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December 05, 2022
General Stories M Da Costa

Only Sixty Five

Standing outside the supermarket Harold noted the diminishing line of trolleys. It’s going to be busy, like last week. Tuesday was ‘pensioners’ day; besides the specials, it was a time to socialise. His wife, Mavis, was an imposing lady and thanks to her job…
December 05, 2022
Poetry Peter Greenhall

On The Come Down

What a weekend, How great was that? Total mayhem, Too much of that. Sliding down the walls, Excessive sweating too, Can't keep still, Body is aching through and through. Then come the shivers, Poison in my blood, Wish I could detox, Gun in my hand, I really…
December 05, 2022
General Stories D.A. Cairns

A Place of Refuge

“I’m so tired of this weather,” said Spider. “Me too,” agreed Beetle. “I want to be out running around in the sweet, long grass feeling the sun on my back.” She extended and beat her wings suddenly out of frustration. “Calm down,” said Spider. “It can’t rain…
December 05, 2022
Poetry Peter Greenhall

Relief Its Over

Thank god we no longer exist, A couple, Together, A faded mist Smiles and laughter, At times it was great, Who could be dafter?, Oh for f**k sake. Then the intimacy began, Between us two, Drinking and flirting, I've got feelings for you. Kisses, a connection,…
December 05, 2022
Romance Stories L Christopher Hennessy

Exploring The Nature Of It

Part One Holding open the door for her was always the better part of my day when life, as it does, places people together, for whatever reason. Our reason was to learn. Her name I prefer to keep to myself and her eyes still have me mistaken. Dark green, I…
November 10, 2022
Horror Stories Robert Pettus

Three Musky Tears

A hulking drop of sizzling, putrid acid-rain crashed with force into Carew Tower, crumbling thousands of the old khaki bricks, sending them falling weightily downward hundreds of feet to the street below—its Art Deco, classic beauty now destroyed. Another…
November 01, 2022
Poetry Ava

Company None

Set up a company. None. I am thinking of what it should be. None. Hard to tell. None of my business. Anywhere and everywhere, ‘How To Discuss What Matters Most’. Live or die. I am on my way to Cambridge. Whether it is your negotiation or your solution, I…
November 01, 2022
Poetry Peter Greenhall

Economy

How can we see this through, Rates rising, Inflation too, How much more, Can we take from you? Blame the war, A far gone place, Energy crisis, In your face. Not of our making, Nor the Russian people too, NATO expansion, Putin warned not too. Costs are way too…
November 01, 2022
General Stories Lawrence Hartmann

The City

She was 40 years old. Halfway to eighty, she thought. Half her life is over. “Today is my birthday,” she said to the waiter at the café. “Happy birthday, ma’am,” the young handsome man said to her. People were calling her “ma’am” now. Was she looking like a…
October 20, 2022
Poetry Ava

Wait For The Sunrise

A morning, Suddenly rain, Not so early, Wait for the sunrise. A typical night, It was raining, Prevented the outdoor artwork, Went back to word. I feel the feeling, It’s from you, But it’s not about me, Save the word. I feel the feeling, Just like you in me,…
October 20, 2022
Poetry Peter Greenhall

The Boys

 Boys, boys, boys, Who do you wanna be, A good boy, naughty boy, or An apple from a bad tree. Boys, boys, boys, The choice is yours to see, Read book's, University, Safe, reliable. Boys, boys, boys, What do you want to do?, Fighting, earning, and screwing, No…
October 20, 2022
Mystery Stories Norman Marcotte

The Nose Knows

The two detectives walked slowly down the path of a blooming field. It was 8:40 am on a sunny Sunday morning when they were called to the suburb of Mapleridge. All they were told was to investigate a situation whereby a body had been found in a park behind a…

Hands, not eyes, are the windows to the soul. The study of hands has long been a fascination for people the world over. Palmistry began several hundred years before the birth of Christ. Leonardo Da Vinci is famous for his artistic study of human hands. I am no different in my quest for the knowledge hidden in hands.

Experts say there are several things that can be discerned from just a handshake. The size of the hand can determine a person’s personality or occupation. It’s a common misconception that pianists have long fingers; instead, they often have shorter, stronger fingers, which are more suitable for the repetition of playing the instrument daily. Jewelers and craftsmen who are accustomed to finer detail have thinner, longer fingers.

They say soft handed people run out of energy faster. Also, with the new generation of video game players, softer hands reveal a lack of any kind of labor or adventurous sport in their lives. Those hands disgust me. While firm handed people often have more energy and vigor for life; those are my favorite. To think people put such little stock into a handshake.

Even the care of one’s hands helps identify much about their lives. Rough callused hands with dirt around the edges indicate a manual laborer. Men and women with well-groomed hands often work desk jobs. Some people have hands that are a mixture of the two often meaning they enjoy activities involving their hands such as gardening or working on their sports cars.

No one ever wants to shake my hand, or rather my claw. I often force handshakes just to see how uncomfortable it makes everyone. No one can shake my hand without becoming squeamish and everyone pretends not to notice, but the look in their eyes says it all.

Ectrodactyly is the proper term for the mutilations that I have for hands. My mother was a drug addict, which led to such a rare deformity. Did you know there is no information in palmistry related to claws? Also, pincers aren’t at the top of the list of subjects for artists.

It’s a shame people take such precious things for granted. Hands and fingers are used for virtually every part of life. From eating to computer work to pissing and shitting, you have to wipe with something, hands are the most integral part of each waking moment. Hands can even perform miracles through CPR and surgery. People don’t appreciate them and that’s what I’ve been put on this earth for, to help people appreciate what they have.

At the moment, I’m at a business conference I don’t belong in searching for a perfect pair of hands. Business conferences force the shaking of hands no matter how much the other party is repulsed by the sight of my claws.

My nametag says Henry, but that’s not my name. I like to visit hotels looking for conferences or meetings. Often, they don’t know who is supposed to be there, and I can slip in without a second glance. I dress well, but not too well. It’s best to blend in. I only shake the hands of people I’ve watched. I watch them have a drink, shake other people’s hands, and write on their notepads.

Once I’ve found my favorite of the group, I introduce myself and shake their hand. I like hands that are firm, groomed, and dry. Moist handshakes are the worst. I want hands that are capable not pitiful. I want hands that have been used just enough to make them strong but not too much to have worn them out.

After we shake hands, we exchange business cards. I now have their place of business, phone number, and email address. It’s that easy. I stick around the conference just long enough and then while no one is watching, I step out to “use the restroom” and I leave. Then, the fun begins.

I place the business card in my wallet and drive back home. A quick Internet search finds Michael A. Nasser in the white pages complete with his approximate age, household information, and most importantly his address and home phone number. Now, I wait.

Prison is not somewhere I plan on going to, so I have to be patient. During the waiting period, I will usually follow my hands a bit to learn their schedule. It’s good when they go out for drinks or have occasional schedule irregularities, because then a disappearance isn’t noticed as quickly.

Luckily for me, Michael A. Nasser is the picture of normality. He has a wife and kids, he works out at the gym, he spends time bowling, and most importantly he goes out alone on occasional errands. After six weeks of waiting, I’m ready. The urge can’t wait any more, but I can quiet it enough to be thorough.

I decide to meet him before going into the gym. He’ll remember my face well enough to come and speak to me.

He pulls into the parking lot and I get out of my car at the same time. When he gets out I’m ready.

“Michael? Michael Nasser? Is that you? I didn’t know you worked out here.”

“Yes, and you are....” He replies clearly trying to place a name with my face.

“Henry Weldt. We met at the investment conference a few weeks ago” I say walking over to him. “I was actually going to call you to see about consolidating and reworking my finances.”

“Well, I’d be happy to help. Just give me a call and we can set up a meeting.” He starts to walk away. He is clearly in hurry to stop this conversation. He’s probably afraid I’ll try to shake his hand again. Rage brews inside me.

“Sure, actually if you wouldn’t mind I have a few quick things from my stock portfolio I would love for you to take a look at. Could you spare a few minutes?”

Being the normal guy he is, Michael A. Nasser steps over to my car to look at my “portfolio.” As soon as he leans over, I put the chloroform over his face.

I may only have claws, but tightly gripping a handkerchief over someone’s mouth and nose is something I was born to do. I work out regularly just so I can maintain the strength to squelch any resistance. Shortly after, he’s in the car, and we’re on the way without a single car driving by or person in the parking lot.

When he comes to, he’s strapped to a chair in my basement. I’m sure he’s scared.

I change my modus operandi often enough to avoid suspicion. I always travel to find my prizes and usually I go quite far. I own a couple of properties, so I’m not always at the same area. I choose male and female hands from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Also, I don’t always kill; I’m not a monster after all.

Sometimes I get my trophies at random. I don’t always research I sometimes act opportunistically. Usually they don’t see me at all and in that case, I let them live. I just take one or both of their hands so they can truly appreciate what they had. Sometimes I check in on them months later to see if they’ve learned to be thankful for what they have or had in life. I always keep the hands in formaldehyde rather than leaving rotting flesh lying around. It’s the perfection of the hand I admire and want to preserve.

Michael A. Nasser is currently looking around at my collection too shocked to scream. But as usual, the screaming comes. I have him gagged, which muffles most of the noise and sound proofing blocks the rest. I wait for him to calm down; I prefer to use as little violence as possible. Hands weren’t made for too much violence, not even my claws were made for useless battery.

“You’re probably wondering why you’re here and what’s going to happen to you.” My voice is calm even though the excitement and agitation is welling up inside of me.

He nods his head; tears are in his eyes.

“Well, I want to make this as easy as possible, so I’ll tell you everything straight. I don’t feel there is a need for games at this point.”

He stares blankly with wide eyes like a deer.

“You have something that belongs to me, something that should have been mine from my birth. Even worse, you don’t appreciate what you have that’s mine, and I intend to make you understand and to take it back.”

He starts crying, which I can’t understand, because I haven’t even told him what’s going to happen yet. I cross my arms and stare at him waiting for him to collect himself again.

“Are you finished?” He nods his head and stares up at me again. “I’m going to have to remove your hands....”

He’s screaming again and I can’t finish my sentence. His hands are clenched in fists. I feel the rage boil inside me again. How dare he make such a crude gesture with my beautiful, perfect hands. I grab my butcher knife. He’s blubbering like an idiot and screaming some more; I yell at him.

“I didn’t want to raise my voice; I wanted this to be civil. So just SHUT UP.”

He quiets down a bit, but is still crying. I grab his left thumb and hold up the knife. I was going to keep both his hands intact, but he’s left me no choice.

“The thumb is one of the most important parts of the body since we use it every day. It marks the evolution of our species from walking on all fours to walking upright. Scientists also believe it coincides with the development of larger brains. Spiritualists believe it has to do with a person’s will and that a perfect thumb is one that is a good length and stretches up to the middle joint of the index finger, much like yours does.”

I let the knife fall and the screaming starts again. I cauterize the wound, apply local anesthetic, and wash up.

“You can stop screaming now; it won’t help your situation and the anesthetic should be kicking in now.”

Michael A. Nasser begins to calm down again. I bring the thumb, which is now resting safely in formaldehyde over to him.

“The shape of the thumb is perfect.” I say pointing out each detail. “It’s well rounded at the top and slims down so that the middle section is slightly smaller. This represents a balanced will, intellect, and a loving personality.”

I set the jar back down as he stares at me in awe. Then, he does something stupid. He tries to head butt me or some other nonsense and causes the perfect thumb to crash on the floor.

I quickly remove his right hand and slit his throat. I hate being so brutal; I had originally planned on this being a civil, polite matter, as civil as can be anyway. I was even considering letting him live. How else was I going to get him to appreciate his hands?

It’s always a shame when things don’t go as planned.

 

Rachel Sloan currently resides in Murfreesboro, TN with her fiance, dog, and cat. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in journalism. She writes short horror stories as time off from work allows her.

 

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