“Paid” by DeAnna Knippling
If you walk into a bar and make a bet that there are two people in the room with the same birthday, if there’s over forty people, you’ll usually win. That’s statistics. If you walk into a bar and bet that there’s someone with the birthday October 23, 1976, and you win, that’s time travel. And you’ve probably just met another version of me.
I came up with a solid time travel theory in 2007 and swore I’d never build an actual machine. I built it 2009 anyway; long story. If you’re reading this, it means you’re stuck here with me—or you are me. Sorry about that. Any set of universes in which someone discovers time travel tends to implode, because the set tends to attract the mass of all the different versions of the time traveler in the multiverse.
Some versions are pretty big. I see them when I travel. Quantum foam: it sounds small, doesn’t it?
I looked past the spinning rings of the Eclectolux at the boiling, purple-green mass below me (that is, if you consider below to have any meaning); it looked like living vomit that had just eaten its way out of a dog. It looked as big as the Cities when you’re flying into MSP, but it was actually much bigger, because I was very far away.
Yeah. Another version of me. I call it the Outlander.
I dropped the glass vial through the bars of the Eclectolux. The vial twitched as the bars whooshed past it, then fell out of sight, toward the foul city of me. The city had seen me (that is, if you could consider what it does seeing) and was sending up tentacles the apparent size of the Empire State Building. The Eclectolux dipped as gravity distorted. I popped out of the foam before the tentacles got within half a thousand clicks. My job was done.
I came to in the storage unit. The three rings had stopped spinning, as had my stomach, so I must have been there for a while. The gunshot wound in my stomach was gone, which meant I’d died and been replaced.
Damn it. Every time I had to be replaced, the universe opened another hole to the Outsider, and it would be another race to see who found it first (that is, if first could have any meaning with regards to time travel). Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have minded being dead. It was not being able to make it stick that got to me.
I shut off the Eclectolux, turned off the generator, and flicked off the lights. Outside, Durwood, as big and hairy as a mountain gorilla, with a similarly-sloped forehead spackled in orangey curls, sat in his 1975 Chevy Caprice Classic convertible, cherry red, top down. He saw me and honked the horn six times. I hated that car; it clashed with his hair and the top never worked when I wanted it to.
I crossed the street. “Stop that.”
He honked the horn again. “When are you going to let me handle the Eclectolux?”
“How did it go?”
I pulled up my shirt and showed him my stomach. Durwood groaned, and I tucked my shirt back in.
“Back to the office then?”
I nodded, got in the car, leaned the seat back, pulled my Akubra over my face, and went to sleep.
“Ever think about putting ‘Protector of the Universe’ on the door?” Durwood asked, framing the plain glass panel between his hands.
“No.” I had my feet on my desk and was trying to read a front-page article about a guy, Bartholomew Jones, who had apparently killed his daughter in a gruesome fashion a week ago. “Too ironic.”
He pulled the dusty gray curtain back, flooding the room with bright light. I winced. He said, “Feels like a case today.”
“Go downstairs and shoot some pool.” The office is above a bar; rent includes table fee.
“Don’t feel like shooting pool.”
“Shut up and let me read.”
The phone rang. I grabbed for it before Durwood could, unfortunately flinging the newspaper in his face as I did so.
“Beauregard Investigations,” I said. “Beauregard speaking.”
“I need help,” the guy said. He sounded like he was trying to keep someone on the other end of the line from hearing him.
Durwood put his knuckles on the desk and leaned forward until his ear was practically against mine.
“What seems to be the problem?” I pushed Durwood’s elbow out from under him, and his chin almost hit the desk. Guy’s big, but he’s got no balance.
“I’m Bartholomew Jones,” he said.
It took a second. I pointed at the front page of the newspaper seven times. Durwood handed it over, crushing it as he picked it up. The wonder is that the bear dances at all, right?
I smoothed it out and said, “You’re under arrest for the murder of your six-year-old daughter, Jasmine. I just read it in the Star Tribune.”
“I’m out on bail.”
I whistled. “Already? That’s impressive. You want to hire me?”
“I went to McAlan first. He told me to call you.”
I’ve worked with McAlan before; it’s a wonder he’ll still talk to me after what I’ve put him through. Suddenly, a headache smacked across my forehead and the bridge of my nose. I rubbed under the frame my glasses, and Durwood punched the air and hissed, “Yes!”
“I see,” I said. “He told you my rates?”
“Two hundred grand. But only if I go free.”
“Not exactly,” I corrected. “If I solve the case in such a way that it can be proven in court, I get paid. If you did it, I still get paid. And you go to jail.”
“I didn’t do it.”
“That’s fine. Where are you?”
“At home with my lawyer.”
“I’ll be right over.” I looked at Durwood, who was panting like a dog with his paws in front of him. “With my assistant.”
Durwood tried to peer through the peephole as I pushed the doorbell. “Get away from the door, Durwood. They can see you even when you can’t see them.”
Someone cursed from inside the house, and a tall, balding man with a red face—not Mr. Jones, if the photo in the paper was any indication—answered the door. “Who are you? Reporters?”
I handed him a card.
“Beauregard. No last name, or no first?” The man laughed unpleasantly. “Mr. Jones told me about his little talk with you. I’ve been curious to meet you.”
“Who is it?” Jones’s voice called. “What? Am I supposed to defend myself in court?”
I said, “I’m coming in now.”
Durwood cleared his throat. The lawyer looked up at him—and up again—and backed out of the doorway.
From the baby grand to the hardwood floors and silver tea set on the teak table just inside the door, the place screamed money and self-conscious vanity. Surprisingly, a few pieces of furniture looked comfortable.
Durwood whistled. “Nice place, boss.”
The office was where it usually was in these people’s houses, in the back, facing the lake. There weren’t many books; there were lots of Vikings mementos. Jones was sitting at his desk, filling out a form, shaking the hand with the pen, then writing again. His lawyer handed him my card.
I put the briefcase on a glass table in the middle of the room, because the desk was already full of paper. People don’t take you seriously unless you make them sign their lives away, in blood, if possible. I popped the latches and handed the contract to the lawyer, who sat on the overstuffed leather sofa and sneered at it.
“Why don’t you show me where your daughter’s death occurred?” I suggested. “While your lawyer reviews the terms.”
Durwood picked up a travel mug with a pewter logo on the side and turned it upside down to see if the price was still listed on the bottom.
Jones tossed the pen aside; he was only as tall as I was and appeared to be forty years old. He led me upstairs, down a short hallway to a bedroom, stood outside the door, and pushed it open with the tips of his fingers.
It looked like a little girl’s bedroom, with too much pink, no furniture or clothing, and a lot of brown blood.
Jones recited, “My wife and I went out to dinner on the seventeenth at five o’clock. Sally Bellamy, a neighbor’s daughter, was sitting for us that night. Her address is 1620 Adams Street East. Jasmine was sent to her room for a time out at eight p.m. At approximately eight-fifteen, Sally heard screaming. When she entered the room, there was blood everywhere. All we found was a lump of tissue on the floor.”
I asked, although I knew the answer. “Tissue? As in Kleenex?”
Jones clenched his teeth together. “No. As in Jasmine. The forensics woman said it contained bones, muscles, fat cells, organs, skin, hair, teeth—all crushed into a lump no bigger than a baseball.”
“So why were you arrested? You weren’t even home.”
Jones sighed; the sigh seemed as rehearsed as the rest of his speech. “I had just taken out an expensive insurance policy on her.”
“I bought a hot TV a few weeks ago. The men I bought it from came in within hours after the murder and claimed I’d hired them to kill my daughter, too.” He rubbed his face hard, clenching his teeth again. “Apparently the two skills are related.”
I pulled the door shut. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Jones said, “Let’s discuss your contract before you go. It’s best to get these things out of the way.”
I followed Jones downstairs. Durwood was dusting a signed photo of Brett Favre using the corner of his shirt.
“The contract?” Jones asked.
The lawyer handed it to him. “Seems straightforward. Either he finds the person responsible for your daughter’s death and brings him or her to justice, that is, ensures his or her conviction in a court of law, or he forfeits all payment in its entirety. No retainer, no daily expenses.”
Jones signed and dated the paper, as did I. “If you want to talk to my wife, she’s staying with her sister,” he said. “She thinks I had it done. She says I’m too cold to be innocent.”
“Crying on the inside, huh?” Durwood asked.
I grabbed him by the ear and led him out of the office. “My apologies. I will speak to you again this time tomorrow.”
A little girl crushed to the size of a baseball. It stank of the Outlander: use the Eclectolux to find how the Outlander had come through, seal the hole, tie up the loose ends, and, unfortunately, eat the fee. There was no way I could imagine to bring myself to justice.
I decided to start at the present and work my way backward; it’s weird, but it saves work.
I ditched the Eclectolux in some bushes by the lake and waited. Nobody can see you when you’re going backwards, so I sat on the front porch in a rattan chair and ate a baloney and margarine sandwich, slept, drank some iced tea, etc. Eventually, workmen in bloody coveralls hauled a black, plastic-wrapped bundle from a portable dumpster into the house, followed by the pieces of a bed, a dresser whose drawers were still filled with clothes, and garbage bags full of toys. This did not reflect normal police procedure, and I was sure that the D.A. viewed Jones’s disposal of the objects with suspicion. A swarm of reporters led Jones away from the house. Soon after, cops drifted back into the place, as if to keep it company. A woman, sobbing, went inside. Jones returned, escorted by the cops, to meet her. The cops left. She took back all the terrible things she’d said. The situation was still unbearable. They went to bed, waking long before dawn and pacing the floor, he in his office and she in the kitchen. A long day and night passed.
The cops returned and told Jones there was no point in his trying to identify the body, so they left for the restaurant. The neighbor’s daughter was carried back into the house, gibbering. She sent the cops away, waited numbly on the couch, and dialed 119. Finally she fell apart: she screamed, ran upstairs, and gaped at what had happened to her charge.
But it was going to be all right, see? Jasmine was getting better, unfolding from a ball, filling out, elongating. Her skin healed over, and the screaming stopped.
She pulled a lollypop out of her mouth, put the wrapper back on, and hid it under her mattress.
I followed the lollypop to a nervous-looking missionary in a goatee and a white collar who collected the candy and some leaflets from Jones and drove to an old, abandoned-looking church over in St. Anthony East. The missionary parked the car, went inside, put the keys on a nail by the door, and curled up in a ball on the floor.
The ball crushed in on itself, its clothes vanishing, shrinking until it was a mass of red and white, then a small gray rock, then a piece of dust.
I tracked the piece of dust off a janitor’s shoe to a silky-haired red setter, back through a dozen different dogs to a dandelion blown by Jasmine at her day care, back to Jones’s house, onto his sock, and into the basement.
In the basement, Jones rolled back an old purple and gold rug to uncover a pentacle. He wiped what looked like blood onto the floor, looking disappointed, and waited. After a few minutes, he started to look more hopeful; then, he began to chant. When the chant ended, Jones cleaned up the blood, sucking it back into a ketchup bottle and hiding it in an old fridge otherwise filled with cheap beer. He re-covered the pentacle and went upstairs.
I went forward a few minutes, recorded the chant, and played it backwards—that is, forward. Jones was trying, in bad Latin, to offer his daughter up to some make-believe demon in exchange for “true power.” Demons were nothing. But the Outlander watched for that kind of thing, because it might give it an opening. This time, it had.
After I recovered, I closed the door to the unit and told Durwood to take me to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cops and hospitals all know about me. That is, they don’t know what it is about me, but they know there’s something. I brought the briefcase inside but told Durwood to wait out in the car.
Anderson, a blond resident with one crooked tooth, was at the front desk, looking through the drawers. “About time you showed up,” he said.
I took off my Akubra. “Is Mary in?”
Anderson led me down the stairs despite the fact that I knew where I was going. He said, “You don’t take these cases just to try to get into her pants, do you?”
“No,” I said.
The basement is cold, painted cinderblock with fluorescent lights that nauseate me within minutes and make everyone look like a well-preserved corpse. Anderson, his teeth now eerily white, led me into the morgue, with its tin tables and numerous produce scales.
Mary, the chief medical examiner, was all suited up and poking something in a Pyrex dish on the counter with a pair of probes. She had blue nitrile gloves on.
“Don’t do that,” I said.
“I can’t help it.” She scraped at the thing in the dish. “The whole mass has been shrinking.”
“If you keep stirring it, it’ll start to expand in a violent fashion, in about an hour.”
She pulled her probes out of the walnut-sized chunk of glistening flesh and gray metal. She’d almost died from one of these a year ago; she’d picked it up with her bare hands. When it started to pull the skin off, she dropped it. It rolled down her leg and ripped out a chunk of muscle, getting bigger as it went; she’d had a limp ever since.
Fortunately, I’d been arguing with her about removing the sample at the time, and I contained it before it rolled back toward her. I’d say she owed me, but that would be too cute, all things considered.
Inside the briefcase, I lifted out the tray of papers, revealing an eggshell foam lining with a big glass test tube in it. Glass wouldn’t hold it for very long, but longer than anything else I could get on short notice. Using the probes, I dumped the metal into the tube and sealed it.
“What about the fluids?”
I looked at the brownish streaks in the bottom of the measuring cup. “If it didn’t stick to the blob, it hasn’t been contaminated yet.”
“What is that stuff?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Try me,” Mary said gallantly. Yeah, she was cute, curly brown hair and a button nose. And smart, and funny. But she’d weasel the truth out of me in a second and I wouldn’t be able to tell her no when she asked to go on the Eclectolux. Two time travelers; that’s all I needed.
“No,” I said.
“I took X-rays of it. It didn’t show up on the film as more than a blur. Why don’t you discuss it with me tonight after I get off work?”
“I already have plans.”
Mary flashed her dimples at me, but my will is strong. “Let me know if you change your mind,” she said.
“I hope not.” I put my hat on and went upstairs.
Durwood was in the lobby with a bag of bagels. “Get it?”
I said, “I told you to wait in the car.”
He handed me a warm bagel with everything, sliced and toasted. “So what happened?”
I took a bite. At least he hadn’t followed me downstairs. “Jones tried to summon a demon. He used blood.”
“Do you think it was Type B?” Meaning, blood from a Beauregard alternate.
“No. It wouldn’t have had to use the girl if it was; it would have just ripped through.”
“Did you get proof?”
I patted the briefcase, where I had the digital recorder stowed.
“Do we have to do it tonight?” he whined, then stuffed a cheese bagel into his mouth.
He mumbled, “Then let’s go shoot some pool.”
Durwood never picks up a cue when I play. It must be boring. I don’t know why he does it. I called the three-ball in the side pocket and sank it.
“You could change things,” Durwood said.
“I’m in enough trouble as it is. Every time I go back there are more holes.” Called a massé around the eight ball, four-ball in the corner pocket. Sank it. “And I don’t get paid to save little girls. I get paid to solve murders. No murder, no pay.”
Suddenly I was flying through the air with Durwood on top of me. The bartender, Frank, was yelling at the top of his lungs, and Durwood had his hands around my throat. I couldn’t breathe.
“I’ll kill you,” he said. “And then there will be another hole.”
“Okay, okay,” I gasped when he let up a crack. “I’ll fix it.”
He sat back, but it only made the sensation of my bones splitting worse. He pushed off me, and I couldn’t see for a few seconds as the blood rushed to my head. The front door of the bar slammed, and the Caprice growled out of the parking lot.
Frank bent over me. “You all right? What did you say to him?”
I grimaced. “Nothing important.” I still don’t understand why Frank assumed it was my fault.
I took a cab to the storage unit. The orange overhead door slid up with the sound of a ball rolling around a roulette wheel. The generator started smoothly. It didn’t take much power to run the machine, just as well.
I’d built it back in the day when I’d been a brilliant physics postdoc instead of a private investigator. The Eclectolux has a single steel ring about five feet in diameter with a bucket seat from a junked-out custom van in the middle, attached to the ring by a truly complex set of rotating joints and bearings. The whole thing’s suspended inside a bolted frame hung with a motor and some computer equipment. I can take the whole thing apart and load it into the back of a U-Haul in about two hours.
I tucked the remote in my pocket, in case I needed to do a quick rewind or fast forward, recalled the coordinates I’d used the day before, pushed “Enter” and jerked my hand back before the ring clipped my fingers; it starts up fast.
The ring spun around me like a jump rope, so fast it almost seemed like it was standing still in the flickering monitor light. The motor whined as if in pain, and the ring rotated ninety degrees and kept turning. The bucket seat swayed a little, but inertia kept it more or less stable. Now it seemed like there were two rings, one moving up and down, and another moving from left to right. The motor turned the ring again. Three rings surrounded me, the third moving from my left ear to my right foot.
The motor shook the chair again. I can never see the fourth ring—I’m already surrounded by a silvery mist from all the reflections of light on the ring—but I know it’s there. Then my heart stopped beating, like always, and the outside of the sphere went dark.
As always, I felt its presence before I saw it. Presence. Presents. Pre-sets. Prescience. Prevents. Perverts. The Outlander was flat at the moment, like an ocean at rest. Waves rippled toward me. I left before the storm approached.
First, I took the kid’s lollipop away, that is, I broke into the house and stole it from under her mattress. I came back to the present (that is, in as much as there was one) and walked down the street until I reached a grocery store with newspaper bins out front.
The headline still read, “Local Millionaire Hires Two to Kill Daughter.”
I went back further and made sure Jones wouldn’t be home when the missionary stopped by to deliver his tract and lollipop. I don’t understand what kind of missionary he thought would pass out lollipops, or why he would give it to his daughter. Also, I’d never heard of a millionaire who answers his own front door.
When I came back, the headline still hadn’t changed.
Maybe Durwood was right. Maybe what I should be doing wasn’t sealing the holes in the universe but rescuing innocent people. I didn’t see the logic, but perhaps it was a judgment not able to be based on logic. Nevertheless, it was proving to be difficult.
The next time, I went backward more slowly and found out that while Jones hadn’t been home on the day the missionary had originally arrived, the missionary had come the day before.
I followed the missionary backwards to the church and stopped just before he lay on the ground to disappear. I watched him for a few minutes. He seemed familiar, not just in the way that all my alternates seem familiar, no matter how different they are, but like I’d seen him before.
It took a minute, but eventually I realized it was the lawyer, with a goatee. Of all people, I should have known that superficial differences in appearance mean little.
I let time carry me backwards. Instead of collapsing into himself, the lawyer-slash-missionary looked into my eyes and smiled.
“Hello, Beauregard,” he said. In a flash, he crossed my throat with a razor, and I fell.
All of this, mind you, in reverse.
When I came to in the storage unit, I was, perhaps understandably, irrational. I checked the logs and found that the Eclectolux had been used a more often than I’d expected. I pulled the hard drive out of the computer and yanked the ring so hard that I bent it: no way to use the machine until I replaced both of them.
I didn’t bother locking the door behind me. I crossed the street with my hair on fire– that is, figuratively speaking.
Durwood was waiting for me with the convertible. I suppose it’s a measure of his foolhardy bravery that he said anything at all, with the state I was in. “Didn’t work, huh?”
I gave him the address of the church. We passed a dozen storefronts with plywood for windows, a dingy old folks’ apartment complex, and a few houses that would have been nice but for the broken cement and weeds out front. It was a small town dying in the middle of a city, like a paramecium swallowed up by an immense amoeba, but not yet digested.
Detectives—even if they’re just assistants to a time-travelling detective (that is, one who does not use normal techniques of detection)—shouldn’t drive bright red convertibles. I had him park a quarter-mile away. I walked toward the church one way; he was supposed to take another, but only waited until I was out of sight and followed me.
I check the front door. Locked. I lifted, pulled back, and leaned into the door. The lock popped. I went inside.
It was cooler than I remembered, and smelled more like dirt. I stopped and let my ears breathe in all the quiet noises in the building, if you can imagine such a thing, and decided someone was in the basement.
I went downstairs. The lawyer was waiting for me, cross-legged, sitting on a dusty school desk in a storeroom next to a twenty-seven rolls of old carpet. He clapped slowly.
“Ha ha,” I said. “Very funny. So did the Outlander make you, or does it just control you?”
“Neither,” the lawyer said. “I am working with it for my own purposes.”
I heard Durwood come in. “What, to steal the Eclectolux? Fame, fortune, win all your bets on the World Series?”
“To kill you. All of you. But especially you, the original.”
I laughed. “A noble goal, considering you’re one of me.”
“I will be the last of our kind, or the second last, for but a matter of moments. I intend to jump out of the Eclectolux into the Outlander with a pony nuke clutched to my chest.”
“That’s not going to do it,” I said. “The Outlander’s too big. You’ve used the Eclectolux. You’ve seen it.”
“Perhaps I will think of something better, after you’re dead.”
“How were planning to kill me? Believe me, I’ve tried.”
“There are only so many alternates. I’ll kill them all.”
I burst out laughing again. I couldn’t help it. “So what’s your name? It’s not Beauregard, is it?”
“Ah. Good name. I’ve known a couple of good Kenelms. Digby. Saint. So why didn’t you go back to the moment of my conception and kill me there when you had the chance?”
“I tried that,” he admitted.
He shook his head. I’d tried that, too, and popped back into existence even before the blood had coagulated. “You know there’s an infinite number of me out there.”
“Only a nearly-infinite number. There are a finite number of choices that you can make, and a finite number of universes in which you occur.”
I waved a hand. “Every time a quark takes a piss, I double. Nearly doesn’t mean squat.”
“All the more reason to kill you off en masse. Every time I manage to let the Outlander into the universe there’s one less universe full of you.”
“You mean, you,” I said. “In addition, consider all the innocent people you’re killing.”
He (I) shrugged. “I’m putting them out of their misery sooner rather than later. You know it’ll happen eventually.”
Which was, if you must know, a tempting way to look at it.
But then Durwood said from the stairwell, “We all die sometime. Most of us want to do it later rather than sooner. Who are you to judge?”
Kenelm raised an eyebrow at me and jerked his chin toward my assistant.
“He knows,” I confirmed.
“You told an outsider? You’re more depraved than I thought.”
I shrugged. “Long story. Why are you telling me all this?”
“I wanted to see if you’d change your mind this time.”
I thought about that. I was tired of the job. I was tired of carrying around the memory of what I’d done. Never mind that there were an infinite number of me who’d done the same thing; it was me that worried me. About the only thing I hadn’t tried was—giving up. Letting the Outlander in.
You see, I hadn’t failed yet.
There were universes where I had. An infinite number of them. It wasn’t logical, but the thought of all that failure hurt worse than having Durwood land on my chest. Eventually, I would fail here, too. There’d be too many of me in this universe (that is, in a descendent of this universe), the Outlander would get too much of a hold, and I’d be done.
I toyed around with the idea for a minute. “Sure,” I said.
I should have expected it, but I didn’t: Durwood slammed into my chest and knocked me into the rolls of carpet. I struggled against him as he slid his hands around my throat, yet again.
“Not this time,” I gasped. I slid out from under him, twisting between the rolls of carpet, and tumbled under the desk. Kenelm danced back out of the way as Durwood picked up the desk and flung it at me. I jumped out the door as the desk smashed on the doorframe.
I heard a glurk, a half-breathed scream, and a crunch. Durwood must have caught up to Kenelm, who hadn’t known Durwood as long as I have and wouldn’t have been able to anticipate how quick he is. Me, I ran like the devil himself was on my tail. I was out of the church like a shot and down the street.
Durwood came behind me, faster than a horse could run.
I pushed harder. I may need the Eclectolux to travel backward through time, but I’m good at making it stretch out on my own.
Something behind me popped, and I knew Durwood was running faster, too. Softly, I heard him whisper, “Why are you running, little man?”
“Hey!” I said. I hate it when people make fun of my height.
“Why are you running, if you don’t want to live?”
I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk; he passed me in a blur. We’d run all the way to Silver Lake. I leaned over, put my hands on my knees, and gasped for breath.
“Can’t help it,” I said. “I’m not ready to die.”
He waited. After a few minutes, he cracked his knuckles.
“All right,” I said. “I’ll keep up the good work. Fight the good fight. Just keep your hands off my throat.”
We walked back to the church, which took over an hour. Kenelm was gone. I repaired the Eclectolux and fixed things again; this time, they stuck. I dismantled the machine and moved it to another unit elsewhere in the city.
Then I had Durwood drive me past Bartholomew Jones’s house. In this world, he’d never signed a contract. In fact, after I left a note under his basement rug threatening to kill off every Viking quarterback from now until 2050 if he didn’t stop trying to summon me, he never tried to achieve “true power” again.
The house, the lake, all that money. Even time travelers have bills. I said, “If things keep going on like this, we’re never going to get paid.”
Durwood started the engine. Looked like rain.
About the Author
DeAnna Knippling likes science… Dr. Science, that is. She dreams of different ways of using science to increase her already-prodigious superpowers, Speed Reading and Babble. She blogs about her experiments with prune juice and radiation at www.deannaknippling.com. She also wrote the true story about what happened when zombies invaded Colorado Springs, or when Colorado Springs invaded the zombies, your pick. Check out her book Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse, at www.doompress.com.