The idea for this series formed as I was dining with my fellow students on a supervision course I started earlier in the year. One student, Kate, mentioned her childhood dream of working for the police force and I could picture her character instantly. Of course, detective Kate Labno is in my world, and things are a little different here! Enjoy episode 1!
NO REST FOR THE WICKED!
After taking a moment to admire the deep red liquid filling my glass, I quit messing around and took a swig. Okay, so I took a few, but I had plenty, it was more fishbowl than wine glass.
The buzz it gave me drowned out the annoying sound of my phone, which was currently dancing across the kitchen counter since I’d clearly switched it to vibrate instead of silent.
I ignored that too, and the knock preceding it. It took all my energy, depleted though it was after a twenty-four hour shift, but I succeeded in finding my zone. If I’d had a goddamn second to myself, I would have added a do not disturb sign to the door, though it could be argued if someone made it through all the deterrents they deserved my attention.
“I know you’re in there. Let me in, Kate, it’s important.”
Taking another swig, my swallows the starting count of finding my calm, I walked towards the front door. It didn’t help. By the time I reached it I was seeing red, and it had nothing to do with wine.
“Do you know the last time I had any sleep?” I snapped by way of greeting. “Sunday. Do you know what day it is today? Wednesday. I deserve a break, Danny, so unless-”
“Cool it, Labno and take a deep breath. Aren’t you supposed to know how to meditate or something,” my partner, Dan Carter muttered, pushing into the house without waiting for an invitation. “And pour me one of those,” he said, indicating the glass. “I deserve it after navigating the minefield to your door.”
I couldn’t stop the smirk at the thought of Dan trying to figure out where the new booby traps were. I hadn’t planted a literal minefield, but the path to my door was dangerous to certain trespassers. The kind who’d stepped right out of a nightmare and declared war.
“I’m not the one who needs to share. Tell me why you’re here.” I said this on the move, still amused I’d put my partner through his paces. He was right. He deserved a little fortification for the return trip. A small glass, at least.
“It’s about the Miller case, and you may want to sit down.”
More like lie in a cool, dark room.
To give myself time to prepare for whatever crap my partner wanted to fill my brain with, I poured him a glass of wine.
It’s not that I dislike my job, becoming a detective was a childhood dream, but the landscape looks a hell of a lot different since the world turned to hell, or more accurately, hell tried to take over the world.
I remember watching horror movies as a kid, comforted, even though my fear, that the monsters on the screen were merely a figment of somebody’s imagination. Bringing those monsters to life was a matter of effects and creative genius. They weren’t real. They didn’t live next door, hiding out until it was time to show their true face.
Yet now I work within a police force with a culture so diverse it includes officers, not only from different species but different worlds.
Handing the glass to Dan, I shrugged my shoulders and squared my stance, like a boxer waiting to kick ass. “Hit me with it!”
He didn’t delay. “Mrs. Miller took matters into her own hands and she found more than she bargained for.”
An image of Sahara Miller popped into my brain, a tall willowy woman with white hair she wore long and loose. The moment I saw her I knew she was important. Just a glance, that’s all it had taken. On the heels of interest came irritation. This time it was aimed at the baffoon, also known as my co-worker Lundy. I saw clearly he had missed the significance of Sahara’s presence. He was interviewing her, but he wasn’t taking the report seriously.
It took a second to work it out. Lundy was too focused on the surface. Perhaps it began with her appearance; the long black dress, the stark fascinator with black lace that covered part of her left eye and made her appear like a woman in mourning. It could have been the velvet glove she had clutched in her hand like a transitional object. Whatever had triggered his unconscious bias, it meant he missed the important stuff. The details that really mattered.
I hadn’t missed it. I’d followed my gut and taken Sahara Miller’s story seriously. Luckily, Dan had too. We had opened a case, investigated her concerns about her neighbour’s activities, and were in the process of getting a search warrant.
Of course, the system has changed a great deal. It tends to do that after war, and even though the bad guys lost – thanks to some pretty hefty players on our side – the judiciary system took a hit. Obviously, Sahara was tired of waiting.
“Please tell me we won’t be visiting the morgue.” If Sahara’s neighbour was as rotten as she suspected, the danger was real.
“Don’t underestimate her. She might be a gargoyle and genetically opposed to violence but she can protect herself,” Dan said, swirling the wine in his glass. “Besides, she didn’t confront her neighbours, she knocked a giant hole in her bedroom wall and she didn’t find cannabis.”
This time, the image of a gargoyle, sitting atop a gothic-looking structure with short stubby wings and a spliff hanging from thin, grey lips popped into my brain. Okay, fine, so now my unconscious bias was showing, but I’d had a day.
The jibe about cannabis was directed at me. Sahara’s concerns began with a suspicious aroma which began in her hallway and ended in the bedroom. All the hot spots had one thing in common, they were part of the adjoining wall. It permeated the air, such a distinct odour I’d mistaken it for weed.
“She found bodies.”
I turned back in at those words, my feet moving before my mouth engaged. I reached for the glass Dan was tipping towards his mouth and snatched it from his hand. “You can drive. Let’s hit the road.”
He scowled. “What happened to needing a break?”
“I’ll catch some sleep on the way,” I said, grabbing my jacket and keys.
Dan tried to hide his knowing smile. He wasn’t fooling anybody. He’d planned this, and it meant only one thing – he was destined to set off at least one of my traps on the way to his car.
This cheered me up so much, I was grinning as I opened the door. The smile died on my lips when I spotted the white feather on my doorstep. “Goddamn it!”
I knew I should have ignored the door. So close. I’d been so close.
Wishing I’d filled a travel mug with the remainder of the wine, I stepped forward and prepared to face the music.
Special thanks to Theresa and Rosanna for the objects I was able to incorporate.
Until next time