The Big Thrill for Thriller Fans

Cover of The Big Thrill, September 2014

The Big Thrill, September 2014

One of the many advantages of attending ThrillerFest 2014 in July was learning about The Big Thrill, the free digital monthly zine from International Thriller Writers.

If you like to read thrillers or you like author interviews or you like inside looks at how it’s done by the best, you should sign up. It’s free.

Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused VIII

Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused

A Brief Conversational Narrative by David L. Haase

(Click here to get a PDF file of the complete Alice and Bernie story.)


Episode 8: In which truth is revealed.

“Hey, sarge. Thought you could use some coffee. Those feebees don’t look too happy.”

“They’re not. All they can ask is why we didn’t contact them first. Have they found them yet? Feds aren’t sharing any information with me.”

“Not yet, but the old ladies made contact with a granddaughter up in San Lorenzo.”

“Oh, yeah? They OK? They got away from the Mexican?”

“Salvadoran. And no, not exactly.”

“The Salvadoran made a ransom call.”

“Not really.”

“Well, what then?”

“It’s complicated, and I’m sure it’s contributing to the Feds’ unhappiness.”


“The old ladies weren’t kidnapped. They say they escaped from a euthanasia program their sons put them in.”

The Fairfield, California, Police sergeant looked at his old partner, forming an O with his mouth.

“It gets worse.”


“They kidnapped the Salvadoran, not the other way around.”

The sergeant chuckled.

“And the ladies are all right. The feebees found them?”

“Not yet. But that’s not all.”

“There’s more?”

“Yeah, sarge. It turns out the camp operator may in fact be using the place to identify rich old people. He persuades them to leave a big bequest to the camp. Then they suddenly have a heart attack. The Feds think they’ve got two likely cases already. Looks like the old ladies were right.”

“So, did they get the guy, Mr. Who, or whatever his name was?”

“Sort of. It’s more like he got them. He was doing a runner and plowed right into an FBI crime scene van pulling into the Motel 6.”

“And the Feds can’t find the old ladies?”

“Nope. It’s like they disappeared off the face of the earth – in a yellow school bus.”

“Are they still looking?”

“Of course. They have to. The press is all over them wanting to know when they are going to find two old ladies and a Salvadoran driving up the 5. I mean, how hard can that be?”

Sarge honked and honked his laugh and tears rolled down his eyes. It was good to be a desk sergeant on a slow Saturday.


“Alice, it’s after lunch. The sun is setting. I told you the sun should not be behind us. That means we’re heading east, not north.”

“Well, Miss Smarty Pants, if you think we’re going in the wrong direction again, maybe you should navigate.”

“Alice, I recognize this road.”

“Bernie, you’re blind as a bat. How can you recognize anything?”

“I can see colors just fine, thank you, Alice. We just passed a Wendy’s, and I’m sure there’s a McDonald’s up on the right. This is the way we come back from bingo at Holy Rosary. We’re not far from St. Gertrude’s. I just know it.”

“It does look a little familiar. Hey, Pablo, hang a right up here. A right. Right. This way I’m tapping your shoulder. There. There. … Oh, you missed it, you ninny. Now listen to me, we …”

Bernie sat back, contented to be almost home. Saturday was pot roast night. With luck, she thought, we can make the four o’clock seating.

– 30 –

Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused VII

Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused

A Brief Conversational Narrative by David L. Haase


Episode 7: In which Alice tells Bosco’s tail.

“There, now, Alice. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Bernie smiled happily, reinvigorated by her fast food breakfast.

“No, it wasn’t, but we’re losing time. Those other campers could be on the way to the ovens.”

“Ovens? What ovens?”

“The mortuary ovens. After they euthanize them, they have to dispose of the bodies. They probably do it right down the street from that motel.”

“Oh, Alice. Do you really think so?”

“I’ll bet. I know I would. They’re probably all part of that conspiracy.”

“Well, do you think Manuel can drive faster?”

“He can’t drive any slower.”

“I think he’s doing a wonderful job. You would never know he had never driven before.”

“I wish we had known that before we started.”

“Alice, you didn’t give the man a chance to explain.”

“Well, at least we’re heading in the right direction now.”

“How long do you think it will take to get to Gracie’s?”

“If we were about three hours from San Lorenzo when we started and we went in the wrong direction for three hours and stopped for lunch, then we should be about six hours or so.”

“We’ll never get there in time to save those poor old people.”

“For once, I think you’ve figured it out right. I’ll bet they put something in their prune juice over lunch. Then they put them in tents for a nap and that’s when they do it.”

“How do you think they do it? Do they shoot them?”

“Shoot them? And attract attention? Bernie, sometimes I wonder about you. No, I’m sure they use some kind of drug. Just stick a needle in them.”

“I just don’t understand. Why would my Camden want to do me in? And your Bobby?”

“It’s the money.”

“We don’t have any money. All we have is our Social Security and Medicare. It’s not that much.”

“Well, maybe they took out life insurance policies on us. It’s always about the money.”

Bernie knew Alice’s Bobby and her Camden. Known them all their lives. Two nicer boys – sons – did not exist. They were paying for St. Gertrude’s. There was no way it was about money.

“Alice, is this about Bosco?”

“You leave him out of this.”

“It is about Bosco. What did he do this time?”

“He might have scratched Bobby.”

“Oh. And Bobby is so allergic to cats.”

“Yeah, he swelled up like a balloon. They had to take him to the emergency room. After he got out of the hospital, he said Bosco was no longer welcome in his home, and if I insisted on keeping him, I was no longer welcome either. He told me I had to decide between Bosco and him.”

“Oh, Alice. You love that old cat.”

“Bosco is not mangy.”

“Alice, I didn’t say he was. But now you mention it, he really doesn’t have much hair, especially on his tail, and he hates everyone. He won’t let me near him, I know that.”

“How can a blind old bat like you tell if Bosco has hair on his tail or not?”

“I’ve got hands, and I can tell you that touching that cat is like touching … Well, I don’t know. But it’s not furry or fluffy or … normal.”

“Well, I knew if Bobby was going to get rid of Bosco, it wouldn’t be long before he got rid of me. The next thing you know, he’s talked Camden into sending us both to this camp. And he says not to pack too much stuff. What do you think now?”

“I think we need to call Gracie again. Maybe she will be in this time. She should have gotten your message, don’t you think? I confess I’m surprised she hasn’t called back.”

“I told her everything she needs to know. She doesn’t need to call back. As a precaution, in case she breaks down and tells her dad, I turned your phone off.”

“Oh, Alice, do you think that’s wise? She might be trying to call us.”

“I don’t want your phone to give away our location, just in case.”

“Just in case of what, Alice?”

“Bernie, you and your questions are almost as bad as you and your appetite. In case the cops are in cahoots with the killers, that’s what.”

“Oh, Alice you don’t think that, do you?”

“How long have we been gone? Four hours? Why haven’t the cops found us? We’re in a bright yellow school bus. How hard can it be to find us?”


Up Next: Episode 8 – In which truth is revealed.