The challenge is to pick four random items from a list of ten and incorporate them into the story. I’ll bold my choices so that it’s evident which ones I picked. Ha, it’s been a while since I’ve done a flash fiction piece. This is gonna be fun, I haven’t given my detective, Blaze Tuesday a stretch for a while.
Enjoy, I’ll put the story after the cut.
I knew that I didn’t want the case as soon as it was offered.
This was the kind of case that even the police wouldn’t touch. Accusations of dirty cops, dead cops and murder didn’t seems to sit well with the New York Police these days. I suppose that was mostly my fault. IA was booking cops and locking ’em away faster than the police force could replenish their numbers from all the precincts across the city. It was already dark times for the cops and this case smelled rotten from the get-go.
My retainer fee was sitting on my desk. I hadn’t touched the envelope, and it sat unopened, stark white against the mahogany of the huge desk. I tucked my gun, Nadia, into her holster against my side and pulled on a light jacket over top. No need for my duster, I had a feeling I’d need a better range of motion than what the long jacket afforded me.
A knock at my office door.
I looked up, there was my partner, Jackson, his robotic eye glinting in the late afternoon light. He looked good. He always looked good. His dark hair had just the wispy beginnings of silver peeking through and he was dressed immaculately in his favourite three-piece. I knew I was disheveled, I had a five o’clock shadow, my grey hair was a mess and I didn’t even want to talk about my clothes.
“You ready to go, Blaze?”
I snorted in contempt. “I don’t like this, Jacks. This feels more like a bounty than an honest detective case.”
“It’s not too late to back out,” Jackson offered.
“And tarnish our good reputation?” I sneered.
Jackson smiled, but it was nervous. He didn’t like the thought of investigating something that even the police were afraid to touch any more than I did. At least this time we’d have a car of our own, no more endangering our favourite cabbie. Jackson led the way and I followed, trying to ignore the sick knot in my stomach.
We pulled up to the crime scene, a rotting old house at the edge of the city and every hair on my body felt like it was standing on edge. The garden was overrun with weeds and rot, the grass in the yard reached to my waist and I swear that there were things living in it that scuttled past my feet. The front porch was covered and I didn’t feel entirely safe walking under the eaves. An overturned rocking chair greeted us beside the door. I cast a glance at Jackson over my shoulder. He nodded, his face was pale and drawn, his robotic eye looking menacing against his face. I pushed open the door.
This was a hideout. Or, it had been at one time. The remnants of a drug lab lay scattered across the room. The air was thick with the smell of butane and chemicals. The room was dim, the only light we had was what was filtering through the boards that were nailed across the windows. The floor creaked as we walked across it. We weren’t in any danger, the place had been ransacked and packed up, quickly, by the looks of what was left. This was nothing, a wild goose chase. I felt like a chess piece, a pawn, being dragged across a grander game board that I wasn’t even aware of.
“Why won’t the cops come down here?” Jacks asked.
I shrugged. “They knew what this place was. I’d be willing to bet that they were on the payroll of whoever was working here before.”
“So why’d they pack up and leave?” Jackson pressed. “We were supposed to find a guy, this was where he was supposed to be. This isn’t making much sense.”
I nodded. Jackson had a point. None of this was making any sense. We were employed to find a person deemed missing, likely kidnapped. The cops refused to touch this case, and we didn’t know why. I felt like we were just a couple of sitting ducks, waiting for something to go wrong.
“This is hinky,” I agreed finally. “Something big is happening and I don’t like it.”
I nodded past Jackson’s shoulder, towards the stairs.
“You really want to upstairs?” Jackson asked. I didn’t blame him for his hesitance, the house could fall apart under us if we sneezed.
“Gotta make sure,” I replied with a shrug.
Jackson, bless his soul, didn’t argue and we inched our way up the rotting staircase, careful, hoping to avoid falling through the floor. Dust swirled around our feet as we walked up to the second floor. My nerves were on edge and every squeak of the floorboards, every whisper of grass outside, had me nearly jumping out of my skin.
I stopped on the landing in the upstairs hallway. The smell hit me first.
Jackson gagged behind me, choking on the stench of death.
I cursed a blue streak under my breath, trying to keep myself from gagging. “Stay here, Jacks, I got this.”
Jackson didn’t argue and I made my way to the first room, the one with the open door, the one where the smell was coming from. I felt my heart sink as I nudged the door open with my booted toe, one hand on Nadia as if she was a talisman of protection.
Lying in the middle of a floor in a pool of black, congealed blood was the man we had been paid to find. His chest was torn apart, riddled with enough bullet holes to turn him into a puddle of goo. I got all my answers in that room without touching anything. Why the cops weren’t touching this case, why everything here had been packed up in haste and why this man was dead.
Caked with blood, the silver of a police badge glinted in his hand.