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Horror Crime Holiday

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Resolve. At the academy it was stated that this was a characteristic that set him apart from the other candidates. Crawling through muddy water and beneath barbed wire became another day in the office for him. In their early 20’s, the other students knew little of loss or pain. Cowboys from small farming towns mostly, seeking the glory from the heroism promised to them by the officers that came to the career fair along with the FFA teaching students how to properly milk cattle. It was no surprise that half of them opted to pursue a badge instead of reaching for an utter. There was no drive for them, no deeper meaning for them to be here. No resolution to the restlessness they felt aside from the escape from the clutch of the small farming towns that held them down like a cinderblock tied to the leg of someone who has upset the mob.

Jon was the exception; he replayed the night on repeat in his head. A call received 1 AM that he chose to ignore thinking it was another telemarketer like the one that had bothered him the night before. The next morning, he woke up to 23 missed calls from his mother, 32 from his father, and one, one lone missed call from his younger sister, Ashley. He started with this one, thinking it odd that the volume of calls was not as high as the others. Her voice sounded scattered and timid like she could not properly collect her thoughts “Hey sorry to wake you up I’m… I’m probably being paranoid, but I’m walking home from this Alt-J concert I went to and I swear this guy is like… he keeps making the same turns as me… anyway wanted to pretend I was calling the cops to see if it would work so ignore this next part; HI, YES OFFICER I THINK THAT THIS GUY IS LIKE FOLLOWING ME HO….” The message cut out abruptly. Jon cursed under his breath. Her ancient I-phone had a terrible battery life, and half the time he tried to contact her it was dead. He tried the latest message from his father “JON WAKE UP, ASHLEY IS MISSING, SHE DIDN’T COME HOME LAST NIGHT WE NEED TO KNOW IF SHE WENT TO STAY WITH YOU.” The blood in Jon’s veins grew thick and he felt as if he might faint.

He tried to find leads himself after it happened. How could he not? He used the last known location of his sister on Find my Friend, the corner of 5th and Cedar, and wandered for hours hoping to find some shred of evidence that everyone else had somehow overlooked, to no avail. When Jon failed, he crawled into a bottle of navy strength gin and stayed there until one night while on his usual bender, the Alt-J song “Tesselate” came on the radio, and he was instantly reminded of why he was there in the first place. The next week he applied to the police academy.

Jon raised his hand in a small classroom filled with other police academy candidates. The students behind him could see that the first two knuckles on his right hand were bruised from sparring. Jon had gained notoriety for taking the exercises a little too seriously. Like many in his situation he sought out self-inflicted forms of physical harm to cope with the insurmountable thought that it was his fault his sister was still missing. “Use a calm voice and build a rapport with the individual by telling them basic information about yourself and asking them about themselves.” The class was in suicide prevention, and the question related to what an officer should say when a tortured soul was threatening to jump. Under his breath Jon muttered, “That’s what they did for me at least.” “Sorry, what was that, Jon?” “That’s what I would do, at the very least, sir.”

Upon receiving his badge, Jon sought out trouble. He sped towards active shootings and received three complaints about unnecessary brutality when arresting a dealer attempting to peddle something stronger than marijuana to a minor. While not strictly by the book, the actions, in his mind at least, were justified. A slap on the wrist or community service for someone creating a drug habit in children was just not enough for Jon to be satisfied, so again the bruises on the first two knuckles of his right hand formed. His captain disagreed with his self-imposed sense of justice, and his antics frequently landed him in hot water. So today, when Jon was called in to answer for his latest antics he made the walk across the office like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs to the condescending looks of the other officers, including his own partner, who didn’t share his affinity for going overboard and was frequently the reason he was turned in.

“Have a seat there, Jon.” The captain took out a folder of all his indiscretions and slammed it down onto the desk with an authoritative crash. “Do you know what this is Jon?” “Fan mail?” “Perhaps letters from admiring parents thanking me for keeping their children off drugs?” “Or better yet, an apology letter from you to your ex-wife, begging her to come back and promising not to spend New Year’s Eve in the office chastising your best officer instead of with your only daughter.” “Enough, you smug prick.” “I’m suspending you from field work, effective immediately, if I see you away from that desk in the next month, you’re done, is that clear son?” “As crystal.”

Jon slumped back down in his chair and stared at all the paperwork on his desk leaning like a tower with poor foundation in downtown San Francisco. Jon turned on two radios, one for music and the other the police radio he was so accustomed to listening to in hopes that some form of incident would call him into battle. The static on radio 2 crackled “reports of a drunk driver heading eastbound on I-8” Jon flipped through the case files, and lethargically typed out incident reports on his computer. As the night wore on more and more officers left on patrol or to go home to their respective families until Jon was the only one remaining. In the spotlight of his desk lamp, he felt like one of the suspects he had interrogated so many times before.

Alt-J came onto radio 1 “Breezeblocks”. Jon opened the drawer to his desk and stared at the bottle of navy strength gin he kept there to remind himself of how far he had come. From the front pocket of his uniform, he took out his 5 year coin, then used it to pop the cork out of the top of the bottle. They say it only takes one sip for an alcoholic to return to their former condition regardless of how much time had elapsed. A familiar numb came over him and the pain from the song softened slightly and made the night a little more bearable. The volume of the bottle waned like a moon hiding from astronomers as the days grew longer, until half of it sat empty on the desk. Jon rested his head on a pillow sized stack of papers and drifted slowing into a restless sleep.

The static from radio 2 stirred him from his drunken stupor “Missing person, last known location corner of 5th and Cedar. White female, late 20’s.” Jon sat up like a child who had just discovered what happened when you stick a fork into an electrical outlet. He got to his feet, without hesitation holstered his gun and stumbled past the other desks, dropping lamps and paperwork as he walked. He unlocked his squad car and after multiple tries guided the keys into the ignition. In a craze he sped past stop signs and made his way toward the crossroad his sister had disappeared from years before.

A white sedan sped fast through the intersection, trying to catch a yellow light. The driver was a man of small stature with a large beard and square framed transition glasses. Jon dropped his phone between the seats and did not care to ease up on the gas pedal as he fished for the device in between them. Thinking he was invincible with the sirens on, Jon slammed into the driver’s site of the small sedan and sent both vehicles into a whirlwind of bent metal and glass shards. Recovering more quickly than the other driver, Jon emerged from his car with a sense of dread that filled his lungs, displacing the cold air of the winter night. He stumbled towards the window of the white sedan and cringed at the blood dripping down the man’s forehead. Shards of glass littered his clothing, and the airbag failed to deploy, meaning that the combined momentum from the two vehicles was transferred directly into the skull of the dead man in the driver’s seat. Jon checked for a pulse, mostly out of habit, knowing the answer would not bring him peace. Nothing.

Jon tried the handle, but it was fused to the car. He reached into the right pocked of the man through the window to check for identification, and when his hand emerged again small cuts from the glass added to the bruised decorations on his hand like some demented Christmas tree. Joseph P. Kosh. 144323 Cedar Street. Jon paused. The voice from his instructor rang in his ears. “52 percent of all car accidents happen within a 5 minute radius of the residence.” Jon typed the address into his phone, and sure enough 4 blocks over stood the residence of Joseph P. Kosh. His career was over, he knew this. Beating up a drug dealer was nothing when compared to murdering a civilian on New Year’s Eve while driving drunk in a squad car. In his altered state Jon decided the most logical course of action would be to try to explain to the family what had happened to their father, or son, or uncle. He owed them that, at least some feeble attempt to describe why he was driving in the state he was in.

He stumbled the 4 blocks to the house, an old brick home that was poorly kept with faded paint and ancient windowpanes that clung to the house for dear life. Jon limped up the steps and made it to the front door. He knocked. No answer. He tried again. Nothing. I’ll leave a note, it won’t be long before someone reports the accident, and the captain finds a way to hang me out to dry for good. Jon took a small lockpick set out from the inside of his wallet. Not strictly standard issue, but when the occasion arose the kit was invaluable. A few turns later he was in. He stumbled into the small house. The floor was littered with Bud Light cans, and an ashtray overflowed on the small wooden coffee table. The place reeked of nicotine and something else that Jon could not quite place. Mold perhaps? He clicked on the light from his toolbelt and scanned the house for signs of other occupants. Nothing. Walking through the living room he passed a small bathroom that smelled of urine and middle school body spray. Continuing down the hall he found the bedroom. Above the bed was a picture of a clown smiling brightly in the florescent light cast upon him. “Bit of a creep Joseph” Jon mumbled to himself. Quickly regretting his decision to enter the home of his victim he scanned the room for a piece of paper onto which he could scribble a half-hearted apology for any relation that might care to know how Joseph had passed.

Upon the desk in the corner a laptop stood open. Jon moved the mouse, deciding that an email would do if it meant spending one less second in this god forsaken clown sewer. The laptop came to life to an opened email from Southwest airlines. A one-way flight to Mexico, red eye, leaving at 12pm. Odd, Jon thought to himself, some form of new year’s resolution perhaps? A new start in a different country? Jon shined the light around the room further to make sure he was alone. His light caught the closet, the sliding door to which stood open. A perfect row of multicolored sweaters stood lined up with individual tags on each one. Leaving the desk, Jon began inspecting the tags, starting with the one furthest to the left of the closet. Sarah P. 1991 – Pearl Jam. He tried the next, Kristy S. 1992 – Nirvana. The tags continued, one for each year, always a woman’s name, always with a concert corresponding to the year scribbled on the tag.

Jon’s hands began to shake, and from down the street he heard sirens approaching. “No, no, no, no, no, no, not yet” 2003, 2013, 2017….. then finally, 2022. Jon stared in disbelief at the red sweater he had bought his sister 5 years prior, upon the tag, in neat small handwriting were the words “Ashley P. 2022 – Alt J.” 

January 06, 2023 06:32

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2 comments

Liv Chocolate
13:24 Jan 11, 2023

I loved the contrast between the “small neat handwriting” at the end and the mess of the entire situation. Very nice, green snek.

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Zack Powell
06:40 Jan 08, 2023

Oof, that ending! I was wondering how all this was going to relate to the front half's missing sister plot, but I didn't see that coming. At all. Really love your exploration of Jon's character, the way someone can go on a downward spiral because of one event. I find that kind of stuff fascinating, especially with vigilante protagonists and especially if those vigilantes are law enforcement, so I ate this up. It's refreshing to see a more corrupt side of justice. I think my only suggestion for this piece would be the age-old advice of creati...

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