Poe shook the contents of the fruit jar out into his hand.  He carefully laid the mouse skull on Bill Hickman’s chest.

Hickman swallowed.  “Pretty,” he drawled, “but nothing you can’t do with a knife and a little bit of free time.”

Rockwell pricked his cheek with the tip of his blade.


“True,” Poe admitted.  He set the mouse’s bones on the Danite’s chest too, one by one, in a circle around the tiny skull.  “It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that the solution with the most engineering incorporated into it is the best one.  Sometimes, what is most effective is the simplest solution.  The knife, the poisoned cup, the wire around the throat.”

Hickman looked down at the bones.  Uneasiness showed in his face, so Poe knew he was getting into the man’s head.  “So… what do you want?”

Poe placed the brass beetle on Hickman’s sternum.  “Who says I want anything?” he asked.

Hickman grinned.  “I know all kinds of good shit,” he said.  “I got information.”

“How delightful for you,” Poe told him.  He dug a second beetle out of the canister and laid it on Hickman below the first.

“I… hey!… don’t you want to know what’s going on here?  What, with the… kidnapping and everything?”

Poe placed a third scarab over Hickman’s belly button, and a fourth just below it.  “Should I want to know?” he asked.

“Yeah!”  Hickman struggled against his bonds and against Rockwell’s iron grasp, but he was pinned fast.  “Hell yeah, you should!”

Poe placed a fifth and final scarab, balancing it carefully right on the crotch of Hickman’s denim trousers.  He stood, and held one finger conspicuously close to the attack button inside the canister’s lid.

“You’ve almost found the man’s chakras,” Burton gruffed.  “Not quite, but you’re close.”

“I can find his chakras easy enough, need be,” Rockwell growled.  “They hang the same place on a man as on a bear, more or less.”

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