Upturn (2008 anthology story)

Police Sergeant Brian Holmes rapped on the door once, twice, three times. He paused for a second and, hearing no response, shot the knob off the door and entered. These matters called for rapid- and occasionally brutal- arrests, which is why only Sergeants and above were authorized to make this kind of arrest. Sergeant Holmes was proud to be one of the few who weren’t afraid to wade in the midst of the heresy, and one of the even fewer men who didn’t balk at the amount of paperwork required. Already, a discharge of firearm and damage to personal property had occurred. If the party was as crowded as he suspected, he would also have to requisition a new supply of teargas.

Holmes ignored the screaming as he moved into the crowd, searching for his target. He had memorized every word of her description and case file the night before, and carried her photograph in his breast pocket. This practice had caused him to deny several accusations of “crushing for” the target, but Holmes felt it was better to go in prepared.

The combination of over-reacting party-goers and loud music was hell for his concentration, and Holmes discharged his revolver one more time- this time, into the stereo. Most of the sound ceased with that; most college students would wet themselves if a gun was fired in the same room as them, and these were no different. He could almost feel the air pressure decrease as two dozen hardons deflated, and felt pleasure at the thought of ending a night of promiscuity and devil worship.

“What do you want?” One girl asked, and Holmes felt simultaneous shudders of disgust and ecstasy; it was the target! Hanging onto her shoulders was a clearly stoned boy of about drinking age, whom he had apparently distracted from massaging her through her bra. The target herself looked as though she had been drinking heavily- in any case, she was staring through him, not at him.

“You have been found guilty of conspiracy to commit heresy,” Sergeant Holmes informed her. In the eyes of Temple, heresy and treason were synonyms; one need not speak against The Goddess to be a heretic. “You are to come with me.”

“Leave it to Temple to hold a trial without the defendant!” one girl shouted, and there was a murmur of agreement. Holmes looked to the target aware that, for the first time tonight, it was not his next move that would determine his environment. As she looked back, to him and around the room, he realized that he had mis-evaluated her state of mind. Yes, she had been drinking. She was probably too tipsy to even try to run away. But she was in her right mind.

She nodded her compliance, straightening her stance and her clothes. Holmes watched as the target fixed her shoulder strap, tucked the left half of her bra back into her tank top, and cleared her throat a couple of times to get the attention of the hand that had come with it. If she had dressed a little more modestly- if her pink and black tiger-striped tank top had showed no cleavage, for instance, or her silky black skirt was about double its length and reached her knees- she would have looked good. Oh, and thinner. She would have needed to lose about 50 pounds to be attractive to him.

Sergeant Holmes and the target walked outside together. He took a hold of her wrist, but it was unnecessary; she knew she wasn’t going to out-muscle or outrun him. She merely walked silently beside him and, when he placed her hands on the hood of the car to cuff her, she gave him a sad smile. Holmes thought regretfully of the hours he had spent, reading and re-reading description and case files. He thought of the picture, whose every detail was etched into his well-honed memory, and felt like he was saying goodbye to an old friend. He brought the cuffs down on his wrist, and made eye contact with the target one last time.

The target was extremely friendly, for a convicted heretic. She opened up the door for him, and guided him in when he had trouble getting into the patrol car with his hands cuffed together. She gave him a smile and a wink as she shut the door and he relaxed, confident that the case was complete. He heard the click of the door that had so often kept him separate from dangerous criminals, and his combat focus immediately began to recede.

The target headed away from Holmes’s patrol car as soon as she saw him visibly relax. She saw a familiar call pull in- late, of course, Justin could never make plans- and her plans for the near future fell into place. She walked in front of his car, gesturing for him not to get out, and opened the passenger-side door. “I need to get out of here, quick,” she told him.

“What’s up?” Justin asked. He looked awkward, as though he knew the theory to dress for a party but was unable to pull it off. “Get in.”

Getting in the car and not bothering to buckle her seatbelt, she explained everything that had happened since Sergeant Holmes had shot off the door knob. She laughed at Justin’s reaction to her escape, and explained what she planned to do next. He didn’t need to know everything- just where he was taking her and how she would keep in touch. “What are you doing?” she asked when the car began to speed up, away from the party. “I need to get some stuff out of my car.”

Justin shook his head. “You want them to think you were arrested, right?” He waited for his companion’s cautious affirmative, and continued. “They don’t know what happened yet. You go back there, people leaving the party will see you. Even if they don’t, the stuff missing from you car would give your escape away.” Knowing she had been dissuaded, the rest of the discussion was brief and one-sided, in Justin’s favor. He dropped her off as planned, no one any wiser to what had occurred after Sergeant Holmes was locked in his own patrol car. Nevertheless, sleep did not come easy for Justin that night.

6 thoughts on “Upturn (2008 anthology story)

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