I’m going rogue and using this prompt to continue Day 24. Prompt: Write about staying quiet when you feel like shouting.
Dawn was breaking as I slid through alleys on my way back to the safe house. I got in just as shift was changing, just as Johns would find the report I slid into his case load. The bed was cold and empty as I curled into it, knowing that Johns would be checking the logs and heading over here to make sure it wasn’t me. He’d know it was me; he wasn’t an idiot. You never ignore a coincidence like that as a detective. But he’d give me the courtesy of a formal discussion before gathering the house’s data to see if I had snuck out. My hack was good, but he’d still know.
Then again, knowing without proof won’t get you anywhere in this justice system.
Johns wakes me a couple hours later, a professional courtesy after figuring out I’d slipped the system. He’s a gentleman like that.
“Still sleeping, Liz?” he asks as I wipe the sleep from my eyes.
“Yeah, well, gotta catch up sometime. I figure I might as well do it on the department’s dime.”
He laughs humorlessly, his eyes searching mine, asking all the questions he won’t say aloud, all the questions that could get me fired. Even at the core, Johns has loyalty. It’s the only thing I ever admired about him.
The interrogation is subtle yet leading, his intent obvious. An amateur would give a better interrogation about my night in. It’s a formality, mostly, enough to keep the department from having to press charges. No one has any illusions about how I spent my night, though a few may have questions how I tricked the house into thinking I never left.
After Johns leaves I spend the day researching. The network is watched in all safehouses, but I came from a tech background. I evade their tracking and spend my afternoon tracking down Krex.
Krex, as it turns out, is the alias of one Elias Finn. A few priors for assault before ghosting; he’s currently in the database as “Missing, Presumed Dead.” That’s corporate slang for a Runner, Regular Joe, or Sally Streetwise. I write down his known associates from back in the day, send a few queries from my liberated hand comp, and call it an evening. After all, I’ve got a long night ahead of me.
I wake as the sun kisses the sky goodbye, connecting my holodeck before setting out. The queries got a few responses, giving me a good starting place to look for Krex. I map out my trek and hit the road, holding my jacket tight and piece tighter.
Three stops before I find Krex. He’s smaller than I would have expected, a mental note I make as he squirms beneath my boot. I wrestle him into a chair, cuffing one arm like a criminal would, careful even in this moment.
“Two- no three- nights ago, you torched a civilian residence. Talk.” I tell him, pressing the monitor close and cocking my gun.
He smirks at me, spitting blood from our scuffle.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replies, using his free hand to make a rude gesture.
I set my jaw, unwilling to scream at him, unwilling to let him know that I’m fucking terrified to hear what he says. They might still be alive, I tell myself.
“Talk or die,” I tell him, casually shattering his kneecap.
He howls in pain, the kind of pain old sailors find storms with, and I smile. It’s a cold smile that lets him know I’m enjoying this, the kind of smile that would see me off the force in a heartbeat. They never want to see you ruthless. Cops are expensive to make.
In the end, he talks. He doesn’t know much, but it’s another piece to the puzzle. I record every statement, syncing with the monitor to detect every lie, panic, and hiccup. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad. I’m coming.
This story is continued on Day 30.