Naain Intelligencer’ novellas, by popular demand a second collection is on its way!

But anyway I’ve just published, ‘A licence to print money: The Port Naain Intelligencer.’ It’s available on Amazon at

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DNLCD9V/

In it, Benor, who just wants to get paid for some work he’s done, struggles against corrupt officials, bent bookies, and all manner of other problems. On the positive side he does get to meet a Magistrate who is also a performance poet, and young Mutt finds somebody who might even be tougher than he is.

But it struck me that people have got used to me writing about Tallis Steelyard and might need reintroducing to young Benor. So I decided that I’d write another Port Naain Intelligencer tale, ‘A measured response,’ where each chapter is a post on the blog tour. Follow the blog tour and you’ll probably get to uncover the mystery, free and gratis. Cannot say better than that can I?

For those of you who still love Tallis, his blog is still there at

https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/

And some more collections of anecdotes from Tallis Steelyard are in the publishing pipeline.

And you can find my books at

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jim-Webster/e/B009UT450I/

Oh and I’ve got another blog which I write which is mainly sheep, quad bikes and stuff. Or perhaps not?

https://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/

Episode 5

That evening Benor opened his backpack, assembled his plane table and his groma. Next morning he appeared at the kitchen door to enquire about breakfast. The cook, a thin, grim woman, seemed to share her mistress’s disapproval of him. Still she set before him a plate of oatcakes, butter and cheese. To drink there was small beer from a barrel in the corner of the kitchen.

For his midday meal she presented him with some bread and cheese wrapped in a square of old flour sack. As he crossed the yard back to the stable Benor checked his lunch. The bread was stale and the cheese hard. He merely shrugged; it was now obvious what his place was in this household. He gave his lunch to Gyp the guard dog who shared the stable with him. She seemed to appreciate his generosity and when he came down from his room having collected his equipment she was still gnawing happily on the cheese.

For the next few days Benor found his life fell into a pattern. After breakfast he would give his lunch to Gyp and then went out to continue his work in mapping the estate. The map he’d been given was a great help, but it wasn’t particularly accurate. As well as measuring the fields he quietly borrowed a spade he’d seen leaning against the stable wall and with that he would examine the soil. The whole area seemed fertile and well farmed. Indeed he remembered being told that it was the very fertility of the land that allowed the peasantry of Partann to support so many petty lordlings and other hangers-on without falling into destitution. As he worked he’d rarely see anybody. Most of the land on the estate was let out to a tenant and Benor had made a point of explaining to him what he was up to. After this the various farm workers merely nodded to him when they saw him and left him alone. Other than that, occasionally somebody would pass along the road, and once or twice he saw a young lady riding on the neighbouring estate.

Each day he’d walk to the Bridge Inn where he’d dine, have a couple of glasses of beer and engage in small-talk with the locals. Finally he’d make his way back to work, do a few more hours, and arrive at the house for his evening meal. This would be eaten in the company of silent servants who largely ignored him. The meal over he’d take some boiling water back to his room, make coffee for himself and continue to work on drawing a new map of the estate.

It was on the third day that he noticed the ditch. The previous winter the tenant and his workers had dug a drainage ditch the full length of one boundary hedge. That side of the field had obviously been wet in the past and the idea had been to get the water away and into the beck. Immediately he climbed down into the ditch. For somebody tasked with estimating the value of the land this ditch was a godsend. For the farmer it was a drainage ditch, for him it was a transect across the land allowing him with very little difficulty to see the soil profile.

He made his way down the ditch, scraping the face clean with the spade, and making notes about the soil profile. At one point the ditch ran along the bottom of a dell. Here he was invisible from the road that ran on the other side of the beck, or from the surrounding fields. The topsoil at the bottom of the dell was still damp, but the ditch had been dug down into the clay subsoil. Where exposed the clay was starting to crack and as he scraped with his spade a large chunk fell away and into the ditch. Benor scooped it out of the ditch and threw it onto the hedge bottom. He glanced into the hole that was left. He was certain he could see cloth. Carefully with his spade he widened the hole. More clay came away, revealing a mass of black hair surrounding a barely decayed face. Hastily Benor slammed clay back into the hole to reseal it and then climbed out of the ditch.

Where had the body come from? It wasn’t a bad place to dispose of a body. The digging would be easy with the ground being so soft, and whoever was doing the digging wouldn’t be seen by casual passers-by. As he thought about it, it occurred to him that the body would have been buried before the ditch was dug. If the body had been buried second you’d have buried it further from the trench to stop the grave being discovered by it falling into the ditch.

He pondered his next action. This was rural Partann. Law and order were imposed by the same petty lordlings who were putting tolls on the roads. Here he was almost certainly in the jurisdiction of Lord Addlestrune of Tarrant. Would a short fat man worming orids wish to be bothered with a possible murder?

At this point Benor was forced to contemplate who the killer might be. The body was found on the land of his host and employer, Grayer Thirsk. This put Grayer firmly amongst the suspects. Still in this instance he could do some investigation. The tenant and his son were working in an adjacent field. He left his equipment and wandered across to them. They watched him approach with wry interest.

“Just meant to ask you about the ditch; was it dug last year?”

The tenant took off his hat and wiped his brow with it, leaving a dirty smear. “Yes, we dug it last autumn, just before the frosts came. We’d been talking to Master Thirsk about doing it for a year or so, to dry up the wet spots along that hedge. Anyway he finally agreed to contribute. He gave us ten alars and we hired some men from round and about and with our own men working as well we got it done in a fortnight.”

Benor nodded, “Looks a nice job. I’ll just put a note on the map about it.”

“Make sure you mark down he paid towards it,” the younger man said. “That way it’s on record as being a landlord’s responsibility when we need to clean it out.”

Benor scribbled a note on a piece of paper. “Consider it done.”

As he walked back towards where he had put his various instruments he considered what he’d learned. Certainly it looked as if Grayer Thirsk was no longer a suspect. If the body had been buried before the ditch was planned, he could have vetoed the ditch digging. If the body was buried after the ditch was planned and dug, he could have buried the body a lot further away.

He decided that he wasn’t going to tell anybody about finding the body, at least not yet. After all, at the moment he could end up telling the person who buried her that the body had been found and they might decide to shut him up as well.

You can read tomorrow’s section at Sue’s blog by using this link https://scvincent.com/

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Does this Macabre Macaroni still smell okay?

Lisa BurtonHi Gang, Lisa Burton here with the last of Macabre Macaroni for 2017. So far, we’ve raged through the streets as a monster while exploring some of the broken things about various systems. We’ve looked behind the curtain at a hospital to poke a stick in the idea of accountants running our medical professions. We even pulled up a lawn chair for the end of the world.

I’ll, sadly, be retiring my witch’s hat for now, but not until I go trick or treating. I may get to wear it a bit during the editing of Craig’s novella, The Hat.

Today, we’re just going to enjoy a bit of nature in a story Craig calls Little Brown Bat.

Little Brown Bat

Little Brown Bat crawled out of a crack along the cliff face. The crack, no wider than a bottle cap, had housed bats for over a hundred years.

He squinted at the setting sun, but decided to leave the roost early. Soon the nighttime sky would be full of his brethren, but Little Brown Bat knew something they didn’t.

They would all head for the college campus nearby and hope to find the night insects fluttering around the lights surrounding the quad.

Little Brown Bat was headed for Randall’s Marsh. Situated on an abandoned farm, the waters had not been dredged for swimming or poisoned for mosquito control.

Sometimes, if he was early enough, he could catch the last of the day-flying insects. Fat blowflies, and yellowjacket wasps full of meat, made for a satisfying snack. It takes a lot of food to keep Little Brown Bat in the air.

Once the sun set, the marsh itself always had a hatch of water borne insects. Sometimes they were mayflies, sometimes caddis, and if he was lucky a giant stonefly or two.

He ducked into the forest along the way, the shade protected his sensitive eyes from the setting sun. He caught a lazy moth in his tail and flipped it into his mouth on the way to the marsh. A tasty snack this early at night.

He veered onto the muddy two track road, and stayed about three feet off the ground. A fat blowfly gave him hope that he arrived early enough.

Wild yellow iris bloomed along the edge of the first pond, and spread across the boggy area. Later tonight the scent might attract one of the gigantic sphinx moths, nearly as large as he was. He moved on to the first small grassy mound, but it produced nothing more than a pair of lawn moths.

By the time he reached the earthen mounds, he’d scored a juicy yellowjacket and two more flies. The sixth mound remained bare earth. It takes time for the grass to grow over the fresh dirt. It appeared a coyote or some other creature dug deep here. Little Brown Bat caught flies by the dozens.

He made two more circles, but he’d caught all the day insects this evening this evening would offer. On his final turn he spotted a fresh hole.

Barely three feet deep, he knew it wouldn’t be long before it was filled back in. That’s when the day insects came. Sometimes they swarmed by the hundreds over the fresh mounds. He would be able to scoop up flies two and even three at once with his tail.

His friends could fight over the night insects at the quad, and scare the coeds to death. This was the place for Little Brown Bat. The holes always became a fresh mound in three days.

His radar detected the first of the caddis flies coming off the water’s surface. The day flyers were finished, but Little Brown Bat knew the ponds always held an abundance of night hatching insects. They’d been much more abundant this year for some reason. He veered out over the surface of the water.

The swollen faces of three coeds watched him from below the water’s surface. They’d been here for over a month, and the night insects seemed to hatch with greater frequency. They no longer screamed at the site of a tiny bat.

His radar detected a fluttering stonefly, and he veered left. He nearly brushed the exposed rib cage of another coed along the shore as he scooped with his tail, but he caught the huge insect.

Yes, Randall’s Marsh was a lonely place, but it was perfect for Little Brown Bat.

***

If you enjoyed Macabre Macaroni 2017, you can always keep reading. Stories from previous years are available in the sidebar under the category Short Stories and Vignettes. If you’re really into it, and we hope you are, you can pick up some of Craig’s short story collections. Go to his Amazon Author page and look for either of the Experimental Notebooks, or both of them. You can also find some of Craig’s work in the anthologies Quantum Wanderlust and Macabre Sanctuary.

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