and seemingly delighting in the ambiguities of language. the words “DROWNED” or “CANCER” or “OLD AGE” or “CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. For more information about MoD. .This is a preview copy of a story that will be appearing in our book This is How You Die. This story. in careful block letters. And it was frustratingly vague in its predictions: dark. ALONE. “SCREAMING. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed. from just a sample of your blood. They were. it’ll be paired with an illustration by Greg Ruth. we shipped it out the door. so long as attribution is given. All of the the stories in both books are explorations into this common theme. consistent. could mean either dying of natural causes or being shot by a bedridden man in a botched home invasion. shared. We’re releasing this story in advance thanks to the kind supporters of our Machine of Death card game Kickstarter. which introduced the idea of a machine that can predict how you’ll die.” is by Daliso Chaponda. We tested it before announcing it to the world. which is open for pledges through March 19. This permits this story to be freely downloaded. but testing took time—too much.” It let people know how they were going to die. how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. AND AFRAID. 2013! This file is released under a Creative Commons Attribution–NonCommercial–ShareAlike license. The machine had been invenTed a few years ago: a machine that could tell. out in July 2013 from Grand Central Publishing. It’s the sequel to our bestselling short story collection Machine of Death. “OLD AGE. at least. You could pay someone or you could probably get it done for free. and retransmitted in a noncommercial manner. There were now machines in every doctor’s office and in booths at the mall. since we had to wait for people to die. visit machineofdeath. The machine captured that old-world sense of irony in death: you can know how it’s going to happen. After four years had gone by and three people had died as the machine predicted. In the book. but the result was the same no matter what machine you went to.” it turned out. but you’ll still be surprised when it does.

That his stink was discernable amid the competing odors of the Harare market was a mark of just how intense it was. It purred into life.S.S. CRYING. but no do for somebody else unless he comes himself. Jabu began to sway while mumbling a chant. He poured some of the blood into a disc and pressed a button. it . It like cheating. his teeth were stained and uneven. “Money first. when Kira had got her forecast. back in England. “I’ll pay you extra. Eight years ago.” Jabu grinned. ALONE. AND AFRAID 1 “This is not good-right. Jabu meanwhile lifted an animal’s skull from behind the chest. dollars. He stank. Like diary. He was just after more of that mzungu money. They were party pieces she took with her whenever she went back to England for Christmas.  Jabu took the blood to a large wooden chest he had at the back of his kiosk. Double. He clutched the vial of blood Kira had given him within filthy fingers.” No need to beat round the bush. “For you I do yesterday. Kira still had some one-trillion notes from before the switch. “Have Money. He held the vial up and shook the blood like a bartender preparing a cocktail.This is How You Die SCREAMING. Since 2009. He glanced to see if anyone was looking before pulling it open. Having white skin in Harare was like wearing a sign that said. Zimbabwe had been using the U. Not good-right. dollar.” Jabu said. Kira guessed it was a cow’s or buffalo’s but she couldn’t be sure as she was not well versed in bovine anatomy. Bloodread is private. Please Swindle Me.” Kira handed him forty U.” Kira knew that Jabu didn’t really have a moral issue.

” Kira looked at the prediction. Mr. Richards had convinced Jabu to lease it for a month and see if it was worth buying. Privately owned Death Machines were illegal. Jabu had almost not bought the rickety Death Machine.  “She wanted a bloodread. but Jabu’s Shona was better than Marcus’s Tswana. Watching Jabu’s gyrations and gobbledygook was a more diverting way to wait for a result than reading the sordid details of the Sugababes love lives. It was a repeat. Death predictions and love potions were the top sellers. When Mr. She waited politely as he rose. “What did that white lady want?” As always. Jabu had said.  Shit. Naturally curious.  Jabu grabbed Kira’s hand. He sold many that were on the government-banned list. He had been shocked. clumsily trying to express sympathy. Besides that. “I’m sorry. had told him he had acquired a Death Machine. As he had the day before. CRYING. “It won’t help your paper. More people paid him to find out how they would die than paid him for cures. SCREAMING. Jabu finished his ritual by flinging aside the skull and collapsing. ALONE. “It is to be badly dying for your friend.” He handed her the slip. he was wearing a dusty suit. so there was no chance of him telling the police about Jabu’s Death Machine. composed himself. the man from whom Jabu bought expired medical supplies. No matter how hot it was. He read it and his eyes widened. ALONE. AND AFRAID. 2 To think. and lifted a small slip of paper out of the chest. So what? He didn’t think it would make him money. Both Jabu and Marcus spoke Tswana and Shona. While waiting she had flipped through pages of a tabloid magazine. CRYING. Marcus strolled over. like last week. Marcus wore a suit.This is How You Die had been in a sterile room akin to a gynecologist’s clinic. Richards. though. Back to square one. “What is it?” Kira asked. Jabu’s neighbor Marcus Chuma sold books. there was the risk.” Jabu answered in Shona. Nothing useful. I think . AND AFRAID. All predictions were meant to be made at the state-owned ZFC (Zimbabwe Forecast Center). SCREAMING.

.” the coroner said. Marcus nodded. they are meticulous. Detective Inspector Mudarikwa resented Kira. and she loathed him. Surreptitiously. “Whoever is doing this.” “And if she’s like the others”—he waved a hand over her body—“I’ll find no traces. “If you know how to look. “There’s that at least. “Did you?” she asked.” “Unless two people had the same prediction. but she couldn’t. he left her by a mosque. after this one is finished. I wonder how often that happens. “Not skinny like they usually are. Poor girl. Nobody has seen anything.” “She was nice looking. She supposed it was natural to try to find a positive to cling to. he handed her a vial of blood.” The owner of the voice was a tall balding man with coal-black skin who loved what little authority he had so much that Kira was sure he slept in his uniform. Too much work. tortured. “Maybe. Like the first six.” Marcus said pensively. This girl had been abducted.This is How You Die maybe she was sent to check I was not fake by her friend. The victim was young Ethiopian girl.” Mudarikwa continued. never again. 3 The seventh body was found in a Dumpster behind a mosque. “Another book idea?” Marcus was always boring him with ideas he had for books and academic papers.” a familiar voice said behind Kira. “No signs of rape. probably sixteen or seventeen.”  Jabu wondered if she’d be back. “Did the last one help?” “I’m grasping at straws.” Marcus said.” “The first six were all found near churches. The coroner confirmed that the body had been washed thoroughly postmortem. I would check too after such a scary prediction. “Now he’s killed a Muslim.” “If you ever finish it. the white lady. it was heavily bruised and covered in wounds from a knife or scalpel. and finally killed.” Kira replied.  Jabu was unsurprised.” Kira said nothing. But I think maybe. “He left traces.

Bad dreams.” 4 “What this for?” Jabu barked at Kira four days later.” Jabu’s kiosk was more cluttered than it had been the last two times Kira had come. The fact he left them near their places of worship but one in a derelict building. I can go to someone else.” Kira suggested when Jabu completed his ritual and handed her the sliver of paper with the forecast. Kira wondered which of the bottled syrups was Jabu’s wife-beating cure. and in letters she still updated Kira on what Simon was up to.  “Yes. totally misunderstanding her intent. You should add a cure for that. A blackboard hanging from a loop of razor wire had a chalk-written list beneath the title “DOCTOR 7 DAYS” (he guaranteed all his remedies worked within a week). “You would sell many. Impotence.” he seethed. two in Dumpsters.” He puckered .” “No. “Is they ashamed to come for themselves? Do they pay you much money and you come have it cheap-cheap?” “If you have a problem doing this. She had found divorce papers had worked well enough. You no want to say. salves for burns.” She pointed at the blackboard. Pills for headaches. For some reason it had been easier to tell people that. “Leave it to the police. He had studied criminal psychology in South Africa and he seized upon every opportunity to choke people with displays of his superior knowledge. one…” Kira started walking out. Kira’s mother didn’t know. Simon had punched her only once. “Infidelity. He had remedies for everything. Nobody knew. “I can make for you cheap-cheap. She didn’t have time to listen to Mudarikwa’s pontificating. But how. “What?” he asked. “I just ask because strange. no. Wife beating. and beyond that more esoteric cures.” he yelped. Clearly he had just had a delivery. I wonder how? How can it be? What man would be bad faith to woman like you? You beautiful. Kira wasn’t sure why she had never told her what had actually happened. The lie she told was that Simon had cheated on her.This is How You Die The way he beat them but then washed them and wrapped them in a blanket. unfaithfulness.” “You need?” he asked. “Infidelity. Drunkenness. all right. no. Go.

he was the personification of evil. she would be teaching physics at a university somewhere. Her father’s final gift to her had been more than a lump of money. Kira had no army or police training. In some cases the word choice indicates sadness or anger. HE WILL LAUGH WHILE YOU CRY. GPS coordinates or simple descriptive words like “heart attack.” “internal bleeding. She looked down at the paper. James Ndlovu was the current .” However.” “HE WILL LAUGH WHILE YOU CRY” instead of “beaten and tortured to death. Now things were significantly better. It had been a new beginning.This is How You Die his lips and blew her a kiss. he had probably expected her to sell it. Hooft Security had been founded by Kira’s father in the seventies. Whose personality? God’s? 6 Kira had three strips of paper taped to her office wall now. when authorities realized there was a pattern and it was official: Zimbabwe had its first serial killer. “WHILE TRYING TO SAVE ANOTHER” instead of “fire. When her father had left her his business in the will. Everyone had called her insane. You would expect a machine to produce purely empirical data. What chaos there was had meant Hooft was never without work. but in 2007 she had reached a point where she hated everything about her life. It had been nowhere near as bad as she had imagined. She had packed up her things and left England. Especially because that was back when Robert Mugabe was still in power and as far as the British media was concerned. when expatriates did not want to leave investigations in the hands of Harare’s notoriously corrupt police. Hooft Security had been called in only after the first three murders. Often. 5 FROM “NECROLINGUISTICS” by MARCUS CHANTUNYA One of the reasons people find it hard to accept Death Machine forecasts as purely scientific phenomena is the language of the predictions. as one would find in an almanac.” Some predictions have a sense of humor. and now it did much more than just home security. so many predictions are poetic. All things being equal. they hired Hooft. The language of the predictions seems to reveal personality.

She had her two best employees helping—Qabaniso Tutani. six. Rwandese immigrant. an ex-soldier. That was why he had called Hooft personally and brought her into the investigation of the White Shroud Killer. Instead all she had from victims five. She hoped a forecast might reveal something about where the victim died before being moved. Academia maintains that he must have obscured . Tourism was one of his priorities. and Maria Gahiji. He wanted the story out of the press as soon as possible. ex-nun. he was right about her. Some tiny detail about the killer perhaps. he immediately became the front-runner. As much as she hated Detective Inspector Mudarikwa. They were like snippets of morbid fridge poetry. 7 FROM “NECROLINGUISTICS” by MARCUS CHANTUNYA Nostradamus’s predictions of the future were all entrenched within four-line poems. How could anyone compete with that? Kira was cautiously optimistic about James Ndlovu. but none of the victims’ forecasts so far had been helpful to the investigation. It had worked.This is How You Die president. Not that Maria’s or Qabaniso’s inquiries were going well. To be honest. Nobody was turning up anything. an ex-policewoman. but as much as he had done to regenerate the economy. She didn’t know the first thing about investigating a murder. and seven was: CHOKE ON BLOOD SCREAMING. CRYING. Kira maintained that if she ever found someone to dictate it to. She hadn’t even been sure a Death Machine would spit out a prediction when the blood of a person who was already dead was put in it. RESCUING A CHILD.  Kira had got the idea to test the forecasts of the victims’ blood after the fourth victim was discovered. Anything traditional forensics would miss. He clearly loved his country. AND AFRAID HE WILL LAUGH WHILE YOU CRY She looked at the three strips of paper helplessly. but when James Ndlovu’s Death Machine forecast was leaked to the press. ALONE. People had expected Morgan Tsvangerai to become president when Mugabe died. Maria’s history would make a bestselling novel. she felt totally out of her depth. his intolerance of opposition was worrying.

“This is Maria. Skeptics take the view that his predictions were vague so that they could be bent to fit whatever happened. then picked up his skull. he saw two women enter the market and sighed with relief. After three hours of waiting in the heat. Kira reluctantly shook it. Following this. “And this your friend?” He pointed at the towering behemoth of a woman beside Kira. turned it on. Better to go with an incantation or potion. one or two of them might be his next customers. “Hello again. laughing and pointing as Jabu leapt to and fro to avoid her angry swings. Consider the cryptic language of Death Machine forecasts. of course. Maybe Nostradamus had no choice but to write his predictions in cryptic quatrains because that is how they came to him. An angry woman armed with a rolling pin had come by in the morning. A few other people walking through the market paused to watch him. He shook more. That was the last time he would sell a fertility salve. He placed two drops of blood into the machine. he put a little more oomph into the performance. so he flung aside the skull . but everyone looking for a traditional healer had gone to his competitors. But imagine these hypotheses were wrong. 8 Jabu had been having a bad day. The other market vendors had been delighted. and undulated his voice more frenetically. Apparently. Maybe it is something inherent in the nature of prediction. As Kira was his only customer of the day. She works with me. If he was lucky. gibberish. He heard the Death Machine beep twice.This is How You Die his meaning to avoid charges of heresy. Jabu took it and opened the chest that housed the death machine. His blond-haired mzungu of the many predictions was back. Clearly a nonbeliever. Kira reached into her purse and pulled out a test tube. A man who looks in the face of God is blinded. the fertility salve Jabu had given her to rub over her husband’s genitals had made him break out in a rash.” “You have another blood?” he asked.” He held out his hand. Jabu had not had any customers. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the woman Kira had come with shaking her head disapprovingly. swayed more. The market was abuzz with life. Jabu spun and spread his arms. He began his incantation.

“Why would he tell us if it was him? Maybe someone like those Christians who call Death Machines devil worship is targeting his customers. the blood was from customers who had come to you for a prediction?” “Yes. “That’s the first connection we’ve found between victims. Is she following my customers and getting a blood sample? Why? Is she trying to show I am a fraud? Why retest?” “Wait a second. grabbing hold of his shoulder. “Why again the same one? Like the other ones. She puzzled him. A few every day. He switched languages. the ‘SCREAMING’ one and the ‘CHOKING’ one. Also the ‘LAUGH WHEN CRY’ one. He perused the expectant Kira. then again. You don’t think he…” She pointed at Jabu. He shook his head.” Maria said. but his curiosity was too much. “Listen. still looking at him with unconcealed disgust. I have done many. but all the last four women this man has killed had forecasts from you. Should he keep quiet? She was a source of steady business. He picked up the prediction. He made a mental note to self to check if he needed to refill the spool.” Maria switched back to Shona. The police have found nothing. Like second again. handing her the slip of paper.” . nodded.” “I don’t know what you mean.” “What you doing? Why you bring me blood the same one again. addressing the giantess beside Kira. so he should probably just shut up and thank his lucky stars. Again. THEN HE WHISPERS TO YOU. “You speak Shona?” Maria.  “Why?” he asked. Like first. He grappled for the right English words. STABBED. “Why what?” Kira replied.” Maria translated. What you doing?” She didn’t understand him. This one here is the blood of a woman who came by on Tuesday. Kira was stunned. There is a man who has killed eight women. Maybe the ones before that too.This is How You Die and picked up the sliver of paper it had spat out.  “Tell her I want to know why she keeps bringing me blood I’ve already tested. Are these the only forecasts you have done in the last few weeks?” “No. “Every victim?” Maria nodded. You must help us. “All the forecasts you did for her.

and she followed. Maria had less finesse. When she reached the entrance. ALONE. Her exclamation just served to create chaos. “Don’t move. She bumped into a fat man. He come and ask me whenever he see me do ritual. “I know who killer is. It took a few minutes to work her way through stalls. CRYING. But for SCREAMING. She saw Marcus emerge from a cluster of people. she simply shoved people out of her way.” Jabu asked in English. hoping someone would grab him.” When Maria translated. so even though she had lost a direct sight line to Marcus.” He pointed at Marcus’s kiosk. apologized. Kira reacted immediately: she whipped a gun out.  There was only one entrance to the market grounds. “Stop him. “He is writing book about Death Machine. “he has seen my bloodreads? He kill them because of my bloodreads?” “Yes.” Kira confirmed. she scanned the area outside the market. The market was too crowded to shoot. AND AFRAID…” Maria crossed herself. “He’s killing people because the machine predicts he will kill them. “Maybe it’s not someone who disapproves of Death Machine use killing customers. her past as a nun reared up on occasion. Kira considered a possibility. “Ask him what some of his other recent predictions have been?” “Yesterday. She caught sight of Marcus sprinting north and she followed.” Marcus dove out of view. “Thief!” she continued. Maybe they are just using the predictions to choose victims. and people. stop him. The killer would know that if he went after NO MALARIA MEDICINE or CAVE IN he would fail or be caught. kiosks. . Marcus. NO MALARIA MEDICINE and CAVE IN. Kira explained her suspicion.” “The killer. He was the only person who had seen Jabu’s bloodreads. Only him. and kept going. Kira ran to it.” “What is it?” Marcus yelled from his stall. “Is him. so I show him my bloodreads. Nobody else. weaving between people. ” “It’s like a Möbius strip.” Jabu said. understanding enough of their conversation to get a picture.” Maria translated. He’d seen Jabu pointing. It’s weird.This is How You Die “So it’s not just a case of someone watching who asked him for a prediction and killing them.” Kira yelled.

The group of men did not pursue him. He looked serene.” he replied. “I did not know how I would react.” he said.” Marcus said. Marcus was not running anymore. Beside boisterous declarations of “Dumisani Rules!” and “East Side Posse Suxx!” there was a spraypainted caricature of Jesus wearing oversized boxing gloves. “Eleven. Her muscles groaned in protest. “you are the instrument of his will. That had been a long time ago. waking daily and jogging for a few kilometers in the quest for that mythical perfect body.” Kira repeated. he began to pull his hand out of his jacket. “When it came to it. 9 FROM “NECROLINGUISTICS” by MARCUS CHANTUNYA The question remains. Kira followed him into the alley. darting into an alley. It was up to her. “Don’t move. pointing at the graffiti. He had stopped about twenty yards down the narrow.” she called out.” Slowly. Kira had been a runner. She slowed down. She squeezed the trigger. leisurely. There was no sign of Maria.” Kira said. right now. his pride visible. Marcus was too far ahead of her. Marcus wiped away sweat from his brow with the sleeve of his suit jacket.” Marcus replied. who must still have been working her way through the bedlam. “Stop him. “Why?” Why has God chosen to speak to us . “THE LORD STARING AT YOU FROM A WALL. “Stop.” Kira said.This is How You Die She glanced back. “A fitting end for a servant of God. Once. He reached into his jacket’s inner pocket. drawing her gun. Ahead of Marcus. panting heavily.” “You are no servant of God. blocking his way.” “In this moment. surprised. He changed direction. He looked at Kira with a strange expression on his face. a group of men responded. Kira saw the glint of the sun on metal.” she instructed. She was no longer in the least bit athletic. squalid alley and was staring at some graffiti on the wall.  “Stop. Would I struggle? Would I be terrified? I’m not.” “I know you killed eight women. stop him.

the moment of conception when a new life forms? My analysis of the language that God uses is revelatory.” “How much?” “For you. the boy’s mother handed Jabu some money and half dragged her unruly son away.” “Thank you. she might just send it. The Death Machine gives voice to God’s own prayers.” he declared. Come to think of it. The subtext of his predictions is clear.” “Yes. “Infidelity. She found him shaking beads over a young boy’s shoulders while the boy’s mother watched.  “What is it?” “Add water and leave for night. and the only way that… [Manuscript unfinished] 10 The next morning Kira returned to Jabu’s kiosk.” he said. Never again. then Jabu stopped her. He began rummaging through his wares until he found a small jar in which there was a large dried mushroom.This is How You Die through the Death Machines? Why predictions of death? Why not tell us of the moment we will fall in love.” She began to leave. She wondered what her exhusband would think if he received a dried mushroom in the mail. free. “No blood today.” “ .” she said. Is for infidaleyes.” she said taking the jar. “Hello again.  “Wait.” “Thank you for your help. “No. Death Machine predictions are God’s hopes. He longs for our return to him.” Kira burst out laughing. Story by Daliso Chaponda | @dalisochaponda | daliso. When he was finished.

Inescapable Machine of Death Inescapable Machine of Death RYAN NORTH. MATTHEW BENNARDO. Infallible. Infallible. Stories of the Inscrutable. AND DAVID MALKI ! AND DAVID MALKI ! EDITED BY EDITED BY in sT ore s ev e ry wher e JU Ly 1 6 . MATTHEW NORTH. RYAN BENNARDO.THIS IS HOW THIS IS HOW YOU DIE Stories of the Inscrutable.