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I ordered her to shut up and Gus to drive, but he turned around in his seat and said, “I saw my father kill my mother, and I lied to the police about it.”

“Drive! Drive!”

“I was only five years old. He made it out to look like an accident, but he never fooled me.”

I ordered them to hand over their cell phones, but Bella dialed a number, and as it rang she told us, “And perfect little eyelashes.” When her party answered, she began to weep.

“Stop crying!” I barked at her. But she didn’t stop, and Gus joined her. A sight to behold–Gus ­Ostermann pressing the heels of his hands against his temples. “All the poor dogs!” he cried. “And all the poor cats.”

We sat there for a long time, traffic piling up and passing around us as we talked to the people we loved. Before army intelligence arrived, I received a text message from the ACC. A single word, backed by the authority of the core group–“JUG.” Short for jugulate, which was what they were directing me to do in order to protect the ACC. I couldn’t allow us to be taken alive, that much was clear. I have sworn an oath to lay down my life for the group, and I will, only not right now. Right now I actually feel like answering a few questions.

My name is William B. Boothtipple. My number is 973-555-0979. If it’s busy, leave voice mail or keep trying; no doubt I’m on the other line spilling my guts.

And now some shout-outs:

–To Melody and her awesome kid, Kimmie, wherever you are and whoever you’ve become. Duane wasn’t the only one you bewitched; I think of you guys all the time. If I had known how much I’d miss you, I would never have let you go.

–To Osama. Hey, man, seriously, phone home. It’s been years since they’ve heard your voice, and everyone’s worried sick.

David Marusek lives in Fairbanks, AK, where he is working on the sequel to his first novel, Counting Heads. His collection of stories, Getting to Know You, has just been published by Subterranean Press.

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Credit: Istvan Banyai

Tagged: Communications

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