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Dara Naraghi's graphic novel Lifelike is now available in both digital and print editions. Click here for more info.

Books – Dara
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Image of Igor Movie Prequel
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Image of Terminator: Salvation Movie Prequel
Image of Witch & Wizard Volume 2: Operation Zero (Witch & Wizard (Idw))
Image of Ghostbusters: Haunted Holidays
Image of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now
Image of The Absurd Adventures of Archibald Aardvark Volume 1: Bullets, Booze, and Beelzebub
Image of MGM Drive-in Theater: Motel Hell and IT
Books -Panel
Image of No Dead Time
Image of Comic Book Tattoo Special Edition
Image of Saint Germaine: Tales of an Immortal
Image of Sherlock Holmes & Kolchak: Cry For Thunder S/N Limited Edition HC
Image of Ghost Sonata
Image of Vampire The Masquerade Volume 1: Blood and Roses
Image of Moonstone Monsters Volume 1

Welcome back to Panel 350, our experiment in flash fiction (stories told in 350 word or less). Here’s my contribution for this week:

The Old Man’s Book

By Dara Naraghi

The old man shifted his weight on the park bench, basking in the rays of sunlight filtering down through the gangly trees. It was a rare January day in New York, with temperatures hovering around a comfortable 70 degrees. The first real break in the heat wave had brought him, and a few dozen other adventurous souls, out into the last green vestiges of Central Park.

Turning back to his book, he flipped a page on the massive hardback, his eyes dancing across the old typeface. In the background, the constant hum of the irrigation pumps, delivering precious water from the Hudson River, drowned out the chirps of a few lone birds.

A teen flopped down next to the old man, breaking his reverie. She pulled out her mobile and powered up the virtual display. A half dozen distinct feeds began playing at once, music and news and movie broadcasts simultaneously competing for attention, audio waves rolling over each other like waves whipped up by a storm.

“Holy shit, is that an actual book?” she asked, mockingly.

He sighed. “Yes.”

“Oh, wow! That’s so old timey! I mean, like, it doesn’t do anything. It’s not even wired. Come on, grandpa, get with the–”

And then she screamed.

The old man looked up to see a mutated spider, the size of his fist, crawling across the bench towards her. It was likely not poisonous, but why risk it? He lifted the massive book and brought the full weight of it down on the intruder, ending the threat with an obscene, squishy thump.

If there was a hint of gratitude in the teen’s eyes, it was lost behind twin pools of horror and disgust. She fled the bench without a word, raucous mobile in tow.

The old man bent down and wiped the back of the book on the grass, dislodging the spider carcass. He then repositioned himself on the bench, and continued reading.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, a shrill voice echoed “Like, it doesn’t do anything.”

A smile crept across his lips.

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