• Horace McClarm’s Invention

    by  • September 25, 2017 • Fiction • 2 Comments

    An essay by Detective Gentry Harris, as provided by Domenic diCiacca
    Art by America Jones


    “Let me assure you, Mr. McClarm, calling us was the right thing to do. I’m Detective Harris. Now take your time and start at the beginning, or you can simply show me where the body is.”

    Electronics, mechanical gadgets, and books crowded the room. Horace McClarm sat nervously at the kitchen table, trying to balance a spoon on the edge of a teacup. He glanced sideways at me with worried rheumy eyes. “The body? Oh, dear. I’m afraid that’s going to be awkward.”

    I opened my notepad and doodled circles in the left-hand margin. My partner Clayton must have set this up; it had all the earmarks of one of his elaborate pranks. When I stepped outside again, I’d likely find a dozen cops laughing their collective asses off. This morning Clayton gave me an early retirement gift, a two-dollar flip pad with my name embossed in gold on the cover: Detective Gentry Harris, alongside the astrological symbol for Mars. Cute. I can take a ribbing, really I can. But I never should have said a damn thing. “All right, Mr. McClarm, let’s just take it a step at a time. Look, I’ll help. Dwane Brice works for you, isn’t that right?”

    “Yes. He helps with my inventions. It’s my hands, you see, they’re not much good anymore.” He held up bent arthritic hands as if in apology. “I can hardly button a button. But Dwane’s good with a soldering iron. Was good.”

    I sucked my lip. “So Dwane Brice is dead. You called us to report it. Can you tell me what happened?”

    “Well–” Horace looked at me square on for the first time. “I killed him.”

    I looked squarely back. “Okay. You killed him. I believe you. Where’s the body?”

    “I need a pencil.” He got up to rummage about in the silverware drawer and opened a cabinet to stare at a stack of plates. I shook my head. Pens and pencils in easy reach littered the place. “Here, use mine.” He sat to scribble on the tablecloth. “Our planet orbits the sun at about sixty-five thousand miles an hour. Did you know that?”

    I found a pen and doodled another circle. “Horace? Tell me how you killed Dwane Brice.”

    Art for "Horace McClarm's Invention"

    I cannot begin to guess where Dwane is, he’s out there somewhere, farther than any man has ever gone. He is surely dead, but I cannot show you his corpse.


    To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2017 collection.


    Detective Gentry Harris lives in the town of Bradbury, collects rocks, reads too much, and is the only cop on Mars. He is an active and well-respected member of the Jamie Duncan Seed Colony Foundation, and will soon be leaving near space for parts unknown.


    Domenic diCiacca lives on a farm in Missouri where he excels as a time-share mattress for cats. Domenic’s hobby is making his wife laugh.


    AJ is an illustrator and comic artist with a passion for neon colors and queer culture. Catch them being antisocial on social media @thehauntedboy.


    “Horace McClarm’s Invention” is © 2017 Domenic diCiacca
    Art accompanying story is © 2017 America Jones

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    2 Responses to Horace McClarm’s Invention

    1. Annie H.
      September 25, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      A fun and thought-provoking story! I recently read a story, published (in another journal) by E. B. Fischadler also a contributor to Mad Scientist Journal, based on a similar concept, titled “Timing Isn’t Everything.” Two very different treatments re: a big problem with time travel!

    2. Domenic
      September 26, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Hey Annie H. Thanks for the comments. Try my novella ‘Time’s Angel,’ published in the Grantville Gazette, volumes 71 and 72, in the annex universe section. (Grantvillegazette.com) Another (and different) take on time travel.

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