Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Familiar Taste of Poison”!

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“The Ultimate Vacation”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Familiar Taste of Poison” (MC MF MD)!

Anna’s gone to visit her neighbor again, just like she does every day. He’s fixed her up a nice drink, same as always, and told the same old joke about drugging it for her. And Anna’s laughing and taking a sip… and finding out, just like she always does, that the joke is that it’s not a joke at all. Here’s a taste (no pun intended):

“I… no,” she said, her voice thick with puzzlement. “No, I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t just swallow poison, just because you told me it was safe. That doesn’t… that doesn’t make sense.” She could feel the pieces trying to fit together in her head, seeming disjointed and incongruous no matter how she tried to make them click. She knew she recognized the taste–it was unmistakable, like wormwood or star anise. She knew that every single day, Chuck told her that the drink wasn’t drugged, and that was such an absurd thing to say that of course he had to be making a joke, because why would someone blurt that out unless they had something to hide?

But nobody would hide something that badly, that obviously. So it had to be a joke. Chuck was kidding, lying so blatantly about not drugging her drink that of course he was confessing to drugging her drink, which meant that he wasn’t drugging her drink because who would confess to drugging someone’s drink if they wanted them to drink the drug? So it couldn’t be true. The logic twisted like a spiral staircase in her head, but every step felt sure. The drink was safe. But if it was safe, why did she taste poison? And why did it taste so intimately familiar on her lips?

Chuck’s calm, mellow voice broke into her confused thoughts. “Of course you would, sweetie. You’re doing it right now.” Anna almost choked when she realized that somehow in her distracted, woolgathering state, she’d once again put the cup to her lips and was swallowing down gulp after gulp of the thick, bitter liquid. She’d almost finished half the mug without even noticing. Quickly, Anna placed it back on the table and forced herself to pull her hands away.

Hope you enjoy it!

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