Especially for the horror gourmet, Richard Ferguson has prepared another heaping helping of heart-pounding, terror-filled short stories, this time flavored with a healthy sprinkling of science fiction. If you read the first WEIRD TALES, you know the entrees will always be flavored with evil spices.
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THE ELEVEN DIMENSIONAL MAN - Elkanah Jones was just an ordinary college professor until Millie showed up and introduced him to the wild side of the universe.
MALFUNCTION - Sometimes you only have to wake up to discover the other side of life.
REVENGE - Marriage can be tricky.
EL SOL - Beware Mexican legends.
THE BAD REVIEW -
Richard Ferguson, the master chef, has laid out another table of bizarre tales brewed in the outer limits of a great imagination.
ENJOY AT YOUR OWN RISK!
by Richard Ferguson
Copyright @ 2013 by Richard Ferguson
How do you execute the perfect murder? That was the question on Simon Armstrong's mind as he reread the outgoing email on his wife's computer.
"I love you with all my heart. I feel terrible about my husband. I thought I loved him until I met you. Now I know what true love is. He'll never understand or forgive me. I don't know if I can survive telling him, but I will. I promise you, my darling, I will. Just give me time. I have to gather my will power and wait for the right moment."
It had been such a shock. He hadn't really meant to snoop in Sally's private correspondence. He'd bought a new computer for her, a laptop with all the bells and whistles and the most memory possible. He'd set it up for her so she could access his files on the home network.
When he tested the network, he decided to see if they could read each other's emails. Randomly, he hit SENT and the many emails addressed to Geoffrey Leavenworth appeared.
This had been the first one he read, and this was the last time he'd read it.
He reset the network so he and Sally could both access the printer and nothing more.
He loved her, and, until the moment he'd seen the email, he'd believed she loved him.
She'd written she had believed that she loved him. She could still love him if only there was no Geoff.
Geoff, Simon's best friend. Geoff, who Simon had once risked his life for, and now...this.
Simon wasn't a professional hit man. He was a biochemist. There were chemicals he could use to kill Geoff. He'd read that spy agencies used DMSO, a chemical that easily passes into the skin. Simon could mix it with almost any poison, maybe strychnine, and spray it on Geoff's exposed skin. He'd die a painful death which at the moment appealed to Simon.
But no, the police would look for someone who knew about chemicals and that would point to Simon.
Simon could invite Geoff for a meal and include mushrooms in the cuisine. Amanita Virosa grew abundantly in the Houston area. The beauty of that particular poison would be that Geoff wouldn't even feel anything for about a day. He'd also die an excruciating death. That mushroom had been the poison of choice for the Borgias.
Unfortunately, Simon had a reputation as an amateur mycophagist. The police would suspect him first.
He'd read about two men who had abducted a young woman and killed her. Although witnesses had seen the two knock her out and drive away with her in their car, the police had never found her body and the two had denied killing her. They never even arrested the two for lack of evidence.
That gave Simon a start. No one must ever find Geoff's body. But there mustn't be any witnesses either. It wouldn't be any good if people knew Simon had killed Geoff even if they couldn't charge him with anything. Sally would never forgive him if she thought he'd done it.
Geoff was a writer. He'd even included Simon in one of his novels. Much of the story was true. After a stalker had shot Geoff, Simon had spent the night in Geoff's house waiting for the shooter to return. The book had been factual to that point.
How things change. Now Simon needed to...what? Bump him off? No, Geoff was his friend. "Bump him off" just didn't sound right. Rub him out? No, too gangsterish. Execute him? No, that sounded institutional. Eliminate him? Hmm. Yes. Eliminate sounded good.
So how to eliminate good old buddy Geoff?
People in fires at refineries just disappear sometimes. Also in atomic explosions. But no. Way, way too complicated.
It had to be simple. The simpler the better.
It would be easier if Geoff could just disappear on his own.
The trouble with that scenario was that Geoff seemed too happy. Not only that, he had Sally. No reason at all to eliminate himself.
Sometimes people disappeared in the ocean. And the Gulf of Mexico was very close. Maybe Geoff could drown? Unfortunately, Geoff was a good swimmer. He'd never drown on his own and there would be many questions if Simon was there too.
That wouldn't work, but the idea of the water seemed promising. Just not the Gulf. Someone you weren't aware of could witness whatever happened from the sand dunes or a boat.
Water though...plenty of rivers nearby, Simon thought. Let's say I got Geoff to go to a river with me. Somewhere secluded. No possibility of witnesses. Somewhere in the Big Thicket maybe.
Simon felt a jolt of excitement. Yes, he thought. There's that river near Big Creek Park. It flows fast enough it'll carry anything incriminating away. Perfect.
It wouldn't do for Geoff to take his car. I'd have to take him in mine. Couldn't leave his body there. It'd have to disappear completely. Not only that, he'd have to have been somewhere else while I was in the Big Thicket. Getting his body back to the car would be a challenge.
There was the saw someone had left in the attic of the house Simon had bought. He hadn't known it was a butcher's saw until one of the workers fixing up the attic had told him.
Cut Geoff into small pieces and take them back to the car in a bag too small for a body, Simon thought. That way, if anyone saw me, they'd have to say I didn't carry him to the car when I left.
Not only that, I could cut him up in the river. The water would carry the blood away. Put the pieces in plastic baggies, seal them, wash them thoroughly, then carry them in a bigger bag.
I've got Geoff in a bag in my car. Put him in a dumpster?
That might work, but a dumpster diver or someone at the city dump might open the bag. Especially if the cops got suspicious and started looking for him.
He's got to disappear completely.
Bury him? A dog might dig him up.
How do you find a good refinery fire when you need one?
Fire. Maybe it doesn't have to be a refinery fire. Just a fire.
The barbecue grill. I've forgotten meat and charred it before. And bone actually burns once it's dry and hot enough. Soldiers in the First World War dug up bones in graveyards to make fires in the winter.
There's the oven too...and the microwave, for that matter. I might even be able to do the whole thing in the microwave. That way, I wouldn't have to barbecue in the back yard all day for a week. After it's all burned up, I can use a hammer to pound whatever's left to dust and scatter it on the yard.
The only thing remaining will be to console Sally.
The only trouble was, Simon knew he couldn't do it. In his whole life, he'd never hurt anything more than flies and cockroaches.
No, he'd silently let it eat at him, and it would destroy him when Sally found the courage to tell him she was leaving. He loved her. Truly, truly loved her. She was all he wanted.
Maybe that was the problem. He'd read that women don't respect or love a man who tries to satisfy their every desire. That was probably where he'd gone wrong. He just loved her too much.
It was a surprise when Geoff called the following day.
"Hello Simon. How's everything?"
Anger welled in Simon. What did Geoff mean by that? How are things between you and Sally? Has she told you yet? That's what he meant.
"Pretty much the usual," Simon replied. That'll disappoint him, he thought, frowning.
"There's something I've been wanting to talk with you about," Geoff said. "I'd rather not do it over the phone."
"Where are you," Simon asked.
"Out on my morning run. I'm taking a breather in Hermann Park."
"I'm just going mushrooming over near Cut and Shoot. I could swing by and pick you up. We could talk on the way."
"Okay. Meet you at the statue of Sam Houston. I can finish the run on one of the trails while you gather toadstools."
"I'll be right there."
When Simon hung up, he thought, now, why did I say that? I don't want to see him and I don't want to hear what he has to say. God, I don't want to hear it! He stuck his new smart phone into his pocket, then went into the kitchen and took a box of the largest plastic freezer bags, also a box of garbage bags.
When Simon opened the garage door, the butcher's saw hanging on the wall caught his attention. Without thinking, he lifted it off the nail. He picked up a baseball bat standing in the corner too. He raised the hatchback of his Jeep Cherokee and stuck them in. The air around him seemed charged with electricity and his heart pounded. He avoided thinking about just why he had brought those things along.
Simon's stomach knotted when he saw Geoff waiting near the statue.
"I'm a little sweaty," Geoff said when he got in.
"It's all right."
When Simon glanced at him, Geoff looked puzzled. "I didn't think mushrooms grew in November," Geoff said.
"Different ones, but you can find them all year round. There're some good ones now. Besides, it gives me a chance to commune with nature and think."
Geoff nodded. "Yeah, I guess that's why I fish. It doesn't really matter whether I catch anything."