Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Half Full Monty

Another short story with the theme being Tales from the Cit-Def, the equivalent of neighborhood watch units in Mega-City One, except with guns. I've set my tale in the midst of the Day of Chaos events. This was a deliberate attempt to write a ghost story and I even name check M.R.James, Peter Straub, Jonathan Miller and Susan Hill. Turns out it is much harder than it looks and the result is, in my own opinion, a bit of a damp squib.

The Girl from 14B
We are a tight unit, the Monty James Citi-Def. Not like those drokkers from Sue Hill block. We had the right training, the right kit, and we have a code. We’re the good guys who did the right thing, and didn’t go in for the petty squabbles that wrecked other units on chaos day.

The Hall of Justice gave us just one Jay and one cadet. We worked through the block floor by floor and on each level the Judge read the riot act, or the warning to the furious as old Miller called it. Then we started our sweep: terminating the sick, testing the healthy, and tipping the bodies over the balconies into the catch nets. It was rough.

We were on level 27 and Judge Straub had stopped us for a 5 minute break. I heard Miller call out “Hey, Miss. You shouldn’t be out here”.

I turned around and saw a young girl of about 12 wearing pyjamas. The hallway was filled with blood, smoke and broken glass. It was not a safe place for a child to be wandering around barefoot. Miller moved towards her with his hands open and empty. As he stepped in front of me I lost sight of her.

Miller stopped, “Huh! Where did she go?” The corridor was empty again. We checked the corners and the stairwells but found nothing. Straub pulled us back on track, “Can’t waste time looking for one child. We’ve got a job to do.”

Two floors up and she was there again, standing and pointing silently upwards. Straub waved his gun and told her to stay where she was, but then the light must have tricked me or some smoke covered her because she just faded from view.

It was on level 30 that we finally tracked her down. She was standing outside the door to 14B, and for the first and only time she spoke, “He’s behind the door and knows you are coming. He’s so angry.”

And then she was gone again. The Jay spoke briefly to his cadet and they used a shaped charge which hurled the door back into the apartment. Straub was fast but the red eye was still a handful, the cornered ones always were. I managed to grab the guy from behind and then the Cadet finished the job with a single shot.

Amidst the wreckage were the signs that a happy family had once lived here. We found the wife in one bedroom, and in the other the little girl. The crazed red eye had killed them both.

“That’s her.” I said. Straub reckoned we were just confusing one child with another but all the MJs knew the truth.

We still see her from time to time. A glimpse in the corner of an eye, a fleeting reflection in a window. She doesn’t mean us any harm, in fact she’s a sort of mascot now, but not one that we like to talk about.

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