Literary Speculative Fiction


ecember 19th. Her birthday.

        Cathy cried softly into her pillow, a copy of the local paper spread out on her bed. The paper was open to the horoscope page, and she’d enclosed the entire paragraph for Sagittarius with a pink heart and highlighted the relationship sentence:

        Today is a day of consolidation: look for a sign from your partner that they’re ready to take the next step.

        Oh, Tommy had taken the next step, all right. He’d decided to break off their relationship…on her birthday…after nearly a year together.

        Cathy cried as she remembered the good days. She never imagined that the unremarkable teacher from the archery range could hide such a glorious sense of humor that he could overcome her initial unimpressed reaction to make her love him. Even less did she suspect, over the course of their long courtship, that he would ever break her heart.

        She screamed into her pillow and picked up the paper. She tore it into shreds with a frustrated growl. She’d get back at him. She’d get back at everyone.

        Cathy stormed out of her room and into her garage.

        No. Not the car. The car had license plates, and she could be identified too easily. She looked around the garage until her eyes settled on the aqua-colored bicycle she never used.

        Off she went to look for the pump, smiling. Not quite a centaur, but close enough.

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        Edward Smith had seen a lot of strange things in his twenty years as a policeman, but this, he thought as he spoke to the woman with the arrow protruding from her bottom, might be the strangest yet. He was glad she’d agreed to be questioned in the ambulance. People often forgot details if you questioned them later. The paramedics had injected her with local painkillers, so it should be all right.

        “Could you recognize this person if you saw them again?”

        “No, she was wearing a mask.” The victim was a matronly lady, fiftyish, not the kind to get into a violent confrontation. A schoolteacher or a housewife.

        “A woman, then.”

        “Oh, yes. I saw that clearly.”

        “Didn’t you realize something was wrong when she approached with a mask and a bow?”

        “She rode up from behind on a bicycle. I never saw her or the bow. The first thing I knew was the sharp pain in my–”

        “Yes, yes.”

        “And then she rode off. That’s it.”

        “I’ll be honest with you,” Edward said. “Nothing fits here. People don’t ride up on bicycles and shoot strangers with arrows. Can you think of anyone who might have done this? Someone at work, maybe?”

        “I work from home.”

        “And what do you do?”

        “I write the daily horoscope for the Mercury.”

        He wasn’t getting anywhere. Maybe they’d have some ideas down at headquarters.  His sixth sense told him he’d never know the link between this innocuous woman and the violent criminal who’d assaulted her.

        Edward sighed and closed his notebook.

Author Bio

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer with over three hundred stories published in fifteen countries in seven languages.  He is a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA. His latest novel is a dark historic fantasy entitled The Swords of Rasna (2022). He has also published five science fiction novels, four monster books, and a thriller entitled Timeless. Visit his website for more books and stories.

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