I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the juju doll, a process of sympathetic magic where pain inflicted on a representation of a person is also felt by that individual. This story is an attempt to puzzle out how that might work, if the principles behind it could be figured out and adapted to other technology (and yes, I do realise how stupid some aspects of that sentence sound, but bear with me). Somewhere on file I have an unpublished (and very bad) story that deals with similar themes, with the world destroyed when a child sticks a pin in a plastic globe. (This story is also very bad, but it has the decency to be short.)

For the inspiration behind the opening sentence, go no further than the video posted below, and the story was originally titled ‘James and the Cold Gun’ until I came up with ‘J is for JIGSAW’ and so had to rethink. Pave was the name of a planet in another story of mine, one where a race of baboon like aliens traditionally greet each other by kissing arses, and a career diplomat discovers that ‘first contact’ is not quite the honour he’d anticipated. The Count and the Professor are rivals from Verne’s classic A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which I really should get round to reading again some time soon (and so should you, if you haven’t already).

Enjoy! (And if not there’s always the KB video.) 


            James has a cold gun. It’s a piece of forbidden alien technology, smuggled back from the trading world of Pave by his grandfather. Just point it at a photograph of the person you want dead and pull the trigger. Within days that person will die of natural causes, a sudden heart attack or a brain tumour, some previously undetected and incurable infestation of cancer.

            It’s black technology, operating on principles of sympathetic science, the link between macrocosm and microcosm. Nobody really knows how it works, but it does. The evidence is conclusive. James is the most successful assassin in the history of the world, a contract killer who doesn’t even have to leave his house.

            The geophysicist Count Saknussemm hates his rival Professor Lindenbrook and wants him dead. Through underworld contacts he learns of James’ existence. Saknussemm transfers a large sum of money to James’ account and sends him a picture of the Professor taken at a recent conference on plate tectonics.

            Neither of them thinks about the panoramic view of the Earth as seen from space displayed on the wall behind Lindenbrook in the picture, until a week later when the earthquakes start.

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