The Dry Watery Death

Detector Allen turned to the young reporter and said, “It’s clear to me what’s happened here.”

The reporter, Marie, peered down at the images from the crime scene, and the police report displaying in the bottom right corner of the tabletop screen. She moved the images.

They had been allowed access to the police case file of a man who died mysteriously in his home. The cause of death was drowning. He was dry from head to toe when found, but lying around him were strangely shaped puddles. Some jagged. Some in chunks. One wedged beneath his tongue.

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The Fox-Headed Snake

The three disturbed campers said they were attempting to cross the river on foot, near some shallows. Out of nowhere, the waters started rushing, knocking one of them off her feet. They realized they were in over their heads, and they wisely turned back to shore. But while they were still in the water, something emerged from under the swirling surface, something that rose high and reared its head.

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The Oracle of the Needle

“Did research flag any suspicious purchases?”

“Maybe. There’s the yarn.”


“She’s always had regular yarn orders, it looks like,” I said, scrolling through the purchase history. “But…in recent months, it’s been increasing. These past two weeks, she’s receiving multiple orders a day. Some kind of ritual, you think?”

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Scuttlebutt Detective Agency

“If it’s not our case, it’s not our business,” Catch said.

Pinny narrowed her keen feline eyes. “Who are you? And what have you done with my friend Catchpenny?”

Dear friends they were, as similar as they were different. Catchpenny, an alligator lizard, Pincushion, a shorthaired cat, and Ramekin, a cecropia moth. They had just opened a business that would put their best skills and talents to use: observation, discussion, and conclusion. In other words, investigation. Private investigation.

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The Red Path to the Gray Cabin

The back of the closet seemed to lead onto a dirt road with a very much open sky above, a sky that looked overcast. Simone felt a chill coming from that direction, but that could be explained by an air conditioning vent.

Simone put her sneakers back on—Evie had insisted she take her shoes off before entering the house. Then she stepped forward and kicked at road, sending out a spray of dirt and tiny pebbles. Some of the reddish dust stuck the front of her sneakers.

Evie stood behind her. “This is like that wardrobe in—”

“Don’t say it.”

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The Serpent and the Succulent

“I can pick it up?” Marcella asked, gazing down at the little statue standing directly on the clean bench top.

Leo smiled and straightened his back. “Go ahead.” As his sister gently picked up the stone-carved statue of a snake wrapped around and resting in the thick leaves of a succulent, he explained. “This is one of the flawed replicas, so Doctor Valdez talked someone into letting us have it—or at least borrow it. They probably won’t use it in the exhibit.”

Marcella held the statue up and peered into the snake’s glassy blue eyes. She slowly turned it one way and then the other, studying the shapes and details of the painted leaves. She no doubt was wondering what species of snake it was, and what variety of succulent. One of the leaves still had thorns and little bulb-like protrusions along the edge. But most of those delicate details had fallen off the original carvings.

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The Strange Radiant Death

“How does the rain affect your…thing that you do?”

The new potential client, Sadie, turned around, rubbing the knuckles of one hand as if she were applying lotion.

Veronica smiled. “Sometimes it amplifies things. Sometimes dampens. It depends on what I’m looking at and looking for.” Her answer, both vague and accurate at the same time, didn’t seem to register with the woman.

Sadie paced toward the chair she’d been offered, leaving behind the afterimage of jittering yellow waves in the space she moved through. Not a bright happy yellow. But the sickly yellow of anxiety.

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