Sometimes my poems get really, really long. They start having paragraphs and page numbers. Some of my short stories veer toward fantasy, while others stay closer to traditional reality.
Beyond the Badge
The flowing overcoat was all that kept his approaching shadow from looking like that of a utility pole. His footsteps made little sound on the wet asphalt, but it was enough for Matt to hear. Crouched behind a parked delivery truck, Matt was shaking with fear and adrenalin. He knew who was at the end of that shadow, and he knew what he had to do.
Finally the slender leg of the man joined the end of his thin shadow. Matt gripped the cold steel in his hand tightly, his trigger finger waiting anxiously in place. The man stopped and turned. Matt fired, barely looking at his target first.
He took a minute to look over the subject. The shoulder-length black hair was thrown in strands over the pale face. Even in the beam of Matt's flashlight, shadows could be seen around his eyes. His lips were extremely dark, and he had no facial hair. His thin body lay still, and cold.
Leaving the subject for the coming units to take care of, Matt went looking for the other officers. The two guys from the back-up unit were laid out over their cruiser. Their necks were ripped open, but there was no sign of blood on their bodies or the car. They didn't even have their guns drawn.
Matt back-tracked his earlier path in search of his partner. He called for him, but no one answered. As soon as he saw him on the sidewalk, he knew Jimmy was dead. The same as the others, his neck was torn open, and there was no blood. His right hand still held his pistol tight, trigger finger ready to fire. Damn it, he was a good cop.
The other officers from the station and the paramedics had finally got there. Matt went back to the main scene to tell them what happened, and where Jimmy was. Matt's only injury was a scratch from the jagged bumper of the delivery truck on his left arm, but proper procedure called for him to have it tended to.
He saw the bodies of the three fallen officers being carried to the other ambulance. How did this skinny guy, with no gun, take down three officers? He just struck out of nowhere, and took their lives without effort. If he and Jimmy would have stayed together instead of splitting up to try to surround the guy, maybe Jimmy would be sitting there next to him, talking about what happened. Sergeant Wilten called Matt away from the ambulance, he sounded pretty pissed.
"The subject isn't there," Wilten growled. "What the hell happened out there?"
"What do you mean he isn't there?" Matt knew he shot him, and looked at his cold body lying lifeless on the street. "You must be looking in the wrong place. I'll show you, come on."
The officers made way for Matt to get through to the delivery truck. This was the right truck, he remembered the damaged bumper. But there was no body.
An ice cold bullet lay near the back of the truck. There were no signs of tissue or blood on it, or on the asphalt. He pointed out to the other officers what he thought to be an outline of where the man fell, where the asphalt looked a little more dry than the surrounding area.
Through the already cold, damp air, Matt felt a chill. He instinctively turned towards the dark corner of the warehouse. He couldn't see anyone, but he knew someone was looking right at him.
Another officer escorted Matt back to the station. He hated being treated with all this special attention, but at the same time knew he had just experienced some extraordinary ordeal and couldn't capture a coherent thought. What seemed like a normal peace disturbance call from a local bar had turned into some sort of bad dream.
Sergeant Wilten reported everything to Captain Retner. Retner didn't like the story. How does a body just disappear and leave behind the bullet that shot it? How did one man take the lives of three of his officers? He sent for Matt to come to his office.
"Matt, are you sure you hit him when you shot?" Retner asked.
"Yeah," Matt shot back, angered by the question. "He fell, and just laid there. Everything I've seen in my experience here told me he was dead. He was pale, and cold." Matt paced the office, kicking at chairs and clinching his fists. He knew what he saw, but people wouldn't believe him. And he was so afraid, but of what? He couldn't let anyone know he was afraid.
"Well Matt, you're one of my best men, and I believe you, to a point. But the man must not have died. Even if he was dead, he wouldn't be pale and cold that fast. We'll be checking all the hospitals for him. They're watching for a bullet wound, with no bullet.
"In the meantime, maybe you shouldn't stay on this case, there's plenty of paperwork waiting to be done here at the station. Sims will take you home. I know what it's like to lose a partner. But you have to get right back on the horse, or you'll forget how to ride. I want you back here in the morning, at your desk."
The ride home was quiet. Matt was lost in thought, and that rookie, Sims, was too nervous to make any small talk. He kept watching the mirror, feeling like someone was following the cruiser. But he never saw any lights, or anyone, behind them.
When he got out of the car, he felt that chill again. He felt like someone was watching him walk across the yard, but dismissed it as paranoia. Whoever the guy was, he had been shot, so he could hardly come after Matt now.
He changed out of his uniform, and foraged through his refrigerator. He tried to give his dog some scraps, but to his disbelief, he wasn't interested. The dog just started barking and pacing in front of the door.
"What is it Cuff, what's out there boy?" The mastiff wouldn't stop barking and whining, he knew someone was in the yard. Cuff was normally quiet and laid back, more of a piece of furniture than a guard dog. But Matt couldn't shut him up, he had to take him outside to see what was there.
In the swaying shadows of the dogwood trees stood a figure, shorter than the man he shot a few hours ago, but similar in stance and dress. He drew his gun, using his flashlight and laser sight to take aim. The person remained relaxed and calm, and started to speak.
"You need my help, Matt. He will hunt you now, and kill you." This was a woman, a good looking, young woman, with an English accent.
"Who the hell are you?"
... full story included in Words Ago.
~ S.S. White