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Author Topic: Squaxx Telling Stories  (Read 7766 times)

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Squaxx Telling Stories
« Reply #30 on: 24 December, 2021, 03:04:03 AM »


\...CONT

***

Precinct cars getting jacked wasn't unheard of, in fact it was common enough to be irritating. Juves stole cop cars on crazy dares, jackers stole them to order, gangs for revenge and jokers because they thought it was funny. The cars were all either recovered within 24 hours or never seen again. What we should have done was call it in and request a pick up, but we couldn't do that because our stolen car had an undisclosed bag of money hidden in the wheel well. The best possible outcome would be for us to find the car, and the bag, ourselves. If the judges got to it first, or other NYPD officers, or blackmailers, or the Mob, things would get sticky for us. So we called Precinct Control and logged off for an hour to follow up on an 'investigation of opportunity' while we hunted for our car.

Six p.m. on Christmas Eve and we were trudging around Base rousting hobos and low-lifes for names. It was dark but the power was still on, though not up to full strength. An icy acidic wind scythed through the city from the North Black Atlantic, chilling our bones and burning our eyes. New York was still a place back then. The old one was covered over but a new one sprang up right on top of it. The buildings were originally temporary structures printed on site and put up to house the workers employed to build the mega-blocks. The intention was to knock them down but more and more people came, claiming to be native New Yorkers reclaiming their city. It had become a city again, but a city within a megalopolis, a fungus growing around the feet of the mega structures.

On the ground, it was a maze of outdated hab-blocks, utility units, malls, alleys, waste ground, slums, and dumps. We turned the place upside down for three hours, chasing down shadows and phantoms and shimmering mirages. We rousted chop shops and pow stations, car parks and breakers' yards, hire companies and repo outfits. We rousted mechanics and accountants, jobsworths and grouches, desperadoes and junkies. Nada.

At nine p.m., it started snowing. Sol buttoned up his jacket and hitched up the collar. "Just great," he said. "Happy God damned Christmas from Weather Control, with the benevolent permission of the Justice Department." He spat onto the litter-strewn side walk and sighed. "I'm sorry I got you into this," he said.

"You got us into it," I said. "I followed you on my own."

"We could lose our badges."

I nodded. "Do time, even."

He swore. "I'll say it was all me, that I didn't tell you about the bag."

"Adding perjury won't help," I said. "I'm a good cop. I got a good record, maybe not spotless but solid. Same for you. We saw this opportunity, this unique circumstance, and we hesitated. We stumbled. But we're good cops, so we got back up and came clean. That's how we should play it. The Captain's a fair guy."

He pinched his lips between his thumb and forefinger and gave a resigned nod. "I'll call it in." He reached to turn his collar mic back on but I put my hand on his arm.

"Let's just follow up this last lead first, okay? If we don't it'll just nag at us."

He shrugged. "Sure, why not? Follow up the fantasy spun by a junkie with the scent of your two credits in his burned out nostrils that our car is simply parked in an alley because that would be a miracle, which is okay because it's Christmas, and miracles always happen at..." He paused, shining his torch into the depths of this desolate alley between desolate factories. "Detective Nördrokk, given your familiarity with said vehicle, would you say that was our car?"

"I would indeed, Detective Chance." I dabbed a finger at the graffiti and the paint was still tacky. "Not a fan of the new paint job, though. They spelled 'penis' wrong, and no way is this illustration even possible."

Sol opened the trunk and pulled the spare grav-unit out of the wheel well. The bag was still there. "Hallelujah!" He danced a jig. "We're still on!"

"No," I said. "We still have to explain why we took nearly four hours off-watch on Christmas Eve, with a department hover-car assigned to us during that time which is now a mobile obscenity charge. I know you're short of cash right now but so are we all. If we set even one foot on this path, for whatever reason, we're going to get lost, partner. So we end it. Now."

***

The Captain looked down at the bag Sol plonked on his desk. He had one arm into his overcoat. The clock on his desk said 11:17. He shook his head. "You bozos."

"Anyway, Sir," Sol said, running a hand through his thick black hair to no apparent effect, "we didn't book it in yet."

The Captain sighed and pulled his overcoat off, tossing it over the back of his chair. "So, you brought it straight to me, without even checking it in at the desk?"

Sol nodded. "It was Detective Nördrokk's idea. We've had the conversation, we've seen the uniqueness of this situation. The invisibility of this money. The Vice Squad might find some tactical advantage in that."

"You idiots have involved me in a direct violation of chain-of-evidence protocols. You've confessed to at least three counts of conspiracy and now you stand here like juves caught with your sticky fingerprints all over the cookie jar." He thumped the desk, the veins in his temples throbbed like grumbling snakes. "What is it you want? My sticky fingerprints on there too?"

"No Sir," Sol said. "We had the choice and we made it. Perhaps if we'd found the bag off duty the choices would've been different but we weren't. We were on the City's dime. So it's only fair we make it the City's choice by passing it on to you." The Captain massaged his eyes, finding himself speechless. "Anyway," Sol continued, "merry Christmas."

"Merry...?" The Captain almost exploded, then. I've never seen him come so close to losing it. "Get out," he said, and his voice was the hidden part of icebergs, "turn in your guns and badges at the front desk and stay home until I call you."

We nodded and retreated but Sol hesitates at the door. "Sir, if I can say one more thing?"

The Captain was almost quivering with rage but he'd always been a good man, and a fair cop. He licked his lips to steady them. "Go on."

"Old Nördrokk, Sir, his wife... Well, bluntly, she's losing it. It's the fear. My dad was a cop, and my mom knew that fear. Knew it every hour of every day, that the man she loved did a job that got him shot at. Every day, any day, could be the day. It grinds, Sir, that kind of fear, and I know you know it. Cilla Nördrokk has lived with that fear for nigh on four decades, Captain, and it's taking a toll. If me and Aerlig had decided other, he'd have used his half for this. To help her through it. Therapy, a holiday. Nothing sinister. Nothing frivolous. Nothing embarrassing to the PD."

"Yeah, sure. The guy's a saint. It doesn't change a damned thing and you know it."

"I don't expect it to. With me, it would've been my boy. He was on the Streetside Flyers aeroball team up until it was closed down last month. The Precinct used to fund it before the budget cuts got too tight, then the guys and the families put in for a while but there's only so much spare cash floating around out there so it folded. What are you going to do, right? Mine would've gone there. Oh, I would've used gloves and sterilising agents and untraceable stationary and anonymous donation, there would have been no link to myself or the NYPD. Crime of the century, it would have been. Would've bought the Flyers maybe half a season."

The Captain shook his head. "Look, I understand you fellas might believe you were proceeding with the best of intentions but that's beside the point. You broke protocol."

"We're not judges, Captain," Sol said. "We're cops. NYPD. We're not in charge of this neighbourhood, we're a part of it. Maybe we consider this as a windfall for the community, not just the PD. Give the notebooks to Vice, dump the cash into a good cause. Do some good. Spread a little Christmas cheer."

"Unbelievable," said the Captain. "You guys live in a dream world. Go on. Get out of my sight."

***

"That's it?" She shakes her head. "I tell you the SJS is investigating me and you tell me a story about deciding to not steal something. Why?"

"I like telling stories," he says, "it's an old man's prerogative."

"What did the Captain do with the bag?"

The old man shrugs, rubbing at his new leg again. "He never told us. Me and Sol were back at work on Boxing Day. The Captain called us up at noon, bellowing at us for being late. Vice made some serious inroads to the local Mob and an anonymous donation to a local community youth programme got the Streetside Flyers almost another two seasons, almost to a sector play-off, even winning a cup or two along the way."

She turns her j-pad back on with a grunt. "Very inspiring."

He stands out of the non-regulation armchair and picks up his empty teacup. He takes a moment to experiment with his new leg before jogging to the compact-o-kitch. The leg beeps in protest. "Ow, ow, ow," he says and curses as he props himself up against the sink.

"Let it bed in," she calls. "48 hours."

He sticks his tongue out at her and makes another cup of tea. He doesn't offer her anything. "You have to trust the people in the system," he says. "It's the one thing Sol was right about, the one thing that meant a damn about the whole NYPD, the whole Justice Department. The people in them. If the SJS are poking around, they're vetting you for a sensitive mission. If they were after you, you'd never see them coming. They want you to see them, watch how you react. It's all pretty standard."

"I guess," she says, "but it was the psis that got me thinking."

"Psi Division?"

"Yeah. Six shifts out of the last ten I've been partnered or liasoned with a psi judge. My average is two a month, maximum."

He returns to his chair, walking a little stiffly, and settles back down. "There have been some really weird rumours coming out of Psi Division lately," he takes a sip of tea. "But then what's new, right? That freakshow is just prime rumour food on a continuous basis. There was something about a giant goat last month, I seem to recall. Or was it a ram? Whatever, the usual nonsense. Lately, though, something seems to have caught their attention."

"Some of the psis mentioned a prophecy, tried to pass it off as no big thing when I overheard."

"They say it's about some super-judge, some great future leader, at the moment still a child."

"Judge Child," she says, her voice a whisper. "That's what Judge Dredd said. He was talking to the Sector Chief, said those words when I walked in then changed the subject real fast. Dredd asked me a routine question, about deployment, I answered and he left. But he looked at me for a long time before he went."

"Well," the old Instructor says, blowing the steam off his mug, "the conclusion seems logical enough. Judge Dredd is leading a team to find this Judge Child that's got Psi Division so wound up..."

Her hand flies to her mouth. "And he thinks I'm this Judge Child? This great future leader?"

He stares at her, his mouth hanging open. He shakes his head. "No," he says. "No, I don't think anybody thinks that, Judge." He laughs, then, and she frowns and demands to know what's so funny as her street comportment bubbles up. "It's that, after all these years, sometimes you are the same naive cadet I ran into under Una Stubbs all those years ago, the one who thought the robots wouldn't find her. No. I was going to say, you're being vetted for Dredd's team."

"Yes," a brief chain of chuckles escapes her control before she can adjust her grip. "That's the more likely interpretation, of course."

"I like that your first instinct was Future Queen, though," he says with a big grin, "I think that's classy."

+++

~~~^~~~~~~~


Dive a little deeper - all is not as it seems. "Cyber pandemic" on the way. Devices to be "quarantined" (disconnected).

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Squaxx Telling Stories
« Reply #31 on: 23 February, 2022, 11:21:56 PM »
A Three Page Future Shock

In Forty Eight Parts
(With a Detailed Index)

by Gerry Destine

~~~^~~~


PAGE ONE

PAGE ONE: FRAME ONE: The near future, twenty or thirty years from now. A dismal and sombre place. Muddy, swampy, cold, beset by a constant late afternoon December rainstorm. A tired and gloomy cityscape hunches beneath the withering, lowering sky. It's gloomy but there aren't many lights on yet, and few are very bright. The brightest, like a star, is coming from a group of cowering residential tower blocks, mostly dwarfed by towering architecture and swathed in glooms and rain.

CAP:    Sheffield. In a bit, anyway.

CAP:    Not nah.

CAP:    Sorry. I should say, not now. Not at present.


PAGE ONE: FRAME TWO: One of the smaller dismal high-rises, all drab held together with shadows, but with one window near the top shining like a star. It is dwarfed by larger, equally gloomy corporate towers bearing a few names like ROTHFELLA and ROCKERCHILD, TRANS-HYPER-GLOBAL and HYPER-TRANS-GLOBAL and GLOBAL-HYPER-TRANS and suchlike homogeneities and meaningless logos.

CAP:    But soon.


PAGE ONE: FRAME THREE: In one window, near the top of the small dismal high-rise, Gerry Destine sits at his desk typing into a laptop. The light from his window shines a little more golden, a little brighter than the rest.

CAP:    Right soon.

CAP:    Shite. Promised me'sen Ah wouldn't seh that.



PAGE ONE: FRAME FOUR: Gerry's apartment is small, Spartan. Warm but not quite warm enough. Damp. The place is rife with books of all sorts. Gerry looks up from the laptop, annoyed at the interruption of someone hammering at his door.

CAP:    Gerry wouldn't have said that.

SFX (KNOCK AT DOOR):    RATTA-RATTA-RATTA  BOK-BOK-BOK

GERRY:  Damn this rabble of bloody... rrrr... What!?


END OF PAGE ONE.



PAGE TWO.

PAGE TWO: FRAME ONE: Gerry flings open the door to reveal Bob and Bill, big, out of shape guys dressed in old hoodies and jeans, with matching bandanas and surgical masks. Gangsta types, but drab gangstas.

CAP:    Gerry's got more class.

GERRY:  Somebody better be actually on Christballing fire or melting, man! I shit you the fuck not!

GERRY (LONG JOIN):  What do you want?


PAGE TWO: FRAME TWO: Bob and Bill are feeling awkward. They have horrible news and don't quite know how to break it.

BOB:    Christ, Gerry, I've been knocking for half a f...

BILL (CUTS BOB OFF):    Will you... Jesus.

BILL (JOIN):    It's Lorrey, Gerry.       She's, dead, mate.


PAGE TWO: FRAME THREE: Gerry isn't phased at all by this news.

GERRY:  First off, Bob, I heard. I ignored.

GERRY:  And second off, Bill, I know. I killed her.

CAP:    Like I said. Class.


PAGE TWO: FRAME FOUR: Bob and Bill exchange sideways glances as Gerry gestures towards his laptop, a look of concern on his haggard face.

GERRY:  In my Future Shock. In my story. It's perfect. The perfect twist. The key. The way to the Last Page.

CAP:    He never quits, this one.

CAP:    Thinks he can write his way out. Against me!



PAGE TWO, FRAME FIVE: Bob and Bill are shot through the heads simultaneously. From nowhere. The writer done it. T'was me, was I, for these paper lives are mine to fry. They are killed instantly. Gerry is so wrapped up explaining his own genius that he does not notice.

GERRY:  It all starts in frame one, where an impoverished writer cruelly shunned by the most...

SFX (BULLET IMPACTS):   THWAP THWEP

GERRY:  Anyway, that's all... The point is, he goes to this remote Ilkley crossroads at midnight on the thirteenth day before Hallowe'en to...

CAP:    But then, I got class, an' all.


PAGE TWO: FRAME SIX: Gerry finally notices as Bob and Bill fall to the floor, lifeless, spurting blood from their fatal head wounds.

GERRY:  Guys? Oh.

CAP:    I love this bit. When they realise.




END OF PAGE TWO


PAGE THREE

PAGE THREE: FRAME ONE: Gerry points directly out of frame at me, the reader. He is angry. He is real. His desk-lamp makes him shine a little brighter than his drab surroundings.

GERRY:  This is you, isn't it?

GERRY:  You knew that killing her would lead to the perfect twist... but killing these two would ruin it. Damn. This is not what I meant, damn you.

GERRY:  Now I'll have to expand it into a series... yes... multiple parts... time travel... resurrection... bring her back... escape...(TRAILING OFF.)



PAGE THREE: FRAME TWO: Behind the windows of the apartments surrounding Gerry's, people are having their own, quieter personal experiences. But Gerry's window is still the brightest, still the most golden.

CAP:    Suspect you reckon you've rumbled me by now.

CAP:    The old Threadbare Metaphor himself. Or not. I'd shake hands but, tha' knows.


PAGE THREE: FRAME THREE: The dreary block in which Gerry lives, and countless like it, are dwarfed by the dreary blocks around them. Each block contains a thousand desperate souls. Each window shines like a star, mostly dim with a few brighter ones scattered about, but Gerry's is the brightest of all.

CAP:    Or I might say that not all devils are red and may inhabit a more... pleasingly unripened wavelength of the spectrum.

CAP:    Anyway. That's Sheffield for tha'. For you, sorry. Gerry's version, anyway.

CAP:    A bit too grim for my tastes but he seems to enjoy it.


PAGE THREE: FRAME FOUR: Sheffield, miserable and grim, huddles beneath a howling winter storm. It's going dark. But lights are on all over the city. One or two shine bright, but Gerry's still shines brightest of all - the Pole Star of hopes and dreams.

CAP:    Odd how sommat so drab shines so bright.

CAP:    There's nowt like getting it right, is there?

GERRY (UNSEEN, FROM HIS MINISCULE WINDOW):  This is my narrative! Get away! Get away! I write you in as a voice in my head I must vanq...(FADING TO INCOHERENCE.)

THE END
~~~^~~~~~~~


Dive a little deeper - all is not as it seems. "Cyber pandemic" on the way. Devices to be "quarantined" (disconnected).