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Crime Suspense

Was joining this group a smart move?

It was out of my comfort zone – and not something I ever imagined doing. The persistence of my best friend James, along with a lot of thought and deliberation, had led me to this clandestine meeting tonight. It was here we would learn the purpose of the Alliance.

My invitation had come via a brown nondescript envelope, shoved under my door.

James had texted me the instructions for how to view it. After pouring lemon juice over the blank paper, I placed it under a black light, and the scribbled instructions came to life:

Go to 104 Leonino Road Marlows Lagoon at 10pm tonight on the dot. As you enter the road turn off your headlights and drive slowly. You will need a small torch to be able to find your way into the premises. Don’t discuss this with anyone and don’t be late.

The invitation only meeting was being held in the old, abandoned Fishing Club. It was in a quiet and secluded bushland setting on the outskirts of town.

James collected me and switched off the headlights as he turned onto the road that the derelict building was on. Everything was shrouded in darkness. If not for his torch we would never have found the entrance.

At the door James was frisked by a large dark-skinned man. Feeling queasy, butterflies danced in my tummy and sweat dotted the top of my lip as he moved on to me. I let out an involuntary squeal when his hands slid over my underwear. Glowering at me, he completed his search and thrust me inside the door pointing to a place to sit.

“Come, sit next to me Jemima. You look as pale as a ghost. You’ll be OK, we’re doing the right thing.”

I was beginning to wish I hadn’t come as I gazed around the room.

“There must be about twenty people here, and there seems to be an equal ratio of men and women. I don’t know anyone else here, except you, James," I whimpered.

I couldn't stop shivering in the muted light, when a quiet and assertive voice rang out.

“Evening all, my name is Louella. If you're in this room, you're one of the chosen.” Her bright eyes bored into me as she made eye-contact with each of us.

“You should feel privileged to be here and to be a part of the Alliance. Our government is useless, trapped by inefficiency, stupidity, and bureaucracy.”

Clapping her hands together twice, Louella paced. “We won’t wait any longer for the idiots in power to do something.”

As I glanced around the room at the shadowed faces, I could feel the adrenaline pulsating. Louella was transfixing, her power and charisma making a volatile cocktail.

“We’re going to rid our streets of the parasites that think it is their God Given right to take what’s ours. They plunder and ransack our businesses and have people living in fear in their own homes.”

Louella placed her hands on her hips, her voice low and growling, “It’s not fair!”

Stepping closer to us, she continued, “We’re going to have patrols every night. Each team will be made up of four people. We’ll have two vans patrolling from 7pm to 6am, and you’ll each be expected to do two shifts a week."

Louella moved back to the front of the room, taking a swig from her water bottle.

“Your team leader will be responsible for picking you up, dropping you home and returning the van to the secure facility. This will enable us to canvas the greatest area, whilst also allowing for our members to continue with their normal lives.”

Louella grabbed a large stack of folders off the chair behind her.

“These are for you to sign and read before you leave tonight. They have pictures and instructions on how to use our specially designed silent tasers. Once deployed the victim will be unconscious within seconds. You’ll all receive a burner phone programmed with the numbers of your team.”

Louella strode around the room, giving each of us a file with a pen attached.

“You’re not to take these confidential documents with you. Read, sign, and leave them behind. And you’re not to discuss the Alliance with anyone outside this room.”

I looked at James and his bright eyes told me he was hooked.

My home had been broken into twice in the last year. The first time they took, a laptop, mobile phone, and my wallet. Having to get locks and windows restored was a nuisance and I’d felt violated.

The second time, they upped the ante.  The little shits took some jewellery left to me by my late mother. And to cap it off they somehow found my grandfather’s precious war medals. These items were sentimental and irreplaceable. The loss of them cut me deep and had been festering ever since. Causing me many sleepless nights filled with anger and fear. Which is why I’d listened when James had approached me about joining the Alliance a few days ago.

Our first shift was tomorrow night.

The van would be dropped to James’s house at 6pm. Giving him plenty of time to pick up the rest of the team, ready to start our patrols at 7pm.

By the time James picked me up, I was consumed with apprehension.

“I hope we’re doing the right thing here James. Do you know where our patrol area is? And where are the tasers?” I whispered.

“The vans GPS is pre-programmed with our required destinations, and our weapons are in the back of the van, secured under a false floor.”

James gave me a quick once-over, “It’s good to see you’re wearing no jewellery, runners, and dark clothing. We need to blend into the background as much as possible.”

The night advanced upon us. We saw people coming home from work, walking dogs, mowing lawns and playing footy in the park. Nothing abnormal was happening at all.

It was nearly the end of our first shift when we came across a group of two suspicious looking young people. They were hanging around near a laneway with backpacks and dark clothing. Following them from a safe distance for a while we monitored their movements. As they jumped over the back fence of a house swathed in darkness, we knew we’d found our first offenders.

Pumped with adrenaline we lurked in the shadows, ready and waiting.  

As they carelessly jumped back over the fence into the alleyway, we were waiting for them.

Our tasers worked effectively, silently knocking the offenders to the ground. We bundled the unconscious bodies into the back of the van and sped off to the drop off facility.

Our role was to hunt out the vermin, capture and deliver them to the secret address located only in the van’s secure GPS system. Once deposited there, they were no longer our responsibility.

James and I were on a major high as we left the drop off facility.

“I can’t wait for our next shift! For the first time in like, forever, I feel useful, and like we can make a difference.”

“Dead right,” James crowed, a huge grin splitting his face. 

August 07, 2022 08:52

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2 comments

Nicolae Dumitru
05:09 Aug 18, 2022

This story reminded me of the "neighborhood police" (led by a character played by Liev Schreiber) in John Turturro's 2014 film Funding Gigolo. At the beginning, there seems to be a logical fracture in the story: it is not clear why James sent Jemima the secret instructions since he took her over and brings her to the meeting place! Otherwise, the story is well structured, presented gradually, with a clear and fluent language, and with an enigmatic ending, somehow reminiscent of the endings of Alfred Hitchcock's films. Why CRIME a...

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Jane Bradshaw
23:22 Aug 18, 2022

Hi Nicolae, thank you for reading - good point about the instructions. I meant that someone else put the envelope under her door (not James) but he explained it to her. I don't think I was clear enough in that. I appreciate your feedback and taking the time to read my story. At this stage they are not dead....

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