21 August 2009

"The World Crime League"

By Curtis C. Chen

Justin knew there was something wrong as soon as the suspect walked in. Even through the shielded walls, the combined mental energy of everyone in the precinct caused a slight buzzing inside Justin's skull. When someone actually entered the interview room, Justin always felt a prickling pressure behind his eyes.

But not with this man. He stood over six feet tall, and it took the combined efforts of Detective Kopka and a uniformed patrolman to push the suspect down into the chair across from Justin and attach his handcuffs to the table. The suspect's tattooed biceps bulged under a dirty T-shirt. His eyes were dark and beady.

Justin stared at the man, expecting a rush of hostility in response. He felt nothing.

"Ernest Holliday," Kopka said, putting a file folder in front of Justin. "Tried to fence some stolen computer parts downtown. Could be he knows something about that truck hijacking last month. How 'bout it, Ernie? You got a couple of faces for us? Maybe a license plate? Phone number?"

Holliday grunted. "I want a lawyer."

"I'm not getting anything," Justin said, opening the file. "Is he ex-military? Or epileptic?"

"Don't think so," Kopka said. "Why?"

"A metal plate in his skull could cause interference," Justin said, flipping pages. "And medication can affect brain wave patterns."

Holliday chuckled. Justin looked up and wondered why Holliday's face seemed wrong. Then he looked back at the file.

"His eyes," Justin said. "The file says his eyes are blue."

Holliday kicked his chair away and stood up, yanking on his handcuffs. The bolts holding the table to the floor creaked. Kopka and the patrolman grabbed Holliday and forced him down to a kneeling position.

"I want a lawyer!" Holliday yelled.

"Shut up," Kopka said.

The patrolman got his arm around Holliday's neck in a chokehold. Kopka pried open Holliday's left eyelid and put two fingers against his eyeball.

"Ow!" Holliday said.

Kopka pulled his hand away, pinching a dark brown contact lens between his thumb and forefinger. "Son of a bitch. You got something now?"

Justin nodded. Holliday's thoughts poured out through his unshielded eye socket in a raw and turbulent stream.

"We're done," Justin said.

"Get him out of here." Kopka detached Holliday's handcuffs from the table.

"I was lying!" Holliday said as the patrolman dragged him out of the room. "You got nothin'! I want a lawyer!"

The door clicked shut. Kopka sat down next to Justin, who was already scribbling notes.

"Well, this is new," Kopka said, looking at the contact lens. "Any idea how these work?"

"They're probably radioactive," Justin said.

Kopka threw the lens on the table and wiped his fingers on his jacket. "Jesus, you could have told me that earlier!"

"Relax," Justin said. "It's not that kind of radiation. But it's also not something you can just buy off the street." He turned his notepad around, showing a rough pencil sketch of a snake encircling a globe. "Do you recognize that symbol?"

Kopka groaned. "The World Crime League," he said. "I hate these guys."


Audio: "The World Crime League"

A lot of description got cut for length from this week's story. The bits I miss the most involve police officers always wearing dark glasses, made from the same thought-shielding substance as the interview room walls, to reduce the static that the department's telepaths have to endure. I just love the image (and the irony) of an entire squad room filled with Blues Brothers look-alikes.

Music: 'Bass' and 'Electric Guitar' stems from "Code Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton, licensed under Creative Commons.


25 Years Later

In August, 1984, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension opened at theatres across the United States. It was #1 at the box office that weekend, but with a $620K opening weekend and a final domestic gross of just over $6 million, it could hardly be called a success.

Now, two and a half decades later, the movie has a dedicated cult following, despite failures to launch either a television series or the promised film sequel, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League (from which title I have borrowed part of the premise for this week's flash fiction).

Over at the Drex Files, artist Doug Drexler has quite a treasure trove of sketches and ideas from the development of the Buckaroo Banzai TV series. He mentions that many of the Star Trek: The Next Generation production crew were big BB fans. And this is the 47th story in my 512 Words or Fewer project. Coincidence? You decide!

Finally, shouts out to my fellow VPXII alum Steve Kopka and fellow DASH GC member Justin Santamaria, both of whom I have tuckerized for the forces of good.