Intercosmic - Chapter 30 - Menace II Society

“Sorry the wait has been so long, want something to eat,” an officer with a freshly shaved bald head asks.

“No thanks.”

“What about some medigel for the bruise on your head.”

“I’d like it to be visible in my eventual mugshot. Might be useful in helping the jury understand I was framed.”

The officer exits and I place my head on the table in an attempt to get some rest. According to the clock on the wall I’ve been here for four hours, and nobody has come to talk with me. The food is a nice offer, but I’m not interested. I’ve seen enough documentaries to know they’ll just want me to confess or inform them about some other crime, and I don’t know any other crimes. I didn’t even commit a crime. That was self-defense for myself and everyone else in the bar. They don’t have a case, they wouldn’t have brought me here if they did. They’re just hoping I crack. It’s been almost twenty-four hours since I’ve slept, but I’ve gone through sleep deprived deployments before. This, it’s nothing. I’m not above being tricked, or conned; I’m also not their average suspect.

“Sorry for the wait Mr. Gray,” a large man sporting fading brown hair and long beard enters.

“It was nothing,” I smile at him.

“Oh, but any wait is far too long,” he smiles back.

I lift my head and sit up as straight as I can. They’ve removed my prosthetic and my left hand is secured in one of the padded restraints on the table so there isn’t much balance to my straight posture. In contrast, he’s slouched over with crumbs in his beard from a recent meal. He’s completely relaxed for this, probably done it a few thousand times. I didn’t notice at first, but the ends of his beard are starting to turn grey like his hair. If he was in the military he’d be looking towards retirement or a comfortable desk job, but I’ve heard civilians tend to work for a lot longer.

Do I plan on going back? I hadn’t thought about it, but lately, I’ve been feeling the itch. The adrenaline is feeling good again. I obviously still have the same skills and I’m referring to people as civilians, as if I’m not one. Would this prevent me from going back?

“Are you listening Mr. Gray,” the officer asks.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Detective Burn.”

“Great, I’m Efrem Gray. I’d shake your hand, but they took mine.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ve still got a leg up on the competition,” he’s playing good cop.

“When am I free to go?”

“Unfortunately, I think you’ll be with us for a while.”

“On what charges?”

“Murder.”

“Who did I kill?”

“Cade Duke.”

“Never heard of him.”

“The man you shot outside the bar.”

“I didn’t shoot anyone. But, it looked like he had a non-fatal wound from what I saw when I was being dragged through the crowd like a prize and man handled by a rookie cop looking for glory. That is if you’re talking about the guy on the ground clutching his knee.”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” Detective Burn chuckles. “You’re a funny guy. They don’t like funny guys in jail.”

“Good thing I’m not going to jail.”

“Jail is where murders go.”

“Did you see me murder anyone?”

I keep thinking they’ve got something on me. Camera footage from the bar, random footage from surrounding buildings. They haven’t even mentioned the gun yet. Perhaps the Enka got rid of it. I didn’t have any reason to trust them with that gun, but I’m glad I did. If the officers had a gun, they’d just put it on the table and tell me I was going to jail, but they’ve got nothing. Luck, destiny, maybe even fate, something is watching over me for once in my life.

“We found your gun,” never mind, they have it.

“I don’t have a gun,” denying everything is the only way left to go.

“It’s got your prints all over it.”

“I highly doubt that.

“You haven’t shown me the gun yet.”

“It’s in the lab, they should be finished with it soon.”

“Great, then you can see my prints don’t match and you can let me go. Do you want to take some new ones or do you want to pull them from the military registry?”

He’s lying, a good liar, but a liar. I’m not some super soldier with the power to read minds or anything like that. I just know I’m right-handed, and only touched the gun with my right hand and since that’s metallic, it won’t leave any prints. He’s just talking, I’m seriously doubting the Enka even gave him the gun at this point.

“I hate guys like you,” Burn’s tone changes significantly.

“You don’t know me.”

“I know a thousand guys like you. Do a little military time, and think you’ve got a license to do whatever you want when you come back to regular society. Guys like you are a menace to society. I saw the flag on your file, you got stopped arriving on the planet. We got you on camera at the scene of another murder. If you’re not a killer you know who is.”

I know he doesn’t have anything on me, but I let his words float around in the moment before I speak again. It’ll make him feel good if he thinks I’m considering his words. I’m sure he just wants to solve another shooting, because it’s not a murder. Unless Duck or whatever his name is just blew up from a leg shot he’ll be good. If I wanted to kill him, I could have done it when he friend left him, but I didn’t.

“So, do you have anything on me, or am I free to go?”

“You’re free,” Burns waves his hand over my restraint and it releases me. “Out the door to the left, they’ll have your arm. Meet me out front if you want a ride to your hotel,” he sounds defeated, but not disappointed.

Walking through the station is a little surreal. Nobody seems busy, but everyone is darting back and forth between different points. A handwave here, a few keystrokes there, maybe some quick conversation between points. I’m pretty sure I took wrong turn when the wall color changes from dusty brown to a faded yellow. A small room with a few desks and people without uniforms walking around. This might be where the detectives, do detective work. I really need to go sleep.

“I said to the left,” Burns puts a hand on my right shoulder and quickly removes it.

“It’s mostly just metal in there now, it doesn’t hurt.”

“Let’s get your arm and get you out of here.”

A cup of coffee later and I’m sitting in the front seat of Burns’ unmarked car. It's more comfortable than I expected and he’s not opposed to using climate control inside like the officer last night. I know he’s trying to soften me up, maybe see if I’ll let something slip on the way back, so I listen to everything he says carefully, never revealing too much about myself. He spends most of the drive telling me why he became a police officer, and why he hates it. He thought he’d be helping people or running into gun fights, but he never had a gunfight and feels he never sees anyone get help. I try to console him, let him know I thought I was going to be a great explorer in the military who did missions like some battle-hardened secret agent. It didn’t work out, and the black ops missions I took part in were all just secret murders and flamboyant assassinations.

“Can I offer you one piece of advice,” he asks as the car settles on solid ground. “Actually two.”

“If I can ask you a question.”

“Shoot.”

“Is Duck dead.”

“Who’s Duck?”

“The guy,” I pause. “The murdered guy who was shot at the bar.”

“Nah,” he laughs. “That bastard is cuffed to a hospital bed somewhere. He had warrants. I don’t even remember what his real name was,” the two of us laugh together. “He probably deserved it.”

“I heard he was hypothetically shooting up a bar full of mourning Enka.”

“Might have some information on the murder I’m looking into. Thanks for the tip, people from Mars don’t like talking to police officers.”

“So, what’s your advice?”

“One, keep your nose clean. Two, get off Mars as soon as you can. This place traps people and slowly kills them. Any big ideas you had when you touched ground on this planet, will die here.”

“Thanks.”

“I’ll be in contact if we have more questions about the shooting.”

“Somehow I get the feeling you already know the answer to any questions you might have.”

“You’re right. Leave Mars as soon as you can Mr. Gray.”

In my hotel room the last 36 or so hours feel a lot different in my mind. There’s no more adrenaline pumping through my veins. I was in a shootout, with a stolen gun. A stolen gun that I passed off to a random Enka because we shared some wine. Some wine shared because a hate crime was committed not too long ago in the lobby of this same hotel. I’ve been held and interrogated at a police station and I rode home with police officer who still seemed like he was trying to get me to confess.

There is nothing good about life on Mars and I understand why nobody wants to have children here and so many people find ways to flee. You have to be a special kind of individual to call Mars a happy home. The one bright spot about this trip, I spoke to my little brother. It might be time for me to go home.

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