Shot In The Dark : (Part 6 of 18)
Shot In The Dark : (Part 6 of 18) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Silja tells Joe what happened in Hanne's office that night.

Shot In The Dark : (Part 6 of 18)

The thing about a long car journey is that it provides plenty of time to mull things over in the mind.

Thus, Dwight Frye was mulling over the events of the last 24 or so hours as he drove back from Henning Mortensson's farm.

In all honesty, he was relieved that Henning had chosen to follow on later. He was therefore spared Henning asking too many questions, some of which may have been awkward to answer.

Dwight had enough questions of his own to find answers for.

The knot in his gut twisted as he thought about Miss Berg, lying in that hospital bed, on the cusp of life and death, tubes and wires sprouting out of her chest and arms.

He was as surprised as all the others were when that Doctor Troy discovered that Hanne's life-net collar was a fake and that she was a 'one-lifer,' the accepted term for a non-clone.

Had she been deceiving him? Probably not in so many words, the subject had never presented itself, but the fact she wore one was a deception in itself.

Miss Berg,

the one who had lifted him out of that mind crushingly boring Union tax-office where the only high point was when he visited some of the numerous tax-dodgers and squeeze payment out of them.


He adored her. He was intensely loyal to her. But now that Henningsdottir bitch had almost taken Hanne away from him, and even that was still a possibility

Hennings-daughter. There was the irony. He had just informed Henning that his daughter, Silja was not going to be home as Hanne had promised.

He knew Henning Mortensson was a former employee of the Ranyhyn Company that had retired and Hanne had generously set him up on a farm in Kaibab.

Hanne seemed rather fond of the old fool for reasons Dwight did not know, but he was sure that he, Dwight Frye, would be similarly cared for when his service with The Company finally ended.

Miss Berg was very generous to those who were loyal servants.

IF she survived.

Dwight's grip on the steering tightened. He would get even with that damned kid. Mortensson's daughter or no. He had been ready to crush her throat when he pulled her off Miss Berg.

But Miss Berg had ordered him not to harm her. And what Miss Berg asked for, Miss Berg got. That was Dwight's raison d'etre. Unless she died. Dwight felt his stomach twist once again.

IF she died, all bets were off.

The evening rain fell heavily from lead skies onto officer Kopkage's already soaked shoulders. He had waited long enough for Dwight Frye to appear at the Ranyhyn offices. Too long in fact.

Now he was soaked through to the trollies and shivering; he had had enough for one day. As he squelched back toward the station, he took a turn past Spivey's house.

He glanced up at the warm golden light of opulence coming from the windows and shook his head, shedding raindrops from the peak of his cap.

"Who'd be a cop?" he muttered to himself and wondered exactly how much 'bung' Crabbe was getting from Spivey. He suppressed the pang of envy.

Opposite Joe's house, Kopkage ducked into the darkness of a side street where Dybbol was sheltering under an eave.

They nodded to each other and with folded arms and stamping feet, peered through the rain at Chez-Spivey.

"Anything happening?" Kopkage asked.

"Rock all, they went inside. Spivey's been talking to the girl for ages" Dybbol nodded at the bay window. "Apart from that, jack shit."

"OK, I'm going back to the station. I'll get some relief out here for you as soon as I get there."

Dybbol nodded "And sharpish. I'm fucking freezin'!"

An hour later. Kopkage was leaning against the bar in Beau's, enjoying a beer and a warm whisky chaser. Now dressed in dry civvies things were looking up, it had been a long day.

The bar was quiet, just a few pockets of customers in groups of two and three. He smirked to himself. A policeman is never off duty, they say. It was true.

Kopkage's attention rested on the solitary individual at the other end of the bar who was indeed needing the bar for support.

He, a young fellow but unkempt, unshaven, banged his empty glass on the bar and demanded another drink.

Correctly, the barkeep refused, saying the punk had drunk enough, whereby the punk started to scrabble at his jacket in the direction of his gun.

Kopkage braced himself ready to spring forward. The punk had his gun halfway to level when he found himself looking down the nasty end of the barkeeps 12 gauge. Sensibly, he froze.

"When I say you have had enough, you have had enough." The barkeep's voice was firm, friendly, well-rehearsed. "Now, fuck off!"

Seeing the error of his ways, the kid backed his way out of the bar, the shotgun always levelled in calm hands. Kopkage smiled.

"Who was that?"

The barkeep shrugged. "Dunno, he used to come in with a bunch. But I ain't seen 'em around in a while. They probably dumped him out for being a twat.

He's been here most of the day filling himself with Spivey's cheapest gut rot."

Kopkage grinned back. "Nice work with the shottie, bud!"

"Thanks! I get a fair amount of practice, I guess."

It was only when Kopkage got back to his seat he realised something. The punk's gun was a chrome .45 automatic. Same as what the girl had. What a co-incidence!


Silja froze, halfway up from placing the glass on the floor. She slowly straightened up.

"What do you mean?"

"Crabbe told me you and Hanne argued. What did you argue about?"

Silja shrugged.


Joe didn't hide the exasperation from his voice.

"It must have been something."

"She wanted me to move back in with Poppa is all."

"The house in the woods? I remember Henning, nice chap."

Silja snorted. She sat back stiffly, her arms crossed, lips a tight line and her eyes like two bowls of venom.

Joe took all this in.

"I guess you didn't want to go then."

"Obviously." The word dripped with teenage snarkiness.

Joe nodded to himself.

"So, er..." He paused long enough to take a drink, smacking his lips to savour the effects of the brandy.

"How come you were packing a bag when they arrested you?" The look of panic on Silja's face told Joe something was not right here. He pressed further.

"I mean, if you weren't going back to live with Henning then where were you going?"

The four seconds it took for Joe to ask the question were enough for Silja to recover.

"I was going to," she was about to say 'run away' but changed it at the last moment. "Leave New Flagg for a while."

Joe's caterpillar brows butted heads above his nose.

"Why? I mean it's not like Hanne could force you to go back. Even Hanne Berg would think twice about out and out kidnapping you, knowing you worked for Kirsten and me."

Silja stared at Joe.

Joe just caught the slight nervous appearance of tongue between Silja's lips, followed by a little swallow. Joe's mind started adding numbers until he found something that made four.

"Unless. Unless she had something on you." It didn't take someone as good at poker as Joe to read Silja's face at that moment. "What have you done, Silja?"


"Oh, come off it! Hanne must have a hold of some kind on you!" The rising anger was evident in Joe's voice.

Silja cringed down into the sofa.

Joe reined it in.

"Look. I can't help you if I don't know what's going on."

Stereotypically, the teenager remained stubbornly silent, glaring at Joe. Joe glared back and the two locked eyeballs for several seconds.

Then Joe stood up suddenly, making Silja flinch, but Joe turned and walked a few steps towards his desk before turning back around.

He gestured with his glass towards where Silja still sat glowering at him.

"Do you know what we called policemen back in Blighty?" Silja said nothing but Joe went on anyway. "Plod. We called them 'Plod'.

As in 'PC Plod, the stupid copper with big boots and a hat like an enormous blue tit on his head." Joe took to pacing across the carpet, back and forth between bookshelves and desk.

"Stupid old Plod" we used to yell as kids. "Couldn't catch a cold, never mind a crook."

Joe stopped pacing and came to stand over Silja, looking down at her. Silja sank even further into the leather of the chesterfield. The annoyance faded from Joe's eyes.

"The thing is though; they weren't stupid after all.

Old Plod just 'plodded' away, patiently digging up bits and pieces of information and putting them all together until they had a nice water-tight case against you.

" Joe's brown and bloodshot eyes held Silja's clear, bright blue ones.

"Then one morning, nice and early so they'd be sure to catch you in bed, there'd be a knock at your door, and you wouldn't see the light of day for the next however many years."

Silja's breath caught in her throat as she tried to speak. But she couldn't. Joe sat back down, facing Silja again.

"Arthur Crabbe has got you in his sights Silja Henningskid.

He's going to plod away just like those coppers back in England, and he's going to build up enough circumstantial evidence against you to put you away.

And if Hanne Berg dies, then you won't be getting out for a long, long time."

Silja closed her eyes and took a breath as the nightmare years flashed before her. Then she opened her eyes and started to talk, hesitantly, even guardedly.

But by the time she had finished, Joe knew that Hanne held information on Silja.

Information from before the fall that she was threatening to sell to get Silja to go back to her father's house in Kaibab. Joe wasn't quite sure why Hanne wanted Silja back with Henning.

Nor was he sure what the information was all about, some medical stuff or other,

but it had a frighteningly familiar feel to it and images of Tukiko and Brown rose from the past like posters on a lamp post.

When Silja had finished, Joe told her to go and find Kirsten and get something to eat. When she had gone, Joe refilled his glass and went and sat at his desk.

Crossing the hall from Joe's study to the kitchen, Silja's legs felt like jelly. Maybe it was the brandy, but the time she had just spent with Joe made her think deeply about her situation.

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