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New Fiction, By Amanda Meredith

               You probably consider me a bit eccentric, I imagine. Many people do. Now, don't contradict me, young man; I know that I'm considered a bit — off — by society. "That guy is nuts," they say, "He's really lost his marbles, got a few screws loose, over the hill."

          But I have a good reason for it all. If any one else has reason to fear for their life, I am one of them. I have every reason to be afraid. No, not afraid in the sense you think — there now, I'm not exactly cowering, am I? Certainly not — why, I think I've faced it all braver than some. Do I look afraid to you?

          Yes, I admit that my decorating scheme doesn't exactly work — never have been good at such things. But even a fool would notice the measures I've taken to protect myself. Bars, such ugly things! Here, look how strong they are — look! Try to pry it, bend it, its damn strong stuff! There's no doubting, this steel is top quality (though it is expensive!), and will keep out . . . unwanted visitors. Nope, no one's coming in unless I want them to!

          I've taken extreme measures to ensure my security too. You might not notice it, unless you have a good eye for this type of thing, but I have cameras in places of my house. Yep — hidden in places, watching everyone that comes down the hallways. Metal detectors that show what you have when you come in — of course they're useful, that way it shows exactly what each person has with them, so that they can't carry a concealed weapon — or something — when they come in. Pretty nifty, eh? Cost like hell though.

          And surely you've noticed the devoted bodyguards I have all over the place; mean, brutal, savage actually. Quite capable of doing — anything — necessary. To protect me.     

         Smith stepped out of the door shaking his head. He felt a mixture of disgust, confusion, and pity.

          The guard gave him a sympathetic smile. "How's he doing, Doc?

          Smith paused, and picked up his briefcase. "He hasn't improved at all. Such a pity. He still thinks that Sullivan Hudd is out to get him — but he killed Hudd thirty years ago! Paranoia, delusions . . . a bad case."

          The guard nodded, punching in the code for the gate. "Yeah, that's how these things are. Be back next month?"

          Smith nodded and walked out of the barbed wire gates.

          The prison guard took a bite of his donut and waved good-bye to Doctor Smith.

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