Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. Back on August 26th I promised you that I’d have a short story posted by today. As you can see, I don’t have that here for you, but perhaps you’ll forgive me: I did give you the second installment of my Choose-Your-Own-Adventure far sooner than I had thought would happen, and I have actually finished the short story I’d intended to post today. I just haven’t edited it yet. My guess is that you’ll see that up here on Wednesday, though it won’t have any of the section that I teased you with last time (that should end up in another short story, which will come out sooner rather than later).
Finally, in hopes of making reparations, I offer you the flash fiction piece that I wrote over the weekend for Alison McKenzie’s contest. The rules were that the piece had to be between 100 and 750 words long, and had to use the phrase “When dawn broke, he knew it was all over.”
When Dawn broke, he knew it was all over. He’d been sitting in the observation room, watching her as she was grilled by the on-duty cop that’d brought her in. Charbroiled was more like it, seared by his invective and pungent insults. She’d never been as deep in it as he had, she didn’t think she had as much to lose. So she gave up the ghost then and there.
She had to know that someone would find out she’d talked. Chief Inspector Dennis was just happy that she’d never met him in person. To Dawn he was still Marigold, that nebulous figure that showed up and scared the shit out of the people who scared the shit out of her. It didn’t really matter anyway, since by now Dennis knew that the rest of his operation was about to come tumbling down. He waited, quietly leaning on the table with the other few people in the room, silent as they murmured to each other about what her testimony might mean. He sipped his coffee, feeling the slick styrofoam scrunching against his lips, almost sliding from his fingers but too fragile to hold tightly.
Cup emptied, he offered to fetch the others a refill. They declined, too caught up by the disturbing intricacies of pushing illicit human limbs on the waterfront’s black market to pay attention to his exit. It had been good while it lasted, another way to keep tabs on those lawless freaks while lining his own pockets with cash, but all good things must end. Dennis wandered out of the precinct, “headed out for lunch” he said, waving off with little more than a nod and a smile the staff sergeant’s idle reminder that there was an alert out for all travel through the docks district. They all knew he was Chief Inspector Dennis, he could take care of himself. He’d helped train nearly every beat cop that worked there, a perk of his revered position and excellent insurance for the next phase.
His emergency appointment with his very discreet on-call surgeon would take up the rest of his day, and, he suspected, a few days after that. It’d be a shame when the body of Chief Inspector Dennis was found, mutilated and beaten, carved up for spare parts by the chop-shop gangs near his favorite lunchtime diner, but it was a price he’d have to pay. It’d be a tragedy, and if the precinct did eventually learn of his involvement it might be mistaken for revenge for his “reign of terror,” as the gangsters had come to call it. A small smile graced his lips. He’d been a regular Robespierre with that big cleaver he called Guillotine, and having the cops find his body would help put that case to rest.
Not that he was planning on retiring. He’d still be there, still watching. Somebody had to keep an eye on things, after all. But maybe from a fresher perspective. He eyed a younger passerby appreciatively, wistfully remembering the ease of youth with a slight hint of anticipation. He was, he decided, looking forward to this next phase of his career. They said age and treachery always won out over youth and exuberance, but whoever’d coined that phrase never realized that you could have it both ways.