Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye, by Sarah Pinsker

Uncanny Magazine, July 2019

Zanna is a mystery writer who has had her assistant rent her a cabin with no near neighbors, no internet, not even a landline phone, so that she has no distractions while she works on her latest book. The assistant, Shar, will stay in a hotel in town, checking in on Zanna daily, but giving her time and space to write. The cabin proves to be a little more basic than Zanna anticipated, but it has a desk for her to work with, and a good view from the window near the desk, and that's all she needs.

The next morning, though, when a fuse blows and she has no microwave, no coffee, and in fact there's no power at all now, that's a little too basic. She has to go down the mountain, on foot, to find her landlord, since she isn't even getting one bar of signal on her cellphone.

When she gets there, she finds her landlord, dead. He seems to have fallen, and hit his head on a rock. He also looks, from his position and the look on his face, like he was running in fear from his own house.
Here, she has just enough signal to call 911, and then Shar.

She also has enough sense to stay out of the house despite the wide-open door. But when Shar and the police arrive, she does point out odd details she's noticed, and Shar seems unaccountably disturbed by this. Zanna shouldn't call any attention to herself at all!

Why? And why is Shar especially upset that she called attention to what appears to be the track of a lizard?

Is Shar hiding something? Does Shar have something to do with the death?

Is "the best assistant ever" someone very different from whom Zanna has always assumed her to be?

Intriguing and oddly fun, despite the death.

I received this story as part of the Hugo Voters packet,and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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