Let’s Go Find Karl

Melinda Koi flexed her right hand, enjoying the new freedom the tune-up gave. The thumb still felt a little gummy, but it was better than it had been in months. Someday, she thought, she was going to get the whole prosthesis replaced. Mercedes were making some nice parts these days, but that would take a lottery win.

It made her think of Karl. She had to remind herself that it was okay to be not in love with him because he wasn’t really Karl anymore anyway. Her hand was a constant reminder.

“Earth to Mel,” Damon said.

“Sorry,” she said. She came away from the apartment’s balcony. Beyond, out over the bay, a gull called, looking for somewhere to settle for the night.

Inside Damon lay stretched out on the lie-low, staring up at her curve.

It hung over him, bowed and floating like a jellyfish.

“What are you doing?” she said.

“Like I was trying to tell you. Messages from Karl. He wants us to bring out his lobotomy fragment.”

Melinda flexed her hand again. “Bring it where?” She glanced over at the icebox, glad that she’d been able to give the disgusting thing back to Damon. She had a tiny inkling that Damon had only shifted apartments so that he didn’t have to have it around. It had seemed like a favor, but four weeks with a piece of Karl’s brain in her refrigerator was a month too long.

“He says the DeCataur brothers want their money.”

Melinda sat on the velour squab next to the lie-low. Pulling up the side of the curve, she looked in at the display. Her thumb twitched.
The curve twisted a little, the display daughtering across and reformatting to her view. It showed her a news ticker. The DeCataur company facing more litigation and class-actions over the state of the Delaware Bay.

“Here.” Damon sat up. The curve flowed away, settling on the vertical, looking less like a sea creature and more like a television. The weather appeared as if it was going to rain once more. Damon spread his hands and the news ticker and weather faded into thin, faint strips around the edge with the ads for Coke and Hyundai. His mailbox filled the main part of the display. “Here,” he said, pointing at one of the messages.

Fourteen million. Can you get that through today?

“Fourteen!” Melinda said.

“Keep reading. It’s not that bad.”

Karl blinked. Data slipped from his implant and recycled through his eye. Something was wrong with the stream. Something interrupting the dataflow.

“Mr. Oppen,” someone said. Jimmy DeCataur. “You’re awake now.”
Karl didn’t answer.

“We know where your brain matter is,” DeCataur said.

“You doing your own dirty work now?” Karl said. Something in his head fzssted, then his thoughts became clearer. He was on a plastic conference room chair with his arms and feet bound. He could hear water. They must be in one of the sheds at the port. They’d moved him again.

“Times,” Jimmy DeCataur said, “are tough. We’ve had to let some people go. But I do believe that you will be able to furnish us with enough data to ensure that DeCataur will thrive.”

“I have nothing. Data is free. Free and fast. There’s nothing I could hide in here that you can’t just download yourself.”

“Oh? I beg to differ.” Jimmy punched Karl’s jaw.

“Okay,” Melinda said, staring at Karl’s message. “But you’ve got to stop buying stuff with my curve. My ad-stream is all polluted.”

“Yup, but not me. These companies just advertise everywhere.”
Melinda had never seen an advertisement for soda on her own curve before, but she didn’t argue. She read on through the message. Bring the brain tissue. They’ll do a trade. Remember the canal? Pier 1 Imports. Code and talk. 8.15.

It was already 7.45.

“There’s a whole lot more to this than you ever told me,” she said. She tried to fathom through the message. There were layers to that too. Code and talk? That didn’t make sense.

“Maybe I’ll explain it on the way out there?” Damon said.

“Or now.”

“He’s your ex. You don’t even want to help him out?”

Melinda stared at him. “Maybe because he’s my ex. Do you think we parted amicably?”

Damon shook his head a little. “I heard the fights. But that was a long time ago. And it’s not like you’ve dated anyone since.”

“Except you.”

“Once. Three years ago. That wasn’t going to work out so well. We’re much better neighbors than we are lovers.”

Melinda smiled. They’d never been lovers, but he was right in a way.

“Just that we’re not neighbors anymore. Though, it seems that I see way more of you since you moved.”

Damon sighed. “I’m looking at the time here. I’m going to go. You should come with.” He shrugged. “If they can’t get details from him, they’ll cut his implant out.”

Karl’s implant was several orders of complexity above her prosthesis. After the accident, it had been easy enough for the surgeons to shave away her ruined thumb and fingers and leave trailing nerve endings to allow a generic prosthesis to be fitted. The car door frame had buckled in and crushed half her hand. She still had her own ring finger and pinky, but the GE attachment gave her normal function, welded into her wrist bones and tied into her tendons. Its metallic outer made it obviously a prosthetic and it had a gummy thumb, but she’d come out of it far better than he had.

Karl had lost his forehead, from eyebrows to hairline. And the brain matter behind. GE didn’t do brains, but Loboasis did. On Medicaid, too. A biologic-quantum processor that holographically rebuilt his functioning. To a certain extent. A rebuilt personality never quite came off. Like the almost-real CG actors that never quite captured the nuances of an actual human. Like her half-hand.

So it had ended. He’d moved across the bay and she’d stayed here, painting and writing advertising jingles. It beat out her years in the force.

And now he’d gone and done something really stupid.

“I don’t see why they need his brain matter,” she said. She didn’t even know why or how he’d been able to keep it.

“Insurance,” Damon said. “It’s still alive.”

Melinda stared at him. “You tell me this now?” How was that even possible?

“You never would have looked after it.”

“You’re right.” She frowned at him. She’d never even held the canister, had even tried to keep her eyes from it. But now that she thought about it, the canister had been too big for a simple sample jar. It must have been a self-contained nutrient and environment pack. Keeping the removed section of Karl alive. And more. It had a built-in recording unit to keep details on environment and location. The thing was packed pretty tight. “Until it can be replaced?” she said. “Is that the idea? Like the cryogenic freezing crowd, waiting until a cure is found?”

“If Karl survives.” Damon shrugged.

“I’ll get my jacket and my gun,” Melinda said.

“We know,” Jimmy DeCataur told Karl, “that you know about our interests. We know that you have made recordings that have been transferred to your implant.”

“That seems like a very odd thing to me.” More sections of Karl’s awareness flashed up. It was cold in the room. They might be in a cool store. Were they going to take him to Pier 1 for the transfer?

“You saw all our documentation. Both books. You know how our operation runs.”

“You would want me to look over your documents,” Karl said. He felt as if he was speaking to a slow-witted child. “That’s how you keep out of trouble. You have your lawyer check through your contracts to ensure the loopholes are kept open.”

Jimmy smiled. “Of course. Except that you didn’t disclose that you had the implant.”

“How could you not know? I was away from my desk for eight months. The accident was in the papers. The implant is a regular thing. You’d have me disclose that I had a hearing aid? Or that I’d had my nails done? You’re being ridiculous.”

“But you record everything in there. Anyone could open you up remove it and plug it into a console to download all of that data.”

“It doesn’t work like that. But I do have a solution.”

“Oh, really. My solution is probably more elegant. I’m going to rough you up a little, and then fry your little implant so no one can extract any data from it. As soon as Micky gets here with the Tesla.”

The rain pounded at the Ford’s hood as Damon pulled up outside Pier 1. A few buses slipped by, and a man in a long coat with an inverted umbrella hurried along, but there was hardly anyone else around. Streetlights reflected from the wet sidewalks.

Melinda looked across in the rain. They were opposite Canal Avenue, which seemed to tie in with Karl’s Remember the canal? in his message. Except that they already knew to come to Pier 1. Why double that information?

“Closed,” Damon said.

The store was locked up. Manikins glared back at them in the security lights.

“You sure it’s here?” Damon said.

“That’s what the message said. You got the message.” Melinda adjusted her shoulder holster again. The gun itched a little. It was probably four years since she’d worn the holster. She still went to the range regularly to pump off a few rounds, but when she’d given up the force, she’d stopped carrying a hand gun. Mostly.

“How are we going to get in?” Damon said.

“Side door.” The building was on a pier, reaching out into the bay, and the pier still wrapped around the outside, with cafes, gaming and kiosks, and some Pier 1 store entries.

“You’ve got a key?”

“We’ll see.” If the code from the message worked. She thought she almost had it figured out. “Bring the canister.” She got out of the car and ran for the sheltered side of the building.

“You think you’ll have help?” Jimmy DeCataur said. “I don’t think so. And even if they do find you, there won’t be much left.” He jabbed Karl in the ribs.

Karl grunted, jerking forward against his bonds. He took a moment to get his breath. “If you know you’re going to get your data extracted, why beat up on me?”

“For the fun of it.” Jimmy grinned at him. “Had I known how satisfying it can be, I never would have had others doing it for me.”

“You need plausible deniability,” Karl said. “Your knuckle prints are on my chest now, your hand print on my cheek. You’re giving the courts a body of evidence to convict. That’s why you have thugs to do this. Fall guys.”

Jimmy stepped away and frowned.

Another switch triggered in Karl’s head and the room seemed to open up. Binocular vision. And light processing. The room became brighter and deeper. The implant had to be analyzing something and devoting power to that, rather than his non-essential functioning.

He wished the cognition would come online a little more. At least he had his legal wits, to some extent. He had Jimmy worried and that might buy him a little time.

“You know,” Jimmy said with his nasty, schoolyard-bully smile, “I don’t think there’s going to be any evidence for the courts to analyze.”

Melinda followed the pier along almost to the end, passing the cafes and kiosks. A couple of the cafes were still open, but in the bad weather they were without customers and the staff were beginning the process of closing up. The place hummed on sunny summer’s Saturday afternoons, but not so much on wintery evenings.

She stopped at the third entrance to Pier 1. To the left a closed cafe called Code, and on the right another called Caffaddict.

Damon caught up with her and huddled in against the glass doors, almost out of the weather. “This is the one?”

Against the pier’s railing a locked-up kiosk sat under one of the light standards. The kiosk sold cell phone cases and other accessories. It didn’t have a name, but she guessed that’s what Karl had meant by talk in his message. Why not just say the third entry on the left?

“Have you got the canister?” She started examining the Pier 1 entry, looking for a touchpad or swipe for security entry.

“Of course,” Damon said. He slipped it out of his jacket.

“Here,” she said. She’d found the security panel. “Hold that barcode up to the reader.”


“On the base of the canister.” She would have taken it from him and
done it herself, but she couldn’t bear to hold the thing.

“This is the key?” he said, looking at the base. He pointed it at the panel and a green light pinged on.

Melinda tapped 8-1-5 into the panel. The light flashed and the doors swished open. Not just the time. The entry code.

“Let’s go find Karl,” she said.

Karl heard a sound, but he couldn’t tell where it had come from. An opening door. Behind him he guessed. His auditory hadn’t come back online yet. It was like listening to mono after years of 7.1.

“Micky,” Jimmy said and stepped out of Karl’s line of sight. “Is that the device?”

“Yes,” a voice said.

Karl recognized the voice. Not Micky at all. Michael Donahue. A partner at the law firm. Karl turned his head, trying to see, but they were just silhouetted in dim light from the door. Michael held something big in his hand.

“That’s some machine,” Jimmy said. “You sure it won’t leave a scar?”

“It won’t leave anything.”

“Michael,” Karl said. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing personal,” Michael said. “But you’ve become a liability to the firm.”

“Don’t you have thugs for this kind of thing too?”
Michael laughed. “I’m glad to hear you didn’t lose your sense of humor. Amazing what these implants can do these days.”

The sound in the room changed, as if he’d stepped into a kind of spatial external sensorium. The implant had let him have his hearing back.

He wondered what it was up to.

“What now?” Damon said as he and Melinda walked through the side entry foyer into the store proper. “This place is huge.”

“New stock’s in early,” she said.

“You make a joke at a time like this?”

“Menswear,” she said. She found the store directory and squinted at it in the dim security lights. “Second floor, back toward the entry.”

“What is all this about?” Damon said. “Running around all over town.”

Melinda didn’t answer. She found the elevator and punched for the car.

The doors chimed and opened. When they got to the first floor, she pulled out the gun. It always felt odd in the prosthesis, but she knew she could fire it. She’d done that enough at the range.

“You think you’ll need that?”

“Who knows? You want me to keep it holstered?”

“No, no, carry on.”

She headed through towards the menswear section, noticing the signs over the collections. Le Coq Sportif, Banana Republic, Little Joe, Yann. It was weird to be in the building after hours. She wondered if Karl would be able to get them off a breaking and entering charge.

Well, entering, anyway.

“Panama Jack,” Damon said, pointing.

Melinda nodded. The canal, from Karl’s message. The neat stacks of shirts and slacks on the table seemed too perfect. Ready for tomorrow’s shoppers.

“Look.” Damon walked over to a manikin. “Orioles.”

The manikin wore a baseball cap. Karl’s team.

“I didn’t think they’d put sports merchandise on them,” Damon said.

“Only the label’s own hats.”

“They shouldn’t,” Melinda said. “But that’s Karl’s hat.” She went past Damon and lifted the cap from the dummy’s head. Signed on the brim by Ollie Charbonne. Melinda remembered being with Karl the day he’d caught a fly ball off Ollie, up in the stands. It was the first fly Ollie had skewed off in two seasons. Later, they’d met some of the team and Ollie had signed the cap, patting Karl on the shoulder and laughingly offering him a job as catcher.

That was a month before the accident, when everything had seemed so bright and open. They would have kids, buy two condos and knock down walls to remodel, holiday in Europe. It had all seemed too easy and perfect.

“Earth to Mel,” Damon said. “No time to stare off into space.”

She shook herself. “Karl was here.”

“Yeah,” Damon said. “But what next?”

Bring the brain tissue.

“Give me the canister,” she said.

Michael came around and stood in front of Karl. The machine looked like a Viking helmet, with a few extra horns on it.

“Let’s take that thing out of you and we can all go back to our nice little lives,” Michael said. “Well, except for you.”

“Wait,” Karl said. “There’s a way to do this without killing me.” He was making this up now. Maybe the implant knew what it was going to suggest. It wasn’t supposed to be able to do that. It was integrated with his own brain tissue. It physically couldn’t do any thinking of its own.

Michael grinned and looked up at Jimmy. “No, see, your implant has compromised the ability of Donahue, Anderson and Meyer to practise law. If you survive the operation, we would still be compromised. And you’d be a vegetable. Practically a vegetable.”

They hadn’t taken long to get rid of him. “You mean ‘Donahue, Anderson, Oppen and Meyer’.”

The colors in the room amplified. He could see the reds and blues in Michael’s tie.

“Ah,” Michael said. “Partners are so easily bought out these days. Take the money and retire to the country. I heard your deal might have been very good for you.”

“My deal?”

“I think it was for one dollar. I guess you must not have not read through the documentation too well.” Michael shrugged. “Much as I enjoy chatting with you, I’m on a schedule here, so I’d like to get on with the operation. If you would just lean your head back a little.”

“Give you the canister?” Damon said. “You hate it.”

“That’s right. I tolerate it because it was part of Karl’s wish.” Why did that man’s threads still weave through her life?

“You still love him.”

“Just,” Melinda said, “give me the canister.”

Damon held it out and she took it. Her index finger made a little metallic clank against it. Reaching up with her whole hand, she touched the manikin’s forehead, exposed now that she’d removed the cap. It was one of those manikins with a solid, textured wave of hair molded in the same resin as the head. Just above the brow there was a line, as if someone had minutely chiseled away, or sawed, the cranium off.

Using the butt of the canister, Melinda tapped the forehead. With a crack, the top of the manikin’s head broke away and tumbled to the ground.

Melinda saw an aerial inside the skull cavity. A bright LED flashed purple at her.

“What’s going on?” Damon said.

Melinda stood on tiptoes and peered in. The purple light pulsed faster.

She felt the canister in her hand vibrate like a phone.

“Ew.” She almost dropped it.

“What?” Damon said. He took a step closer.

“It’s opening.” She held it back to him, then drew it back a second.

The environment recording was off and she thumbed it on. It would record everything now.

As Damon took it, a thin film of screen wound out of the side. The screen showed a map.

“That’s us,” Melinda said. “Pier 1.”

Damon turned the display to catch the security light better. It showed the edge of the bay, along the whole port.

“And what’s that there?” Damon said, pointing to a blinking purple spot, further around the map, back into the industrial parts of the harbor.

Karl, Melinda thought. All this had been set up before. Not his location, but a point from where they could find his location. “Let’s go,” she said, and turned, sprinting for the door.

Karl’s mind opened up like the iris on a jaguar’s eye. It felt as though all those other little increments of sight and smell had been just at the edges. Marginal improvements that only hinted at the access he now had.

Someone had switched on the implant.

His memory of the plan raced back.

Corner DeCataur and whoever he was working with, and confront them. Find out if they really were prepared to go to these lengths.

It was no coincidence that DeCataur lacked henchmen. Karl had forgotten, with the implant’s help, but now remembered how he had ensured that the little group was out of the way. Money bought loyalty, apparently. And, chances were, he would be able to recover the money anyway, with the electronic traces.

He felt surprised by how well the implant’s memory restriction had worked. A few minutes ago he’d been convinced that his situation was dire and he didn’t see any way out. Now it was clear that he had engineered the whole thing.

Thank you Melinda, he thought.

He wondered if he would have to remove DeCataur and Donahue. He would if necessary. It stank, but they would just as easily do it to him. They already had him bound. He could imagine them dousing him with solvent and setting light to the warehouse.

He wasn’t sure where he was, but the locator program had come active.

If he didn’t survive the next few minutes, at least they would find his body before it got charred to nothing. At least the canister would record everything.

All these thoughts took a split second. DeCataur and Donahue seemed almost motionless. The implant had Karl revved up now. His brain processing faster than they could even imagine.

He felt the Viking surgery helmet settle onto his head.

“This won’t,” Donahue said slowly, “take long.”

“No, it won’t,” Karl said. He flexed his legs, trying to stand up. He only succeeded in tipping himself over sideways. The helmet rolled off.

“Let me drive,” Melinda said as they exited Pier 1. She sprinted along the wooden deck.

“It’s my car,” Damon said, almost keeping up.

“Yeah, but you’re a better navigator.” She reached the driver’s door and yanked it open.

With a huff, Damon opened the other door.

Melinda started the car and plunged the accelerator. The little Ford’s tires squealed and it spun around.

“Stay off the expressway,” Damon said, clinging to the door handle.

“You bet.” The car straightened and sped into traffic.

Karl rolled. He flexed his hands. They should have come away. The chair should have broken, or at least bent enough that he could wriggle out. It felt like all the strength had gone out of his muscles.

“Not so very smart now, are we,” DeCataur said.

Karl flexed again. He felt like he was stuck in thick mud.

“A simple toxin,” DeCataur said. “It affects your nervous system, but not the implant. Though, I should have strapped you to a table instead of a chair. And had the table bolted down. All this thrashing around is just a nuisance.”

It was becoming difficult to breathe.

“A table would have been a good idea,” Donahue said.

“Next time.”

Karl managed to scrabble away across the floor a little. His lungs burned.

“What next time?” Donahue said. “This is a unique case. How many other lawyers do you think we have who have implants like this?”

“I don’t know?” DeCataur said. “Why don’t you tell me.”

“Don’t try to twist my words.”

“No. That’s your job, isn’t it. Twisting words.”

“Shut up, DeCataur. Let’s get this done.”

As he listened to them argue, Karl thought about Melinda. Thought about things he would have done differently. If this had gone to plan, he would have been able to make it up to her.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Donahue pick up the helmet again.

“Go left here,” Damon yelled.

Melinda swung the wheel and they slid around a corner. A tire clipped the curb.

“My car, remember!”

“I got it,” Melinda said. “This block?”

“Dead ahead.” Damon glanced behind. “I’m surprised we don’t have every cop in the borough after us.”

“That,” she said, “would be a good thing.”

Melinda saw the warehouses ahead. Fish sales nestled in among the vegetable cool stores.

“There,” Damon said. He looked down at the canister’s display, then back up at the buildings. “DeepSea FishCo.” He pointed.

Melinda glanced at the display and pulled the car in at the loading bay. She killed the engine and leapt out. The stink of fish waste hit her nostrils. She ran over the greasy tarmac and jumped up onto the loading dock. A roller door blocked the way. At the side there was a regular-sized door swung shut into the roller. Melinda kicked the small door open.

“Wait,” Damon called as he slipped climbing onto the loading dock.

“Keep up,” she said and ducked through the broken door.

Karl focused his mind on the implant. The surgical helmet had a series of probes darting into his forehead and scalp.

If he could get the implant to link to the helmet’s controller he might be able to shut it off.

A blade ran across his brow. He felt blood trickle.

“This might be a little painful,” DeCataur said. “But it won’t last long.”

Karl heard the high-pitched wine of a bone saw. He tried again to get the implant to hack into the helmet.

“You can stop that,” Donahue said. “Your signal is showing, and the helmet’s processor is shielded. It was nice knowing you. Well, at first anyway.”

Karl heard the sound of glass breaking, though perhaps it was just the sound of the bone saw starting work.

Melinda kicked her way through another door. Thank goodness for cop training. She heard Damon scrabbling along after her.

“Down this corridor,” he said, shining a flashlight on the canister’s display. It still looked weird. Lots of devices had their own roll-out displays these days, but on a canister with a living tissue sample it was just creepy.

She started running again.

“This door, this door,” Damon said as she went by. She skidded to a stop and turned. “Right in here,” he said. “The signal is coming from the room here.”

“Ready?” she said.

“I’m unarmed.”

“Good. You’re safer that way.” She lifted her boot and kicked at the lock. The door burst open.

She took the scene in quickly. Two men on their feet. One of them crouching. Someone else with Mardi-gras headgear, lying on his back on a chair as if the chair had been dropped over backward. A whining sound sang through the air.

The standing man she recognized.

Jimmy DeCataur.

“Here’s our problem,” Damon said.

“Stay back.”

“Who are you?” DeCataur said. He began reaching for his jacket.

“Don’t,” she said. “Hands up.”

“We’re just looking for Karl,” Damon said.

That was Karl on the floor, Melinda realized. Bound to the chair. The whining sound came from the odd hat.

DeCataur’s hand slipped inside his jacket.

“I will shoot you,” Melinda said. Her prosthesis had jammed on the gun. So much for getting he hand serviced.

The other man had come upright and was sidling away.

“I don’t think you’ll be shooting anyone,” DeCataur said. He whipped his hand out.

She shot him through the chest. DeCataur tumbled to the floor like a rag doll.

“Whoa,” Damon said.

“I didn’t do anything,” the other man said, still backing away.

“Then keep doing nothing,” Melinda said, “or I’m going to shoot you too.” Keeping the gun leveled at him she ran to Karl. The headgear was some kind of medical apparatus. “Damon?” Blood streamed from Karl’s face and out across the floor.

“On it.” Damon knelt beside her. He tinkered with the machine. The whining increased in pitch.

“Make it stop. You’re killing him.”

“It’s okay,” Damon said. “It was a saw. It pulled out. It’s stopping now.”

“All right,” she said. “All right.”

The whine began to diminish.

“Grab that,” Damon said, pointing.

She put her hand where he’d indicated and together they slid the apparatus off.

Karl’s forehead was cut to the bone. Into the bone. Damon pulled a white cloth from a shirt pocket and held it to the wound.

“Go find a first aid kit,” she said. “Let me hold that.”


Karl’s hand came up. “I’ll hold it,” he whispered. “Untie me.”

“Karl!” Damon said.

“First aid,” Melinda said. She tried to let go of the gun to help Karl.

The thumb wouldn’t release.

“Untie me,” Karl said.

Damon handed Melinda his pocket knife and stood. “There’ll be first aid in the office. What about the other guy?”

Melinda glanced up and saw the man, still creeping toward the door. She lifted the gun again. “Don’t be thinking about going anywhere.” With the knife in her good hand she reached out and sliced off the plastic strips binding Karl’s legs and wrists.

“Give me the gun,” Karl said. He rolled away from the chair and held out his free hand. The white cloth had turned red already, and blood dripped across his eye.

“I can’t,” she said. “My hand’s acting up.”

Karl nodded. “It’s good to see you. Thanks for coming.”

“You’ve got to be less cryptic, you know that.”

“It was the only way to make them think that I had an implant with their data.”

“I don’t follow.”

“I didn’t lose any of my brain. I just got a supplemental implant. The accident was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“So what’s in the canister?”

“Their data. Both of you thought the opposite. Donahue over there thought he was getting rid of me, but actually I’m getting rid of him. And Jimmy DeCataur in the bargain.”

“Now,” she said, “I’m beginning to remember why I left you.” She recognized the other man now. One of the partners from Karl’s law firm.

“Yeah.” Karl’s hand zipped up and grabbed her hand. He pulled her around a little and squeezed, aiming for Donahue.

Nothing happened.

Damon came back in, carrying a plastic box.

Karl crushed her hand in his.

“I don’t think you’re going to be able to shoot him,” she said. “My prosthetic’s a little gummy.” She pulled her hand away and stood. “And even if it wasn’t, you still aren’t strong enough.”

Karl winced.

“Thank you,” Donahue called.

“Shut up,” she said. “Or I’m going to shoot you myself.” She looked down at the dead man. That was going to take some explaining.

“I, um… got the kit,” Damon said. He opened the lid.

“Sure,” she said. “Slap a bandage on him and let’s get out of here. We’re going to need to give a statement to the cops.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Karl said. “I’m done here. We could go to the Caribbean, the Azores. My treat.”

Melinda shook her head. She grabbed the first aid kit out of Damon’s hand and shoved it at Karl. “Sort yourself out. Paramedics will be here soon. And we’ve got to give this to the police.” She held up the canister. “It recorded everything, I think.”

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