The Time Assassin

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2037 – A secret location in Mandan, North Dakota

He opened his eyes and the bright lights made him blink.

A white room. He was lying on a bed in the center of the room. White sheets and covers. He was dressed in white pants and a white shirt. His feet were bare. His head was bald. His face was smooth and hairless.

He felt stiff like he’d been laying down for a long time. He wasn’t sure where he was at.

“Good morning Josh…” a mellow feminine voice greeted him from hidden speakers.

It’s time for today’s mission.”

He sat up, stretched, and watched a hidden door slide open. He felt slightly dizzy when he stood up, but it went away immediately after he took a step. Down a long corridor with overhead lighting.

He stopped when the corridor abruptly ended. A sliding door opened and he entered.

The room was full of computers and technical hardware not found anywhere else on earth. Three male technicians with long white coats were taking turns viewing a small monitor.

One of them became aware of Josh who was standing there and waiting for instructions.

“Josh! There you are! Come over here and take a seat,” he said, gesturing towards an adjustable reclining chair with wires and cables attached to it.

He obediently sat down.

The technician, Eric, pulled an electronic headpiece down from above Josh’s head and secured it with a strap under his chin. Lou, the second technician punched a code into a computer and a thick glass shell lowered down over Josh.

Perry, the third technician finished instructing his computer and a thick titanium shell lowered down over the glass one. Eric spoke into a speaker, “How are you doing Josh? Are you ready?”

The monitor he was watching went blank. “Yes,” he replied.

Lou punched in the time machine’s coordinates:

November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. Dallas, Texas, Dealey Plaza.

Josh stepped into a grassy area and pulled out a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter model 91/38 Italian rifle from beneath his trench coat. No one paid attention to him when he took aim and fired the fatal shot that killed President John F. Kennedy.

He quickly covered the rifle back up and headed for the Texas School Depository. People were running around in a panic. No one noticed him enter the building or plant the rifle on the second floor.

Back in 2037

The three technicians watched the titanium shell’s glow fade away. Perry and Lou sat down and began typing at their computers. The titanium shell rose and disappeared into the ceiling. The glass shell followed.

Josh was still in the chair. Unconscious.

While they waited for him to wake up they ran the video of the assassination again, making sure there were no slip-ups. They had a duty to country. Failure was not an option.

Josh was a one-in-a-million freak. He was the only one who had ever survived their time machine. They couldn’t explain it. They just knew he was special. They were able to control his memories with drugs so that he never recalled any of his missions.

When he wasn’t on a mission, he ate and slept for his country. That’s what they told him. For his country. He was a patriot. A 21st century Captain America. When the Commander-In-Chief called he must always be ready.

As It Stands, imagine how our government would misuse time technology!

The ‘Sleepers’ Mission For Humanity

 

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2068 – The former city of Los Angeles now called, Last Hold by the inhabitants

After the second nuclear war there were no cities left standing. They were all ruins.

Survivors worldwide, clustered into small groups that became tribes. There were no more functioning governments after 2049.

The modern technology that eventually led to the world’s destruction was gone. Lost. Broken. And, no one left to fix them. Communication between countries collapsed. No cell phones. No electricity. No computers.

The citizens of Last Hold were a collection of survivors from along the West Coast of what was once the United States of America.

The seven leaders of Last Hold lived in the ruins of the once magnificent Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library. The ground floor was all that remained of the once four-story Italian Romanesque architecture.

Two massive, hand-chased bronze doors, weighing a ton each, lay flat and covered in debris. The once elegant stained glass windows, chandeliers, light fixtures, custom furnishing and cabinetry were reduced to scraps on the ground.

The remains of a double-sided grand staircase that once led down to the ground floor from the first floor, still stubbornly stood. The marble, granite, and travertine floors on the ground level were fractured and uneven.

It was here that all the resident’s gathered everyday to get their work assignments from the seven leaders. Everything from the precious vegetable gardens to disposal of human sewage was organized and crudely efficient.

Everyone in Last Hold had a daily mission to complete. The small militia patrolled the library’s perimeters day and night. Scouts roamed for miles around looking for threats to the community.

The council of seven leaders also had a sacred mission; to monitor the sleepers, a group of 24 men and women who voluntarily became cyborgs to save mankind’s technologies. They were designed to survive, and sleep for eternity, or until such time as mankind could use them without destroying itself and the planet.

The accumulated knowledge of every civilization on earth rested in the sleepers memories.

Only the council of seven knew of their existence, deep below the ground floor in a sealed vault built a half-century before.

It was agreed on from the start that only certain people would know of the sleepers existence. When one died, the other six would pick a suitable replacement.

The whole purpose for the secrecy was to avoid another nuclear holocaust. The founders who made the arrangements and recruited the volunteers to be cyborgs, believed that mankind wasn’t ready for the advanced technologies that nearly wiped out the human race twice.

In 2068, one of the seven died from old age.

The remaining six, all seniors now, interviewed a young man who they felt would be suitable to carry on their sacred duty awhile ensuring that another generation would be there to carry on.

After the acceptance ceremony and vows, he was given one of the seven keys to the vault. His name was Adam. There was one important thing about him that the other six did not know…

Adam had a weakness for beautiful women. More than once in his life he’d been taken advantage of by a lusty woman with her own designs. Shortly after gaining his new status in the community he met one of the most beautiful women he’d ever saw.

Her name was Eve. When he playfully hinted one night that he had a secret, she pleaded with him to tell her. Eve was always a curious person and could not let that pass. After weeks of pleading, sometimes with tears in her eyes, he agreed to tell her if she promised not to tell anyone else.

She lied.

As It Stands, using the Bible’s story of Adam & Eve, I decided to update it with a twist or two.

Revenge of The Kentucky ‘Coon’ Boy

cute-raccoon-taylor-momsen-zoo-Favim.com-114927Brownsville, Kentucky, 1869

Elijah Watson petted the big raccoon snuggled up against him on the porch.

He liked to sit out there most of the day while his big sister cleaned and cooked inside.

When someone went by, on horse, or just walking, he always waved and smiled at them. Most folks in Brownsville ignored his odd behavior. There were some however, who went out of their way to be kind to him.

Mr. Buell at the General Store always had a piece of hard candy for Elijah. It was common knowledge he wasn’t right in the head, but he was considered harmless by the townspeople.

According to the town elders, Elijah was six years-old when he saw his parents murdered by two Confederate soldiers who thought they were hiding a slave. They didn’t even notice the frail little boy huddled in the corner as they light the furniture on fire.

A neighbor who saw the smoke quickly gathered up the townspeople and organized a bucket brigade to keep the fire from spreading. It was Elijah’s sister Sarah who raced into the home and rescued him.

That was the last time he spoke. Months after the horrific event Elijah wandered away from their temporary tent home one night. He went into the forest and roamed around unafraid of animals.

At one point he discovered a raccoon caught in a trap. The cruel steel teeth were sunk into the raccoon’s rear leg. It was lying there exhausted from struggling. Without hesitation, Elijah summoned up all of his strength and pulled the trap open.

The startled raccoon managed to hobble away, but not before it sat there and looked Elijah in the eyes. A silent communication passed between them.

When Sarah found him the next day he was still wandering around aimlessly in the forest. After that Sarah kept a closer eye on him. One day she came out to the porch of their recently rebuilt home, and found him sitting next to a huge raccoon.

Her first instinct was that it may be rabid, out in the day like this, but the longer she looked it became apparent it was enjoying being petted by Elijah. She watched the unusual scene with interest for over an hour before it left.

When she questioned Elijah about his new friend he smiled. She hadn’t seen him smile since their parent’s violent deaths. She smiled back at him.

Since that day, the raccoon would come by at different times and snuggle up next to Elijah for a few hours on the porch. Folks got use to the odd sight after a while. One evening when Elijah went outside to get some firewood his raccoon friend showed up with six other raccoons.

On closer inspection Elijah could tell five of them were smaller and younger, and the other was nearly his friend’s size. It was his family. A delighted Elijah sat down on a log and took turns petting them as each one approached him.

After petting each of them they hurried off into the darkness. The biggest one, his friend, sat and looked at him for a while. He came up and brushed against Elijah like a big cat. Then he scampered away.

Meanwhile, Sarah was wondering what happened to him, and stepped out onto the porch calling his name. He appeared with some split wood a moment later, and grinned at her in that loopy way of his.

As fate would have it, the two men who killed Elijah and Sarah’s parents came though town one day. They tied up their horses and went into the saloon. Hours later the two men came out of the saloon staggering and drunk as lords.

They managed to make it to the boarding house across from where Elijah was sitting and petting the raccoon. One of them spotted him and started laughing. That brought the other back out and they stumbled across the dirt road to where he sat.

“Oh Lordy! Look at the Coon Boy!” one of them laughed.

They saw a frail young man and easy prey. Inside the house, Sarah heard the commotion on the porch and grabbed her rifle and ran out the front door. The startled men backed up as she leveled the shotgun’s twin barrels at them.

She didn’t recognize who they were because she wasn’t in the house when her parents were murdered, but a grim glimmer in Elijah’s eyes told a different story. He knew who they were.

Threatening all kinds of retribution, the two drunks made their way back to the boarding house and to their bedrooms.

Despite Sarah’s pleading, Elijah wanted to stay outside longer. She finally gave up and went inside. He waited patiently. When the raccoon showed up he petted it, and asked, “Will you kill them for me?”

The next day the boarding house maid found the two bloody bodies in their beds. They were torn to pieces by wild animals the Sheriff said, after examining the corpses.

“Gotta tell you boys, I ain’t never seen these kinds of wounds. Looks like a bunch of varmits ganged up on ’em.” 

Sarah couldn’t believe her ears when Elijah asked for more milk that morning at breakfast. The rest of her life she made sure to tell everyone about the miracle.

As It Stands, one persons revenge can be another’s miracle.

The Curio Shop On The Corner

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Louisiana 1924 – Livingston County

The Village of Albany – Population 396

Main Street consisted of a barber shop, a general store, two boarding houses, a saloon, and on the corner, a curio shop with a fully articulated skeleton hanging in the front window.

The only time people came to Albany was if they had relatives there, or if they went to the curio shop. The owner and curator of the shop, Mr. Li Wei, was a wrinkled old man with a long thin white beard and piercing blue eyes.

He walked with the aid of a long wooden staff that had intricate carvings on it. He looked out-of-place wearing a plain black suit, white shirt, and red bow tie. A photo of him in full Mandarin dress when he was a young man hung over a display of shrunken heads and poison arrow tips.

In the course of Mr. Li Wei’s years of travel he acquired curiosities from all over the world. From Memento Mori Dolls to an ornate Tibetan Human Kapala, Mr. Li Wei collected oddities that went from the macabre to the ugly.

There were worn out old movie props and rows of apothecary jars holding strange herbs and roots in glass cases. Trick boxes made from bamboo sat alongside intricate pieces of carved ivory in the front display case.

Mr. Li Wei also had a dark secret.

He provided protection for werewolves by locking them up in his cellar on nights when there was going to be a full moon. It started with his son, Niu, then his werewolf friends in Livingston County began showing up too.

On some full moons he had as many as four werewolves locked up in chains and snarling at one another until dawn. In the morning he’d unlock the chains of the sleeping men.

The good news for Livingston County was that ever since Mr. Li Wei opened his curio shop unsolved murders went down to zero. For thirty years there was no talk about loup-garou’s in Livingston County, unlike the other counties surrounding it.

Who knows how many more years that arrangement could have gone on if not for the local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan?

One afternoon a Kluxer saw a black man enter the curio store. The problem with that was the curio store was considered to be on the white side of town. Blacks were not allowed to be there.

The Kluxer, sensing some fun, got out of his chair and ran over to the saloon. Minutes later six rowdy drunken men showed up at the curio shop. Their leader went in first and moved Mr. Li Wei aside as he looked for the black man. He wasn’t there!

Where’s that nigger?” the Kluxer shouted.

“Not here anymore. Go away,” Mr. Li Wei calmly replied.

“Are you screwing with me chink?” 

“No screw. Li, no know. Man leave.”

The others outside grew restless when they saw there wasn’t going to be any action.

“Niggers are not allowed on this street! You know that.”

“That what Li said. So man go.”

As the Kluxer walked out the door he couldn’t help but feel the old man was hiding something. How could that “darkie” get away so fast he wondered?

The next night the curious Kluxer, Billy Ray Nedhem, decided to stake out the curio shop instead of going out hunting with his friends.

It’s going to be full moon tonight Billy Ray! C’mon!”

“Naw…you old boys go without me. I’m feeling a bit peckish.”

From Billy Ray’s position on the second floor bedroom in the boarding house he was able to see the curio shop clearly. Hours slipped by as Billy Ray tried not to nod off when he saw a man appear at the curio shop door.

Instantly alert, he watched the man enter. He was white. He kept watching and another man showed up. He was black! Then another white man went in. It was enough for Billy Ray who grabbed his hunting rifle and run downstairs.

Two of his Kluxer brothers were playing checkers in the front parlor.

“Grab your shootin irons!” Billy Ray shouted. “Follow me!”

When the three men burst through the door Li Wei was sitting in a wicker rocking chair puffing on a long whalebone pipe. His eyes lit up when Billy ray pointed his rifle at him.

“That does it you sneaky chink! Where are you hiding them? I seen ’em come in here with my own eyes.” 

Mr. Li Wei looked over at a bright red oriental rug in the corner. He knew Billy Ray had been watching him. So he didn’t chain the werewolves in the cellar up. The moon was full when he pointed at the rug and said, “Trap door.”

Billy Ray grabbed the rug and threw it aside. Grinning he opened it and charged down the steps with his buddies behind him. Mr. Li Wei quickly closed the door and put the rug back over it.

He could barely hear their screams.

As It Stands, some things are best left alone.

 

The Last Ship To Saturn

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The crew of the Golden Geode crossed their fingers as the ship struggled through a space storm.

There was no turning back to earth. They had to get to the closest planet, Saturn.

The ship’s hull quivered as they entered Saturn’s atmosphere that was also experiencing massive turbulence and white-out blizzards.

The Planetary Federation Way Station was their destination. Relying on the ship’s automatic pilot they landed on an open strip of land near the Way Station. The ship’s three-man crew and six passengers donned protective suits and helmets and climbed down the ship’s ladder.

The space suits had built-in guidance systems so the tiny group were able to find the Way Station despite being blinded by the furious blizzard. An automatic air lock door opened as they approached.

The environment inside was exactly like earth. Lining one wall was a series of hologram fireplaces and comfy country scenes. There was a well-stocked bar offering liquors from throughout the solar system.

The supervisor at the Way Station asked the Golden Geode’s captain if the supply ship was close behind him?

No. As far as I could tell, it turned around before the space storm hit. We were lucky to even make it here. My ship has suffered some damage that will have to be taken care of.”

A look of concern passed across the supervisor’s face. He stroked his beard thoughtfully before telling the captain the bad news, “We’re almost out of food for the nine people here (counting myself), and with the addition of nine more people we have a big problem.”

The captain’s relief at landing safely and being inside a shelter slipped away like a thief in the night. Now he was faced with another life or death situation.

Just to complicate things, three of the passengers were criminals being transported to the prison planet Pluto. The other three passengers were their guards.

According to the Way Station’s weather service the blizzard wasn’t going away soon. The wind gusts were the fastest ever recorded since the station was built 50 years ago. No one was going anywhere.

The food was rationed among the eighteen people and lasted one week. Hunger was clawing at their guts after 10 days and the first fight broke out. One of the employees at the Way Station had been drinking booze on and off for two days when he assaulted the only female employee.

The attack was swift and vicious! He bit her arm and then sunk his teeth into her left breast. The woman’s screams aroused one of the guards and he ran to her rescue. He hit the attacker on his head with a billy club.

In his anger he didn’t stop hitting the attacker until he was a bloody mess and dead. By then everyone was awake and watching the gruesome scene. The captain and the supervisor pulled the guard off the dead man.

He had blood splattered all over his face and arms. They drug the body over to a corner of the main lounge and threw a rug over it. After questioning the female employee they decided not to take any action against the guard.

By day 14 everyone, but one of the guards, was so weakened they could barely walk. All they had was water, which they drank in such quantities it made them sick and spew it back up. One guard wasn’t losing weight like the rest.

Finally, one night when everyone was sleeping, but the captain and the guard, the loathsome truth came to light. The captain, who woke up from a nightmare, saw the guard lift the rug in the corner of the room.

He watched as the guard cut away slices of dead flesh and then cover the body back up.

The next day the captain told the supervisor what he saw. They both walked over to the body and lifted up the rug. Almost half of the rotting flesh was gone. Cut to the bone.

They gathered everyone together in the center of the main lounge. Almost all had to crawl to get there. A vote was taken. Not to punish the guard, but to do the same thing. When the rest of the meat was gone they decided to hold a lottery.

The loser was the next meal.

When the supply ship arrived two months later they were surprised to see the Way Station empty. Searchers finally discovered a man hiding behind the bar.

“You look good enough to eat,” the captain said, as they helped him to his feet.

 As It Stands, I had the ill-fated Donner Party in mind when I wrote this modern version about cannibalism.

Plutonian Plans of Conquest Dashed

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“Plutonians!” the court’s Master-of-Arms called out “the time to expand our influence in Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belts, is here!”   

The crowd of thousands applauded. The clapping resonated across the open courtyard of the castle and rose to the balcony where the King, and Master-of-Arms, stood with their arms crossed.

“Our scientists and engineers have built a spacecraft that will allow us to travel to the nearby dwarf planets of Haumea and Makemake. After observing them for decades the consensus is there’s life on both planets!

“I don’t have to tell you what that means. Our over-population problem is solved. But we must first explore these planets by sending an expedition to each one.

Long live the King!”   

“Long live the king!” the crowd echoed.

Later, inside the castle, the King was sitting on his throne and laughing with amusement at the life and death struggle before him. The knights were armed with short swords and they were both bleeding from numerous wounds.

Finally, the shorter one drove his knife into the open mouth of his opponent! Blood instantly gushed out as the warrior fell dead on his feet. The winner, Sir Doucet, turned to the king and bowed deeply.

“Good move!” the approving monarch gushed, “You shall lead the expedition to Haumea. Your primary job will be to pacify whatever people live there and make them our slaves. You’ll be accompanied by a team of our leading scientists who will explore the planet’s natural resources and see if they are of use to us.”

“As you say, my King. I’ll leave in the morning.”

When the Plutonian ship landed on Haumea, Sir Doucet gathered a group of knights to accompany him. They donned their space suits and went out the air-lock.

There were a lot of things they didn’t know about the planet they were going to conquer. Another team composed of scientists went the opposite way towards a mountain range.

After Sir Doucet’s team had been walking for days in the arid desert they came upon a forest. It extended as far as they could see. There was no way around it. The trees and thick underbrush hid the sun’s rays.

Sir Doucet turned on the light mounted on his helmet and gestured for the twelve men to follow.

Strange animal shrieks and other odd noises coming from the trees made the men jumpy. Then the ground started to rumble as something large approached the team. When the beast landed in their midst the carnage was instant!

Blood soaked the forest floor and body parts flew as the initial attack survivors tried to get away from the monster’s fury. It was hairy and huge. Bigger than any living thing on Pluto.

Only Sir Doucet, and a badly wounded knight, managed to escape from the deadly forest. Both men were in shock as they slowly made their way back to the ship.

Back on Pluto

“I read your report Sir Doucet, and I can’t say I’m pleased. There’s not one good reason to inhabit Haumea!”

“Forgive me, my lord. We tried.”

“You’re going to have to try harder when you go to Makemake! I want good news this time, or I’ll use your head for a kick ball! Now, get out of here!”

The trip to Makemake took longer than the last one. Sir Doucet had plenty of time to think about his lost comrades, and the king’s dire warning. He felt trapped.

Makemake

This time the team didn’t need helmets to breath. The atmosphere was the same as their planet. A real good sign.

The scientific team was thrilled to find minerals and other usable resources. Sir Doucet’s team roved around looking to make contact with someone, or something. They walked across fertile fields of grass and saw mighty rivers flowing into the horizon.

They saw small mammals and brightly colored birds. The multi-colored trees made a beautiful backdrop to the landscape. The temperature was mild with a gentle breeze as the team trudged on.

When the team stopped to take a break, a bright light suddenly hovered over them! The light grew larger and moved around until it faced the team.

“Welcome to Heaven,” the angel said, while becoming visible to them. “Just repent your sins and you can stay.”

Back on Pluto

“I don’t care! I want another ship built!” the king roared at his court.

“But sire, we sent our best scientists on the last expedition that disappeared,” the Court Chamberlin replied.

As It Stands, I thought this was a novel way to get to Heaven!

The Little Pawnshop of Horrors

thUDZN1MVJEstuardo Zacapa, late of Guatemala, bought a little pawn shop in Oakland, California, for a price he couldn’t refuse.

His cousin and lawyer said not to talk about what a great deal he got with anyone.

The prior owner was killed by a crackhead who carried a shotgun into the store to sell. When told he wasn’t interested in buying it, the crackhead fired both barrels into the owner’s body!

Estuardo did not know this when he bought the business. Even if he did know it, chances were he would have bought it anyway. It was a chance to come to America. The land of his dreams.

It took him twenty years to save up a nest egg big enough to realize his dream of leaving Guatemala. His cousin, Adolfo Benitez, moved to Oakland fifteen years ago, and had his own little restaurant that brought in enough to support his big family of eight children.

It was he who kept an eye out for business opportunities for Estuardo. It was he that talked Estuardo into learning how to speak English ten years ago. So when he called one day about buying a pawn shop in Oakland, Estuardo eagerly agreed to.

Adolfo set him up with a passport, work visa, and information on how to apply for citizenship.

A week later, Estuardo was living in a small apartment in downtown Oakland. He was alone in the world, and his needs were simple. He put all of his trust in his cousin’s advise and bought the store.

He lived in the apartment for a month as the sale went through escrow. During that time he read everything he could get his hands on about pawn shops. Trade magazines, and books, that gave him the basics he needed. He hoped.

When he finally got the key to the store he moved his meager belongings into the smallest of the two rear rooms. There was a bed frame, but no box springs or mattress in it. A three-legged night table stood next to the maple headboard.

He didn’t hold a grand opening because he couldn’t afford advertising. He needed what he had left to eat, pay his water and electric bills, and a small cushion for emergencies. So he just hung an Open sign on the front display window one day.

He was surprised when a dozen customers showed up. Seven of them pawned items for money. The other three bought items he had for sale. One of the sales was a wizen monkey head that looked alarmingly like a human shrunken head.

It came with a piece of paper certifying that it wasn’t a human head, and was harvested 100 years ago when there were no restrictions against such souvenirs. The other two sales were a watch, and a faux gold necklace with colored stones.

Some of the items pawned were a Japanese Katana sword, a high-end coffee machine, a nearly new set of socket wrenches, a 1975 String Ray bicycle, a set of naked manikins, and a Black and Decker skill saw still in the box.

When Estuardo decided to renovate the two back rooms he tore the carpeting out and the old dry wall. During that process he discovered two badly decomposed bodies standing up behind his bedroom wall.

They were so old they looked like mummies. He called the police and they came and recovered the bodies and left. It shook him up, but he managed to finish the room makeovers a week later.

He never heard back from the police and didn’t particulary want to walk into the police station and ask about the two dead people that were in his room. His curiousity was aroused and he went to the public library.

He went through reams of past issues of the daily newspaper the East Bay Express, all the way back to it’s inception in 1978. The Express, known for investigative news and feature stories would have what he was looking for according to the libarian; any information about his pawn store.

It did. The pawn store building dated back to 1911. It started out as a general store but transformed over the generations into a pawn store around 1931. The building was the site of countless murders over the decades.

The more he read he got a feeling of dread. Since the first murder happened in 1914, not a year passed where a murder wasn’t committed! Some years there were as many as six murders!

It wasn’t always an owner who was murdered every year. Some owners ran the business for ten years and more before being killed themselves. But, in the end they all died violently. By the time Estuardo was done reading about the building’s history he knew he had to do something.

The building, the store, demanded a human sacrifice every year. It became apparent to paranoid Estuardo that as long as he owned the building someone had to die. He thought about the dark Mayan gods of his heritage and their demand for blood.

He decided he’d rather be the priest than a victim and fed the building a month later by shooting a customer in the head while he was bent over a glass case looking at a Katana. Afterward, he told the police that he was attacked.

As It Stands, I know there must be a cursed old store building genre out there in the hinterlands that I’ve tapped into.