The creatures were snoring. It was a small sound, a rhythmic, snuffling rumble. If Cici hadn’t been worried about someone hearing them, she would have found it charming.
After all, they were evidence. There was no other evidence to get rid of. No body to hide—the dogs had taken care of that. They’d eaten every scrap of flesh and bone, licked up every last drop of blood. And the security system for the Guanyasar exhibit didn’t rely on anything as old-fashioned as cameras: they could be too easily tricked by a cheap scrambler, an invisibility charm, or the natural chameleon skill of any Sirathi or Chiian. True, someone might have noticed the blue woman enter the building housing the exhibit, but it was located in a busy part of a busy city on a busy planet. Any observant passerby was probably long gone.
No, the only thing Cici had to worry about was the dogs.
She ought to get rid of them.
“Enjoy the exhibit,” she murmured to a pair of customers, twined at the hip, as she took their credits. Two heads meant two admissions, even if they did seem to share a pair of legs. They hadn’t protested the charge, though, so they must agree.
The dogs. And anyone who knew the woman was coming to the exhibit. Her crewmates, if she’d come from a ship. Her family, if she lived on Hollis. Her colleagues, her co-workers, any friends. Any messages she might have left behind. Her calendar, perhaps, if she’d scheduled her plan to visit the exhibit in advance. Her journal or logbook if she’d written about the exhibit there.
No, there might be all sorts of evidence of the woman’s visit. And nothing Cici could do about all that, so no reason to get rid of the dogs.
She suspected her logic was flawed, but she gave a gentle pat to the top of the pocket where the creatures were curled up together. They were good dogs. She’d have to name them.
Cici shook her head and gave a bright smile.
Nope, I don’t have this today. This is a not working story. But I did have fun making a book cover or two, so I’ve done something creative. And I’m not feeling like I’m done writing for the day, I’m just not feeling it with Cici. So maybe I should write some other story? Not a starter, not a… just write something.
It had sounded so easy when Katrina had first asked. A little tiny favor. Nothing to fret about. Oh, sure, some people might find it creepy — the idea of “last remains” didn’t always sit well.
Nope, that’s not going anywhere either, and I don’t think I want to write about something depressing today. I want magic.
The flamingos squawked.
Halfway up the path to the front door, her head bent over her clipboard, Martha didn’t notice. She was muttering under her breath. I bit my lip to stop myself from mentioning them. Martha wasn’t in a good mood. She’d spilled her coffee in the car and apart from the mess, she was never her best when she was under-caffeinated.
But when the flamingo craned its neck to watch us go by, I almost stepped on the back of her shoes.
“Watch it!” She glared over her shoulder at me.
“Uh, uh…” I wanted to tell her about the flamingo, but I couldn’t find the words.
She gave me a look of disgust and turned her head away. “Don’t act like an idiot here, Fiona. I want to get in and out. We should be able to finish this job in under an hour.”
Under an hour? I looked up at the house rising in front of us and felt my heart sink. An hour on a place this big meant that we were giving the job the classic lick-and-a-promise, cleaning the surfaces, ignoring the corners, polishing the places the client was likely to notice and crossing our fingers on the rest. Martha would sprint through with a vacuum cleaner and wave a dust cloth in the direction of the furniture while I was expected to get the bathrooms spotless.
It wasn’t the way I liked to work. Not that I was some kind of cleanliness saint. I’d been known to sweep dust under the carpet and in a house with a lot of knickknacks, the chances were good that I wouldn’t pick them all up to dust under them. But I hated the tension of doing sloppy work. The long wait to see if the client would complain, the tension of wondering whether we’d be sent back to do it over again, the drama of having our boss scold us in front of the other cleaners… it was just so much easier to clean properly. Carefully.
The flamingo watched us all the way to the door.
It had to be some kind of robot flamingo. It looked like the typical pink plastic, although the setting was incongruous. Not a trailer park, but a nice neighborhood.
Flamingo story, not working. I am just going to call this day a day that didn’t happen with fiction. But I did try.
And it’s okay that I failed.
Maybe one more shot?
The minister droned on. Kasey couldn’t even hear what she was saying, the blood was pounding so hard in her head. Brian was so unfair. It was totally uncool what he’d done. And she was supposed to sit here and put up with it? No. She wouldn’t.
The minister didn’t react, but her brother, sitting beside her, shot her a perplexed glance. He hadn’t heard what Brian had said. He’d been laughing and chatting with his own friends. He never minded coming to church, anyway. He didn’t feel like it was a gauntlet of judgement, of eyes criticizing his clothes, his hair, his make-up. Well, he didn’t wear make-up. But if he did, the old biddies would be whispering behind his back about the color not being right for his skin tone or being too bright for a place of worship or too dark for such a nice morning… no matter what, it would never be right…