This page is for tasters of WIP (Work in Process) books.
This is the start of a new steampunk story with a twist in the tail.
The Bible and the gun
The two cops looked down at the body slumped against the wall, and the victim was a male, in his 30’s and from his clothes, he was an out-of-towner. It is easy to tell the out-of-towners by their clothes. The clothes were high quality, designed for style, not for durability. The folks who lived in Kedgetown had got used to the foul smells given off by the power plants, and the waste piles that covered the tight lanes. Style meant nothing when within minutes of walking out of your house, you got coated in ash, and the smell of refuse clung to you like an evil-smelling cloak.
Joe Hash – a former policeman – now a low-grade collector of the dead bodies that littered the streets glanced at his colleague, Pete Frome, and said, “Same M.O. as the last one?”
Pete didn’t need more than a brief glance. The pose, card, and Biblical quote were identical. “Sure, what did you expect? We’ve been picking his killing up for weeks, never getting close, and all the time he walks free.” Pete took the card in his hand, and slowly turned it around. “Yes, it’s the same M.O. the Queen of Hearts and the quote is Deuteronomy 32:35.”
Joe scratched the harsh ginger stubble on his face, looking puzzled; he enquired, “Do you know the quote?”
Pete gave a gentle laugh, and replied after a second’s thought, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time, their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near, and their doom rushes upon them.”
“Holy crap, Pete, he’s not only a vigilante. He can quote the Bible. I wonder how he sleeps with these killings on his soul?” Joe mumbled.
Joe glanced down the road. The only things visible were the shadows of the night, but he felt they were being watched; 15 years in the police and you he found himself waiting for the next victim. He’s seen most things in his time, but the recent killings had got under his skin. The bodies were mounting up, and they had no idea who the killer was or the purpose of the murders?
Pete saw a look on Joe’s face that he’d witnessed before, so he enquired, “What are feelings about this? I’ve known you long enough to know that look.”
Joe got up from his squatting position and replied, “Joe, I think this is going to be the one that got away. I know I ‘ve said that before, and we got the killer but this time, I’m worried he’ll get away from us.”
Pete glanced up and down the street, then commented, “What gets me is that we only got the call a few minutes ago, and already the perp has vanished. Either somebody’s hiding them, or they know about the underworld of the city. Knowledge like that comes from living in the shadows, that would indicate they’ve been here a long time. Those records have been locked away since the riots of 2050, and 30 years is a long time to keep a secret.”
Joe knew what Pete meant, back then the streets ran red with the blood of the police. The underworld elements took Kedgetown by force; their grip was loosened only when the mayor ordered the Spectral Police in to sort the mess out. These men and women are trained to track criminals across the barren wasteland of the planet – picking up auras that are unseen. Some people say they have an ability, others will tell you it’s been programmed into their genes. There is a growing element who say the Spectrals aren’t human at all, but a species born and bred in the pollution-ridden wastes, hence their blue skin.
The Spectrals are relentless hunters with an acute sense of smell and the ability to detect body heat, even in the heat from the rotting corpses that cover the streets. There was a time when the Council would have ordered the streets cleaned to prevent diseases, but now, even the high – ranking officials couldn’t force the people out on the streets to work. The increase in violent crime was put down to too many people in cramped living conditions, with little or no food. Well, that’s the official version, but men like Joe and Pete had their theories.
The two men held very different perspectives on the situation they were involved with in Kedgetown. Pete still believed in the rule of the Law, and tried to stay true to his training – a task becoming harder every day. Joe had done his time as a beat-cop and had witnessed too much violence; he had known the day would come when the Law broke down, the killers would run amok. The time when the police need to rely on the Spectrals more and more, a time when the Spectrals became the Law – the start of a reign of fear that could only end in one way.
Pete and Joe stood with their back to the wall, neither sure if they were being watched – or by whom – something was wrong with the set-up, and they began to feel like they had been lured into this alley. High buildings cut out what faint light filtered through the toxic air, and the street appeared to watch them every time they made a move.
Pete chanced a glance at the corpse again, and remarked, “What do you think made a hole that size?”
Joe didn’t need to look, he had his answer ready and wished to the pale moon that he was wrong, “I can’t be sure. The only thing I can say is this won’t be the last one we see, Pete. If weapons this powerful are being used, someone in these parts has contacts even the Spectrals haven’t tangled with, and that is scary.”
The dark crept into your mind and made you think you saw things in the shadows. Joe had done his share of walking the beats, mostly in the worst areas during the harshest of times, and he’d seen many things he wished he could forget but he’d never met a killer who vanished so quickly, and left no traces – until now.
Silence is one thing, but this silence is different, not even the birds were making a noise; usually when a body is found the carrion flock to the scene, not this time. It was as if even the birds sensed evil was among them and stayed away.
Pete walked up the street a few paces, then turned to his partner, “What worries you the most, Joe, the hardware, or the speed the killer vanished?”
Without thinking, Joe replied, “Neither, what worries me is how they got hold of the hardware, and how much is on the streets, Pete. If this is the start, we could be heading for a war we won’t win.” Joe paused to study the cadaver, and continued, “I don’t think we’ll have a war though.”