An essay by Curtis Hale, as provided by Nathan Crowder
Art by Luke Spooner

The detective paced the room, making a great show of looking over my arrest report, but it was the ventriloquist dummy in the rumpled blue suit that really held my attention. The detective barely spared me a glance when he came in with the wooden monstrosity. He set it in the chair across from me, picked up my file, and started pacing as he read.

He seemed to notice me for the first time, an apologetic smile flickering across his thin lips. “Don’t mind my partner Detective Pine,” he said.

“Yeah,” the dummy said. “Pretend I’m not even here.”

I almost fell out of my chair. “What the fu–”

The detective interrupted me. “Please, no swearing. It says here that when the officers picked you up, you were driving a 2017 Pegasus 3000XS, pearl white, with dealer plates. You claimed you had recently purchased the vehicle but had not yet transferred title. Is that correct?”

My attention never left Detective Pine, who seemed to be staring at me with his glassy eyes, and I only caught part of what the detective had been saying. “Yeah. I just bought the car.”

“Do you have proof of the transaction? A receipt, perhaps? A cancelled check?”

“A photo of you shaking hands with the previous owners, maybe?” the dummy said.

A trick. It’s gotta be a trick. Gotta be some new way to rattle me. A radio maybe, with a remote control for the jaw. Someone’s crazy science project.

The detective shook his head and advanced to the table. He set the file down in front of his wooden associate. “Although a photo with you and the previous owners might not help your case too much. We found their bodies in a vacant lot off Adams Street.”

I kept my trap shut. I figured they would probably get a stolen vehicle charge to stick, but I’d be damned if I’d give them enough rope to hang me for murder.

Art for "Dummy"

We sat in silence for several minutes, staring at each other. Trick or no, the dummy was starting to get under my skin. The goddamned thing even blinked occasionally as if for my benefit.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2018 collection.

Curtis Hale is currently serving a thirty-year sentence for second degree murder. He spends his time at the Sugar Mountain Penitentiary in the woodshop and has been a model prisoner.

Nathan Crowder intends to spend the rest of his life ventriloquist dummy free. Creator of the Cobalt City shared fiction universe, he is a writer of horror, fantasy, and superhero fiction. Found at both NathanCrowder.com and in Seattle, he owns a well-used wood axe.

Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.

“Dummy” is Copyright 2018 Nathan Crowder
Art accompanying story is Copyright 2018 Luke Spooner

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