Written and Read by Montgomery Thompson
Constable Pal Tember shook his head as he examined the evidence. Bemis was slumped at his desk, snoring away. The overweight Police Sergeant was still in uniform, which was covered in crumbs, but there was no smell of alcohol on him. All of the donuts, of which there had been twenty-two at the end of the day yesterday, were gone. The keys to the cruiser were on the desk and the cruiser itself had obviously, due to the dry patch under it, been parked all night.
Sgt Bemis snorted and started awake. “Wha?”
“A donut coma,” Tember said loudly. “It’s a clear and shut case. You didn’t go home last night. Instead you came in here after you got bored on patrol, ate the rest of the donuts, and fell asleep.”
“Alright, rookie, that’s enough out of you.” Bemis sat upright and brushed off the crumbs.
Tember cracked a smile. “Just saying, Sarge. It’s no big deal, just doing a bit of sleuthing that’s all.”
“Yeah well, you don’t know anything. Now get to work before I find something for you to do.”
“All right, no need to get all grumpy, I’m on the job,” he said, retreating to his desk across the room.
“Good, that means I can go and get a fresh uniform. I’ll be back soon.”
Yeah right, Tember thought, as soon as you get a nap and a shower.
Spence looked over his shoulder. Shaley was trying to catch up with him, and Maksey was close behind. The sun was making a big to-do about morning, though it was still a bit chilly. Mim had sent Spence to the store for milk with express orders to take the girls along, but Spence knew that if he left them behind, he could spend the change on a candy bar.
“I’ll tell Mom you’re trying to ditch us!” Shaley trotted after him.
“Go ahead, you little pest, she’ll just tell you not to be a tattletale.” He reached back and tweaked her nose. The pain made her stop and cry out. Spence increased his speed to a jog.
Shaley watched her brother disappear down the street; now she would never catch up with him. Just then, Maksey came trotting up.
“What did he do?”
“Nothing, he’s just being a shik.” Shaley rubbed her sore nose. “Come on, we’ll find something better to do.” Shaley turned and started back to the house.
Half an hour later they sat on the front stoop tossing the odd pebble at puddles leftover from last night’s rain, feeling dejected and bored. Suddenly Maksey’s face brightened.
A gang of five boys that usually congregated on the next block rode by on their bikes, looking very much like they were up to no good.
“Let’s follow them!” Maksey was already getting her bike from storage under the stairs.
“I can’t, Maksey, my bike is broke,” Shaley said, looking for an excuse not to go.
“We can ride doubles on mine.”
“But—” Shaley began to protest but it was too late, Maksey was already starting to pedal off. Shaley caught her, climbed on, and took over pedaling. She was the older one after all.
The sun grew stronger as they rode. Maksey held onto the back of the long seat while Shaley pedaled furiously to catch up with the pack of boys.
“Don’t get too close, we don’t want them to know we’re following them,” Maksey said in a serious tone.
“Right.” Shaley slowed her pace a bit.
They followed the boys past a small lake, then another row of council houses. The sun felt good as the fresh air whipped through their hair. Shaley went faster. They leaned into a bend that took them past the auto garage and straightened into a long, steep hill that intersected Namarin Road. Shaley pedaled hard as the bike began to climb the hill. Hauling back on the handlebars she pushed until her legs came to a standstill and they had to get off the bike and walk to the top. By the time they got there, the pack of boys had disappeared.
“Oh great,” Shaley said, catching her breath.
“Which way did they go?” Maksey looked down the empty road both ways but there was no sign of the boys. She stepped into the road to try to get a better look. As she strained her eyes, she saw that the road went through a tunnel of old trees. The sun glinted off the wet road and she caught the briefest flash of a group of thin lines drying on the pavement.
“There! I see it! They went this way!”
Both girls scrambled onto the bike and Shaley worked the pedals hard. Soon they were riding through the tunnel of trees, the cool air giving them goose pimples on their arms. As they broke out into the sunlight, Shaley spotted their quarry in the distance and came to a stop.
“What are they doing?”
“I think they’re coming back this way,” Maksey said, trying to see over Shaley’s shoulder. The girls watched them for a minute, and sure enough, the gang of boys was getting closer, and fast. “What are they yelling?” Maksey gave Shaley a confused look.
“I don’t know. They’re boys, they’re all kinda weird.”
The bicycle boys came at the girls with fear in their faces in a frenzy of pedaling and yelling, flying past like a demon was on their tail. Shaley just looked at her younger sister and shrugged.
Maksey shook her head. “Weird.”
Ilgut the snake assassin never slept. As the night passed overhead silently, he remained motionless, watching from the limb of an old tree on the forested borders of the Townes’ farm.
Eventually the sun rose and Mortimer woke. Ilgut’s tracking sensor stayed locked on to his every move. The red cursor pinpointed the old man’s location inside the house, even through the walls, but Ilgut would have to wait for a shot.
His orders were clear, choose an upstanding citizen, a complete innocent, then take him out. Make it a spectacle with lots of witnesses. Ilgut had no idea why they wanted it like that, but with the kind of money he was getting paid, he wasn’t about to argue. All he had to do was make the hit and slip away quietly. Zero contact, that was the deal. It would be simple with these primitives, he thought. There was no way they could even comprehend what was about to happen.
An hour went by and Mortimer came outside to mow the lawn. He moved slow and sure, taking his time in everything he did. At first, it mesmerized Ilgut. The methodical rhythm of Mortimer’s puttering brought a kind of ritual to the most mundane of tasks. Eventually though, it began to irritate the assassin. There was too much perfection, simplicity and patience. He wanted to pull the trigger right then and there, but he knew he had to wait for witnesses.
He quietly cursed a string of obscenities as he watched Mortimer mowing, back and forth, making a perfect crisscross pattern in the perfect grass.
For Chalo the bike was freedom, a way to get as far as possible from his step-dad. He and his friends were the heroes of Legly; Legly just didn’t know it yet. Every one of his little gang wanted to be a superhero. Besides the bikes, comic books were their thing. At thirteen, Chalo was the oldest, and therefore the leader. Then came Inder, a tall blond kid, fearless and, Chalo thought, kinda goofy. Regin was the big one, the muscle of the gang, even though it was mostly fat. Running a close tie for last place was Ob and Gern, the twins and the youngest of the bunch though not by much.
As the summer wore on they’d become bored with their normal haunts and started riding further afield. Today, Chalo decided they would take Namarin Road all the way to the next town. It would take over an hour of hard riding to get there, but it was time to do something epic.
After a planning meeting in Chalo’s garage, complete with a model map made out of random objects to show their route, they saddled up and headed out. Everyone stayed in their designated riding order: Chalo in the front, then Regin followed by Ob and Gern with Inder, the second in command, taking up rear guard to make sure Ob and Gern didn’t lag behind.
The hill proved the most difficult part of the ride, but they made it up to Namarin Road and took the left turn that headed to the town of Pelgar. Pelgar was almost twice the size of Legly and their rival in almost everything, but they also had a bigger selection of everything, including comics.
The boys put their backs into it and kept a good pace. Passing under the tree tunnel, they approached the Townes’ farm on the right. It was the last residence before the thirty-minute ride to Pelgar. Chalo pulled over at the planned resting spot right at Mortimer’s front gate. The old farmer was mowing the lawn just twenty feet away and waved at them while the boys passed around a canteen of water. Chalo gave a wave to Mortimer.
“Hey there, old guy, how’s it going?”
Mortimer just smiled and waved.
“You can’t hear a thing I’m saying can you?” Chalo said through a tight-lipped smile. “Yep, just nod and smile.” But his expression changed suddenly when a bright red light flashed out of the trees and exploded behind the old farmer.
Regin fell off his bike and Ob and Gern screamed. Before Chalo could react, three more bolts of light smashed into Mortimer in a series of sharp cracks. Each impact revealed a transparent sphere surrounding the old man that protected him from the blasts. Mortimer paused mid-wave and puzzled at the boys’ reaction to him. Chalo dropped the canteen and pedaled so hard he peeled out in the dirt. It wasn’t until they passed the two girls at the edge of the trees that he realized he had been yelling.
Ilgut had been waiting for his chance. He needed witnesses and finally it looked like he was going to get his wish, a group of younglings had just arrived at the old man’s gate. The weapon silently raised into place on his back as his cursor controlled the aiming. The thin rail of the weapon began to glow dark red as it followed the bobbing of Mortimer’s head. Then the target stopped and waved to the younglings. When they saw him and waved back, it was the confirmation Ilgut needed.
With a thought, the weapon fired, sending an explosive bolt into his target with enough force to melt a battle tank. But when the smoke cleared, the old man still stood. Ilgut was stunned. Was that a shield? He fired three more times. This time he looked hard for the spherical shape that repelled his shots. Sure enough, a shield.
He cursed and slithered out of the tree. It was a setup. He should have known! Drom, that dahjkak! What did he do, hire someone else to make sure the job was done? His mind searched for possibilities as he dove through the underbrush, seeking cover. What were the chances that another assassin would pick the same target? Slim indeed. This was a setup.
After several minutes, Ilgut found a small pond just big enough to get into. He shuffled back and forth to settle into the mud while he scanned the trees for the source of the shield. Just as he had settled in, he went completely weightless. Arms, legs, and claws scrambled to hold on to something, anything as he rose rapidly out of the pond. Mud flew off of him as he lashed violently to get free, but it was no use. He knew he was caught in a tractor beam.
Ilgut was hauled up like a worm on a hook, accelerating at a blistering speed through the upper atmosphere and into the belly of a Unified Galactic Police cruiser.
The boys on their bikes faded in the distance. For Maksey, the allure of the mystery was too much to resist. “Let’s go see what scared them!”
Shaley reluctantly agreed.
They pulled up at the farm entrance and parked behind the hedge. The old man had resumed mowing, completely unaware of the assassination attempt.
“What were they freaking out about?” Shaley looked at Maksey who was wide eyed, watching something in the sky.
“That’s him! That’s the snake-man I saw in the sewer! He’s flying!”
Shaley turned and saw Ilgut, zipping upwards into the sky and finally, getting so high he vanished altogether. Her head snapped back to Maksey, eyes like saucers.
Maksey just looked at her and smiled.
Shaley’s head snapped back, her eyes, large as moons, fixed on the sky. She felt the bike shake as Maksey jumped off and started running towards the trees.
“Maksey! Come back here!” Shaley ran after her.
Far across the field a small chuckle drifted out from the trees as Sitasti watched Ilgut disappear into the sky.
“Perfect, absolutely perfect.” It had been easy to link to Ilgut’s antiquated targeting system. Once the assassin had targeted Mortimer, Sitasti knew where to set the shield. Pleased with his plan, the entrepreneur retreated into the woods a short distance then checked his cover.
The shield had worked so far, but he would need to keep it charged for the job ahead. The thing looked like it could have been a prop from The Jetsons; a simple box with a thick cable attached to a gun with a small dish at the end. Sitasti opened a panel on the box and manipulated a set of controls. On the backside of Thun’s smaller moon his ship responded to the commands.
Thun had two moons, but only one was visible in the day, the other was very small and growing smaller as the years went by, as it faded from the planet’s gravitational grip. In a few hundred years it would be gone altogether. For now it served as the perfect place to hide his ship from the ever-snooping Unified Galactic Police (or the UGPo for short).
Going through a series of checks he made sure that the police cruiser was out of the area then maneuvered his ship into geo-stationary orbit above his location. It only took minutes for an invisible beam to charge the shield generator.
Sitasti kept an eye on Mortimer; he had to insure the old man remained indestructible at all costs.
© 2015 Copyright Montgomery Thompson
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