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A Shot In The Dark [9]

 
Hyle Troy's picture
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Mick Fischer was probably one of the closest people to the pond then the bomb went off. He had been dozing against the wall of the entrance to the Life-net bunker. The shock made him leap to his feet then he found himself gazing at the column of water erupted thirty or forty metres up into the air.

Like in old naval movies, the nature of underwater explosions is that the force of the blast takes the line of least resistance. Ergo the shortest route to the surface, vertically, taking everything with it. Water, floating garbage, fish, ducks. Happily no U-boats.

Fischer so awestruck by the column of water that he forgot the old adage. That what goes up, must come down. Which is why, instead of running, he was collected by the falling deluge of water and swept down the stairs into the Life-net bunker by the torrent.

He didn’t see the hapless clone who had just opened the door. One can surmise for the clone it was a case of here we go again, back to the pod. Had he not opened the door at that critical point it may be reasoned that Flagstaff’s residents could have been spared a power outage, but the water, naturally seeking the lowest level, poured in through the doors and short circuited every circuit it came into contact with.

The bunker bar actually fared better than the cloning bunker, it being served by a narrow entrance tube rather than an open stairway which deflected a lot of the deluge. The pagoda’s were fairly well damaged and Rodney’s auction pedestal was reduced to matchwood.

 

NFPD Officer Blakeney heard the bang several streets way. He had been continuing the surveillance of Joe Spivey’s place while Crabbe’s squad were off duty. Up until then his night had been mind crushingly boring. The only thing of note had been when two local busy-bodies had pushed him from behind and got him to the floor demanding an explanation why he had been hanging around in a dark alley for the past few hours. In the few minutes it had taken him to explain that although he was in plain clothes he was in fact a Police Officer and if they would just let go of his arms he would show them his ID The worst part of the whole episode was that when he finally got to his feet and the watchman’s curiosity had been sated, Joe Spivey had actually come out the house he was supposed to be watching and drove off somewhere. Crabbe was going to be furious.

That was before the explosion. Now Blakeney was sprinting towards the Plaza area, as were a several and increasing number of Union Guards who were appearing from various other streets.

As they all sprinted past the barracks, their number was swelled by a stream of military personel issuing out of the gate along with a couple of jeeps.

At the corner, Blakeney and his multitude were met by an equally large number of people running from opposite and other directions. Some running to, some away from the scene. The converging tides of humanity merged into a confused scuffling mass. Mayhem.

So no one noticed a rusty flatbed truck with a smirking driver, or the amused face poking out of the top of a pile of crushed boxes that were piled in the back. The truck merely turned off into a side street.

 

The Plod has gone.” Silja noted.

Silja and Kirsten had been keeping a vigil at one of the darkened upstairs windows since Joe and Finny had left some hours before. Kirsten nodded in faint candle light. Anneka was half asleep draped around Kirsten. Kirsten supported the toddler’s rump with one arm and patted her back with the other hand, rocking her gently.

The street outside was empty, echoing only with the sound of tripped alarms and further away the sound of sirens and horns in the direction of the plaza.

I hope they are all right.” Kirsten whispered. Anneka had been scared awake by the bang and had only just stopped crying.

Yeah.” Silja replied, keeping the concern out of her voice.

It was only a few minutes later, when the sound of excited girly chatter and heavier footfalls came from the stairway. The door swung open revealing two grinning faces. Joe pushed Finny forward and Finny took a deep breath ready to proudly gush out the story of her deeds. She was stopped as Kirsten indicated the sleeping Anneka. Finny’s mouth clamped the words inside.

She dun good.” Joe said as they moved closer. Finney nodded, still holding her breath.

You got it?” Silja asked hopefully. Joe nodded beaming,

Relieved beyond measure, Silja dashed forward and gave Joe a huge long tight hug which took Joe completely by surprise. Having a nineteen year old hanging around his neck had Joe at a disadvantage, he stared helplessly at Kirsten. Kirsten managed to stifle the smirk into Anneka’s sleeping form.

It was Finny who stopped the embrace. She explosively let out the breath she had been holding since she walked into the room out. The look of pride in herself was obvious as she pulled out the files from inside her outfit and presented them toward Silja.

Silja let go of Joe and hunkered down to receive them.

 

I’ll take those.” Said Joe.

Comments

Joe Spivey's picture

((I think the bang was bigger than Joe expected... maybe it should have been a 5 gallon drum instead of a 45 gallon one. :/ Mind you, that pond has needed cleaning for ages.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

Some one had some knocked off depth charge?

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

Finny’s hands were suddenly as empty as Silja’s. Another similarity the two girls found themselves sharing was a look of blank confusion as they stared at Joe.

Joe, oblivious to this, separated the two folders, the thick one in one hand and the much slimmer one in the other. He compared the titles before quickly bundling them together again and thrusting them under his arm. Only then did he look up and take in the indignation blossoming on Silja’s face.

“But…” Was as far as Silja got before she found herself talking to Joe’s back because Joe was in the process of propelling a surprised and confused Finny in the direction of his Study.

“I just need a quick word with Finny.”

Two seconds later Kirsten and Silja were alone in the hallway staring at a closed door. Silja turned to Kirsten.

“What…?”

Kirsten’s face darkened into a gathering storm.

“I’ll deal with this.” She marched past Silja towards Joe’s study door. Realising she didn’t have a free hand to open the door with, Kirsten spun on her heel and marched back to Silja.

“Silja, please put Anneka to bed for me.”

Silja’s face went from confusion to frustrated anger in a heartbeat. To have her most intimate history almost in her , only to have it snatched away again was beyond the pale and now to be dismissed like she was… was… Words of fury bubbled to the surface. But then she saw the look of quiet determination and the held back wrath behind Kirsten’s almond eyes.

In previous confrontations between Joe and herself ,Silja was well aware that they tended to rapidly decline into a slanging match of raised voices and stubborn intractability. At the end of which nothing was resolved and both combatants could end up sulking, possibly for days. Joe and Silja were too much alike. ‘Two donkeys in a kicking contest’ was how Kirsten described these events.

Kirsten on, the other hand knew how to handle men. And Joe… Well, up to a point. A point only very rarely reached throughout their entire relationship. Silja knew all of this. She held her tongue and the sleeping toddler was gently passed from one safe set of arms to another. Silja gave Kirsten a little nod and then turned towards the stairs.

Kirsten’s face was set when she opened the study door.

Joe was at his desk, both files laid flat the desktop in front of him. He glanced up when the door opened and only relaxed when he saw that it wasn’t Silja. Joe lifted the thickest folder filched by Finny and slowly flipped through its contents.

Finny, for her part, stood in front of Joe’s desk. Her hands clenched into fists behind her back and her whole tense posture demonstrating that she was not sure if she was in trouble or not. When the door opened she turned to see who it was and Kirsten caught the full extent of the little girl’s anxiety.

Kirsten moved quietly to stand besides Finny and gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze. At the same time her eyes flicked from Joe to the two folders, trying to understand what was going on.

Joe continued to read.

“Did you look inside these Finny?”

Finny could only see the top of Joe’s head behind the folder he held open in front of him but his question was ominous.

“I… Only the pictures. I only looked at the pictures of Silja when she was little.”

“What about the other folder? This folder.”

Finny shook her head vigorously, making the long, ragged ponytails dance. Then she realised that Joe couldn’t see.

“No Joe. Honest I didn’t look at it. Just the label on the front”

Joe lowered the folder just enough so that he could see Finny’s face over the top.

“Finny. Do you remember what I once said to you about telling me the truth?”

Finny’s eyes widened and she tried to swallow but her mouth had dried up the moment she entered Joe’s office. This time the emphatic nodding left no doubt that Finny remembered that moment very well.

Kirsten put a heavily ringed hand on her hip, attracting Joe’s attention. With eyes openly displaying her annoyance she mouthed the words at him.

“Stop it! You’re scaring her.”

The two adults remained locked eye to eye for several long moments. It was Joe who broke eye contact. He turned to the eight year old.

“Finny.” His voice had lost the edge it had held. “I’m not mad at you. You did a great job, you really did.” Joe leaned across the desk. He thought about trying a smile, but he knew how his smiles sometimes disconcerted the recipients, so didn’t. “But it’s really important that you don’t tell Silja about this file.” He lifted the blue folder slightly to make sure she knew it was the thick one he was talking about. “Not even the title… what was on the label, okay?”

Finny relaxed a little. Not being in trouble was a big thing when you were eight.

“Okay. I won’t.”

“Not even if she asks you?”

Finny crossed her heart with a grubby finger.

“I promise.”

“Good girl.” Joe sat up straight again. Talking to kids made his back ache. “Now bugger off and get something to eat off Silja.”

Hearing her favourite words, Finny turned on her heel and would have been off if Kirsten hadn’t grabbed her collar. Finny stopped dead with an exaggerated choking sound.

Kirsten looked down at Finny with an appraising eye.

“Then get her to run you a bath.”

Finny’s face fell.

“But it’s only Wednesday.”

The matriarchal eyebrow raised. Words were not needed. Finny hung her head.

“Yes’m”

Finny was released and pretty much ran from the study. When the door closed Kirsten turned to Joe.

“What the hell is going on Joe? Why didn’t you let Silja have the folder after all the effort? And what’s in that other folder that Finny can’t tell her about?

Joe stood up and, taking the folder with him, gestured Kirsten to join him on the chesterfield. He handed her the folder and went to pour drinks for them both.

“Do you remember Annie’s birthday party?” He began, sitting next to her.

For the next hour Joe and Kirsten went through the Ranyhyn Company’s file on the events pertaining to the attempted kidnapping of their daughter. The murder of the clown who was supposed to perform at the party and his replacement by one of the gang members, only for him to be shot before he could get near the orphanage. Two other gang members, waiting near the orphanage in a van had been apprehended by Dwight Frye and ended up as ‘Pooh Sticks’, nonchalantly played by Dwight and Hanne. One of these had been Silja’s supposed boyfriend before ending up as a stain on some rocks below a bridge.

Kirsten and Joe looked at the picture of the boy. He was appealing in the way teenage girls found attractive. They exchanged a look.

“Poor Silja.” Kirsten whispered.

Joe kept his peace.

The notes in Silja’s sub-file made uncomfortable reading. Kirsten was shaking her head.

“Silja must never know about this. She would be devastated if she knew she had been spied on by her sister in such an intimate…” the rest of the sentence translated into a shudder.

Joe was in agreement, so much so that he had stopped reading as soon as the report went there. Instead, he turned his attention to the fourth sub-file and held up a photograph.

“So who do we have here?”

The information was sketchy, and apparently insufficient to meet Hanne’s criteria for being taken care of by the company. Despite both of them searching the whole file over there was no indication this person, this ‘Mick Fischer’, had met any kind of terminal fate.

It didn’t take Joe a great leap of imagination to put himself in Fischer’s shoes. You are part of a gang. A gang with a plan. The plan goes belly up and your friends end up dead. You aren’t too smart. You want revenge. You get yourself a gun…

“Kirsten, my love,” Joe sighed. “I think we may have found our shooter.”

The following morning, Joe dropped off a scrubbed and fed Finny at the factory with dire threats against telling anyone, including the three mini hoodlums she hung about with, anything about the last twenty four hours. Then, armed with selected parts of the Ranyhyn Company’s folder on his daughter’s attempted kidnapping, he and his well-paid lawyer went to pay inspector Crabbe a visit.

Back at home Kirsten waited for Annie’s nap before sitting Silja down. She presented her nanny with the folder Joe had slipped to her on his way out. The other folder, the one Hanne had been using to blackmail Silja into returning to her father. They talked about the best thing to do with the folder and the information it contained.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

((  huyy, that was wonderful :)

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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