Screaming Bloody Murder

Dorothy J. Heydt

It was on the day after Thanksgiving that Keighley stepped into the kitchen, to check on the turkey carcass in the soup pot, and saw the colors again. "...and warmer, with highs reaching into the thirties," said the newscaster. (She hadn't noticed before: he was wearing a turtleneck, not a tie--and the Centigrade scale had finally invaded the United States.) Two people stood in the kitchen. The woman dressed for the forties wore blue chambray today, and a hairstyle of the same vintage: all the hair had been curled back around the face into a coronet look that had also been trendy in Imperial Rome. It was all coming down now, because the man was slamming her head against the wall; and his hands were around her throat.

And it was gone, and there was nothing in the kitchen but the smell of turkey and the sound of rain. Keighley made her way to the nearest chair and sat in it.

It was a cliche. You witness a murder that won't be committed for another 30 years. How many B movies had she seen, to say nothing of spoof articles on how to make the grade as a B-movie heroine. The house changes size in the night, strange voices speak from inside the TV set, and you haven't seen the cat in days. --"Rhadamanthos! Kit-kit- kit-kit!"

The door swung once, twice, and on the third swing Rhadamanthos shouldered his way through. He stopped and bristled and spat, glaring at the place where the woman had stood, or was going to stand.

Faced with all this, you (a) Get out. (b) Call in a platoon of priests with a tankful of holy water. (c) Wring your hands and say "Oh dear." (c) being the right answer, of course, if you wanted to achieve transitory fame and meagre fortune in the movies marked B.

"Maybe I'm dumber than I thought," she said aloud, and the cat looked at her suspiciously and sat down to wash. "'Cause I'm not getting out; this is my house."

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