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Martin H Greenberg, Loren L Coleman, Phaedra M. Weldon, Mike Resnick, Michael A. Stackpole, JayLake, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Steven Mohan, Jr., Dean Wesley Smith, Ilsa J. Bick, Joe Edwards, Devon Monk, Jason Schmetzer, Randall N. Bills, Robert T. Jeschonek, Peter Orullian, Leslie Claire Walker, Steve Perry

Crime Spells


Foreword copyright © 2009 by Loren L. Coleman.

Web Ginn House copyright © 2009 by Phaedra Weldon.

The Hex Is In copyright © 2009 by Mike Resnick.

If Vanity Doesn’t Kill Me copyright © 2009 by Michael A. Stackpole.

Witness to the Fall copyright © 2009 by Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

The Best Defense copyright © 2009 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Call of the Second Wolf copyright © 2009 by Steven Mohan, Jr.

The Old Girlfriend of Doom copyright © 2009 by Dean Wesley Smith.

Second Sight copyright © 2009 by Ilsa J. Bick.

The True Secret of Magic, Only $1.98, Write Box 47, Portland, ORE. copyright © 2009 by Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

The Sweet Smell of Cherries copyright © 2009 by Devon Monk.

Eye Opening copyright © 2009 by Jason Schmetzer.

Faith’s Curse copyright © 2009 by Randall Bills.

The Wish of a Wish copyright © 2009 by Robert T. Jeschonek.

RPG Reunion copyright © 2009 by Peter Orullian.

Treasure copyright © 2009 by Leslie Claire Walker.

She’s Not There copyright © 2009 by Steve Perry.


Loren L. Coleman

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea, apparently shared by so many people, that magic-if it does or could exist-would somehow make everything easier.

That you can get something for nothing.

You hear it in conversations all the time. After something happens that was easier than it should have been, someone will shrug and say, “Must have been magic.” Searching for the solution to a hard problem is described as “needing some magic.” And a windfall, a bonus, a lucky occurrence: “magical.”

I suppose the quick and easy answer for this is to blame some of the old fables. Aladdin and his magic lamp, for instance. On the surface, it sounds like such a great deal. Three wishes, no waiting. Don’t need a permit, no license, and the IRS doesn’t even have a check-off box for the value returned from the djinn. There is no downside. Right?

Ahh, but the fine print. That’s what everyone tends to forget when reminiscing about the “grand olde days,” when magic was real and talking fishes still granted wishes for the low, low price of being returned to the water. Even in the Disney animated flick, Aladdin’s wishes don’t bring him the happiness he thought he would receive. No sudden drop-off on Easy Street for him. In the end, he’s lucky enough just to break even.

If you think about it, he was fortunate to even make that.

Because there has never been an invention or discovery for which someone did not pay a price. Often a heavy price. And right on the heels of implementation often follows the disreputable element. The shady side of the street. You know:


Feats of skill led to gambling. Corporate espionage is only a shade younger than corporations. And nothing revitalized the porn industry like the internet.

Which is what made me wonder about the shadier side of all this magic for which everyone yearns. Would the IRS (or someone) try to collect their due from chiseling wishmongers? What happens when magic is used to handicap the ponies? What kind of people are going to step forward to save us from all this “easy living?”

And once magic is outlawed, will only outlaws have magic?

Reading this anthology, you may begin to find answers to some of these questions. We’ll scratch the surface, certainly. Poke at some of the softer bits you’ve been hiding. In the end, though, I think you’ll find that this is only the beginning. The start of the path-one filled with many twists, turns, and pitfalls-but worth taking regardless. That you knew all along that you could not get something for nothing.

Because nothing is free.

Not even magic…

Web Ginn House: A Zoë Martinique Investigation by Phaedra M. Weldon

A toaster spun across the room straight for my head.

Luckily I was out-of-body (OOB to the initiated), so the blasted thing drove right through me and into the ceramic clown behind me. Crash!

I hate clowns.

But then again, how rude! I didn’t feel the solid object, but I sure as hell was going to remember it later as a migraine on the physical plane. Oh, I could choose to go through things, like doors and walls, but when I did that, I was prepared. Nothing like walking down Peachtree Street and having some very angry spirit bean you with a kitchen appliance.

Though I’m not sure which is worse-the flying ginzu knives or the hideous furniture flashback to 1964, complete with plastic couch cover.

Whoa! Look out-a juicer!

Oh, speaking of rude, let me introduce myself. Name’s Zoë Martinique. Long e sound. Not like toe. I’m not a ghost or anything-not even a distant relation to Danny Phantom (but it’d be cool to have his white hair)-but a living, breathing (and ever curious) Latino Irish American who just happens to travel out of body.

Sounds weird, huh?

Yeah, most people hear Latino and Irish, and before they see me, they think, “She either looks like Jennifer Lopez or Opie Griffith.”

Hell, you think if I looked like JLo, I’d be incorporeal in north Georgia dodging toasters? Nope. I’d be making me some sexy music videos and racking up husband number two.

I’m a stick with mounds of brown hair, brown eyes, and freckles.

Ack! This time a Betty Crocker cookbook spun at me, hard cover open, pages flapping in the wind. I moved to the side and did a nice duck behind the sofa. The book dented the wall behind me, just missing-I stopped and glared at the garish figurines on the shelf-what were those things? Gah-ceramic harlequins.


Mental note: I really hate clowns.

If I could, I’d let loose with some rather colorful metaphors about now, but even incorporeal, the SPRITE equipment set up throughout the two story house would hear me on tape. And that just wouldn’t do.

Oh, yeah, SPRITE stands for Southeast Paranormal Research Investigators for Tactical Extermination. Uh-huh. What killed me was their obnoxious little logo of a fairy holding a ghost around the neck.

Sick, sick, sick.

But with that kind of publicity, I’d rather not be noticed by them. I might be invisible to the naked eye, and I’m not that sure I won’t show up on film, but for some strange reason I can be heard. Learned that the hard way once and nearly gave one of my targets a heart attack.

Let me set the stage here so it doesn’t seem like I’m babbling.

I learned I could go out of body six years ago, and once I got past that whole adolescent need to spy on people (like boyfriends, hussies who stole my boyfriends, cheating boyfriends), I learned I could make money with this little talent and have for the last two years. I rent out my services for information gathering. Well, okay, I snoop. The code word is Traveler-I’m a Traveler for their information needs.

Don’t try this at home, kiddies.

I’ve also learned the more under-the-table it sounds, the more money customers are willing to pay. People prefer to dish out high dollar for something they think is illegal-and I have a mortgage that keeps a roof over my physical body, which is at present resting comfortably in my condo near Piedmont Park.