The Running Wild Novella Anthology, Vol. I

In the Running Wild Novella Anthology, accompany our protagonists as they embattle a maniacal journalist; peel away the layers of travelers hidden pasts on a train bound to the unknown; uncover the story of a call girl’s mysterious death; travel back in time to find the real killer of Abraham Lincoln; and fight an inherited past. This collection of novellas will make your imagination run wild. Stories by Miranda Manzano, Sara Marchant, Christa Miller, Tom Rinkes, and Lisa Diane Kastner.

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About Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night

Three years from today, human trafficking has been legalized, all government functions privatized, and empathy — the ability to read another person’s emotions — outlawed. Set in a barely recognizable Seacoast New Hampshire, the story follows two former police officers turned corporate security staff who, unable to solve the murder of a young girl, turn to unorthodox methods to locate her killer — and just maybe, spark a revolution.

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Costa wasn’t looking at me. She remained on that top step, stared out into the darkness across the boulevard and the Atlantic. She said, “I was standing there when her … handler … called the house to notify them. The victim was called Ayana.”

A chill in the sea breeze caught me off guard. Names still had power, perhaps even more in this era of quantification and catalog. This name felt especially electrified, as if speaking it had brought Ayana’s ghost to our street.

The corner of her mouth quirked sadly. “She was lucky, you know. Not all the establishments let the girls have their names. Anyway. Good luck with your case. See you around.” She walked the rest of the way to her door.

“Good luck to both of us,” I called, my voice stronger than it had felt in the last ten minutes.

She didn’t appear to have heard me, as she went inside. I watched her shut the door. She didn’t turn on any lights. I imagined her dumping her stuff, kicking off her shoes, heading straight to her kitchen for a stiff drink of whatever her paycheck and her Enterprise Security perks enabled.

I hauled myself up the steps onto my own porch. Opening my door, I held my breath against the initial smell, the sunscreen and takeout meals of families past. The smell, like the banter with my neighbor, was to be avoided; those families were long gone, and the less I thought about them the better.

Instead, I did the same thing I always did: lock the place up tight, even though it meant the indoor dewpoint rose and made my joints swell. I would watch a little television and then go to bed, grateful for the insulation I’d installed on the Consortium’s dime. The insulation was a buffer against the wind and the sounds from outside. It would be hard to sleep at night otherwise, hearing what went on in the dark.

Naturally, as I checked locks on windows and doors, a knock sounded at my door. I ignored it throughout two rooms, four windows, and my back door, but it grew more insistent.

If it was my so-called neighbor I was going to have a few things to say, whatever the risks to my job. I was too tired and sore to care. I tried to put as little weight as possible on my aching feet as I made my way back across the tiny cottage to the door.

I stared out onto a curfew-emptied street, ready to interrogate –- what? Only the sodium streetlights and the shadowed cottages where other workers lived greeted me. I stood back, started to close the door.

A shadow to my right moved. I backed up fast, reaching my left hand for the screen door, my right hand for my empty belt.

“Please don’t turn the light on,” the intruder stage-whispered. “Please.”

I paused. The figure came no closer. It stood there, swaying a little, shoulders hunched, head bowed, spelling all kinds of trouble. Drugs, an escaped sex worker, an Enterprise Security sting meant to ensure workers reported either one. Nonetheless, I dropped both my hands. “Are you in trouble?” I kept my voice low.

“I need help,” the figure whispered.

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