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Bachelor's Quarters

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The kitchen light had burned out again. By the glow of the streetlamps outside his second-floor apartment, Mike dropped his mail on the pile on his kitchen table and his overcoat on a chair. He had to either stop leaving the light on when he headed to work in the morning, or get a timer. He'd given his whole family light timers for Christmas last year, nice programmable ones with randomizer settings; why hadn't he thought to keep one for himself?

After replacing the bulb, Mike flipped on another light on his way to the living room, where he sank gratefully into his couch cushions and flicked the remote at the TV. A hockey game came on. Not his team, though. He loosened his tie, leaned back and stared up at the ceiling.

Today hadn't been anything out of the ordinary, but the whole week had seemed to hold off its weight only until he got a little free time, and now it was pushing him down with a will. His own cases. Vicki's cases. The hundred and one things he should have gotten done besides cases. He didn't think that he actually ran on adrenaline all the time — the job was too much patient paperwork and meticulous method for that scenario to stand up — but the way he'd crash sometimes, just when the pressure lifted, made him wonder.

When the game went to commercial, Mike groaned and got up. Even with two days off in front of him, he couldn't justify heading straight to bed. He'd go for an extra-long run in the morning, instead. Mike changed his suit for a sweatshirt and old jeans, nuked some leftover spaghetti, and returned to the couch with a bottle of beer and the week's accumulation of mail. Most of it went straight into the cross-cut shredder by his coffee table. He used to feel guilty about all the causes to which he wasn't giving, but the more they sent, the less he cared. He was a cop, not some dot-com millionaire — and how did they get his name, anyway? He had a suspicion that his mom still entered his address in the parish directory every year; he should look into that.

Stuck between a pizza delivery flyer and his bank statement, Mike found a plain white envelope addressed in huge block letters. He grinned until his cheeks hurt at his nephew's illustrated thank-you note — doubtless ordered by his sister — for taking him to the museum to see the dinosaur exhibit last week. Mike took the page to his refrigerator and found a magnet. Now that was one cool pterosaur attacking the CN Tower and wearing a badge. Fitzroy's comics — apologies, "graphic novels" — couldn't be half as creative.

Mike's cell phone rang from his overcoat pocket. He fished it out and glanced at the caller ID: Vicki's office land-line. "Decided to take me up on that Chinese food after all?"

"Actually, no, it's me, Coreen," his old partner's new assistant replied. "Hi."

Mike raised his eyebrows. "Hi?"

"So, um, have you ever heard of menhirs, the soul-statues of Corsica? Our client told Vicki that he wanted her to identify who was vandalizing his family's burial plot, but she hasn't answered her cell in hours, and it turns out that the so-called gravestones may be conduits for the enslaved auras of defeated Shardana warriors, and—"

"Text me the address, Coreen. I'm on my way."