Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mr. Body

by Caitlyn Konze -

Your mother is mad. Your father is false. Your soul is tainted. Her father lied to her about her mother's death. If one was true, what of the other claims? Her father had rescued her mother's body from the void of space. Enough time without oxygen could have left her mother alive but brain damaged. Dozens of scenarios, explanations, and questions saturated Anjelika's mind. A headache began to pulse in her temples. She spoke again to the hacker before her. “Search the names referenced in the feed, including the poster.”

Glass bent over the interface pad. Three faces appeared in the monitors: Darl Meerstein, Zauto Pulk, and Marget Seam. Each displayed their current status under their spinning silhouette. DECEASED.

“Darl's wife got a sizable settlement and still resides here. The other two have no surviving relatives.”

Goosebumps pinched Anjelika's skin. Could it be bizarre coincidence? Life expectancy was halved outside the bulwark of bureaucracy. Maybe these laborers just got unlucky.

“Search the roster of the Hekate, not including my father.”

Three more portfolios. Three more dead. It felt like a balloon expanding in Anjelika's chest until she reminded herself to breathe and the sensation faded.

Pushing her spectacles up the bridge of her nose, Glass whispered “I don't like this, Anjelika.”

“One more. The death record for Jeleen Loynis.”

There was some mumbling about moving camp, but Anjelika's friend continued to fiddle with the pad. The monitor wall flickered.

“I'm getting some resistance. The document could be locked.”

“Are death records usually locked?”

Glass's eyebrows met the rims of her glasses. “Not for this long.” She plucked the cord from her lap, inserting the flat end in the right side of the interface pad and the round end on the left.

“What's that?”

Half of her mouth curled in a lopsided grin. “My skeleton key.”

Before Anjelika could inquire further, the screens trembled again. All but the center monitor turned off, creating the sense that the room's shadows were animals, claws stretching toward the two girls. Glass's jaw sunk low. Anjelika followed her gaze to the contents of the screen. “No. That...that can't be right. You have the wrong document. Search again.”

Swallowing so hard Anjelika heard her throat bounce, Glass replied, “There was only one hull breach and one person spaced on this date. According to the postmortem exam, the body your father's ship recovered was male.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Avenir Eclectia Book Launch Roundup

Thanks to all our wonderful readers for Splashdown's most successful launch ever! You can now grab the book with 137 stories from this site, woven together by our own Travis Perry into a novel-like experience.

Paperback $5.98
Kindle $2.99

As part of the launch, many contributors wrote blogs and interviewed each other. Here are some great links for further exploration:

Travis Perry writes about strange worlds in science fiction
--and he compares aliens and angels, mentioning AE
Greg Mitchell interviews Travis Perry
Mary Ruth Pursselley writes about the Avenir Girls' Day
Jeff Chapman interviews Greg Mitchell
Mary Ruth Pursselley interviews Travis Perry
Heather A. Titus interviews Grace Bridges
Jeff Chapman interviews Jeff C. Carter
Mary Ruth Pursselley interviews Fred Warren

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Will Hack For Truth

by Caitlyn Konze -

To anyone else, it would seem Anjelika stood before one of hundreds of utility compartments on Avenir. She tapped her knuckles on the mag door. Twice hard, near the bottom. Twice gentle, at the top.

The door inhaled as it slid open and sighed as it shut.

“Figured you forgot about me,” came a nasal voice at Anjelika's feet. A dirty teen with oversized spectacles sat cross-legged on the floor.

Anjelika knelt. There was little room to do anything else. “Forget the first sub-level friend I ever made? Never.”

A smile raced across the girl's face. She pushed her glasses up her nose. “Nice to be appreciated, but you're here for more than tea and cakes.”

“It shows.” It meant to be a question, but came out a statement. The pressure of her father's betrayal sat heavy on Anjelika's chest. How could her face not reflect the storm brewing in her heart? The truth would calm that storm and Glass could help expose the truth. Forcing a heavy smile, Anjelika asked, “How deep can you hack, twiddle-fingers?”

“Wherever you want to go, richy-poo.” Three of the four walls in the closet were composed of drawers. From them, Glass retrieved an interface pad and a cord with one flat end. Monitors of various sizes were rigged to the fourth wall. All of them blinked on as she tickled the touch screen. “Destination?”

“News feed archive.”

“Date range and keywords?”

“Nine Foundings ago. Hull breach accident.”

Fingers flying, Glass filled each monitor with a different article. Her eyebrows frowned. “Strange. Thought there'd be more on a story like this. No system feed either which means Avenir never made an official statement. Most articles bum off this feeder.”

A screen-shot in the bottom left-hand corner slid to the largest monitor in the center of the wall.

Woman Spaced After Breach Accident
Marget Seam
A body was recovered after an overloaded dock terminal exploded, breaching Avenir's hull. “It's a one-in-a-million chance this happened,” explains docking bay engineer Darl Meerstein. “If debris continuously struck the same outer plate, that point may have weakened enough for the concussion of the blast to break through. The air pressure discrepancy would take care of the rest.” The body has been identified as Jeleen Loynis, wife of Acquisitions Administrator Davik Loynis who was aboard an inbound ship at the time. The Hekate aborted docking procedure to retrieve the body. Also lost were three cases of medical cargo, a maintenance kit, and an emergency enviro suit. Dock hand Zauto Pulk lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen but has since recovered. Davik Loynis was unavailable for comment.

The knife of deceit twisted in Anjelika's heart. Her father had been there when it happened? Is that why he said her mother survived? The article did say an enviro suit was also spaced, but would she have had time to put it on before suffocating or freezing to death?

Of one thing Anjelika was certain. Part of the cryptic letter was true. Her father was false.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Echoes of Evil

by H. A. Titus

As the Anchor's clock turned to the hour, Cara spotted Clock and Cog trotting into the docking area. She grinned. School had been going for three weeks, and the siblings had never failed to turn up within five minutes of eight o'clock every morning.

"Pieter!" she yelled down into the cargo hold. "They're here."

"Up in a minute," he called back.

Cara swung out the hatch and onto the dock. As the two other orphans got closer, Cog hung back and motioned for his sister to go on ahead. Clock darted into the Anchor as fast as she could—she was always looking for time to study the ship and daydream about flying it one day.

Cog paused beside her, and for a second, his eyes looked like Pieter's had for the last few weeks. Bruised and tired. "Have you heard about anything weird going on?"

"Weird?" Cara shook her head. She'd been so wrapped up with the Anchor ever since Peter's trial that she hadn't really paid much attention to any of the news on the street. "Nothing except your out-of-the-blue question."

Cog's lips quirked into a half-smile. "You remember Nosey and Bruzzy?"

Cara nodded. Everyone on the lower levels had known them. Bruzzy never spoke a word, but he was always with Nosey, a girl who liked to listen to gossip and was terrified of big, open places. They had been nice, until Nosey had started freaking out more and more often. "They went to the crazy house, right?"

"Saint Christina's Clinic for the Neuro-Atypical," Cog said. "Yeah. Well, a couple of kids I know went up there the other night, to see if they could sneak in and see Nosey and Bruzzy, right? And when they got close, they could hear the patients all babbling and chanting something."

"So? They're crazy people. They're gonna babble, right?"

"Except they were all chanting the same thing. 'The planet began to crack. The ground shattered with a furious thunder! Steam hissed into the icy blackness in a vast dying breath.'"

Cara frowned. "Why would they be saying that?"

"I don't know. But the kids said it was really freaky. Just the way they looked when they were talking about it gave me the shivers." Cog fidgeted with his welding goggles again. "They weren't lying, either."

"How do you know?"

"Same way I knew you weren't when you told everyone you were learning to fly. Who'd make something like that up?"

"You two gonna stand out there and yap all day?" Clock yelled from the hatch.

"Coming!" Cog rolled his eyes.

"Well—" Cara chewed her lip. "Do you think we need to tell someone?"

"I don't know," Cog said, turning toward the ship. "I just though you should know something weird happened. Y'know, to make sure you keep your eyes open. Don't need anything to happen to any of us."

"Yeah." Cara followed him into the Anchor, looking over her shoulder. The shadows in the docking bay seemed just a little darker and creepier. I hope that's just my imagination.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


by Jeff C. Carter

The hulking spiders thrashed against the metallic weave of their containers, biting into the flex-steel links with their cruel curved fangs.  Dr. Lev’s heart beat erratically against his chest, quickening with the anticipation of the pent up chaos soon to be unleashed aboard the Avenir.  He lifted his needle and squinted to see the pale glistening ribbon inside.  The twin parasitic wyrm inside his own body thrummed like a plucked harp chord and the voice of Rahab sang out in his head.

“Unleash-bridge chaos-paradise...”

He could feel Rahab and the other demons in the lightless city of Eclectia’s black ocean depths gathering for the psychic feeding frenzy.  His mind spun with the turbulence of their violent emotions and he clenched his teeth to steady himself.   

The spider before him raised its fangs and stared at him with eight round ruby eyes.  Dr. Lev stared back into the blank insect mind that knew nothing but hunting and hunger, instinct and reaction.  It was such a beautiful monster, yet so incomplete.  It was an empty vessel, incapable of hatred or the joy of bloodlust.  He positioned the needle beneath the spider, aiming for one of the few weak points in its armor hard skin.  He eased the point of the needle inside and the wyrm drained through like quicksilver.

The spider’s thick legs gave way and it crashed to the floor.  It contracted in a violent spasm, a squeal escaping its body like high pressure steam.  Dr. Lev felt the wyrm’s confusion as it groped through the arachnid’s organs, clutching at the unfamiliar nervous system.  As soon as the parasite hooked in an eager demon forced itself through.  Dr. Lev watched the spider’s eyes smolder with hatred like deep sea volcanoes.  The swarming demons of Eclectia writhed in jealousy and fought for the next psychic connection. 

Dr. Lev hurried among the other cages with his needles, connecting the spiders to the yearning minds below.  Once he had injected the last wyrm into the last spider, he let the metallic weave of the cages unspool to the floor.  The demons crawled around the room tentatively, adjusting to the architecture and gravity of their new bodies. 

The largest of the spiders reared up and smashed the ceiling lights with its fore legs.  The others shrank back in the sudden darkness and withdrew behind huddled legs.  Dr. Lev saw his own face now, gaunt and pale, his eyes rimmed with purple bruises and swollen veins.  Rahab was looking down at him through the eyes of the colossal spider.  There was a nauseating strobe of kaleidoscopic vision as Rahab stared through both Dr. Lev and spider.  Rahab withdrew and the psychic feedback ended.  Dr. Lev was now alone.

Receive-grasp your fate-reward…

Dr. Lev knelt before his monstrous divinity and trembled. “Rahab, I only want to serve you.  To be with--” his dry voice cracked and he hacked up a bubble of blood.  He swallowed painfully and his lungs shook.  The wyrm within his body had used him up.

Rahab loomed over him and spread its mouth parts wide, encircling his neck with gleaming black fangs the size of sabers. 

You will be in spider as spider is in me.  Together we will become nothing.  All are equal in death.

Dr. Lev focused on his own reflection inside the spider’s dark red eyes and imagined himself in the body of the apex predator.  He imagined himself closer to his god.

As the fangs slashed down with murderous intent, he smiled.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rumbles In the Wilderness

by Travis Perry -

The nomads knelt down when they prayed and then arched their backs to the rear, catching themselves with hands stretched to the rocky ground behind them, their faces swinging upward toward Eclectia’s ash-tormented dome of a sky. Their faces sought the sky, but their eyes remained closed as their lips mumbled their supplications to the Divine.

Ross Smit had worked many years to earn his place among the nomads. Most people in fact, did not even know that the nomads existed—he’d learned of them as a teen-ager from a friendly and overly-talkative-when-drinking miner.

He’d begun his efforts by first pursuing Human Studies at Zirconia University (though he’d grown up in an underwater colony mysteriously named “Enterprise”), not realizing for many years how much all he learned fell short of what his choice of study had been in the Golden Age of Social Sciences back on near-legendary Earth. He then had studied every fragmented bit he could learn about the dialect of the northern nomads—during The Voyage, nearly all languages of the past had been forgotten, leaving what had been called “English” as the dominant tongue. But that one language had since begun to split and fracture—and the nomads must have been different from the beginning. Even then, with all the knowledge of their language and culture he could attain, it had taken four years of him posing as a friendly trader before they’d accepted him into the tribe.

He dressed like them, ate like them, rode their giant insect mounts wherever they rode to follow their “buzbug” herd (the prefix “buz” did not refer to any sound the canine-sized insects made—Ross suspected the word tied back to some now-lost human language), and followed their customs in every way he knew how. Still, he was not fully accepted as one of them—he once asked them to teach him to pray, but they’d treated the very request as a near-blasphemy. So he’d learned to content himself with watching as they rose upright on their knees and fell backward, over and over, performing the evening prayer as the Whale set into barren hills far to the west.

He’d asked once why they did this and at first no one had answered. But finally, as the awkward silence stretched long, an answer came from one of the old women, the one who from time to time toothlessly grinned at him and seized his cheek in her iron grip as she served him supper, hurting him, but meaning only to show affection, laughing at what a good son he would have made…if only he’d been born human. She’d said, “To face Immakah, dear child.”

Through his studies he suspected the word referred to an ancient holy city on Earth. So instead of bowing down in humility to the ground as many praying cultures had done, of course they prayed upward to face their holy city. The sky somewhere contained the city, somewhere on Planet Earth—which they called “Ard,” though without real knowledge of what “Ard” was—so of course they faced the sky in prayer. That moment of discovery, that rapture of understanding—that was why he’d chosen Human Studies (what he’d once heard anciently had been called “Anthropology”). It was better than Wizardry—better to know his fellow man, and thus, himself, than to know the angels and whatever powers knowing them might offer.

But this day the prayers did not end with the setting of the sun. “Buzy! Buzy!” yelled one of the boys left out with the herd during prayer time. On ancient Earth it would have been like shouting, “The sheep! The sheep!”

At that same moment the bugs began sounding, their voices repeating in a, “AhAhAhAhAh AhAhAhAhAh.” Several of the praying nomads snapped upright and turned their heads. Most continued to pour petitions upward.

But in an instant the voiced “ahs” came much faster and in a much higher pitch. And much louder, as the entire herd emitted piercing near-screams. Now all the nomads, even the old ones, sprung to their feet, their eyes looking behind him wide with shock and terror. Ross whipped his head back eastward, the direction all the nomads were looking. He saw what all of them had seen, what his ears also began register as rumbling thunder. The entire herd, hundreds of bugs, were charging at full speed at the dismounted humans. As were the “aspbugs,” their mounts. All of them in a frenzied charge all at the same moment, straight at the humans, all of them together, and screaming, screaming, stampeding westward, as if trying run headlong into the blazing circle of the setting sun…

Thursday, October 11, 2012


by Jeff C. Carter

Enforcer Keepagami stood before the St. Christina’s Clinic video wall and watched red handprints blink into existence, swarm and fade like a frenzied school of squid.

“Take me back further,” he said.

Nurse Vuong dialed back the art therapy wall’s timeline, jumping days into the past.  The crimson marks dwindled, crowded out by finger painted beetles, faces and space ships.

“Run it forward.  Stop,” he said.

The first handprint appeared, roughly forced onto the digital canvas in blood red, wavy strokes flaring out from the fingers like tentacles.  Enforcer Keepagami double tapped on the handprint and information blossomed forth.

St. Christina, Smitz.  AKA ‘Smudge’.  No last name on file.  Ward of Avenir.  Committed for pyromania, self mutilation, and violent behavior.  He was the first to draw that handprint symbol, the ‘mark of Rahab’.  Could he have incited the inmates into the bloody riot?  His I.Q. and social skills were non-existent.  Was his simply the spark of madness that ignited a mass psychosis?

“Who was his doctor?”

“Smudge?  His therapist was Dr. Loomis.  But Smudge hated everyone.  He would only talk to Dr. Lev,” the nurse said.

“When can I speak with the doctors?”

Nurse Vuong stared at him, confused. “Dr. Lev went missing during the riot and Dr. Loomis disappeared a week ago,” she said.  “I thought you were trying to find them!”

Enforcer Keepagami rubbed his face to mask his irritation.  He was semi-retired.  He didn’t mind thawing out a cold case now and then for extra income.  This case was still bloody and raw, and he would have to build it from the ground up.

“We’re still gathering info for our investigation.  Can you pull up the video for the day of the riot?”

Nurse Vuong glared at the enforcer and then prodded her control panel.  A renewed look of confusion crept across her face. “It’s gone.  The entire day!” she gasped.

Enforcer Keepagami confirmed it for himself.  A full twenty five hours, deleted.  He closed his eyes and stood motionless for a long moment.

Smudge hardly seemed capable of breaking into the computer and erasing the video, either.  Did he have help from the staff?  The nurse seemed an unlikely suspect.  Where were the doctors?  Dead?  One went missing during the riot.  One vanished only days ago.  Was it connected?  Was there more behind the ‘mark of Rahab’ than the feverish chaos of a broken mind?        

“Enforcer?”  Nurse Vuong rousted him from his meditation.

He opened his eyes and they sparkled with renewed light. “I need personnel records for everyone on staff, including doctors.  I want patient files, therapy recordings, and specs for the clinic,” he said.

Nurse Vuong prodded her control panel. “I can transmit most of the files now.  Some hard copies from the archives will take longer,” she said.  Her shoulders drooped suddenly under an invisible burden.

He realized that she was completely alone.  The clinic had been empty since the riot, leaving her with nothing but grief and survivor’s guilt.

“You will find the doctors, won’t you?” she asked.

Enforcer Keepagami nodded. “I promise to do my best.  I’ll get started looking for them right now.” 

His footsteps echoed in the hollow clinic as he headed towards the morgue. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


by Grace Bridges -

The little ship sighed around Mike as he adjusted his orbit slightly. The junknet billowed behind him and he felt a slight resistance as it collected a metal something that might once have been a piece of a ship. He flipped dials to haul the item into the small cargo hold at the back—but he’d have to wait until he got back to Avenir before he could inspect it. Might as well take another run at the junk-belt then.

Once known as Trail Boss, he’d wrangled cowboys on the ore trail from Sheba. But it was a hard, thankless task, and he’d lost one too many colleagues—and family members—to the violent physics they’d harnessed to herd the rocks across the expanse. Most younger than himself, too. You had to be good to get to his age in that business. Finally he’d seen sense and gotten out of it at the first chance, though space still called to him. He was a junkman now, collecting scrap metal from low planetary orbit.

Often he pondered how it came to be there—defunct satellites? Collisions? Pirate attacks? And—he sighed heavily—ore accidents, when the fragile gravity wells failed and pieces of rock flew everywhere. He made sure to stay safely away from the cowboy convoys now.

He turned the ship again and the Whale Star came level with his cockpit, bathing Eclectia and some nearby asteroids in a golden-white light. Perhaps someday he’d go down, put his feet on the dirt, but for now he was content to remain a spacer.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


by Jeff C. Carter

Dr. Loomis winced as the old door grated open.  He held his breath and waited for the lights to activate.  The darkness refused to yield and he exhaled a quiet curse.  He stayed in the dim column of light that spilled from the tunnel outside.

“Welcome, doctor.  We were just about to begin our session without you,” Dr. Thaani Lev’s voice rasped from the corners of the black room.

“Give yourself up, Thaani.  Come quietly or I’ll call the enforcers,” Dr. Loomis commanded.

“So you came alone, then?”

Dr. Loomis took a small step back towards the open doorway. “I suspected your behavior was becoming erratic.  I should have stopped you sooner.  Had I known what you were doing to those poor patients…,” Dr. Loomis’ voice faltered.

Former patients, doctor.  Cured.  Set free!”

Dr. Lev’s voice exploded into a fit of ragged wet coughs that bounced off the walls, making it impossible for Dr. Loomis to trace.

Dr. Lev regained his breath and continued his taunts. “If you disagree with my methods you had better come in.  I have new friends inside who will be disoriented when they awaken.  Try to make them feel comfortable until they find their…legs,” Dr. Lev chuckled.

Dr. Loomis stepped fully into the room and the door squeaked shut behind him.  His eyes soon began to pick out grey contours from the shadows of the room.  The old storage bay was thick with the hard angles of dusty furniture and the manufactured edges of equipment.  Nestled among them were the glistening curves of countless large orbs. “You don’t have to hurt anyone else.  Release your patients and I’ll take care of them,” Dr. Loomis said.  He moved deeper among the strange mounds looking for Dr. Lev’s captives.

A wet pop echoed in the distance, followed by an unrecognizable yet horrid stench that clawed at Dr. Loomis’ eyes and nose.

“You have my word, doctor.  I will release them all,” Dr. Lev croaked.

A slow tapping hit the floor.  Its tempo quickened into a hissing splash.  As the steady drizzle increased the odor became overwhelming.  Through his watering eyes Dr. Loomis saw that the mysterious globes were deflating. Dr. Loomis shielded his nose and mouth with his sleeve and stumbled towards the door.  It slid open automatically, the light from the tunnel flaring across his blurry vision.  Blocking the exit was something dark skinned and hunch backed, like a man on all fours. It must be Thaani, Dr. Loomis thought, catastrophic schizophrenia. “I’m not going to hurt you, Thaani.  Do you understand?”

The shape in front of him replied with a slow chitter.  It sounded like teeth clicking together. 

Dr. Loomis squinted and rubbed his eyes.  I must be seeing double, Dr. Loomis thought.  It looks like he has eight legs.

A sudden sharp pain stung Dr. Loomis’ neck and he whirled around to find Dr. Lev holding a thin syringe.  His eyes danced with manic glee from their red rimmed lids and sunken purple hollows.

“Relax, Doctor.  It will all be over soon,” Dr. Lev cooed.

Dr. Loomis’ legs turned to rubber and he crumpled to the ground.  He heard a sharp smack of his skull hitting the floor but he felt no pain. Thaani drugged me.  But if Thaani was behind me… who is crouching at the door?

Dr. Lev looked around and gave an asthmatic chuckle before slipping into the shadows.  More of the hunched shapes shambled into the light. 

Eight legs…eight eyes.  Dear God, not up here…not on Avenir!

Dr. Loomis grasped the true nature of the crawling things and tried to shriek in horror.  The growing chorus of clicking mandibles swallowed the thin gurgle from his paralyzed throat.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


by Jeff C. Carter -

Barney Keepagami wriggled his fingers into the soil, searching for the fine thread-like feeder roots of the genetically modified plant.  There were machines that could handle such simple tasks but he liked to dig.  His finger brushed an invisible string and when he closed his eyes he could trace it back, branching like a fractal, to the heart of the plant.  He slowly pulled away the dirt and exposed the tangled roots to the light. 

He grabbed a handful of dry Eclectia soil and packed it around the roots, praying that the plant would not choke on the orange grit.  He hoped that one day these hybrids, part ancient earth plant, part alien plant, would find purchase on the planet below. 

He held up a small pot containing one of the grey alien weeds that clung to the planet’s barren surface.  It was useless for agriculture, yet Barney admired its tenacity.  If mankind hoped to last on Eclectia they could learn much from this dauntless creature.

Barney left the experimental agriculture lab, passing through a series of decontamination chambers.  He finally emerged with a whoosh, stepping into the space station’s massive greenhouse.  He took a deep breath of air and held it, savoring the fresh clean taste that was so rare on Avenir. 

The thick canopy of plants purified the air supply and provided the luxury of fresh food to the lucky few who could afford it.  It was a marvelous system, and Barney knew that the seaweed aquaculture labs of the underwater cities were even more abundant.  Barney dreamed of a future beyond stagnant space stations and dank underwater cities.  He dreamed of a lush and verdant Eclectia, a place where people could cultivate the soil, live off the land and make a real connection with their world.

A whiff of stale air assaulted his nose and he turned around in time to see a tired looking enforcer wander through the indoor forest. “Officer Solorzano?” Barney called.

Solorzano squinted, his eyes unaccustomed to the strange yellow glare of the simulated sun overhead.  He shaded his eyes and spotted Barney. “Barnacle!” He indicated the trees with a nod of his chin. You call this retirement?  Working as a gardener?”

Barney gave the enforcer a friendly squeeze on the shoulder. “Something like that.  How have you been?”

“I’m beat.  The P.K.’s running us ragged.  The good news is that I can finally throw you some of the overflow.”

 “I’m sorry, but I’ve got my hands full here.  I don’t have the time for a cold case right now.”

Solorzano shook his head. “This one is red hot.  What do you know about the St. Christina’s Riot?”

Barney had seen the news.  The entire affair had been so shocking and aberrant.  So inexplicable.  The investigation was still open.  There were clues out there, answers to be found.  An old stirring welled up inside of him. 

“Not much,” Barney said, “but I’ll do some digging.”