My friend Andrew at Potato Chip Math is part of a flash fiction competition, and I thought it’d be a good chance to start using this space again. Finally. More writing needs to happen here, and I need to relearn how to write fiction and generally be a create bastard. Every week he posts a writing seed, and I’m going to attempt to fill this space with five hundred words that it provokes.
The inaugural seed is: “I’m not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there’s a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming.”
Let’s get this shit started.
There were no dark alleys anymore thanks to the eternal twilight of Tesla Power, a steady glow that filled the night. Some found the hum reassuring, a sound of industry that had gone unheard for too long. Free electricity for anyone with a receiver, the power to push back the dark, to heat up your food, and from the tang of ozone and cooked pork in the alley, the power to kill. The bluish light cast soft shadows on victim’s cauterized internals, exposed at the blackened edges of the hole his chest. The Justiciar knelt next to the body and did her best to quiet the feelings of guilt. The victim. Not Rand Cooley, barroom financier, leg-breaker, and occasional birthday clown. She could say they’d grown up together, but they’d merely grown up at the same time, in the same place. He had lingered on the edges of her life. She should feel something, but in the end Rand Cooley was just a job, a punishment to be meted out.
This wasn’t the sort of thing she’d expect to waste her time with, a nobody from the bottom end of the Park. People died all the time. The devils came with the dark, attracted by the glow of the city, the scent of humanity. But Rand hadn’t met his end through talon or sorcery, the whole crime scene stank of science, a lightning gun or Tesla pack. Kill someone with a brick and you merited a detective. It was a mystery. Kill someone with tech, with magic, and you wound up on her desk. A judgment.
She shouldered past the crime scene techs and leapt off the Park. Artificial sinew snapped tight as she caught herself on the ancient concrete of the lower levels, heaving her weight over the edge. If Malcolm hadn’t pulled the trigger then he’d certainly provided the weapon. His shop stank of cooked flesh and guilt, and she let the electricity in the air fill her receptors as she tore the steel door open. He didn’t bother to hide it, lunging for his homemade lightning gun as she charged across the room, knocking aside rusted toasters and radio parts to close her fingers around his throat. His eyes were desperate, searching hers for any bit of recognition or humanity, the girl from the Park so long ago. There was none to be found. He was just an offender, someone who thought he’d never be caught. Just like the rest.
He choked out a few words, an excuse. “I’m not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there’s a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming.”
“They’ll say the same about you.”
Her fingers met with a sound of popping vertebrae.