01 February 2013

"This Scene Lacks Tension"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Your music sucks," Julie said as she picked up the garbage bag.

"Maybe your taste in music sucks." Marco opened the trunk of their unmarked police car. "Ever considered that?"

Julie hefted the bag of dead traffic-bot parts into the trunk, then used her phone to scan the code-tag so the convicts who had cleaned up the freeway would get their work credits. "You know shit about music. You just don't like anything that's popular."

Marco slammed the trunk shut. "There is a rich cultural heritage of sonic experimentation in the Balkan states."

Julie opened the passenger door and got in. "And you should re-tag your obviously pirated audio files with proper metadata. You work for the five-oh, you could at least pretend to respect copyright law."

"Look who's talking." Marco started the car. "Okay, where are we going now?"

Julie entered a passcode into her phone to decrypt the traffic-bot's last download coordinates. She waited for the map to load, then pointed westward.


The woman who answered the door of the large two-story house at the end of the long dirt road looked to be at least eighty years old. She grinned broadly at Julie and Marco through the screen door. Julie hoped they weren't dealing with a crazy person. There had been no other houses within five miles.

"Good morning, ma'am," Julie said, holding up her ID badge. "Portland Police. We're investigating some vandalism which occurred near here, and we need to check your UIA box for some information."

"Oh, of course, dear," the old woman said. "I'd be happy to help. But, if you wouldn't mind?"

She gestured toward the NO SOLICITORS sign that hung next to the door. Julie held her badge up to the sign and let the hidden sensors detect the RFID embedded in the badge, handshake with the onboard crypto chip, and verify her identity data.

"Officer Julie Nickerson," the sign said in a synthetic male voice. "Portland Police Bureau, Computer Security Section, badge number 6331. Authorized for law enforcement activities in Oregon state and Clark County, Washington. Supervisor, Lieutenant Lawrence Mitchell. Contact portland-oregon-dot-gov-slash-police for more information."

"And your friend, too, please," the woman said, still grinning. Julie wondered if her face had frozen like that after too many church socials and tea parties. "You can't be too careful out here, you know."

Marco held up his badge for the sign to scan. "I don't need to come in."

"Just pretend he's not even here," Julie said.

"Most people do," Marco added.

"Nonsense," the old woman said, after the sign had verified Marco's identity. "It's very nice to meet you both. I'm Margaret Whitaker; you can call me Margie. I was just making some tea. Please, come in and sit down for a minute. You can spare a minute, can't you?"

"That sounds lovely, thank you," Marco said, moving past Julie into the house.

"You don't even like tea," Julie grumbled as she followed him.

"Free food, man!" Marco replied.


Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc