ParaVice: Chapter 7
The following is a work of fiction. Though some elements presented in this story are inspired by actual events that affect us all in the real world, the names, characters, places, and conflicts are all figments of the author's imagination and should not be mistaken for anything else otherwise. The views and opinions expressed in this story are also just made up for dramatic effect, to bridge fantasy and allegory with reality as a way to paint a more visceral canvas for our readers to engage in. Thank you so much for taking the time to experience this world with me.
This story features mature and disturbing content not suitable for all ages. Read at your own risk!
What’s in the box:
The Chief of Police is waiting for Taron. He has something to give him. He has a grueling story to tell him. A conspiracy is unfolding. A reality check is unveiled that may derail his conservative thinking, and thicken a plot that is already deeper than was ever possible in his wildest of dreams.
Commissioner Charles Campbell was waiting for him in his idling cruiser just outside the borders of the taped off area. The car has seen better days. Its body was riddled with dents, gouges, and bullet holes. The city’s sickness and the department’s dwindling budget has not been kind to the man’s precious war horse. There was a time when the citizens of ParaVice looked to the police force as their white knights and saviors. It was common practice to donate generously to their ongoing fight against the evildoers skulking in their neighborhoods. But rampant corruption and police brutality ended that tradition fast. The development of the portable tape recorder back in the early eighties showed the world what the dawn of television just a few decades before could only hint to. The police were vast slipping into totalitarian territory. They were becoming a force that was set firmly against the people rather than for them. And in the age of the camera phone that nasty truth was made ever more ubiquitous. The savage beating and murof a fellow citizen who had blew through a one too many traffic lights under the influence was watched by millions on social media websites overnight. The world had made up their collective minds on that matter before due process could even take a breath. Global riots and protesting ensued, and a common hatred for ParaVice was born. The police department has suffered the consequences of that regretful incident ever since. Crime of course has only gotten worse with their increasing absence and inability to answer every cry for help. Recalcitrant actors grew bolder and advanced their malicious practices. As bleeding hearts continued to apply pressure against all law enforcement agencies like a hemorrhage of overzealous white blood cells trying to tackle an infection that can’t be reversed, and with a desultory resolve, the city was quickly losing their only known antibody to evil. Some still carried their badge with pride. Charles, however, did not. He was much like Taron in this regard. They both went on serving like zombies, clinging desperately to what was but is not anymore. The body was still alive, but the spirit and purpose for it was dead inside, that was the new reality of their job.
Reporters were swarming him, barking like dogs hungry for a snack. It reminded him of a scene from a zombie movie only more grievous: those beasts were at least infected by some virulent disease, reporters were the disease. Like crows, they circled the foulest of things to feed their ratings. When Taron and his field agent broke across the tape a wave of human vultures surged after them. More like seagulls in a frenzy for scraps. The Chief of Police rolled down his window. The DCW officials both raised dismissing hands at the media to ward them back as they went to approach his car. Taron looked in at the grim cast on the commissioner’s face as he sat brooding behind the steering wheel, gripping it with both hands in a white-knuckled grasp. Taron could still smell the perfume of whiskey going stale on his breath when he spoke.
“Get in,” The commissioner said brusquely.
Though reluctant, he walked around to the passenger side. Agent Jake Turner rolled his eyes and groused petulantly under his breath as he followed in step with his superior.
“Not you…” the Chief snarled at him.
Indignantly, the haughty agent threw up his hands as if in surrender and stepped back. Taron gave the commissioner a critical look, and then he said to his wounded friend, “Take the car, I’ll meet you at the office. I want those files ready for me when I return… you know which ones.”
He nodded and then disappeared into the crowd.
The Police Commissioner followed him with a dark scowl until the agent was gone. “I loathe that insouciant son-of-a-bitch. You had to promote him.”
Taron was out of patience at this point. He groaned miserably and replied, “What I do with my department is not business to keep you up at night, sir. Now if you will get to the point, I am very busy.”
The commissioner began cautiously driving away from the congested street as he remarked, “Busy is not the word. What will they do with the girl?”
Taron shrugged, acting like he could care less. “They are going to keep her in witness protection, indefinitely, I would presume.”
“You believe she will be safe with them? No one near this hell-hole is safe.”
“Be that as it may, it is not for us to decide her fate. We have bigger things to deal with.” Taron gave him a disquieted frown. “The FBI is asking us to reopen the Reaver’s case.”
“That is surprising news,” he said, completely unsurprised, his attention more concerned with the road ahead. “Good thing I’m sitting down.”
Irritated, Taron said angrily, “What is it then, Charles? Why am I here?”
“I’ve been asking that question ever since they put up your good-for-nothing institution,” the commissioner complained. Before Taron could retort, he cut him off. “The city is vulnerable, as a senior executive in your position should know by now. At any given moment, somebody with the tools to pull it off, could drop a nuke and set off a domino effect that would paralyze her for months.” He gave the DCW director a dire glance. “One debilitating catastrophe, and the door flies open for a gang of thugs to take control of this city.”
“Interesting hypothesis, but the national guard would storm the perimeter and execute such a threat in no time.”
“That timing would ultimately depend on the circumstances,” the police commissioner countered. “If said catastrophe was damaging enough to, say, destabilize the foundation of certain skyscrapers, or inundate the roads, that will bog them down significantly… These thugs will only need a short window to get what they want.”
“Are you telling me that someone is plotting to sack Paravice? Why would they? These thugs already have everything.”
“This isn’t a monetary quest. I think someone is trying to purge Paravice.”
“Purge it of what?”
Commissioner Charles Campbell then breathed a shudder as he answered, “Something even worse than them. I think someone else killed Joel Moor to hinder their operations.”
Taron considered this a moment. Then he asked, “How are you coming by this conclusion?”
“There was another murder last night,” he said, “at the station; a good friend of mine. Understandably, the double homicide at Star Pool eclipsed it in the news. But it was no less disturbing. A man stormed into my station raving about some woman who was trying to kill him. When officer Whitman attempted to subdue him something… strange happened. The power went off. Availed by the sudden darkness, the distraught visitor wrestled him for his weapon and blew his goddamn head off.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, sir.” Taron commiserated. “But what does any of this…”
“I am not finished,” the Commissioner cut-in, glaring darkly at him. “When the lights were on again, the assailant in question did not have his newfound weapon on my officers anymore. He was sweating, he was wild with terror, and he was aiming it at the empty lobby doors. He was crying…” this part seemed to bother him the most. “We looked him up. He was a wanted man, evaded capture for near a decade. A hot-head street fighter, debt collector for the mob, cold blooded killer, you name it, he done it. He was a beast, yet he was crying. Running from a…” he paused, a flash of dread washing over him. The car seemed to be steering itself as his wandering eyes glazed over with fear. “There was a sound at the station. All my men heard it: like the sound of laughter, a woman’s laughter, they say. The wind, maybe, but whatever it was it shook the goddamn building. It put fear in my men, and seemed to trigger the assailant. He set the pistol under his own chin, and…” the police commissioner made the gesture of a gun firing with his pointed index finger, and a thumb as the hammer striking down. Taron remained nonplussed and silent. The commissioner shook his head, and said grimly, “Exactly my answer to the report.” He turned the wheel sharply at an intersection and the tires whined underneath them. “Now, Star Pool Tower. Four bodies in the same city, on the same night, killed in a brutal, mysterious fashion. Who do you think could have been behind it all?”
Taron had a good idea.
“You’re thinking they’re connected?”
“Perhaps,” he nodded dreamily. “Perhaps I am… What are you thinking?”
Taron did not need much time to ponder the question. “Well, I am not too sure about the situation at your station. But at Star Pool? A Canian hotel, in a Canian occupied city, with a Canian branded prostitute. I don’t know how much more evidence than that I…”
“It is not the Canians,” the Chief rebuffed emphatically.
Taron was grinding his teeth now. “They wanted Senator Moor dead. A good portion of his base was built against their crime organization, calling for its imminent destruction as a top priority.”
Commissioner Charles Campbell scoffed at that, his salted mustache quavering under his aquiline nose. “Politicians proclaim more nonsense than a sore kid venting on the internet when they are running for office. No, sir. That is a Front. He knows how to move the conservatives, and the Canians know how the game is played. Besides, George Winston is in bed with them, along with other more unfortunate souls if the rumors can be believed. He has produced award-winning movies set in Cane. He has citizenship there, and a one hundred-million-dollar price tag on his beach house in the Kaia Islands. Also, Einhardt Trust is a major contributor to his campaign…”
“Was…” Taron said, staring out the window at the fast passing hot world outside.
“Still, the facts remain. So why would they have him killed? And did you see how the body parts were arranged? It’s all so very bizarre.”
Taron nodded, his color draining briefly at the thought of it. “I can still taste the bile at the back of my mouth.”
“Who the hell does that? I have seen some ugly things in my day, but that… it’s unthinkable.”
“So who then?”
The commissioner considered a moment in thoughtful silence, and then he said, “Are you aware that Joel Moor had fervent ambitions to pursue a good ol-fashioned torch crusade after the technology community, more specifically after his contributor’s major rival, Impetus.”
“Imhullu’s black mirror?” Taron recalled a few heated harangues aimed at tarnishing the fruitful reputation of the Technology/Energy super giant in favor of the Einhardt Trust partner. “I remember something about it. He told his constitutes that Impetus was trying to defy god with their science experiments. A classic defamation campaign. Didn’t stop the pagans and it won’t stop science.”
“No,” the commissioner confessed, almost sadly. “It wouldn’t, especially now. However, his election engendered anxiety and signaled stark trouble for Impetus. He was preparing sanctions against them, to tighten a leash around their throats.”
“More like a noose.” Taron shrugged absently. “Whatever, it’s done now.”
“How convenient.” The tires beneath them whined again. The Commissioner’s hurried driving prompted Taron to grab ahold of the handle over the passenger-side door. He flashed a startled look at him. The Commissioner grimaced and said, “Long before I had joined the police force, I was a forensics technician, did you know that?” Taron did not answer him as it was common knowledge. “I know blood… I know it quite well. Curious thing…” he seemed to drift off in thought. He reached into a side pocket in his coat and brought up a small vial secured in some sort of mechanical canister. There was a small viewing eye on the side of it. The frozen sample within was red like blood, but very dark in tone, almost purple.
He handed the vial to Taron and said, “I found this up there, on the cables.” He blinked at him, staring intensely. “The cables linked to the security surveillance. Saw it upon arrival. A fortuitous discovery. Would have missed it had I not dropped my case files upon exiting the elevator. When I went to pick them up, I saw it closer. I thought I knew what it was. The rubber skin around the haphazardly hidden wires had been dissolved. At an untrained glance it might have looked like an old moving accident, like someone put a chip in the wall moving a heavy piece of furniture or something. But with careful scrutiny, you could see corrosion, and bubbles. And then I found that...” he pointed at the contraption in Taron’s hands, “Never coagulated. It’s still liquid, and it is still very much alive. There is something odd about it, though. Do me a favor, will you? Have that clever lady in your lab analyze it.”
They were suddenly rolling up to the DCW office. The artfully crafted pyramidal structure emerged before them, gleaming brilliantly against the sunlight. The troubled chief of police pulled around to the security gate and he let his passenger out.
“Call me when she’s finished with it. Oh and one more thing,” he said to call back Taron’s attention. The chief of police looked so human in that moment, his age testing his mortality, and his clearly evident apprehension testing his wits. “That container was gifted to me by an old colleague from back in my blood-lust days. It has a limited battery life. Very expensive but very delicate. You want to keep that shit cold. Be vigilant about that matter. I cannot stress that enough.” He said as though he knew well otherwise.
Then, with ungracious momentum, he put the car in reverse and peeled out of the security line. He sped off away from the office building leaving Taron alone, bewildered, and tucking the mysterious vial away into his own pocket.
Something is up with him; there was no doubt about it anymore. But the story now weighing down his pocket was quite an elaborate one. Apprielle will know what to make of it.