Ryan M. Williams lives a double life as a full-time career librarian and a multi-genre writer with over twenty books. He writes across a range of genres including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mystery, horror, and romance, including his popular Dead Things and Moreau Society series. He earned a Master of Arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, On Spec Magazine, and anthologies from Pocket Books and WMG Publishing. He lives in Washington State with occasional forays into virtual reality. To keep up with everything he creates, visit him at ryanmwilliams.com.

The Task of Auntie Dido by Ryan M. Williams

In Poeville, weird things happen all the time.

C. Auguste Dupin enjoys snacks, cleaning his fur, and sleeping in the Reed Moore Library where his human, Penny Copper, is the librarian. When Penny's Auntie Dido asks her niece for a favor, Dupin never expected it would turn into a case requiring his considerable deductive skills.

After Penny, Dido is Dupin's favorite human. She makes the most fantastic savory sardine crackers. At first, the favor sounds simple: return a diamond necklace to Dido's amorous florist Roderick Allan. It also sounds like the perfect opportunity for more crackers. When Roderick Allan is discovered walled up in his basement, it becomes more than a case of missed naps and forgotten snacks.

Dupin wants his routine back, more crackers, Auntie Dido's dog Patches out of his hair, and Dido herself safe back at home. Which means helping Penny figure out how a simple task has gone deadly wrong!




C. Auguste Dupin's nose itched. He twitched a couple whiskers, but he really didn't want to move. After over an hour of careful adjustments, he had found the perfect position to sprawl across the concrete park bench and soak up as much of the sun's rays as possible. The heat soaked through his fur into his bones. Perfect, except for that itch.

It smelled of chamomile tea and sardine crackers.

Dupin's amber eyes snapped open. The only other muscle that twitched was the tip of his tail, lifting and falling back to the concrete bench. From his current position, he saw all the way up the green swath of lawn to the massive log house at the top of the hill, the Reed Moore Library.

The green metal roof glistened in the light. A couple small white butterflies flitted above bright yellow dandelions dotting the lawn. He heard the quiet drone of traffic on the roads at the bottom of the hill. Humans coming and going in Poeville's downtown district.

Not too busy on this sunny afternoon. Even closer he heard the tap, tap of short heels against the concrete path that wound around the bubbling fountain. A few more steps and the human who smelled of chamomile tea and sardine crackers would reach his bench.

With a teeth-revealing yawn, Dupin rolled smoothly onto his feet and stretched into a deep bend. The possibility of treats, especially sardine crackers, was enough to motivate him into motion. Besides their thumbs, treats were one thing good about the humans he saw each day.

He knew this human. Age might have shrunk her and turned her hair gray, but she wore a bright yellow jacket, frilly white lace down the front, a matching skirt and two matching shoes with short heels. For humans, clothing took the place of fur, poor creatures that they were. She looked very neat, as neat as her niece or a cat, for that matter. On one arm she carried a bright green purse that bulged in an interesting fashion. In her other hand, she pulled a wheeled suitcase, shining a bright artificial green like a legless beetle.

It was Penny's aunt, Tabitha Dido, his human's sole surviving relative. She was no doubt on her way to see Penny now, the librarian up at the Reed Moore Library. The suitcase bothered him, but he dismissed it. There were more important considerations.

First, there was the matter of sardine crackers.