• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Nose Of An Onus

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“Are cozy mysteries among the required educational reading for earth detectives?”

Terus swung his head out of the police cruiser’s passenger door, ducking it lower than he would when departing his own starhound. Light gushed down from the yellow sun eight light-minutes away. He constricted his pupils and took in the police tape cordoning the street off from the back of the red-and-blue tiled diner.

All but one of the earth officers and forensic personnel bustled from rear entrance to alley to vehicle and back. The unmoving officer appeared to Terus’s eyes to be listening to a line cook without taking notes. A dumpster divulged dozens of odors, rust and fryer oil and pork among them.

He saw no starhounds along the block, and only earth people in the vicinity. No Onus like him.

When Detective Judith Brinkmyer stepped out of her side of the vehicle, she fanned herself with her navy-blue blazer. Then she wrinkled her aquiline nose and coughed. “No they aren’t, and don’t take the cozy mystery in the glove box. That’s mine.”

“Why do you expel air differently now than a moment ago?” Terus asked.

“You have to be smelling that,” Detective Brinkmyer replied. “That’s a dead body those officers pulled out of that dumpster. The perpetrator must have burned it sometime before he escaped.”

“I do smell it,” Terus said, following the detective beneath the tape. “The scents are information, not a reason to react differently.”

“Tell that to my puke reflex. Burnt skin’s about the only thing I can’t stand smelling.”

Terus raised a green-skinned finger and pointed between the detective and the dumpster. “We dined on something called pork the previous evening. It smells as though this restaurant must also specialize in pork.”

“Yeah, that’s what a human’s burnt skin and muscle smells like.”

“Ah. That is good information to remember about earth people. Burn an Onus like me and it smells like your pennies—“

The lone irresponsible officer bolted away from the cook.

“Stay here Terus,” the detective said, hoisting her handgun and charging down the alley after him. “Stop. Police. Get down on the ground.”

The officer continued to flee. He sprinted around the corner out of sight with the detective hurrying after him.

Terus’s eye turned to the dumpster, where officers photographed a charred bag of stew bones and pork cuts. He dilated his pupils to take in light and witness every detail. No person’s body. No severed limbs. Only restaurant refuse and one trash bag with burned chops and cutlets.

He tapped the nearest non-busy officer. “The call you received here was for a murder, correct?”

The officer breathed through his mouth when he answered. “Yeah. Caller was a cook. Said a woman got stabbed and was dead before the stabber dragged her out here. No blood in the dumpster though. No trail either.”

Terus scowled. “I suppose this means Detective Brinkmyer reads cozy mysteries for some other purpose. This death is not cozy at all. The killer knew to deceive our noses with burnt pork.”

The thought struck a blow to his mind and he rushed after the detective. “And they knew to separate us.”

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