Sudoku in the Sky with Diamonds
by Eric J. Krause
James stared up at the night sky, doing everything he could to forget the whole goddamn week. The problem was the memories didn't want to go anywhere. His week had sucked so bad, why wouldn't they want to hang around to help mock him?
The stars twinkled down at him, and he couldn't suppress a chuckle. They all looked like little diamonds. Not surprising. Ever since he gave Kate the diamond engagement ring, everything looked like diamonds. Big honking mocking fucking diamonds. Would the world have taken on this sparkling new hue if she hadn't disappeared with the ring? Yeah, maybe, but at least they would have been happy hallucinations. At least he'd spent way more than the recommended two paychecks on it. He always had that.
As he stared up at the sky, the normal constellations shifted into strange new patterns. He blinked hard to see if he was imagining things, but the stars still lay in their new positions. Was that . . . ? No, couldn't be. But, yes, it was.
The stars had formed a Sudoku puzzle.
James loved solving Sudokus. Maybe this was a sign. Maybe if he solved this one, everything would be clear. It made no sense, but neither did the night sky becoming a huge Japanese number puzzle. Neither did his life, for that matter.
He stared up at it for a few minutes. Oh, geez. If this one was in his one-a-day calendar at home, it'd be listed as an easy one-starrer. He began filling in the blanks, and as he did, more stars popped into view and formed the new numbers.
The puzzle moved closer to completion, and James kept plugging away. He was having so much fun--the first bit of fun since Kate said yes before skipping town--that he missed two important factors. One, he wasn't dwelling on losing Kate. That was a good thing. And two, he didn't notice his chest tightening and the tingles running up and down his left arm. That wasn't such a good thing. As he put the final number in place, the pain hit, and he slumped back onto the grass. The stars shifted, showing their natural order.
Officer Reynolds frowned. Something was a bit off about this one. He pulled on a pair of latex gloves, pried open the dead guy's eyes, and gasped.
His partner, Adams, pointed to the body. "See the discoloration here? I've seen this before. He had a busted ventricle. The paramedics will back me up on that, I'm sure."
Reynolds shook his head as he continued to stare into the dead man's eyes. "No, partner. You may say he suffered from a broken ventricle, but I know the truth. This guy died of a broken heart."