Monday Stories

New Fiction Every Monday

Month: October 2016

Broken Wings

Paperwork. A lot of cops hated it, but Tremain always liked sitting in his office doing paperwork. It helped that he had an office, of course. But that wasn’t why he liked it. He liked doing paperwork because it meant he wasn’t outside getting yelled and/or shot at. Paperwork was a vain but pleasant attempt at making any form of sense of the world outside.

He was just getting ready to start writing up a requisition when there as a knock at his door. “Hey, Tremain, we’ve got someone here to see you.”

The door opened and a small, scared girl…no. She was tiny, but she was an adult. A small, scared woman entered his office, her eyes wide.

“Can I help you?” Tremain asked. He stood and motioned her to a chair in front of his desk. She sat silent for a few seconds, clearly gathering her courage and said, “Are you Alan Tremain?”

“That’s me. How can I help? Are you in trouble?” He looked the woman over quickly. He was able to take her appearance in without spending a lot of time looking at her. Her long brown hair was neatly combed, but not recently washed. Her dress was a simple floral print, a little too big for her. The style looked like it should have been a knee-length, but on her it went to mid calf, even when she was sitting. It was of a very conservative cut or else it would have been quite revealing up top. It was also at least twenty years out of date; suggesting she bought it from a thrift store. She carried no purse, just a small wallet. Her eyes were wide and scared. She was tiny, her skin tone a light olive shade, possibly Italian. Her features were finely formed and flawless; only a very careful examination of her face, particularly her eyes, belied her real age. Passing her on the street you could easily mistake her for a young teenager.

“It’s about Liz…She says she trusts you.”

“Liz… You mean the lady who calls herself ‘Angel Liz’? The one who keeps writing to me?”

The woman nodded. “She told me you would know who I am. I’m Jenny.”

Tremain had read all of Liz’s letters over and over. “Jenny…from the first letter? The roommate that she saved from Vincent?”

Jenny seemed to shrink in on herself even more when he mentioned Vince. “Where is he?” She asked in a small voice.

“Last I heard he’d been transferred to a federal prison. Between Liz’s testimony, some… things we found out behind your old trailer, and some things we found in his apartment, he’s going to be there for quite a while.”

“Like a rabbit,” Tremain thought. “She didn’t relax when I told her that, she just decided she doesn’t have to run away right this second. She’s still terrified.”

“But, if you’re Jenny, what are you doing here? I thought you were in California.”

Jenny smiled a little, and only briefly. “No, I never went to California. That was just something Lizzie told Vince so he would stop trying to find me. I live…I live downtown now.”

Tremain had heard that specific slang before. “You mean you live in the tunnels, right? The runoff tunnels, under the city?”

She looked startled, then nodded very slightly. “Liz found me a place, and found someone to help take care of me down there. It’s a good place! It’s warm and safe and I’ve got a nice bed and walls. Lizzie brings me money and food when she can. Now that she’s taken care of Vince we’re looking for an apartment again.”

“So Liz lives down there too.”

Jenny just looked scared.

“Okay, never mind, Jenny…Richards, right?”

“Richmond, actually. Lizzie…isn’t good with names.”

“Okay, Jenny Richmond.” Tremain resisted the urge to write that down somewhere. “Why did you come to see me?”

Jenny shifted in her seat. She looked down at her hands for a long moment, then looked up into Tremain’s eyes, looking for help. He realized he was sitting on the edge of his desk, towering over her. He stood up, didn’t react when she cowered away from him, and sat behind his desk. There, now he was farther away, there was a desk between them, and he was closer to her eye level. In a quiet voice he asked again. “You came to see me, and said it’s about Liz. Is there a problem? Is Liz in trouble?”

Jenny looked him in the eye and nodded. Having a desk between them seemed to help, and she found her voice again.

“It’s that guy she brought back from Idaho. Benny.”

“The one she calls ‘Bigfoot’ in her letter,” Tremain prompted. Jenny nodded again. “When she brought him here she thought she had him under control. She told everyone…downtown…that he was tame now. But he never looked tame. He…he snarls a lot and looks at people…like they’re food. But Lizzie seemed to be able to keep him in line, so we believed her.”

She seemed to run out of steam, or the next part was hard to admit.

“Anyway, she went to the Bellagio to verify what Benny had told her, and when she saw she couldn’t fix the problems herself she went and wrote you that letter. The problem was, she left Benny downtown. When she’d been gone a little while he looked up and smiled, but it wasn’t happy. He looked at me and said “I’m free,” and then turned and walked out of our little house down there. He…He hurt some people, and scared a lot of people, kids even, and…and he stole some money and food. I don’t know if you know what it’s like down there…but you don’t do that, Detective. You just…you can’t.”

Tremain put a hand over his eyes wearily.

“Anyway, some people caught him and held him, and threw him in the pit. And when Lizzie came back from the Bellagio, they took her as well. She’s being held in a cell down there.”

Tremain put his head in his hands. “Liz Liz Lizzie Liz,” he mumbled. “Why did you have to go and start thinking you’re an angel?” He asked.

“What makes you think she isn’t?” Jenny said sharply.

“I’m…sorry?” Tremain looked up. Jenny was sitting up tall, looking defiant. Scared, but defiant.

“You’ve never met Lizzie. You’ve never even seen her, have you? So how would you know she’s not an angel?”

Jenny was leaning back now, the fear overcoming the defiance, but she kept talking.

“I’ve seen Lizzie do things that no human could do. I’ve seen her power. Detective, Lizzie is an angel, just like I’m part elf and you’re…” she broke off suddenly.

“I’m what?” Tremain asked quietly, but Jenny sat back, hand over her mouth and shook her head.

“What am I, Jenny?”

“Lizzie will tell you,” Jenny whispered.

Here’s where you know how good you are, Tremain told himself. I could turn bad cop. I could shout and scare it out of her. I could terrify her, be a man, be a big ball of violence and authority. Or I could realize it’s not that important, and let it drop.

He let it drop.

“What do you want me to do?” He asked instead. Technically people having their own courts underground was illegal, but Vegas is a big city and there are a lot of illegal things going on all the time and at least this one is semi-orderly.

“Liz wants you to come arrest Benny. That way he’s out of the tunnels and they’ll let her go if he’s out of their way.

“But…detective…There’s a condition.”

“Oh?”

“You can’t…you can’t arrest anyone else. I know that living downtown is probably illegal, and there’s probably stuff going on down there that you don’t want to see as a cop…”

Tremain waved her off.

“I don’t have time to arrest people for trying to stay alive. Okay, Liz wants me to walk down to the tunnels, I’m guessing without any other cops,right?” Jenny paused, then nodded minutely. “Once I’m down there I’m supposed to take custody of a huge violent man she imported from Idaho. I thought she said he was in Utah?”

Jenny just shrugged, and Tremain continued.

“So what’s in it for me? Why would I do this? Why wouldn’t I just re-arrest Liz? If she’s an angel, why doesn’t she just set herself free?” He asked. That last question was deliberately mean, and he immediately felt bad about asking it.

To Tremain’s chagrin it worked. Jenny sat up again, smiled serenely, drawing on some strength that hadn’t been there before. “If you need there to be ‘something in it for you’, you’re not the man Lizzie thought you were.”

Tremain sat back, stared at the ceiling. This went against everything. Everything. You don’t go off on your own, you don’t make deals with criminals, even low-level ones whose only crime was staying alive. You don’t “turn a blind eye” to things to make an arrest.

Well, okay, lots of cops do these things; all of them. All the time. Police work isn’t all black and white, there’s a lot of give and take. But still, this…this went against…

He stopped arguing. He was going to do it. He knew he was. So why argue with himself? Instead he stood up, took his coat off the back of the door and said. “Okay. Take me to your angel.”

Health and Wellness

Good Morning, and welcome to the DynaStar™ LifeCare™ Pavilion. I am CareBot™, and will help you prepare for your visit. A certified LifeCare™ provider will be with you shortly. Please undress and re-dress in the provided gown.

Now that you are dressed, please answer a few questions so that our LifeCare™ provider can help you reach your wellness goals.

What is the reason for your visit today?

I sprained my wrist playing racquetball

I am sorry to hear that you have sustained a sports-related injury to your wrist. Our LifeCare™ providers are experts in sports medicine. Please answer a few more background questions to ensure that the care you receive will meet your personal care profile.

Do you drink?

no

Smoke?

no

Take any recreational drugs of any sort?

no

At any time in the last 7 days have you felt hopeless?

no

At any time in the last 7 days have you felt helpless?

It’s really hard to type with a sprained wrist.

I apologize if the input process is causing you any additional pain. All LifeCare™ providers are highly rated in the area of pain management. We will be gratified to help you meet your pain goals. If you prefer, I can enable audio input for this questionnaire. Would you prefer to give audio responses, bearing in mind that your responses may be recorded for quality assurance and legal review purposes?

yes

You may now answer verbally, and I will transcribe your responses. At any time in the last 7 days have you felt helpless?

No, I’m fine.

What is your goal for your visit today?

I want my wrist to feel better so I can go back to work.

I appreciate your honesty. All LifeCare™ providers are highly rated in the area of pain management. We will be gratified to help you meet your pain goals.

Just a few more questions.

Our records show that you are not married or in a relationship. Has this changed?

What? Why are you asking?

We are working to provide a care plan that will encompass your entire life. We seek to provide solutions that fit harmoniously with your preferred lifestyle. We have found that understanding a person’s emotional landscape is indispensable in providing top notch care.

Fine. No, I don’t have a spouse or significant other.

Looking at your accounts on social media, it does not appear that you have close relationships with your family. Is still the case?

How did you sign into my social media accounts?

When you became a client of the DynaStar™ family of services you consented to some limited studies of your online profile, with the understanding that such information will only be used to help us care for you. Rest assured that DynaStar™ will not share your information–

Fine. No, I’m not close with my family.

Input is not required at this time. Rest assured that DynaStar™ will not share your information with any third parties, and that information gleaned from social media will be handled in accordance with all applicable state and federal laws. It does not appear that you ave close relationships with your family. Is this still the case?

I am not particularly close with my family, no.

Our records show that this is your seventh visit to the DynaStar™ LifeCare™ Pavilion in the past twelve months. DynaStar™ understands that life has its ups and downs. While DynaStar™ is always here for you, most of our LifeCare™ clients visit between two and four times per year. Furthermore your visits have been more frequent than normal over the past three years. Are you suffering from an undisclosed chronic condition that would explain your higher-than-average number of visits?

no. Look, I just sprained my wrist, it’s no big deal.

How often, per week, do you exercise, where “exercise” is defined as a specific physical activity, designed to strengthen the body, and lasting for at least thirty minutes per session?

Five.

Please rest assured that all answers to this wellness survey are confidential and you may be entirely honest. Would you like to amend any of your answers up to this point?

No. I really play racquetball or go running around four or five times a week. That’s how I sprained my wrist.

While we understand your desire for privacy, your LifeCare™ provider can only supply the kind of world-class care you have come to expect from DynaStar™ if your answers are entirely honest. Given your height, weight, current resting heart rate, and frequency of visits, your answer to the question about exercise seems unlikely. Would you like to provide a new answer?

2 times per week. Is that the answer you’re looking for?

Thank you. Your new answer has been accepted and the previous answer replaced. DynaStar™ is grateful for your increased trust in our services.

Expressed as percentage, what would you say your wellness quotient is at this moment?

Um, I guess…75%?

I see. Please help me understand. Your reason for visiting is a sports-related injury to your wrist. On average, our LifeCare clients rate such an injury as having a seven percent impact on their wellness quotient. Are you suffering from any other conditions that would explain the 18% discrepancy between your answer and others?

I…what? I don’t know. I guess I’m just a little sick and tired of this and —

I understand. Feelings of fatigue and general malaise can indeed have a major impact on your overall wellness. Thank you for your responses to this questionnaire. I am now reviewing your responses and formulating a wellness plan for you.

Fine. Whatever.

May I take that as permission to enact a wellness plan? Giving permission in advance will expedite your care and help us serve you without delay.

Yes, fine, you have my permission. Let’s enact this health care plan.

Thank you. Your response has been recorded. I am now reviewing your case with a LifeCare™ provider, so that they will be aware of your situation and able to provide top notch care.

Okay! I have formulated your care plan. We have taken your responses and information from other sources, and found that your wellness quotient is 3%

What? I said 75%

Input is not requested at this time. Your answers, your social profile, your propensity for lying on questionnaires, your frequent visits to health care providers have led to our AccuScore™ assessment of your overall wellness. Furthermore, your lack of connections suggests that other DynaStar™ clients would be better served by ending your care, as doing so will free up resources for dynamic and active health care participants.

Hey, why is this door locked? HEY!

Input is not requested at this time. We would like to thank you for your pre-approval for our healthcare plan. We are pleased to say that your insurance has also approved this plan. Given your wellness quotient, we have implemented the InfiniRest™ carbon dioxide life cessation therapy. While InfiniRest™ is a gentle end-of-life solution, for the safety of our other clients we have sealed the door of your care suite.

Look, it’s just a sprained wrist! Let me out! I’m fine! yawn

The InfiniRest™ process should be complete in just a few minutes. You should be feeling relaxed and at ease now. For your comfort in this time of transition, please stop trying to open the door of your care suite and lay back on the exam bed. Thank you for choosing the DynaStar™ family of services for your end-of-life care.

Children of the Desert

It had been three weeks since the last note from “Angel Liz”. Alan Tremain had put her almost entirely out of his mind when he was heading into work, mentally preparing himself for a peacefully boring graveyard shift.

The moment he walked into the office, however, it was obvious the night had other things in store. Several officers were getting into heavy padded gear…the bomb squad.

“What’s up?” Alan asked the first person who would hold still long enough to answer the question. The officer looked up, smirked and said “hey, Chief! Detective Tremain is here!”

Tremain walked over to the chief’s office. “Did you want to see me, Chief?”

The Chief of Police looked up and said “We got another letter from your girlfriend, Detective. Why don’t you give it a once over?” and he passed a paper over the desk to Tremain.

“Where was this one found?”

“On your desk, which is frustrating because we have cameras all over this office and…”

“And there’s a glitch in the recording. Before the glitch, no letter. After the glitch, letter. I really wonder how she does it.”

“So do the I.T. guys. They’re about to move in with Frodo and renounce technology over this one. Anyway, read this, we’ll talk after.

The letter seemed to be printed on the same cheap paper, with the same cheap printer as the last two. A small corner neatly cut from the bottom corner said that someone in forensics was making sure of that fact. The letter said:

Hello again Alan! Did you miss me?

I’m sure you did. I’ve been up north, learning about what it means to be an angel. Studying the ways of the Children of the Desert. Did you know that people up there already knew that humans were angels? They have it backwards, though. they think being a good person makes you an angel. They don’t realize that you’re an angel from the beginning, and eventually your angel-ness makes you good. But they taught me a lot, and tried to teach me a lot more. But I’ve got other things on my mind.

For example, I met Bigfoot. Did you know he was real? Do you know why nobody ever really sees him, or finds his dead body? Because he’s immortal! And there’s only one of him. He’s been around forever, and until now he’s been in Utah scaring Mormons, which he thinks is funny.

He is an evil creature, evil to the bones of him. But I have bound him with my Angelic Word, and he cannot go against me now. He must do as I bid, even though he thinks he’s secretly plotting against me. Isn’t Evil funny that way? They’re always convinced what they’re doing is their idea. Like Vince. How is he by the way?

Anyway I have Bigfoot here with me. I bound him and brought him with me. I mean, just because he’s a walking hairy ball of fury doesn’t mean I can’t use him. In fact he’s already been useful.

I’ve been foolish so far, Detective. I thought I was the first, maybe the only, Other to know what I was. I’m not of course. Bigfoot knows some of them, and to gain my trust he sold out one of his buddies here in LV to me. And while he may be a monster I know his information is real. So I’ll tell you.

The Beast that sleeps beneath the Luxor has weakened a critical electrical breaker box in the Bellagio. In a few days, not sure when, it’s going to short out. When it does it will start a fire that will spread quickly, killing any who are in the hotel or casino. An electrical short wouldn’t burn down a building by itself, duh. But the Beast has planted a bomb in the large emergency generator under the Bellagio, and when the power spike hits that bomb the building will go up. Get someone over there now, find that bomb, find that short, and you’ll see that Angel Liz is doing the work of Goodness and helping you in your work as well.

I have a feeling that the day of our meeting is not far off now, Detective. I have already bound one Evil minion to my will, I hope soon to join with you, not as a minion or master but an ally, both of us doing the work of Light.

I’ve been realizing something. I’ve always been a mirror, just, like, reflecting everything the world has chosen to send my way. But I can’t be that any more. I’m an angel. I’m a light on a hill. I’m a lens, focusing the light.


Speak to me of your fears and I will help you carry them.
Speak to me of your suffering and I will bear you up.
Speak to me of your burning passion and I too will catch fire.
Speak to me of your ardent faith and I will be strengthened.
Speak to me of duty and I will try to understand.
Speak to me from a committee and I will ignore you.

Angel Liz

Tremain read the letter and sighed. She was getting worse, and now apparently she had help.

Just then the Chief poked his head around the corner. “Alan. The squad just radioed back. They found an explosive device under the Bellagio, and have disabled it. Whoever built the thing was rich, it’s one of the most sophisticated they’ve seen in a while. They’ve got electricians in looking for a fault. in the wiring, but it looks like your Angel was right.” The Chief smiled broadly and said, “Be sure to tell her thanks when you have your ‘meeting’ with her.”

Much Too Fast

There are several problems with trying to travel faster than light.

The first, of course, is getting matter to move that fast without expending all the energy in the universe. The “c” in E=mc2 seems to be a firm speed limit.

But humanity has never been fond of limits, and eventually found a way around that speed limit. With great pomp and ceremony the first ever “super-c” ship was launched…and crashed almost immediately into a micrometeorite. The explosion was fascinating and quite pretty; it’s not every day an explosion seems to suddenly appear and then shrink back down to a single point, then explode again as time and lightspeed catch up with the event. This led to the second problem with trying to travel faster than light: you can’t really see where you’re going, only where you’ve been. It’s like a metaphor for life. And, much like life, things you didn’t see coming can ruin your day.

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