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  Table of contents Issue Fifteen PICKED APART

by
STEPHANIE MYERS
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T

ick. Tick. Tick.






Ten to five.



Donned apron, grabbed gloves, eased them over her aching hands.



This one better be quick.



She moved to the slab, unzipped the bag, exposed the corpse, slightly glistening with humidity and decomposition. Made a mental note to check the thermostat.



Body: Supine. Contracted.



Flesh: Seared.



Head: Severed at shoulders.



Feet: Missing.



She peered into the neckless, gaping thoracic and abdominal cavities. Saved from collapse by sternum and ribs. Made lighter by missing mammaries.



She had seen this before. The exact arrangement of limbs. Bound with bungee-like cord. Cuts clean. Lack of internal organs. Lack of gender identifying genitalia.



The M.O. of a skilled, methodical killer.



Tick. Tick. Tick.



She inserted the blade at angle. Pale flesh separated, exposing adipose tissue: yellow-tan, clumpy, and muscle: gray-pink, darker where marrow spilled from busted bone.



Vessels: Flattened. Fixed.



She studied the binding, right fibula-tibia tied over left, cord drawn up spine.



She logrolled the body.



Cord continued under bilateral humerus, knotted midway between scapula.



Tick. Tick. Tick.



Her heart lurched. A surge of compassion compelled her to cut the cord. Cut the cord.



She sawed, tugged, popped.



Free. She imagined the legs with feet. Dashing, darting, dodging an attacker.



Had it recognized the assailant?



Had it even registered what was happening?



First head: Decapitated, then feet: Amputated.



Exsanguinated. Quick. Done. Disturbing enough.



But what if reversed?



Tick. Tick. Tick. Thump.



What the hell?



She felt watched. Glanced. Saw nothing. Took a deep breath.



Perhaps some music to lighten the mood?



She shed one glove, tapped The Police on her playlist, found solace in the syncopated drumming.



Canary in a coalmine.



She sang its last refrain.



She sliced to the beat, removing necessary pieces to set aside as she went.



Bisected the sternum.



Thump. Thump.



She scanned the room. Saw the door slightly ajar.



Swallow.



“Hello? Who’s there?”



Silence.



She shoved the door shut with her foot.



She returned to the body. Settled. Focused on finishing.



Every breath you take. Every move you make.



Knowing where Sting was going, she used the handle of her blade to hit SKIP.



While the next song lined up, she reached inside the thorax.



Tick. Tick. Tick.



Five twenty seven.



This was taking far too long.



She had other tasks to complete before six.



Feeling foolish, she resolved to stop spooking herself.



No matter what.



The beat began, it alluded her.



Familiar? Yes, but which?



Her fingers felt the backside of the ribs.



Then touched something loose inside.



Sting began.



”Once that you’ve decided on a killing.”



Thump. Thump. Thump.



Cupped the thing. Withdrew her hand.



Thump. Thump.



Louder now.



She knew what she held.



She did not have to see.



Thump. Thump. Thump.



The music continued.



“First you make a stone of your heart.”



THUMP. THUMP.



Eyes: Shut.



Swallow: Stopped.



Chest: Clenched against breath.



THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.



She unclasped her hand.



Dared to look.



A heart lay still.



THUMP.



She glanced up.



He stared.



“What’s for dinner?”



Relief.



“Chicken.”



   
   

 

endmark



Stephanie Myers lives near Portland, Oregon, with her husband and kids and would like to be a writer when she grows up.



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