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Latest Stories

July 28, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

The Wheel Fiddle

The melody drifted across the garden as she was picking fruit to make a summer pudding. She put down her basket, wiped the sweat from her forehead and walked around to the front of the cottage. The man stood waiting at her garden gate, he raised his cap. He…
July 28, 2018
Flash Fiction Rekha Viswanathan

Pills and Capsules

I wake up to a crisp, clear and sunny morning. The fresh coffee smell beside my bed tempts me. One long sip of the coffee and my senses kick in! I have a long day ahead. At least that's what the papers at the foot of my bed say. Glancing at the paper I see…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Stephen A Murray

Russia,Russia,Russia.

There existed in Russia a small group of intelligence operatives left over from the KGB. They are known as Sputniks. From Wikipedia: "Sputnik was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on October…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Paul Anobile

A Portrait of Slam Bang City

I was hired to paint the portrait of a billionaire who founded a small city twenty years ago in a ghost town he purchased in Arizona. Danny O’Keefe, professional wrestling promoter and executive, convinced a number of investors to build a fourteen-thousand…
July 28, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Majoki

The Deadest Generation

Sergeant Taylor always checked us thoroughly before sending us in: regulation uniform, backpacks, anti-ballistic helmets, Kevlar vests, and, of course, your gun. You couldn’t go anywhere in this place and be safe without your gun. Sergeant Taylor was strict…
July 28, 2018
General Stories J.B.Stevens

Dead Camel

The improvised explosive popped off to the convoy’s left. The armored black Suburban Neil drove muffled the sound to a dull thud. The blast seemed smaller than normal. “Anyone hurt?” the medic, Luiz, called across the radio. The team members, in four matching…
July 28, 2018
Romance Stories Jerry Hogan

He'll Ask Me To Dance Again

Jay I’m Jay, and I have never been to the My Time Dance Studio before tonight. As I entered, the interior projected a garish 1930s Art Deco motif. Greenish, glow-in-the-dark, semilucent plastic tubing wrapped around the hand railings separating one sitting…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Jim Bartlett

The Comebacker

Cornstalk stretches forward, the look almost as if he’s about to fall headfirst off the mound, saved only by the slapping of his left hand to his knee. He locks eyes with his catcher, then lets his gaze wander down just below his glove for the sign. Uncle…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Susan C. Nigra

Never Kill The Author

Oh My God! What’s happening? This has never happened before. I am cornered, trapped, boxed in with no safe way out. There has always been a way out before, miraculous last minute saves. I think back to how I got here and I remember I was assigned this case as…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Thomas Schmidt

The Streets of Camden

Saturday night was cold and wet. Mike Joseph walked cautiously down Norris Street on his way to the Whitman Park Field, a large green space inside the depressed neighborhood. Propositioned twice by street walkers, he kept moving while shifting his head from…
July 13, 2018
Mystery Stories Rekha Viswanathan

The Enchanted Woods

The boys are on a trip. A trip into the woods. Accompanied by their family they trudge along a narrow path, a route that had obviously been traced by human footsteps, a trail that had been trodden many a time. They walk cautiously, startled by the snap of a…
July 13, 2018
Flash Fiction Carl Perrin

What Could go Wrong

If you plan every detail carefully, nothing can go wrong. I believed that when I was a teenager. Like the time Billy Long and I decided to make our own beer. Once in a while we used to steal a couple of Billy’s father’s beers, but we were always afraid we…

 

 

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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