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Sudoku 1: Night Terrors
by Michael S. Collins

Night. A television set played the highlights of an earlier football game, but the sound was muted. Mimsy and her friend, Tommy, sat on the floor, pondering the possibility of actually opening up their textbooks, as opposed to watching the game. Drinks and snacks lay on the floor. A discarded newspaper lay by the television, crumpled.

The girls were in mid conversation.

“They say some kid spent the night with his parents in Torquay.” Said Mimsy. “The kid couldn’t miss the latest puzzle in the newspaper, so he bought the local. However, the newspapers are different in Torquay. So this kid, he gets back home with the newspaper, but when he does, all of a sudden he sees the cartoon next to the Sudoku. In it, a woman says “You will die, one week from now. Unless you can solve the Sudoku. Answers in next week’s issue.”

Mimsy stopped for dramatic effect.

“The kid thought that was a bit mad, and binned the newspaper. Just then, the phone rang, and when he picked it up a voice said…”

“You read it?” said Tommy.

“No, course not.” Said Mimsy. “It’s a cold call from Avarice Bonds. But it comes right after the Sudoku puzzle. Coincidence, I think not.”

“That bit’s not scary.”

“Course it is. You ever had a cold call. Pretty scary, if you ask me. Anyhow, one week later, exact same time, the kid dies.”

“He died?”

“He died.”

“Of fright?”

“No”, said Mimsy, “Not of fright, of smallpox.”


“Just kidding, it was fright. The kid died of fright.”

She laughed. Tommy, however, looked slightly concerned.

“What’s up?” said Mimsy.

“Where’d you hear that story?” asked Tommy.

“Everyone knows it. It’s going around.”

“So it’s an urban legend?”

“I guess so.”

Tommy breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank God!” she exclaimed, “Because I got a local magazine recently and saw the same cartoon strip!”

“What cartoon strip?”

“A weird one, difficult to explain, it pointed to the Sudoku puzzle. And after I finished reading the clues, my mobile rang. It was a cold call. Well, I thought the best thing was to ignore it.”

“Is that it over there?” Mimsy pointed towards the discarded paper. Tommy nodded. Mimsy leant forward and grabbed in both hands, before gasping at the date and throwing it away.

“Tommy”, she cried, “You bought that paper one week ago today!”

They both stared at the clock. It read 10.40.

“What time did you buy this newspaper?” asked Mimsy.

“About 10.40!”

“Really? Where’d you buy a newspaper that late?”

“Twenty-four hour convenience store.”

The phone rang. Mimsy started for it, but was distracted by Tommy’s screams.

“Don’t leave me? It’s the cold call!” cried Tommy.

“I’m just going to answer the phone. You’ll be perfectly safe in the company of the television.”

Mimsy left the room. Tommy heard her bound down the stairs, and answer the cold call. Tommy turned to the television. She must have sat on the remote, for it had gone all grainy and static. She switched it off. It behaved itself. But then, she noticed the newspaper. Nobody had put it on the couch! Tommy leant forward to move the paper away, caught a good glimpse of it, and at that point she screamed.

But by then, it was 10.41.

...continued in 'Sudoku 2: The Interview'