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Lifelike

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
Image of Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland (Witch & Wizard (Idw))
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 foray into flash fiction. All of these are 350 words or less. This one will appear (with illustrations) in the upcoming Panel:17 — the Pulp issue!

Adrian Eaton had been dead for hours, but his artificial heart was still pumping away.

The butler let us in to the study, where he’d found Eaton’s body that morning. He died sometime overnight, and the security cameras showed he was the only one in the house.

The oxygen-less blood still circulated through his veins, giving the body a bluish cast.  “Can we shut this off?” I asked the coroner.

The study was lined floor-to-ceiling with books, the sign of a big shot. You can buy books by the yard, but having room to store them is spendy. Eaton had retired from Wall Street after finding new ways to move money in circles.

As posh as his crib was, I knew he’d spent an equal fortune keeping himself alive. There wasn’t a mark on him, and his last body scan had come back absolutely clean – other than the heart, of course. All organic food, no aneurysms, no blood clots. Nothing.

The butler produced the corpse’s cell phone, and the coroner called up the artificial heart app. He got Eaton’s doctor on the phone and obtained the shutoff codes for the heart. The body seemed to sink into the ground as the blood pressure dropped. It settled into a familiar waxy pale color.

“Did he have any enemies?” I asked the butler. When I was a kid, no one could afford a butler. These days, people were cheap.

“Everybody liked Mr. Eaton, detective. He was very active in–“ he continued in this line, but I wasn’t listening to the words. I was watching him. There was something about him I didn’t like.

I turned to the harness officer by the door. “Strip him,” I said.

In the old days, you needed a judge’s order to strip-search a suspect. Back then, I would have missed the flash drive taped behind the butler’s scrotum, the one with a computer virus that shut down the artificial heart’s operating system for two minutes. Thank you, Justice Scalia.

I’m sure the butler had a motive, but that wasn’t my job. Save that for the judge.

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