Nicole Givens Kurtz is an author, editor, and educator. She's the recipient of the Ladies of Horror Grant (2021), the Horror Writers Association's Diversity Grant (2020) and the Atomacon Palmetto Scribe Award-Best Short Story 2021. She's been named as one of Book Riot's 6 Best Black Indie SFF Writers. She's also the editor of the groundbreaking anthology, SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire. Her novels have been a finalist in the Dream Realm Awards, Fresh Voices, and EPPIE Awards for science fiction. She's written for White Wolf, Bram Stoker Finalist in Horror Anthology, Sycorax's Daughters, and The Realm's The Vela: Salvation series. Nicole has over 40 short stories published as well as numerous novels and three active speculative mystery series. She's a member of Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Science Fiction Writers of America. You can support her work via Patreon and find more about her at

Glitches & Stitches by Nicole Givens Kurtz

Suffering PTSD from her past cases, Inspector Regulator Fawn Granger is exhausted with her job and she can't wait to move to the Southwest Territories, when another death violation drops into her lap.

World famous Dr. Leonard Cho, obsessed with cybernetics, is killed.

Fawn and long-term partner, Briscoe Baker, have investigated strange cases before, but nothing like this one. Potential witnesses value their tech over the death of Dr. Cho, making the case difficult to solve.

Things become even more challenging when an organization, guilty of human rights violations, becomes involved, and a hacker gets their hands on a list of undercover Regulators.

With only five days to retirement, will this death violation push Fawn into a mental spiral? Or will she repair the damage for herself and bring the violator to justice.

Together, she and Briscoe must do all they can to solve this death violation.


Nicole Givens Kurtz is a notable writer, publisher, and anthologist in the Black Fantastic tradition, taking to heart the genre-defying storytelling at the root of what makes the Black Fantastic, fantastic. Glitches & Stitches: Death Violation follows in this vein, combining Kurtz's love of page-turning mystery-thrillers with an unforgettable cyberfunk atmosphere. – Zelda Knight



  • "The story keeps you guessing as you follow along with Regulators Fawn Granger and Briscoe ="BB" Baker. Robots, hatchling, humans are living in this world created by the author. I especially enjoyed the fluidity of the characters in their personal relationships, it felt comfortable and right for each of those characters. Fawn is planning to make a big change of scenery at the end of the week or maybe a case as it seems to be shaping up in the beginning. Her and her partner BB have a long week ahead and a tale to read about that is full of action and investigating; even some hostile individuals that are holding back lots of secrets and some that let them go to stir the pot. As the week comes to a close; so does the case or at least the murder perpetrator is found, there is more to explore on the motivations and purpose behind the death of Dr. Cho."

    – JJ Broenner
  • "Glitches and Stitches offers a rare, unique insight into a cyberpunk future that feels far more grounded in the reality of our isolated, digital driven world than most other entries in the genre. Combine this with a relatable cast of protagonists, tight prose, and delicious moral dilemmas, and Nicole Givens Kurtz has given us a fresh new take on the slow burn end of our world as we know it. I, for one, cannot wait to read more tales in this universe..."

    – R.E. Carr
  • "Law & Order meets Blade Runner in this slick, gritty, character driven crime procedural from Nicole Givens Kurtz. Inspector Regulators Fawn Granger and Briscoe Baker are on the hunt after cybernetics expert Dr. Leonard Cho is found dead under mysterious circumstances on the rainy streets of The District. Our Inspectors weave through a delicate web of politics, powerful organizations, and shady colleagues in a fully-realized futuristic world that hooks you in as soon as you start reading.

    Aside from the razor-sharp suspense, what makes this story really shine is the human element. Protagonist Fawn Granger isn't some fearless supercop; she suffers from PTSD, occasionally dealing with bouts of doubt, anxiety, and fear. Sometimes she gets it right. Other times she drops the ball and it hurts. She feels like a real person, one you find yourself rooting for at every turn.

    A big plus is seeing a world populated with POC characters, all striving to get by in this future gone awry. And they don't take a backseat to anything. They are detectives, scientists, medics, doctors, and they feel as real as you or me.

    Take a plunge inside this futuristic madhouse of a world and see where this cybernoir yarn takes you. You won't be disappointed."

    – Pedro Iniguiz, Pushcart nominee



Chapter 1

The District's rain-drenched streets and crumbling structures drowned between Monday's constant downpour and a gloomy Wednesday. Fawn Granger marched along the soaked sidewalks in her galoshes and yellow raincoat. As a kid she had liked splashing in the cold rain, feeling the spray against her bare legs. Now the memory of those happier times dissolved like sugar left out in a storm.

On the way to the scene, she'd reveled in the exhilaration as she puddle-jumped along The District's cracked and warped sidewalks. Overhead, the chilly afternoon squall held hints of a future snowfall once the temperature plummeted below freezing. October seesawed between frost and fall.

The sky could tell her everything except the identity of the rotting corpse waiting for her at the death violation. It was time to get down to business.

She approached the rubberneckers and media hogs vying for gory content to consume. Social media remained insatiable, greedily devouring any- and everything and crapping on people's lives.

And their deaths.

The yellow caution beam sectioned off a quarter of a block including one lane of traffic. The beam prevented bystanders from getting close to the scene and swarming the area around the deceased and ruining evidence. Judging from the blaring horns and irate shouting, pilots didn't like it. Briscoe, her partner she affectionately called BB, yelled over to her as she dipped beneath it. "You swim here from your place?" Briscoe asked.

Why can't death be more convenient? Fawn shook her head. She pulled on the mask from her satchel. "What do we got?"

"One of the pedestrians said she heard shouting just after 1600 hours," Briscoe said.

Briscoe walked with her, slightly ahead, leading her to the deceased. He carried an umbrella in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. He'd come prepared for the weather in a dark gray coat, black turtleneck, and dark dress pants. He didn't fit with the flying wautos—wind automobiles—, robotic servers floating around the violation scene's parameter, and flutter of photographers. He looked like he'd stepped out of the Robert B. Parker online detective game's character list.

"You know, I already looked at the body. You don't have to—"

"I'm fine." She twisted her dreadlocks into a bun at the base of her neck. It kept her shoulder-length hair out of the way of the corpse. Nothing like getting blood, bile, and human baseness in your locks and the hell it took to get out. "But really, BB, smoking?" She took in a deep breath and squatted down beside the victim.

The person who used to be alive. He wore a round, laser-gun blast to the chest and expensive clothing too pricey to be from this section. It was a horrific sight. The violation scene techs buzzed around in their bright white one-piece suits with the VIO label on the back in black block lettering. Their equipment was waterproof, but the body was not.

"Can we get some protection over here? All our evidence is running off with the rain!" Fawn stood up.

"Yeah! Sorry!" A male, with an Afro of curls, shouted at one of the techs. "Marquise! Set up the canopy."

Her knees were soaked. Great. She stepped back to get her breath. The mask made breathing harder, but the burnt flesh from the laser-gun blast didn't help. She fought not to snatch the thing off her face and vomit. Contaminating a violation scene wouldn't look good on her evals, so she spun away from the corpse as a sour taste flooded her mouth. She closed her eyes to pause the world's tilt.

When she opened them again, two men hurried to set up the electronic devices on either side of the body. With a press of the buttons, a shimmering force field appeared like a dome. Rain ran over it and down the sides, away from the deceased.

She caught Briscoe frowning at her. His pursed lips forced the corners of his mouth downward.

"I told you I'd do it."

"And I said I'm fine."


"Those ashes can contaminate the scene. We've talked about this." Fawn gestured to his cigarette. Its round, red tip glowed in the gloomy late afternoon.

"I'm cutting back." He took a drag as if to prove his point.

"Who this is?" Fawn pointed at the body.

"Leonardo Cho, scientist with the Association of Genetically Engineered Humans." Briscoe took another long drag.

"What's he doing here? The AGEH's offices aren't even in this sector."

"And that's it. No partner. No kids. Extended family is out in the Tokyscio area. The Cali Province is always changing the names on those damn quadrants…" He caught himself and straightened out his coat. The ash fell into the rain puddles. "The Anderson Clinic's not too far from here. Maybe he worked there."

"Yeah, maybe. How'd he get here?" Fawn's rain-soaked pants had plastered themselves to her thighs. "A late-night street fight around here leaves one dead but from the looks of it, he still has all his organs. Too much spontaneous violence. Looks like he fought back too."

Briscoe shrugged. "Gonna have to wait for the vioTechs to get their work done."

"All right. Witnesses?"

"None human. vioTech's grabbing the video footage."

"This area is crawling with people. No one saw anything?"

"Most got their faces planted in their devices. You know?"

Fawn sighed. "Let's talk to the employer."

"The AGEH? See now, Fawn, I know the place looks progressive, but there is still some backwardness to how they do things," Briscoe explained. He twisted his lips as if the words tasted bad.

"I'm well aware of the things they do." Fawn heard the sharpness in her tone, but she wanted this resolved tonight. She knew exactly what the Association of Genetically Engineered Humans did. If the e-file journalists got hold of the story some tabloid snot like Malcolm Moore would ruin it. "And backward doesn't begin to cover it. Cruel. Deadly. Those adjectives would do."

"This is politically sensitive." Briscoe loosely crossed his arms where he could still hold the umbrella and smoke. "The District is in crisis, especially this sector. Add in the AGEH…"

"I'm not speaking of things you don't already know." Fawn met his eyes and watched him squirm beneath her gaze. "Our victim worked there."

"They're a not-for-profit medical organization whose primary focus is to enrich human beings through genetic manipulation. They conduct research to create and save lives." Briscoe countered.

"You write their damn website babble?" Fawn shook her head. The smell of death made her stomach hurt, but thankfully the rain had washed away most of the odor.

"Life isn't about finding yourself, but about creating yourself. The AGEH creates people."

"I wonder what else they've created."

Briscoe leveled his gaze at her. "Not all of us can fly off into the Southwest. Many of us live here."

"Is that what you're put-out about?"

"You're splitting up our successful team. For a ranch."

She couldn't deal with this tonight. The District had drained her. Eight years had rendered her sparks out. The regulator AI had labeled her with PTSD and leaving the District would remove her from the trauma of regulator life. Her mother had been a regulator. She'd told Fawn when she first rookied for the District about the dangers of trying to shovel humanity's muck. It could cover you, and drown out one's spirit, their spark.

Burn. Explode. Ignite. Spark. But don't get snuffed out.

The bodies. She couldn't stop seeing them, even when asleep. So she'd stop doing a lot of sleeping.

"I'm not going to go through it again. This is our last one, so let's make it count," Fawn said, more to herself than Briscoe.

Without waiting for Briscoe's reply, she started for the supervising vioTech. They needed answers.

She also wanted to stop him from going on about the AGEH. They created hatchlings. In fact, Briscoe—being a hatchling—might be too close to the subject to be objective. The AGEH's image versus their reality clashed and when that happened, it jarred people—even genetically engineered ones.

Cameras clicked and scanners whirred as vioTechs worked their way around the body.

The tall, dark, and handsome vioTech stood just a way off from the body, writing on his tablet with a stylus—a bit of an old-fashioned techie. She liked that. Meant he got his hands dirty and didn't rely on the technology to give him all the answers.

"You're the new VIO lead?" Fawn asked once she reached him. She yanked her hood up as the rain fell harder. "I'm Inspector Regulator Fawn Granger."

Fawn held out her hand in greeting. He didn't extend his as he wrote with one, while his other gloved hand held the tablet. He wore the same raincoat as the others, but he carried himself with authority.

When he finished writing, he looked up at her.

"I'm Doctor Ryan Rycroft. The deceased, Mr. Cho, has been dead for 2 to 4 hours. Cause of death appears to be a laser-gun blast, but we still have toxicology reports to run. I'll need to open him up to know more. We found a trace of oil on his hands and a discarded umbrella. His fingermarks are on it. They're tacky so they didn't rinse off in the rain."

"Right down to business." Fawn pulled out her own tablet and took notes.

He watched her with intense eyes, and she didn't have to guess how he had become the VIOs supervisor. Quick, sharp intelligence shone in those eyes, along with a warning not to cross him.

"Thank you. You'll contact us when you get more." Fawn slipped her device back into her coat pocket.

"Of course," he replied. A small smile tugged at his lips.

"Thanks." Fawn headed back to the body, but seeing the vioTechs around it, decided she'd gotten enough. She ducked beneath the caution beam with Briscoe right behind her. They headed back down the sidewalk until the pulsating glow of the regulator wautos' lights vanished behind buildings.

"You think it's a hate violation?" Briscoe stopped at the crosswalk.

Overhead, wautos, aerocycles, drones, and cargo crafts all vied for air space. On the ground, the streets still went by their prewar names. In the air, folks went by coordinates. Still, accidents happened, so Fawn waited for the robotic controller to give them the white walking man before stepping off the curb and crossing the ground level street. Sometimes pilots lost control and landed in a ditch or a pile of people.

Once the light changed, they walked along with the throng, hurrying to escape the downpour. They rushed to the nearest shelter beneath the awning of a closed cafe.

Restaurants had gone the way of automobiles since the Great War that left the United States in shambles.

"You hear me?" Briscoe fumbled in his pocket and removed a vintage cigarette case. It matched his tele-monitor's case.

"I dunno." Fawn removed her hood. Everything was wet. Water ran down her back beneath her blouse. "We know Cho worked for the AGEH, but it might not be a factor in his death. We don't have enough of anything to jump to conclusions."

Briscoe nodded, his ebony hair perfectly in place. Tapered to the back, with long bangs in the front, his hair defied humidity. No facial hair, ever. Briscoe claimed it made him look ancient.

"How did he get down here?" Fawn searched around. "This isn't anywhere close to the AGEH office or his residence."

Briscoe pulled out his tablet. "According to the witness—a Jacob Munro, who works at the CC stop—Cho get off the craft at 1600 hours. VioTechs already pulled the cameras' video feeds and confirmed."

"So, he's alive at 1600 hours," Fawn repeated.

"The death violation was logged in at 17:12. Anonymous."

"He was killed shortly after leaving the cargo station stop." Fawn took in the area around. The cargo craft picked up and dropped off commuters. "It's wide open out here. No witnesses?"

"A mugging perhaps?" Briscoe suggested, but his expression told her he didn't believe it either. "No one saw anything, except Munro, and he didn't see the actual violation."

Mugging violations ranked among the lowest committed violations. No one carried real currency, not since before the war. So, attempting to steal items off of a person didn't make good profit for the violator. It took too long and was too messy to cut the chip out of someone's wrist. It happened, just not often.

Her hands shook, but she shoved them into her pockets, squeezed her eyes shut to close out the rising anxiety and fear. It crawled over her like a thousand ants. She shuddered despite her efforts to suppress it.

"You okay?" Briscoe touched her shoulder. "Fawn?"

"Let's get inside. I don't like talking in the open." Fawn adjusted her hood. Stormy and gathering dark, the evening lumbered on.

And a killer walked free.