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Oh, Crime

by on March 25, 2014

Lieutenant Glenshaw expected Hadley to reappear any minute. She was a Chromai. They went invisible quite often, being sentient shades of color and all. So he dismissed her without further thought and moved on to his next case. The crime scene by the tree had been thoroughly secured, and the lab techies were doing their usual data scans. He had another call.

It was just outside one of the city’s more disreputable watering holes. When Glenshaw showed up, his fellow officers had already set up force-field barricades to keep back the crowd of gawkers jostling to get a look at the victim. Glenshaw looked dispassionately over what was left. A tiny scorch mark on the pavement, and the equally tiny remains of an amber-shaded undergarment with a pattern of filled circles. “Well,” Glenshaw said. “Looks like she wore an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini.”
“Yes, sir,” his associate said. Wade knew his superior was contractually obligated to deliver those sorts of lines, but honestly. Not for the last time, the robot wished he had gone into a different line of work.

“Right,” Glenshaw said. “Do we know what species she was?”

“Earthling, sir,” Wade reported. “First time off planet, apparently. Witnesses said she looked your standard lost tourist, waving around a holo-map, that sort of thing. Then someone swiped her bag. She started to go after him, or it, we’re not quite sure of species there. People say it looked like a kid. Next thing you know, zap.”


“Yep. No one saw who fired. Or if they did, they’re not telling.”

“The bag-snatcher turn up?”

“No, sir. Found the bag, though. Holo-map’s gone. New model, apparently, looked like a pen, projected a screen of where you wanted to go. Credits still there, and a teleporter key.”

“So…” Glenshaw mused. “She was killed for her holo-map. I wonder why?”

If Hadley were there, the lieutenant knew, she would probably come up with some incredibly convoluted theory about the holo-map being really a secret treasure map, the location of the Golden Zebu in the Hidden Temple of the Second to Last of the Fairly Average Whangdoodles, or something to that effect. But Glenshaw was far more prosaic. The kid had probably meant to sell the holo-map to a tech dealer, maybe off-world. The laser blast could have been his confederate, or it could have been a stray shot aimed at someone else. Odds were he’d never know. More crimes in the spaceport went unsolved then his superiors liked to admit. Still, he had to make the effort anyway.

“The bag have an ID?”

“No, sir. ID must have been on her when she, er…”

“Right. Okay, get the lab people in here. I want DNA scans, energy signature readings, they know the drill.”

Wade nodded and trundled off. Glenshaw knelt over the scorch mark and the small bit of fabric. He’d never had the chance to visit the old home planet. His ancestors were, best he knew, from some place called Indiana. He had no idea where that was, or even what continent. Had she known? Had she been from there? The lieutenant straightened and walked away, as the lab technicians bustled in to do their work.

Glenshaw waved for his police skimmer, intent on heading back to the office to start on the interminable piles of paperwork resulting from the day’s events. He didn’t have time to reflect on how an advanced society like his still depended so much on paper. The sky suddenly lit with ships. They were beautiful in a way, curved and shining white, like so many giant silver commas, except that they also bristled with enough firepower to reduce the surface of the planet to so much molten slag.

For a moment Glenshaw thought it might be the Flossicans from Beta Four, but then a holo-image formed in the sky. “Attention, citizens of this planet. This is the Seventeenth Fleet, representing the United Community of Earth. You have our President, Hannah Moon, last seen entering your primary spaceport. If you do not surrender her within one hour, we will engage this planet with extreme prejudice. Thank you.”

Glenshaw had an uncomfortable realization that he had just identified his crime victim, and that he wouldn’t be taking that afternoon to go through paperwork. In that moment, through the clarity of retrospect, the obvious conclusion surfaced: things don’t always turn out as planned.

This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy prompt. It also is related to last week’s story.Β 

  1. I like “the Hidden Temple of the Second to Last of the Fairly Average Whangdoodles” but not as much as I like your take on the prompt! Good job.

    • Thanks! The title’s a bit of a parody of a really good Julie Andrews book. πŸ™‚

  2. M. L. Sexton permalink

    Hahaha I love the ending “he wouldn’t be taking that afternoon going through paperwork” great story

  3. Ohh this took me to Firefly for some reason! Loved the plot!

  4. Love where you went with this! The description of the ships as “curved and shining white, like so many giant silver commas” is awesome. So is the threat issued by Earth’s representatives. Fabulous use of the prompts, Michael! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks. Of course, it’s hard to beat Douglas Adams’ famous line, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way as bricks don’t.”

  5. Loved the sci-fi here. I kind of want to be a Chromai now. Can she also get off planet when Earth attacks?

  6. And now I have the polka dot bikini song in my head. Argh!

  7. No exaggeration, I am in love with this new world building you’ve got going on. It’s got elements of Hitchhiker’s, Almost Human, and a surprise appearance by CSI Miami (yeeeeaaaahhhh!) but is still uniquely your own. So glad you’re continuing with these characters, truly. You just set yourself up for like 3 great storylines, you smarty pants, you πŸ™‚

    • I’ve never seen Almost Human, but I’m actually quite fond of CSI Miami. Good ol’ Horatio.

      Once of these days I have to try to bring everyone together. Rain, Constance, Hadley, Catrina, Jason Waterfalls….

  8. Good sci-fi fiction. I like a twist at the end! Jane

  9. Interesting take on the prompt. You have a great imagination. β™₯

  10. OH….MY…..GOODNESS! Love love loved this piece! This could be so much more, so much longer and I’d eat it all up. Great job! Can’t stress enough what an idea you’ve got right here =)

  11. Christine permalink

    Oh, boy. You have a knack for writing your characters into difficult situations. πŸ™‚ This was super fun – I hope you keep this bunch around for a while!

    • And as soon as I write them out of their situations, they’re right back in again!

  12. Good read sent with extreme prejudice…

  13. Yay, the story continues! This was great – love the reference to the Whangdoodles – my son read that. And I particularly liked your use of the pen in the prompt.

    • It was one of my favorite books when I was younger, right up there with the Phantom Tollbooth.

      • Ah yes, that one is somewhere in line. I’m looking forward to reading it to my son once we get the full Rick Riordan stack out of the way. I’m guessing you may have enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time as well?

      • I did! Now there was a good story.

  14. This was a great story, from start to finish. Excellent and imaginative.

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Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC

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