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Mind Games

She’s talking to me, from out there, in the world.  Coming here, she calls it a “Mind Garden,” it’s hard for her, the breathing, the calmness.  In her mind, our mind, there is turmoil, always roiling and seething.  It is her creative center, a maelstrom of interest and excitement.

Her mind is turning over, seeking and searching, casting about
for the next idea, tossing aside thoughts for lesser mortals to complete, but
she doesn’t.  An army of intelligentsia
could not, her ideas come thick and fast.

She thinks she is calm, serene.  I can see from here, from within, that she is
not.  Her turbulence accompanies every
word, and the chorus sighs with her, though she is not, at this age, even aware
of their existence.  The noise is
incredible, but it is thought, and I can sort the wheat from the chaff, if I am
left to my devices.  She makes herself
sound as if her echoes precede her, and even existing within as I do, it is
startling in its volume and clarity.

“I’m falling!”

Her eyes are shut, I cannot see, but there is no sensation of
ground and I must assume she is correct. 
I push for control, but the instinct to maintain her own is strong, even
now.

[[Open your eyes.]]

“I’m frightened!”

[[Open your eyes I need to see]]

“It will hurt!”

We’ve been falling for half a second, it must be serious.  I do some calculations, about five metres per
second, how long were we falling for before she called?

[[[Open your eyes.]]]  I
push harder.  She snaps her eyes open and
I can see instantly that we’ve been falling for more than that.  There isn’t time.

[[[[Relax]]]]

She falls almost asleep immediately and I spread out our arms
and legs.  I do not hope for the best, hope
is for her; I prepare.

The impact is tremendous, but ameliorated by the slope, we hit
feet first and a lot of the energy of the strike is taken up converting it to a
sort of floppy bodied roll.  We hit
again, and then stillness.  I check us
for injuries before I let her wake.  I
can see stars.  That means we took a hard
hit on the head.  I don’t have access to
everything.  We’re concussed.  There is pain.

[[Wake up]]

[[[Wake up]]]

I damp the pain and probe a little.  Nothing broken.  If she’d hit bottom all stiffened up it would
have been like glass breaking.  There’s a
lot of pain, it’s coming from the joints, well, that’s ok, some damage down the
road, but not insurmountable for right now. 
I am concerned about our brain. 
We have a headache, and she won’t wake up.

[[[[Wake up]]]]

“What?  What happened.”

[[It looks like you fell off a cliff]]

She looks over herself.

“Why did you wake me up?” 
She tries to get to her feet, but we’re not ready for that.  It doesn’t go well.  I can see a lot of shrub and brush as we lie
down again.  There is a long climb back
up.  It doesn’t look like a climb she
could make right now.  “Everything hurts.”  She starts crying a bit.

[[That’s going to happen; we fell down about a hundred feet I’d
say, maybe less.  If you cry you’re not
going to look good with the other boys.]]

‘I don’t care about that.’  She says in the privacy of our own head.

[[You will when they mock you.]]  The tears dry up immediately.

‘To blazes with you.’ 
She doesn’t swear at all at this time. 
It’s amusing.  She looks up and I
see the cadets peering over the fence we have fallen over.

[[I believe they are looking for you.]]

‘Gosh, you think so?’

[[Well you didn’t scream on the way down, so I am surprised.  I had surmised that they would not miss you
for some time.]]

They are calling down, but she is merely looking up, shielding
her eyes from the sun with her hand.

~

You must understand that
she looks like a boy at this time, and obeys the diktats of the conventions, but
I have always known her true nature, and I am not bound by any conventions that
society might seek to impose; therefore I shall continue with my nouns and
pronouns as I see fit.  This is not a
record from without, it a record from within.

~

To continue, as she shields her eyes, I can see the sergeant
peering over the fence, or barrier if you will. 
All the other voices are feeble, but the sergeant has the advantage of a
big man with a big man and the big lungs that went with him and is not afraid
to use them.

“Smith!”  He bellows.  “Smith, are you alive?”  This seems such a stupid question to the both
of us that our mind, collectively, replies…

“No, Sarge.  Fell down a
cliff, Sarge.  Mostly dead, Sarge.”  This sends us off into a coughing fit, which
hurts a lot.

“Right them Smith.  I’m
sending down a rope for whatever’s left then.” 
He says, unphased.  That’s not
going to happen.  I know this, because
unlike Roger, I have observed that there is no rope longer than thirty feet
among the tiddlers, and even the bigger boys present, most of whom being chided
for getting to close to the edge as they fight for a good view.

The sergeant retires from view and there is some heated
discussion.  His head appears again.

“Smith, we’re sending for a crew and an ambulance.”

[[Oh good.  A fuss.  You love a fuss.]]

‘I do not!’

[[Yes you do, it’s like being in trouble with Granny on your
side, you’ll be untouchable.]]

‘That’s not fair at all!’

[[As you wish.]]

“I’ll just be down here, sarge.”

“And I know you sleep on your feet, but next time keep your
eyes open!” The head pops back out of view.

We look around again.  I
try not to give her a sense of the duality all the time, but for instances such
as this, it is unavoidable.  I’m pumping
her full of painkillers, what the body produces is amazing, but I don’t have
names for it, she doesn’t study biology very much, and she is a little
delirious.

“Yeah,” she said, “why don’t you keep your eyes open next time.”

[[Don’t whine.]]

‘You’re not my mother!’

[[No, I’m much worse, I’m you. 
Stop feeling sorry for us and concentrate on your breathing.]]

I can hear her thoughts sulking, but she does as I request.

Soon the land-rover with all the kit pulls up, and I hear the
bell of the ambulance shortly after. 
Roger is very far away, and I call her back.

[[They’re here.]]

Two athletic chaps in combat gear rappel down the cliff and bring
a kind of caged stretcher obviously intending to put us in it for the ascent.  I balk. 
I don’t like other people being in complete control of us and Roger is
scared.

“I don’t want to get in that. 
I’ll climb.”  They shake their
heads, kindly, but firmly.

“You have to get in, you might be injured.”  I do a quick survey, a few bruises, some long-term
damage to ligaments, no cuts.

“We’re ok.”  Roger says.  That is a slip, they put it down to the
concussion.

“You have to get in lad, Roger, is it?”  He puts his hand around my upper arm.  “We’re not allowed to take you up otherwise.”  We stop absolutely still.  I can feel the instant surge of adrenalin
readying.

[[[Calm.]]]

Heart rate increase.  A
powerful and painful surge of blood to the brain.  I exert some pressure.

[[[[Calm]]]]

It is always the wrong way, we are young, I don’t know
this.  Our heart rate accelerates to
faster than even I can count, something above three hundred.

And then blackness.

~

A bed.

A nurse.

A lightness of being.

She, Roger, is absent; I am in charge of us.  She looks up.

“Ah, you’re awake.”  She
smiles.  She is attractive, sandy blond
hair tucked under a rather old- fashioned cap atop an old-fashioned uniform.  She takes our wrist.

“You’ll find that it’s sixty-four beats per minute, Nurse.”  We’re in pyjamas, and after carefully
checking that modesty is going to be maintained, I swing my legs down to the
cold floor.

“Now, who knows their own pulse?”  She asks, and then looks at me quizzically.  “Why you’re right, that’s quite clever.”  She reaches up to take a thermometer out of
her pocket.  At this time they are still
glass and think red liquid.  “Do you know
your temperature?”  I seek internally,
sampling, but I cannot tell if the feeling of heat is an illusion because I am
clothed in bed, I hazard a guess that it is.

“Normal within a half degree Fahrenheit.”  I say quickly.  For her it is as if there has been no
hesitation, but I am slowing the world down and expanding our senses.  The next words come as if through treacle,

“I’m putting this in your mouth and you need to keep it there for
two minutes.”  She frowns, as I have
already reached up and taken, snatched she would say, the thermometer from her
hand and placed it under my tongue.  I do
not want Roget to return suddenly in a fit of rage because someone is trying to
put something in his mouth.

“I’ll wait.”  I say,
around it.

“Don’t talk.”  And she
bustles off.

I look around to check the accuracy of our internal clock, but
theirs ticks irregularly and counting up I can figure out that it’s slow by a minute
every seventeen days.  I don’t calculate,
I ‘feel’ it by using the little black box within, it is never wrong.  The clock hasn’t been moved for a while, the
dust on it say at least two months even in this relatively dust free
environment.  The scuff marks on the floor
tell me why, the ladder that the cleaner uses is too small, and the cleaner, I
surmise a woman from the size of her feet, is too short to reach.  I see the nurse looking at me as I shake my
head hither and yon seeing the marks in the polished floor, and she shakes her
head at me.

Roger doesn’t make these sort of observations; she is still busy
trying to be a child, make friends, understand the world.  It is my duty to understand, however, and
pass on the observations and outcomes.  It
is my purpose; and to contain her rage. 
This second thing I am less good at.

I do, however, observe in detail.  Some people find it unsettling.  That is not of concern to me, but it is of concern
to Roger.

The nurse returns and examines the thermometer.  I want to see, but she moves away.

“What does it say?”

“You don’t need to know that.” 
She says primly.  Something is
wrong; fear comes, and Roger with it. 
She is here and aware and in charge instantly.  Before I can react, Roger has gripped the
nurse’s wrist as tightly as a clamp, tapping into our abilities and overdriving
the muscles so that the nurse’s wrist bones quickly grind together, I take control
of our left hand and remove the device gently, but Roger is driven by fear and
the nurse tries to break the grip.  Experienced
as she is, she cannot.  I can still speak
for us.

“You must show us that it is normal or tell us what is wrong.”  I say calmly.

“It’s fine, it’s what you said, normal, normal!”  She says desperately.  Roger lets go.

“You panicked me.”  Says
Roger.  “I’m sorry.”

“I should think so!” 
She shows Roger the imprint of our hand. 
It is deep.  “Look at this!  When did you become so strong?”

“Don’t lie to me.”  She
stalks off rubbing her wrist.  Words come
from out of earshot.  Roger is reading a
magazine when the doctor comes.

He looks stern.

“If you do that again young man, you’ll be over my knee.”  Fight or Flight mode engages instantly, but
Roger slowly lowers the magazine and glares at the doctor.  It is a fixed stare at one eyeball, never
wavering, never blinking.  “Well,” he
continues, “what have you got to say for yourself.”  I slip in to ameliorate some of what is about
to be said, but Roger and I are struggling for control, her expression of rage
bounded by the possibility that we might end up somewhere very unsavoury indeed,
somewhere we cannot smash our way out of; it is my fear too.

“I’m sure I’m very sorry for your nurse, and I overreacted
because she caused concern within me which I am sure you understand and I will
apologise in person if you wish, most contritely, but if you raise your hand to
me doctor I will kill you and it will hurt, which is, I understand a source of
great fear for most people if they are about to die.”  She put the magazine up again, dismissing him.

There was a moment’s silence and then a cough.  Roger put the magazine down again.

“Look,” said the doctor, trying to crease his face into a
kindly smile.  “I’m sure an intelligent
young man such as yourself didn’t mean that just now, and you really should
apologise to the nurse because you did hurt her quite a bit you know.”  He sat on the bed.  I thought this was a bit of a liberty, but I
urged Roger to let it pass, and for once, he acquiesced.

“I understand.  I’m
afraid I often don’t know my own strength. [Bull, I thought, you knew, you just
stopped short of breaking her wrist].  Perhaps
it would be better if I were discharged sooner rather than later.”

“Well,” said the doctor, we have your parents on the phone and
we’re arranging to get you taken home. 
Roget shot out of the bed.  Mentally
I was not far behind.

“I really must speak to my parents quite urgently.”

“Well now there’s no need…”

“Right now.”  We said in
as flat a voice as we could possibly manage, and stared again, commanding
attention.

“Well perhaps it would be a good idea…”  We marched over and took the phone.

“…so we’ll come and…”

“Mother, it’s me, Roger.”

“How are you doing? 
They said you had a bad fall.”  I
could hear my father in the background, swearing and cursing.

“No, mother it was very short. 
I just fell over really.”

“They said you fell down a cliff.”  I heard the words ‘clumsy bastard’ in the
background, I know Roger did too.  I
could feel a tear trickle down our face. 
I took over the talking.

“It’s quite alright Mother, we, I have a concussion but nothing
that won’t go away after a night’s rest.”

“They said you might be hurt badly.”

“An exaggeration Mother, you know how humans like to exaggerate.”  That should convince her we were alright, she
didn’t like that sort of talk, but she’d assume I was ok.

“Are you sure?”  I took
a deep breath.

“Quite sure, Mother, I’ve had an x-ray and everything.”  We had not. 
The doctor shook his head, I covered the mouthpiece, “You’re going to give
me one, aren’t you?  You don’t want my
father here anymore than I do.  I’m
nothing compared to him, nothing.”  I whispered
fiercely.  Mother was still talking in
reply, I replayed the last few seconds of her audio.

“Yes, Mother I can hear Father is concerned in the background.”  She told him to bugger off.  He said, we think, that if the little twat
got himself in anymore trouble there would be a bloody good hiding waiting.  “Yes, well anyhow, talk to the doctor who
will assure you that I can be discharged and come home on the train as
arranged.”

“Alright.”  She sounded
resigned.  “Give the phone to the doctor.”

“As you wish, goodbye, Mother.”  And I handed the phone over and hovered while
he spoke, analysing every breath and nuanced gesture.  The phone was replaced in the cradle.  He gave me a look, like a broken man, a look
I had seen many times before.  It was a
look from those who had a glimpse of our intellect, our ruthlessness and our
determination, and then a glimpse of what we lived with.

“I’m going to bed now and I would like a flask of coffee
please.”

“You should really drink water, or tea…”  he began, but I fixed him with the glare.

“I do not drink water or tea. 
I drink coffee.  Please see to it.
I’m tired now, and I need to rest.”

“Right.”

And, returning to bed, we sobbed into the thick pillow until
we were asleep.

Ogres

Not remotely proofread or finished but here to check if it’s remotely readable or funny, at all.


The Ogres ride into the township with all the grace and arrogance of the ruling classes, coaches rattling along the cobbled streets, festooned with decoration.  The jarvey, putting up the whip, draws the vehicle to a halt and the cockhorse whinnies as the carriage dogs run hither and yon.

“Settle down!” Shouts the jarvey, jumping down from her perch on high.  “Settle!”  Like the coach she is much decorated, as gentleman might be, though cut for her proportions and somewhat more closely than the equivalent.  The red of her jacket is untouched by the dust of the journey, as are her ridiculously pale trousers and shirt.  The tails of the jacket flap in the breeze, exposing the closeness of the cut of her trousers.  “Settle!  Now!”

At this exhortation, the dogs sense a certain keen seriousness in her voice, and come to the sit where they stand.  She proceeds to the door of the carriage and, reaching up, opens it.

Inside, the bulk of the occupants is apparent even though by human standards the carriage is built oversized, and thus drawn by a six and not four.  The well-appointed interior is velveted and of a deep maroon colour, buttoned and stuffed richly, and the seats, if anyone could see them, are of the finest leather.  The jarvey holds her hand out to assist the first passenger as he alights from the carriage.

This would have looked less ludicrous to any observer, and there are many in the square, if the hand were not taken by two, and only two, fingers of the person being helped, since no more could fit in the hand of the now diminutive looking jarvey.

This notwithstanding, observers can see very well that the alighting creature takes care to neither eschew the aid so extended, nor make such use of it that it might be redundantly damaging to the person offering it.  The emergent figure stands up to his full height, which at seven feet and some change, easily dwarfing[1] the tiny human jarvey.  Unlike any human being who might attain that height, the Ogre looks entirely in proportion to it, and though considerable frippery, a doublet and hose, puffy shirt, hat with a feather in it and boots that were curled at the ends, was employed onlookers had no doubt that the creature was heavily and dangerously muscled.

To compare the Ogre to the proverbial Ox would be to make said Ox pack his bags and move to another country, where such comparisons would still let the animal come off favourably in the mean-looking and strength stakes in which it had heretofore prided itself, before the arrival of such creatures into the domain in which it, the Ox, might be brunch for two instead of a steady week’s meal for fifty.  No sir, we’re leaving for a farm where there might still be one or two docile cows, and a farmer who understands the needs of an Ox, proverbial or otherwise.

For those not making that comparison, the path between amusement and fear is a tightrope act of its own making.  While the giant creature has at least the good grace to say “Thank you” in an incredibly gravelly voice that conveys undertones of conquest and the later barbequing of those so conquered, he also looks about the place absently while the put upon jarvey fetches, from the back of the carriage, a walking stick evidently made from iron or similar, as tall as the jarvey and requiring the use or two hands to get the thing off the ground.  It is topped by a large diamond which the hand of the Ogre covers immediately and completely.

Upon this stick he leans heavily, and adopts a stance of one favouring his right leg, though no injury is apparent, and bends down to the jarvey, to whisper into her ear.

Upon hearing the command given, the jarvey walks to the door of the building, around the other side of the carriage from the majority of observers, leaving the Ogre to move one step to the side and hold his hand out for the next occupant.

She; and it is a she, very definitely, because although green like all Ogres, and with the classic tooth arrangement, two incisors up and two down constantly poking between lips; she has a mass of blonde hair, clearly dyed, but fabulously arranged in ringlets and cascades, topped by a diamond encrusted circlet that is not quite a crown, but conveys the sort of royal ambitions designed to show that the wearer was deserving of the obeisance such a position customarily commands.  Her lips were painted in a shiny bright colour, but in deference to her greenness the colour is a deeper, richer green that accentuates the bow that her lips form between her fangs.

Her dress is richly fashioned; a bustle yes, but this fails to convey the sensation of the piece.

Make it pretty, the designer had been told, with bows, folds, ruffles, pleats, gathers, tucks, ruches, creases, corrugations, crimps, flounces and not least flutes; but since the designer had long since lost control of the piece and had employed many apprentices upon the same, the flutes were something upon which a tune could be played, if one so desired, as much as a deployment of an accoutrement to the dress.  The ample bosom is allowed of some breathing space by the omission of what would anyway have been a redundant corset, the required shape being achieved despite this exclusion.

The elder Ogre holds her eye for a moment and then bows deeply and elegantly, cane to one side, as she casts her eye upon the proletariat.

It is upon these poor souls that the gaze should now fall, since the putative royalty is surveying them with some expectation that they are currently unable to discern, though this expectation is very much on the minds of the collected even if understanding is absent.  The motley collection of grocers, candlestick makers, bakers, assorted streetwalkers, urchins, and general purveyors have been looking at this little scene for a few minutes now, a frozen tableau gaping at the unfolding of the little drama before them.  While there are many humans, there are also in numerous quantities; elves, dwarves, sylphs, gnomes, goblins and hobgoblins and assorted boogiemen and earth creatures.  They look universally poor, for the simple reason that they are.  Not one of this number have seen anything above the value of a silver piece of their lives, let alone actual precious metal.  The Ogres have all their attention, and not because they could easily harvest the entire town’s inhabitants for a good supper.  Also, the dress.

Taking a cue from the gentleman Ogre, the crowd bows before the apparition, and she flounces round the carriage out of sight to the door.

The next inhabitant of the coach emerges.  He is wearing large handcuffs and an outfit made from rough but brightly coloured orange cloth.  He has clogs for shoes, and they make a clatter as they hit the cobblestones.  He glares at the crowd, which so far is nonplussed by all of this.  Seeing this, he reaches a decision and roars at them, far louder than any lion might, for an extended period.

Right then!  This is more like it, thinks the crowd.  An Ogre, roaring in anger.  That’s more what we expect, not all this frippery.  That’s an ogre you can respect just before he rips your arms off and stuffs them down your throat.  Oh yes, that’s the real thing.

The crowd breaks out into a spontaneous round of applause.  This angers the roaring creature more and he roars again, silencing the crowd’s cheering abruptly, with just time for the echo of his rage to dissipate before a sad little tinkle of glass hitting ground indicates that he has shaken a precious pane out of its frame.

“Boo!” Shouts one of the crowd.  “Boo to you!”  It’s a pudgy man, with a butcher’s apron, the owner of the shop in which the glass has fallen.  “That’s a whole two shillings that is!”  A lot of the people move to shush him, but he won’t be silenced.  “We won’t stand for that sort of thing!”  This causes a general movement away from the butcher, whose last name, inevitably is actually Butcher, the movement away being catered on the man, who finds himself using the royal form of “we” rather than the united collective version.

“Boo.”  He repeats weakly, trying to maintain the courage of his convictions.  He continues very much sotto voce, “It’s criminal damage that, someone ought to pay.  That’s what I think anyway, not that my opinion’s of any importance, don’t what I’m fussing about, too much light anyhow, I’ll just patch it up.”  The crowd knows when things are going well, it thinks, and this is not one of those times, but while it has been paying attention to Mr Butcher the butcher, they have not noticed the dapper Ogre speaking very quietly to his manacled and orange clad companion, and importantly, giving him a few coins.

They perk up immediately when they hear the well-dressed fellow speak up a bit louder.

“Go on, do it right now, you miscreant!”  And so saying, he kicks the satsuma coloured ogre up the backside.  There is a moment when the crowd thinks that the town is done for, two Ogres fighting is a death knell for any town, but despite the growling the orange clad fellow walks over to the butcher, clogs clacking and slipping on the cobbles, and says in a voice surrounded by flowers and treacle.

“I’m so sorry.  One regrets any property damage caused by one’s outburst.  What did you say the cash amount of any damage was?”  And because the butcher, while terrified by all seven feet of Ogre bending over him and almost apologising, was a trader and not above making a profit immediately replied,

“Well taking everything into account, professional installation, putty, manufacture of matching glass, time off, lack of working during the intermediate future pending replacement, fear of staff and future health safety adjustments,” he broke off, because the Ogre was smiling at him.  “Two bob, like I said.”

“Tell you what.”  Growled the bigger participant in the putative negotiation, “Let’s make it four, for you and your merry crew, eh?”  And the butcher, knowing when he was being let off a very meaty and immediate hook, nodded vigorously.

“That’ll do nicely, your Ogreship.”  And he held his hand out while the fellow counted four silver pieces into his palm, which gripped them tightly.

“Good day to you, sir.” Said Ogre.  And he clogged his way back to his captor, or whatever.

The crowd, sensing that something wasn’t quite right, and feeling much emboldened by the presence of one who might normally be considered a predator giving money to a lowly butcher, was moved to ask a question.  They chose one of their number by the expedient of all taking a step back while he wasn’t looking.

“I say, excuse me?”  The fellow with all the frippery looked at the chap providing the interrogative.  He raised an eyebrow to indicate that he was prepared to field a question.  “I say!  What’s going on?”

Aha!  Bang on, thought the crowd, gets down to cases, hits the nail on the head, targets the central issue.  Yes, that’s the question right enough.

In answer there came out of the carriage a tiny, shining thing, like a firefly dancing in the wind, and it shone and grew and shone and grew until it was about a foot talk, almost dressed in bright green, with gossamer wings behind and alabaster skin.  It was topped by a very pretty face, with blue eyes, so blue in fact that there were no whites at all.  She, and it is a she, perches on the orange Ogres’ head.  Her voice when it comes is a tiny shrill voice, but loud, and it can be heard all over.

“We’re talking over this town, that’s what’s going on.”

“Oh shit!”  Says the man in front, now distinctly alone.  “A fairy!”

­­­_____

 

[1] A rather speciest term in this company.

Dog and the Detective

Might be a serial if well received.


Dog sniffed about, his cybernetically enhanced nose sending data back to my systems for analysis.  Some monoxides clinging to the ground, and Dog was kind of suggesting they went this way anyhow.   I keyed the mic for the speaker buried in his ear.

“Yeah, Dog, I think they went this way too.  Go on Dog, quietly.”  I could see his head coked, listening to me, and then see the bounding of his great silent lope along the rough track.  It was enough to make me feel sick and cut in the passive sample and image stabilisation.  Dog looked like he was floating along on waves.

“You got the scent?”  I head a very quiet and brief growl that meant yes, “Don’t get shot.”  Kenny came up behind me.

“I’ll never get over how you understand him.”  I waved my hand for Kenny to shut up, but he didn’t see it or didn’t pay attention.  He waved a milkshake just in my peripheral vision.  “He’s gotta be doing thirty miles an hour, how’s he keepin’ it up?”

Without looking round I reached over and squeezed the milkshake so it poured all over Kenny and his trousers.  “Goddamn Jake!  What the hell is wrong with you?”  He tried to catch the remains.  “My new trousers.”  He hobbled off to get some paper towels, and hopefully, a mop.  I kicked the “wet area” sign out from under my desk.

“And it’s Jaqueline, you asshole,”  I muttered, under my breath, I thought, but I felt a presence on the other side of my chair, away from the mess.  Dog was still bounding along the track.

“That’s mighty unprofessional and disruptive language,” the new voice paused for breath and effect, “from Kenny.  I’ll have a word, Detective Jacobs.”  I felt him place a hand on the chair and remove immediately when he felt it was balanced carefully. “Sorry.”

“Not now, Captain,” I said, patiently.  I could sense him placing his hands behind his back and looking about the room, waiting.  A cleaning lady came up to the mess with a mop and hot bucket.  She nodded at the Captain.  Brandt nodded back, an exchange of silent but professional courtesies.

“That Kenny, he never learns.”  She said to me in heavily accented English.  “You busy, Jaqueline?”  I pointed at the screen, and Rosa nodded again and went silent, cleaning efficiently and leaving the now unneeded sign at the side of my desk.  I felt her nod at Brandt again and she left.  Despite bracing for it, Brandt didn’t take it as an indication he could interrupt.

On the screen Dog’s angle had gone low, and I could see the log cabin with the old truck in front.  “What’s he doing?  Can you see him?”  Dog sniffed the air, and the answer came back from the analysis in less than a minute; gun oil, cigarette smoke.

“Can you get him?”  A snuffled no.  “Don’t take a chance then.  He’s smoking a cigarette.”  I could see from the camera that Dog settled his head on the ground, waiting.  He made a noise telling that he knew well what the man was smoking, that I was being redundant.  I turned to Captain Brandt.  “What can I do for you?”

“Brass want to see this, Jacobs.  They’ve been pressing me for a month.”  I could feel my lips turn down in a frown.

“They won’t get it.  They’ll think it’s just me remote controlling a dog.”

“I know it’s not, but it is what it looks like, you’ve got to admit.”

“I don’t have to admit anything.  They can’t see it.”  He came around to the side of the chair and glared until I turned it a bit.

“They are your superior officers you know, they can demand anything they want.”  I glared back up at him.

“They can demand it, doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.”  I gave him my post piercing stare.  “They’re imbeciles.”  He ignored this.

“I can only run blocking for so long, Jacobs,” he took a deep breath, “eventually I have to comply.”

“Today?”

“I can put them off for today if you’re busy.”  He passed his hand over his nearly bald head, the darkness of his skin contrasting with the lightness of his palms.  “but this week.”

“I’ll make a presentation.”

“No presentation, they want to see it live, making an arrest.”

“I don’t want that.”

“It’s a direct order.  Make it easy on yourself, choose something trivial.”  I glared up at him again, but I could see he was finished, “Carry on.”  And he walked off.

I turned to the screen again and tuned out the rest of the office by taking my eye feed straight from the screen.

Technically I’m blind, but the implants they gave me look like eyes and behave like eyes, with one extra thing, I can tune into any screen I’m looking at and take the feed direct.  I have some fairly lowlife hacker friends, and they thought it might be good for watching movies.  The same spray of bullets that took out my eyes took out my legs too.  I roll now, mostly.  There’s not enough left to make a good detective, not on my own, can’t chase the perps.  There was a whole lot during rehabilitation too and the got me a helper animal.

I didn’t want that, I was gonna do it on my own, get better, get back on my feet, get going.  The eyes were easy, the department paid and paid for that, the legs no so much.  Turns out they couldn’t pay enough money for that, nerves burned right into brain stem weren’t easy to replace compared to the short damage to my eyes.  So, I got low rez camera visions and bonus, and wheels.

They offered me a desk job.  I took it because I’ve never been anything but a cop and I didn’t know what to do about it.  And Dog came with me.

He was a year old by this time, and his trainer, that wasn’t me, showed him the ropes.  Turned out he was a lot smarter than we thought, he seemed to understand every word.  A lot of dogs do that.  Turns out, Dog pretty much did.  I looked closely at the feed.

“Hey, Dog.”  He blinked once, slowly.  “See that bit of wood by the left of the wagon?”  He shifted his head slightly.  “Yep, that’s an outhouse.”  There was a low whine over the speakers. “Toilet.”  A growl.  “Yeah, he’s gonna go in there, you bet, when his cigarette is done.”  Another growl.  “Yeah, you can take him down.”  There was a series of lows growls and whines.  It took me a second to work out what Dog was asking, but then I worked it out.

“They’re not connected up,” I said, “not like at home, no toilet inside.”  Affirmative growl.  “He’s in, go.”  I switched out, Dog running makes me feel sick.  I watched the monitor carefully.  Kenny came up on the left again, but this time he was quiet.  After a second he took the desk next to mine and started pulling up map data.  He slid a note over and looking down for a few seconds I read it, ‘Bear Swamp Wildlife Management Area.’  I nodded.  About an hour through traffic.

“I’m gonna get local.”  I hesitated.  Sometimes local didn’t respond well to me talking through Dog’s collar, or to a duly deputised dog called Dog either.  I shifted my weight back in the chair and shot him a look he couldn’t possibly decipher, but then nodded.  Immediately he sprang out of the chair and speed dialled on his mobile walking a little away so he didn’t disturb me.  Rosa drifted by, pausing to look at the screen.  “I got night school.  Good luck, Jaqueline, good luck Dog.”  I looked away briefly and smiled.  Dog likes Rosa.  She moved on before I could lose my train of thought.

I could see Dog’s nose wrinkling, and the readout came back as he crouched by the outhouse, from what I saw I wasn’t surprised that Dog wasn’t enjoying it.  We heard the zip and buckle, and the man came out of the outhouse, opening the door wide, so that for a moment Dog’s vision was blinded by the door, and then it was shut.  I could see him clearly now, the, unfortunately, name Paul Bunyan, our perp.

He had this going for him, he liked dogs.  Bending down he reached out to dog and let him sniff his hand before patting and ruffling his head.

“Well, where’d you come from boy, you lost?”  Dog wagged his tail and barked a little, putting Bunyan at his ease.  “Well ain’t you a friendly feller.”  Dog jumped up, and I said,

“Now Dog!”  And his jaws were around Bunyan’s throat, growling, and bearing him to the ground.  I could hear him draw his gun, but I said through the speaker.  “Paul Bunyan, by the power invested in me as a duly deputised office of the law I am placing you under arrest.”  Very loudly.  “I am Jaqueline Jacobs of the New York State Police, and holding you gently by the throat is Detective Dog, also of NYSP, and you make one goddamn move and he’ll rip your throat out.  Put the gun down.”  I saw the hand being raised slightly and Dog squeezed on the man’s neck.  “I gotta warn ya, Bunyan, Dog makes his own mind up and he’s been shot once, so he ain’t that anxious to be shot again, so I’d think twice because you’re gonna be dead or under arrest don’t matter of Dog makes it or not,”  Dog growled again, and Bunyan tossed the gun away a little in the dirt.  “That’s right.  Now reach and take the cuffs out of Dog’s little pouch in front.  Yeah, that’s what I said.  Now, Dog’s gonna let you go and you’re gonna put those cuffs and on, nice and tight, behind you.”

“You gotta be kidding!”  It was the voice of the incredulous.  I made my voice as flat and serious as I could.

“Dog don’t play.  Do it.  Say you’re gonna do it.”

“I’ll do it, don’t let him do anything,”  Dog growled again low and deep.

“You ask him.”

“Please Mr Dog,”

“Grrroooowwwwl.”

“Please Detective Dog, I’ll put the cuffs on.  Don’t rip my throat out.  Good boy.”  Mistake.  WE know who the Good Boy is, miscreants don’t.  Dog watched as the man rolled over, I could see that he’d soiled himself despite his visit to the toilet, and cuffed himself.  Dog sat on him, but not before growling and nipping his ear.

“Dog says you don’t get the decide who the Good boy is.”  I translated.  “It ain’t you.”

Local arrived and I could hear Kenny on the phone making, well, a dog’s breakfast, of explaining the situation.  I wheeled over the took the phone.  Someone was shouting down the phone.

“Hey!”  I shouted back.  “Get your hand off your dick and give Dog the paperwork and ride back to town.  You get me, or so help me I’ll drive down there and shoot your dick off myself, you hear me?”

“Who the hell you think you are, lady? I ain’t giving no dawg no goddamn paperwork.  You just tell me what the hell is going on here and…” the voice trailed off.  I could hear some talk, and see it on the screen as Dog looked at them.  There was a heated argument as the deputy kept his hand over the microphone, but I could hear them clearly through Dog’s collar and implant.

“There ain’t no goddamn way.  This is the most idiotic thing I ever seen, who in the hell is this guy anyhow.”  He young companion, with a panicked look on his face said;

“Just talk to the Captain, Bryant, please!”  The deputy strode over the to the car and snatched the radio from the young man’s hand.  I couldn’t hear at that point, but I could see him mouth “holy mother of pearl” and draw his gun.  Dog chose that moment, wisely, to get off the suspect.

Getting Dog back in the precinct was a joy, as always.  It always made me nervous, thereafter, when he went out, but we were always a team, always on the case, Dog and me.  That first medal though.  Awesome.