Foraging

ForagingPhoto license

c. 600 words

Vic the Velociraptor was having a bad night. He’d long ago eaten all the cats in his neighborhood and had to go further and further from his friend Jim’s apartment to find food. If only eating humans didn’t cause so much trouble.

Dogs were his preferred meal but he knew better than to eat the ones tied in their yard. Blood splashed around a dog house gave him away. Vic wasn’t a crime scene clean-up kind of guy. Feral dogs and runaways were perfect. A big one could fill him up for days.

“I got this.” His favorite line from runaway pit bulls, rottweilers, and german shepherds as they attacked him. They’d run straight at him and he’d bite off their heads.

If only Toronto wasn’t so big. He could go into the woods after wildlife. Jim didn’t want to move to the country. His writer friends lived all around him. Vic had often asked if there was a useless friend he could invite over for him to eat. Jim wasn’t having any of it. “Why don’t you eat a hobo?” he’d ask. “Because then the police come out looking for me and I can’t hunt for days. Do you want me to starve?”

Vic was in a drug neighborhood far from home. He always saw people here taking drugs in alleys and abandoned buildings.

“Your classic serial killer can be found by the pattern of his kills,” a woman was telling her friend. Vic had almost stepped in front of them. They were standing at the back corner of a building in the alley beside a bar. Vic stayed out of sight and listened. “They kill away from their home so the police look in the wrong neighborhood. But there’s a pattern. Some big time FBI profiler in the US found it. They put dots on a map with all the kills and add endless lines between all the dots. Wherever most of the lines go is the neighborhood of the killer.”

“You’re some smart, Irene, learning all that,” said the other woman. “You should have been a cop.”

“They don’t let crack-heads be cops, Donnie.” That’s what that smell was.

A cigarette butt arched through the air and landed down the alley. “I gotta get back inside before I get addicted from second-hand crack smoke. Ira is threatening to cut off my smokes if I don’t earn more money. I don’t need another addiction.” Vic heard her high heels clacking off down the alley.

That night, after eating Irene, Vic went home and looked up FBI profiling on the internet. That led to a lot of reading and many maps showing how kills led the police to killers. He then checked a map of Toronto and was surprised to find the areas he knew in his head matched the map.

For years to come Toronto was plagued by The Vampire Killer, a disorganized serial killer whose kills were spread out over a massive area of the city. Police couldn’t put foot patrols in all of the city where the killer might strike. The profilers did their best at predicting the killer’s home. Their lines always showed he or she lived to the north, but investigations in that area went nowhere.

The police also had trouble understanding the frequency of the kills. They had no idea it depended on the availability of stray and feral dogs.

After that day, Vic’s foraging became a lot easier and he became a happier Velociraptor.

Story by Ivan Izo.

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Peace and Quiet

Peace and QuietPhoto license

1.

“This thing just wanders around killing anybody it wants to?” asked Nick.

“Not just anybody,” said Grok. “It kills the people the military wants it to kill.” He was finding the new grad student’s dumb act more irritating every day.

“But nobody controls it. There isn’t any pilot on a military base somewhere making decisions from a control panel. Right? Sounds kind of illegal to me, Dr. Grok.”

“That will be the military’s problem. I’m only making the drone. Do you think we’d get research grants for creating robot janitors?” Phineas was sure Nick was a spy for Dr. Tom Coffee, the other professor of robotics at the university. He knew Coffee was also working on a drone. Coffee’s drone fed surveillance to a database that tracked people using facial recognition. The idea was to create a record of the normal everyday movements of persons of interest. Coffee was going to sell his drone to the NSA.

“Another field trial today?” asked Nick.

“Yes. Send it on a tour of the city. See what it brings back.” Phineas hadn’t told Nick that the drone was sending it’s images back to his lab. Whenever the drone was out, Nick was out with it. It was Nick’s job to watch the tracker on the map program and retrieve the drone if it went down.

After standing at his window to watch Nick release the drone and drive off after it, Phineas went to his desk and logged into the Party Pooper program.

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When the Levee Breaks

When the Levee BreaksPhoto license

c. 4800 words

Brent Blackmore had become obsessed with serial killers. His work as a private detective gave him long hours of solitude while he filmed insurance fraudsters and cheating husbands. Technology made it easy to watch from anonymity. He would set up a remote camera or two and hide out in his van or a nearby hotel. Most of the time, the cameras recorded nothing worth looking at. He had become a master of the alt-tab. Back and forth he’d go between the cameras and the internet.

He clicked the link Serial Killer Caught at Body Pit. Alt-tab. Hookers. No johns. Alt-tab. The story was about a man in his thirties. Not old enough. Alt-tab. The camera looked down from the second floor window at a john picking up a date. Not the right john. He had a picture of his client’s husband taped at the side of his laptop. Alt-tab. Back to the crime news.

1.

Brent had become interested in killers when he was eight years old. His violent alcoholic father had finally gone full circle and killed himself. The police called it an accident. He was drunk driving at almost twice the speed limit and went head on into an overpass pylon. It was a highway he used every day and he wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

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The Pakol

The PakolPhoto license

c. 2900 words

When Ortiz came back from Afghanistan, he was wearing this weird little red hat. It looked like the cover my aunt put on her toaster. He called it a pakol. He wouldn’t tell us the story behind it. The other guys made fun of the hat to get him to open up. No go. He was proud of that hat and we didn’t need to know why.

Ortiz had been my friend since school days. We drank our first beers together. We got laid for the first time with Mama Rainbow, an old broad who was always after teenage boys. We did our first coke together and quit together a week later. It was a bad week. We fucked up in a lot of ways and came out of it without getting arrested or killed. Ortiz went on to join the police force. I bought a vineyard.

We remained friends, drinking together every weekend until Ortiz got transferred out of the police. I hadn’t seen him in years and didn’t ask about the hat. I respected his privacy and knew he’d tell me about it someday.

It began while we were up in the hills hunting rabbits. He began with the Afghanistan story, moved backwards into his time working in the death squad, and finally got to why he left the police force. I could tell it to you backward just like I heard it, but it makes more sense in order.

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Free Novella: Toe-Cutter

Toe-Cutter cover

If you like my thriller short stories, you’ll love my free novella, Toe-Cutter. It’s a 76 page story about a man who grows up in violence and fights to be the good guy even as he sinks deeper into crime.

There’s a link to download Toe-Cutter in epub or mobi format on my Ivan’s Books page.

If you enjoy the story, consider leaving a comment on this blog post. There’s a link back to here from the book page.

Article by Ivan Izo.

A Goodbye Kiss

A Goodbye KissPhoto license

c. 2300 words

The following short story is about a character in my novel, Homicidal Tendencies. The short story and novel are not dependent on each other. You don’t need to read one to understand the other.

“All they wanted was a little protection money. A big guy came out of the back and threw them out the door.” He accelerated to catch the yellow light.

“What do you want me to do about it, Jimmy?” asked his passenger as he twisted to look out the back window. “I’m not a fighter.”

“We’re not going to do anything about the hired muscle, Lou. It’s the owners we need to deal with. They’ve called the cops so many times that the gang doesn’t have any enforcers on the street. They’re all hiding out. That’s the restaurant up ahead.”

“Thai, huh? How much we getting paid?”

“Two thousand each.” He pulled into the restaurant parking lot.

“We attacking now? You got a gun for me?”

They got out of the car. “We’re just going to eat. Have a look at the place. We’ll come back tonight and burn it down.”

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Reviews of Ethan Black’s “Irresistible” and 4 Other Novels

Book Reviews 1

Short novel reviews are a new kind of post I’m trying out. If you enjoy short stories, you enjoy books even more. I’ve read thousands of books and still find myself discovering new authors. The review posts will be my way of sharing new finds as well as old favorites.

These are unsolicited reviews and I receive nothing for writing them. The opinions are entirely my own. I will do my best to avoid spoilers. I’ve sorted the reviews from least known author to best known.

Ethan Black’s “Irresistible”

Paperback, 363 pages.

This thriller followed both a detective and a serial killer. Each were developed into interesting personalities. The story had a bit of the mystery genre in that the detective put together clues an attentive reader might have also picked up. The detective is rich, acts in odd ways, and has good insights into the workings of the criminal mind. The killer is as crazy as a bag of turtles, but able to hide it from others until it’s too late. By the end of the novel we get the killer’s whole story from inciting incident to current logic.

Verdict: I will look for more from Ethan Black.

Stephen J. Cannell’s “Cold Hit”

Paperback, 370 pages.

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