by melanofly (メラノ飛) (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/212241.html)
He read his name on the list of the condemned. Opening his copy of La Nación, he found its dreadful heart, like crumbling kernels inside a sheaf of dried maize. If you asked him later, he would not be able to tell you just what emotion gripped him then, staring at the names of those Isabel Perón, President of Argentina, wanted dead. That list, that list, that concise and bloodless list of names, and his own among them, third from the bottom, smeared into the newsprint even when he rubbed his thumb over it repeatedly.
No use, he thought, and then the great clockwork gears of his mind turned, and he got up from his folding table very calmly. He went into his bedroom and packed his bags, and when he was done, he left the last of his rent in an envelope slid under his landlady’s door.
Otherwise inconvenienced, he wrote. Apologies.
Hayser lazily glanced around the room full of happy, partying people. His eye fell on a mirror and he grimaced when he saw a dark, tired face. He was only in his thirties, but sometimes he looked over forty – it was mostly the tired look in his puffy eyes, and the dark shadows underneath, that somehow seemed to enhance the small wrinkles. He thought he looked just as out of place as he felt: a tired old man among people having fun.
Xander had favoured his left leg all along his journey though the spaceship, but now that he had reached the commons he forced his gait to quicken and even out, disguising the limp as best he could. When a couple of men walking opposite him jolted his injured arm, he clenched his teeth and kept going, ignoring their demands for excuses. There was only one thing he was interested in right now, and that thing was sitting on a couch about three meters away. Nicholas hadn’t noticed him yet and that was just what he was banking on.
It’s not obvious, at first, what he was left for.
‘…Came into my ship trailing blood all over the deck and jumped overboard with a zombie bastard in his arms!’
The sailor has a hard face on a soft body.
Lenka has never heard the tale spoken aloud before, let alone shouted on a public bus.
When I was growing up, my mother always told me one thing:
“Morty, I swear to God, if you don’t shape up, you’re gonna grow up fucking someone for money!”
Les was late because, God damn them, they’d switched the room again without proper notice, and he’d arrived seven minutes ahead of the scheduled conversation to find an empty table. Finding a secretary who knew anything took him another five minutes, and when she told him they were the next wing over and three flights up, he clenched his fist to keep from shouting in disappointment and anger. Any other attorney, client, or whole man in the whole building could have gotten there in five minutes with three to spare, and probably some of the women too. Nobody else would have had a problem.
His pace was a careful balance between moving fast and staying slow enough that he didn’t turn his walk into a comic hobble, as he knew from years of interactions with unkind passers-by that it was apparently funny to see a cripple hustle, and God damn it, he wasn’t giving anyone here more of a reason to think he was a joke than they already had. Balancing his satchel of papers under his right arm, he gripped the head of his cane so tight he could feel where the cracks in the old wood left impressions in his left palm. Down the hall he went, ignoring everyone he passed, trying not to think about the faces they might make behind his back, mockery or pity, they were two sides of the same coin, he had no time for it, he had to keep moving, damn it all, damn everything. The ancient elevator was at the far end of the hall and would deposit him another hall’s length from where he needed to be, but he was damned if he was going to give them all comedy show as he lurched his way up seventy-two steps, not counting landings, damn the architects, damn his superiors, damn gravity.
Dark Ash checks the download bar: 92% complete and 7.3 minutes remaining. His eyes flick up to the analog display in the upper right corner of the screen. Yep, still got plenty of time. Puta tiempo es todo lo que tengo esta noche…
Ash maximizes his solitaire window and squints at the messy spread that still defies the imposed order of his adjudicating cursor. He cycles through the stockpile, ready to pounce hawk-like on any opportunity that presents itself, but by the third time through he’s forced to accept he’s been dealt a cat’s game. This means there are only two options remaining to him: surrender with grace, or cheat and reshuffle. It’s anybody’s guess what infinite arms of possibility and consequence hinge on this one fundamental decision. The fate of the entire world could very well rest in his hands. He considers his menu options with all due gravity.
Thomas wriggled against the dirty straw that served as his mattress, trying to get himself as comfortable as possible with his hands bound in front of him. The room smelled like piss, and he had no idea what might be living in the makeshift bed, but he settled onto his back. The slice of sky visible through the single barred window was inky black, no trace of starlight piercing the clouds. With nothing to do, nothing to see, and no one to talk to, he was left with nothing but the inevitability of a morning trip to the gallows, and the memory of what had brought him to this.
This starts with Ozzie, with his hands wrapped around Luke’s wrists, Ozzie’s knuckles pressed into the wall.
* * *
Ozzie sips his coffee while Harrison talks. Harrison talks a lot, but not in a dick way. He just has a lot to say. He’s on the army tonight, and all his stories start, “When I was in the army,” meander through a number of good-hearted and pragmatic old-man-musings on wisdom and common sense, and then end, “Everyone should spend some time in the army. You ever think about joining up, Gonzales?”
“No,” Ozzie says.
Honestly, I was only half-interested in the dead body. I could see the basic shape of the crime from twenty paces away — looked like a robbery gone sour, definitely something more complicated than that — but I was much more interested in the detective standing near the body. It’d been a long time since I’d seen anyone like him, too damnably long. He had a shine to him, a glow that came from the center of him, white and pure, crackling on the edges. I’d seen a lot of people in my time, but not enough like him — and definitely not enough cops.
I got close enough to the scene of the crime to see him more than just his light, focusing my eyes past the layers of the world I was so bloody blessed to see to get a look at his regular face, and my, oh my, he was a special one. Having an innate core of goodness, oh, that was lovely, of course, but that face? I’d have to ask Chief Martinez if there’d been a change in hiring quotas, some city-wide push to get more incredibly handsome fucks on the force. A good plan, definitely — I was already feeling a heightened enthusiasm for murder-solving.
The heat was stifling. Captain Harry Bridgeman… no, he wasn’t a captain anymore. He was a civilian, enrolled in teacher’s college. He had been demobilised for almost a year. Mr Harry Bridgeman of Milton tried not to get mud on his shiny new Oxfords as he walked up Queen Street towards the river. The sun found him, even under the shop eaves; he had forgotten how the humidity did that. It felt as if he were immersed in hot, dirty washing water, circling the plug hole in the big old shed next to the privy in his parents’ back yard.