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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A detective in the near future investigating a homicide discovers the killer is closer than he thought.

Based loosely on a true event.

Submitted: October 21, 2007

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 21, 2007



 By Joshua Taylor Brown
The room was so clean, it seemed sterile. The walls were painted a metallic grey, and the windows in front of him were gleaming in the bright morning sun. On the wall to the left of John, a mounted iComp was on screensaver mode.  It was the Apple/Microsoft Systems Inc. logo floating in a surprisingly realistic 3-d space environment.
He looked out the window, beyond the glare of the sun, and could make out the faint outlines of mountains in the horizon, and tall skyscrapers in the foreground. The sun appeared bloated, beyond proportion. It reminded John of the old science magazines he read as a child, describing a far future when the sun would bloat to monstrous proportions and engulf half of the solar system. But the sun wasn’t bloated. It was the smog that reflected the light, causing the sun to appear double its size.
It was a grand spectacle, but John knew the meaning behind it.
It’s the 21st century, and there’s smog, he thought. Apparently, to him, the EPA, Congress, and the President were doing their jobs. Maybe now they’ll sign Kyoto.
There was a knock on the door. It opened, and a tall, rough-looking man walked in and sat down at the desk across from John, directly in front of the windows. He held in his hands a few stapled papers. The man glanced at them for a few moments, and then set them aside on the desk. He folded his hands. The man was Gregory Fields, the Chief of Police. He was simply known by some as ‘’ the Chief’’, but John called him by name, because he thought ‘’Chief’’ sounded too much like something out of a bad crime drama.. He sat back in his ergonomic desk chair and glared at John.
Then he said, ‘’ So, what’s up?’’ His voice was gravelly, and it resounded like a gong hit throughout the room. But there was a warm, friendly quality to it, like Peter Coyote’s voice. John looked up.
He hesitated, not sure what to say. ‘’ Well…. I think figured out the murder case on the beach.’’
Detective John Deridder’s apartment was quiet. The early morning light shone through the curtains in broken beams, casting spots of yellow light on the floor. Everything seemed still, peaceful. Then John’s iComp rang.
John woke up, startled. He looked around, not sure where he was for a moment. A shrill tone came from somewhere in the room. He struggled out of bed and walked up to his iComp, which was sitting on top of his dresser. It was a smaller and older version of the one Chief had, but it was just as functional. John purchased it back when the merger first occurred between Apple and Microsoft. They came out with the world’s cheapest and fastest personal supercomputer, the iComp. It was designed to be a single screen, the CPU unit made to be smaller than a quarter. It was also the first computer for personal use that had the processing capability of the human brain.
John touched it, and the screen came to life. A bundle of icons came into view, and John pressed one that looked like a cell-phone. A widow popped up, saying ‘’ You have an incoming call. Do you accept?’’ and underneath,  a ‘’Yes’’ and a “No’’. John pressed ‘’Yes’’, and another window popped up.
A screen appeared, a live video feed from whoever was calling. A figure came into view, slightly blurred from the quality of the video. It was a man, tall, dark hair, and tan skin. His face was long and thin, and his eyes were a brownish-green hue. He appeared to have just showered and cleaned up, for his hair was still damp, and his face gleamed with aftershave. 
John knew who the man was immediately. Harold Gents, his partner. He didn’t even need to read the name and number of who was calling at the bottom of the screen. John smiled, and said, ‘’ I see the smug face of the asshole who woke me up.’’ Harold laughed, and replied, ‘’ Had a good beauty rest?’’
‘’Good, until you called. Jesus Christ, Harold, it’s early, it’s…..’’ John glanced at the time on the bottom of the screen. 7:12.
John was supposed to be at work for 7:30.
’’Goddammit, I’m gonna be late! Alright, tell me quickly.
Harold sighed. “That’s why I called so early.’’ He smiled.
John asked, ‘’Okay, what is it?’’
Harold grabbed a pack of stapled papers from out of view. ‘’Ummmm…. Male homicide victim…76. Gunshot wound to head. Suspect is…..’’ Harold flipped through the pages. ‘’…unknown. Some couple was walking on the beach around midnight when the woman saw a dead body floating in the water and called 911. Police who got there said there was a gunshot wound to the head. Chief wants you over there ASAP.’’
John said, ‘’Okay!’’ and disconnected the line. He turned off the iComp and ran towards the bathroom to wash up.
John drove in his hydrogen cell car along the highway towards the beach. He glanced around him. There were many buses, painted a green color and with the words, ‘’ Ultra-Low Emissions City Transportation Bus’’, and a number.
John passed by an eco-taxi. A young girl, maybe eight or nine, looked out back at John, her big brown eyes sparkling with curiosity. He came up on one of the buses. He saw the people inside, some looking rather like zombies. One man saw John, stuck up his middle finger, and mouthed a silent ‘’fuck you’’. John simply returned the gesture, and tried to get around the bus. But the car was going at the speed limit, 65.
John could remember the days before the speed limits were lowered, back when he was in junior-high school.
A pulsating tone suddenly erupted from the front main console of the halogen-car. John pressed the screen, and a voice came on. ‘’John?’’ It was Gregory. John said,‘’Yes?’’ ‘’Are you on your way?’’ ‘’Yes, sir.’’ The line clicked.
Goodbye to you, too, sir asshole. But John stopped himself. No, I can’t talk about Gregory that way. He’s a respectable man. Just….a little rough around the edges.
The crime scene was crowded with authorities. Some were talking to people on the beach, trying to get them to move away from the crime scene. Others were surveying the area, talking into their long range walkie-talkies. One of them was putting up red tape, and another was setting up cards with numbers on them for identifying evidence.
John pulled up to the parking lot, turned off the engine, and got out. Harold saw him and ran up. ‘’John, hey, glad you’re here. The body’s over here.’’ He led John through the red tape. John pulled out his flash camera. Harold pointed to the dead man’s body, covered in a white plastic sheet. John walked up and uncovered the sheet from the victim’s face.
The first thing he saw was the entrance wound from the bullet, just above the temple. Dried blood and brain matter surrounded the hole in the man’s head, and a few maggots had already begun to crawl around inside.
John had seen so many head shots that he was desensitized to it. But head shots were always the worst where the bullet exited.
John held up his flash camera and aimed. He pressed a button, and a detailed picture appeared on the tiny screen. He turned the head over, and nearly gagged.
The hole was twice as big as where the bullet entered through the temple. It looked as though a bomb had gone off inside the man’s brain, and splattered matter all over. An onlooker saw it and passed out, and she had to be helped by several policemen.
Jesus Christ.
Harold came over, but turned around and covered his mouth. John looked closely at it, and took another picture with his flash camera. Even with all his training in forensics, looking at pictures of murder scenes and mutilated bodies, John still could never fully handle the sight of a man’s brain being splattered in all directions. ‘’The bullet appears to have gone straight through the spinal cord.’’, he said to a policeman who walked over to him. The policeman was startled at how inconsiderate he sounded. He tried to make it up by adding, ‘’He never had a chance. I’ll call the morgue and tell them to perform an autopsy.’’
‘’Thanks.’’, John replied. Then he stood up and looked around, surveying the crime scene.
He tried to find anything that could clue him in on the shooter. Then, something caught his eye. Footprints. He was shocked to find them. At first, he thought they were his, but upon closer inspection he noticed that they were of bare feet. The sand obviously was eroded away some, based on the depth of the impressions, but they seemed fresh, unlike the other footprints around the beach. It was amazing they were still there. John looked at them, and noticed something odd.
They’re missing a toe. That’s strange
And then John realized. He gasped, and his eyes widened. It had hit him like a boulder falling from a cliff. His instincts said to him,  I gotta go to Gregory, gotta tell him. So he ran for his car, not even noticing the others looking at him, including Harold, who was talking to another policeman, and started running after him.
Gregory sat back in his chair, reviewing in his mind what John had said.
‘’I don’t know what to say. How did you…?’’
John took off his shoe and sock, and showed his foot to Gregory. The big toe was missing, the exact same as the footprints.
Gregory said, ‘’But… there could be anyone out there with a missing toe!’’
‘’But I checked the medical records in the public city archives. I’m one of two in the city with the same missing toe; the other guy died of old age several years ago.’’
The Chief stared as John put back on his sock and shoe. John explained,‘’ I lost it back when I was a teen. I was chopping some wood while camping and, well, I missed.’’
Gregory goggled at John.
‘’ So….I….I have a murderer working for me?’’
John said, ‘’When I applied for this job, I never mentioned that I also have a rare disorder in which I sleepwalk frequently. I usually only end up in the kitchen because I lock the doors, but last night I forgot to. And my gun was lying right on the front table. I guess my dream had something to do with chasing down some prison escapee or something.’’ John chuckled. ‘’Who would’ve thought it would end this way, huh?’’

Gregory had a shocked face. He felt compelled to move, to get out his gun…but he was paralyzed with shock.
Dear God, he thought. He’s a murderer. I have to kill him. No fucking way a court is going to understand this crazy bastard. Even if he is a sleepwalker.
A long silence fell between them. Then, John got up and turned around, his back to Gregory. Finally, Gregory saw his chance. He quickly pulled out his gun from its holster, aimed at the back of John’s head, just above where the skull rested on the spine, and fired.
Copyright 2007 Joshua Taylor Brown

© Copyright 2017 Joshua Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

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