An Episodic Novel by Alan Augustson
He closed his eyes and tried to breathe out his murderous anger. His eyes watered with tears, and he blinked them back. He didn’t like himself like this.
This was a person with dignity, a person who’d somehow maintained a measure of pride since the world ended.
Burke waved that thought off; he wasn’t ready to share that, nor could he know if the cop was trustworthy. “Eh, never mind that. Okay, so here’s what we have so far. A CORE employee in the worst part of town. A murderer who knows what he’s doing, but uses target rounds.”
Matron silently escorted the girl out, and her faint cry trailed off as McMonagal shut the door again. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to clear the pity and shame and anger from his mind.
“Um… ma’am?” “What?!” The boy nearly pissed himself, standing there with his box of scrap, trembling and silent. Annie looked up from her work, made a smirk and wiped the red smudge from her cheek. She was nearly red from head to foot, in fact. She came to the boy
“Mariah?” The girl looked up without a word. Her face was clean now; her hair styled. She wore a short dress, pretty shoes and a hint of makeup, and sat on the edge of a bed, clinging to a stuffed rabbit and looking terrified and sickly. The man came in
They were everywhere, the damned screens, and most of the time people were content to ignore them. Yes, a few always stood and gaped, at the endless sideshow of pretty, smiling people, doing things that made no sense but which seemed enjoyable to them. Kids sometimes played beneath them, mimicking
Annie looked up from her work. “Rescued another?” “Yeah,” Paul nodded, and the cowering girl stepped out from behind him. Annie’s eyes opened wide, and a gasp escaped her, but she recovered quickly and managed a nervous grin. “Well, hi! You’re Mariah, aren’t you? It’s so nice to meet you!” The
“Your timing couldn’t have been better; we were gonna roll him out this morning.” “Well, I appreciate your time, Doc,” said Burke, looking over the refrigerated corpse as the medical examiner pulled down the sheet. “Not to worry; where’s your shadow?” asked the M.E.. “My… ah, my police… handler, I
The grin on Pike’s face, bruised and bloodied as it was, looked like that of the man who’d been having the time of his life until he was rudely interrupted. Head down, eyes up, in a predatory sort of way, he locked eyes with McMonagal and licked a drop of
“You sure this is what you wanted?” asked Annie, handing off the bucket and a crude stirring stick. “Perfect,” Paul said. “You’re pretty certain it’ll work in this solution?” “I tested it myself. Once it’s dry, it’ll work just fine. What I don’t know is how well it’ll stick.” “What
“Hello, sunshine.” “Fuckkk…” “Make a sound and I’ll kill you.” Pike tightened his grip on the boy’s shoulder. He tried to keep silent but couldn’t contain a whimper of terror. “You seem surprised. Why?” he asked. “Did you think they’d kill me?” The boy’s voice cracked. “I- I don’t…” “Mind
“I shouldn’t even be talking about this. There’d be…” the officer rolled his eyes. “Repercussions.” “But you understand why it’s a good thing you did? I mean, do they want this case solved or don’t they?” The cop folded his arms and nodded. Burke lit two cigarettes and offered him
“Is this right… ?” The girl, about thirteen, put her filing aside and watched as Mariah turned the barrel. “Go slower,” she said. “Go real slow. Annie said that it can catch just from mixing it if you’re not real careful. I’ve never seen it happen, though.” Mariah nodded, and
“What the hell are we even doing— ” “Sh-!! Just watch, okay? And keep quiet, you wanna get caught?” “Fuck this. I’m going home.” “He knows where you live, Timmy.” “So?? You’re the dumbass who told on him.” “Yeah, and I’ll also tell him everybody who wouldn’t help. He’s crazy,
Hearing the noise, Burke dressed hurriedly and scrambled to his balcony. Shading his eyes from the nearby streetlights, he watched as a brilliant, angry orange glow erupted from some large building beyond the barriers. It was insanely bright, not like any structure fire he’d ever seen, and they were quite
Pike stood frozen in horror. The screen had to be a good quarter-mile off, yet he was certain he could feel that heat. He was sure it would melt the sign entire, and bore a hole through the world from there. Then, as it cooled, he saw. “Army of the
He dragged on the cigarette, eyes closed. It was proper, uncut tobacco and it hit like that rush of ozone just before a thunderstorm. Still, he was ill at ease. This was Pike’s first taste of the ‘good-cop’ routine, and Pike wasn’t sure which he liked less, this or ‘bad-cop’.
Annie grumbled as she hastily painted over a large AD symbol on the side of the building. It had been popping up everywhere since that night; she didn’t know what it stood for and doubted anyone else did, either, other than Paul. Maybe. “Whatchadooin?” asked one of her girls, about
Burke whistled his approval, looking around the opulent office. The constant struggle to survive might have ended once one found their way Inside, but this level of comfort was attained through birth, marriage or dumb luck. In this case, you could say it was the latter. “Thank you, I’m glad
“Hey! What’s this?” “Oh, hi!” May smiled, looking up from the row of samples on the table. “You’re up late.” Mariah shrugged. “Too hot to sleep. I don’t know how everyone else can do it. So what’s this stuff? It looks different.” “It is. Something new. I think it’s for
“Stover, tell me,” he said. “You do your job, right? I don’t mean to accuse; just asking. It’s a legit strategy.”
“Yeah? So?” the cop said, squinting.
“So. You ever run into a situation where someone didn’t want your job to get done? Maybe someone important?”