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The Incident


Brian Willmott

Part One - Mugged

He lurked in the deep shadows of the doorway, his eyes showing the evil nature of the mind behind them. Saran was a typical product of the slums behind him. He was a slim muscular man; hardened by the constant need to maintain his independence in the gangland he inhabited.

Tonight he was waiting for a new victim to stray within range. Saran made his living by lightning fast attacks on unsuspecting women. If he was lucky, he could snatch a purse and be away before his victim could even draw a breath to scream. Of late though, he had taken great pleasure in terrorizing the hapless women, and now it had become a game for him.

He looked across the junction at the bright lights of the night-clubs and the people enjoying themselves a short distance away from his position, whilst behind him the slums loomed like an evil dark amoebae in the night. The city council had long ago made the decision to let the poorer areas fall further into disrepair, whilst pouring all of the available cash into those places where the money would bring them more financial rewards in the form of bribes and tokens of appreciation from grateful developers. Now it was almost as if there were two cities, one a modern clean and fresh looking one, with bright lights and an almost frenetic bustle of activity, and the other, a dark, sullen, cracked and crumbling ghetto, seething with the underprivileged and all the malcontents it could contain.

Saran waited patiently, almost like some great cat preparing to spring on an unsuspecting prey. Despite the fact that he stood quietly in the recess, he was sweating with a combination of tension and the humidity of the night. Twice a possible victim had passed his lair, but some instinct told him to wait, as there were too many others nearby. He had learnt to be careful, and only strike when it was safe.

He heard the clack of heels striking the pavement. The sound bouncing off of the stone faces of the buildings. He looked down the street, being careful to keep himself in the shadows. Coming towards him was a young woman. She looked as if she was coming from, or going to an office. She wore a dark grey jacket and skirt with a white blouse and high heels. Her long golden hair hung bouncing about her shoulders. She looked very attractive as she strode past, seemingly unaware of the danger from being in such close proximity to the brooding slums.

Stepping almost noiselessly from the doorway, Saran looked quickly around to check that no one else was near. Then he grabbed for the woman's shoulder-bag. She spun towards him as he tore the bag from her, then screamed as he thrust a knife in front of her face. "Freeze bitch, or I'll change your pretty face," he hissed.

He looked at her throat, then hands, checking for jewelry, and was disappointed to see she was wearing none. Angry, he ran he knife blade down between her breasts, enjoying the look of terror in her eyes. She raised her hands, as if to ward him off, and he noticed what look like a purse in her pocket. He grabbed for it and the woman suddenly seemed to lose her fear.

Instantly Saran snatched at the pocket, whilst thrusting forward with the knife. At the same time he swept his left foot forward and turned. He had practiced the move many times, and executed it with perfection. The woman was off balance, trying to avoid the knife, as he took her feet out from under her, and she fell heavily back onto the concrete.

Before she had reached the ground, Saran was already moving away, and he vanished from sight down an alleyway. The whole episode had taken barely fifteen seconds from his first move until he vanished from sight again. He took pride in the speed of his attacks. This left his victims confused and unable to give an accurate description of what had occurred.

"That bitch wasn't scared enough," Saran thought as he ran between the buildings, "I should have sliced her at the start. Next time we'll have some F---ing blood"

As he ran he opened the bag and rifled through the contents. Inside was a small amount of cash but little else of value. Discarding all except the cash he ran on. He knew the positions of all the obstacles in the alley, so despite the total lack of lighting, he was able to make a rapid escape.

Part Two -The Detective

Sergeant Peterson sat in his car listening to the radio. He was feeling despondent. For several weeks he had been working on a case involving a series of muggings, and he didn't seem to be getting any further towards catching the guilty party.

Now he was worried. The attacks were becoming more and more serious. The mugger had recently started carrying a knife, and used it to frighten his victims. Each attack appeared to involve an increasing degree of violence, and he was afraid that someone was going to be hurt seriously before long. With that fear in mind, he had obtained permission to set up a decoy operation.

For three days now, a young woman officer had walked the streets of this quarter dressed as a likely victim. A team of five other officers had shadowed the decoy waiting for the mugger to strike, but so far they had failed dismally. During their efforts, the man had stuck once on an innocent civilian, resulting in a dressing down by their inspector for missing that chance.

Peterson had been so sure that they would catch the man. He had studied the reports of all the attacks, and was convinced that he was dealing with a lone criminal. Several of his colleagues had suggested that the work was of an organized gang, because of the frequency of the attacks. They had pointed out the difference in the descriptions given by the victims, claiming that there were three distinct muggers. Peterson, however, had felt that the woman's testimony couldn't be taken as accurate, owing to the apparent confusion of the victims. He believed that it was just one man, who was dressing in distinctive ways to fool detection. He pointed out that although the descriptions showed what appeared to be a teenager, an athletic man and a slightly over-weight older man, all the women agreed on some details. In every case, the attacker never raised his voice, always wore black and moved with almost uncanny speed, but missed none of the victim's valuables.

The whole investigation seemed to be wallowing in a sea of contradiction, and was about to be shelved until further evidence came to light. Peterson knew that he would only get one more night after this, before the case was taken away from him. There were plenty more cases that needed attention, and he wasn't getting anywhere on this one at present. 

"That's it Sarg." Came the decoy's voice over the radio. "I reached the end of Vine. Do you want me to start again?"

Peterson thought for a moment. It was late, and if he called for a further effort tonight, then he would be taking his team into overtime. Then, tomorrow, the inspector would tell him that too much time had already been wasted, and he wouldn't authorize another night. "No Sue, call it off. It's already late, and our boy usually makes his move earlier in the evening. I'll pick you up outside the club at the other end of the road."

"That's it Mars 4," he called to the task-force. "Call it a night. Make your way back for debriefing. Mars leader out."

Disappointed, he listened to the other officers sign off, as he logged the details in his diary. Then he started his car to pick up the decoy officer. "Where have I gone wrong?" He asked himself, as he drove off. He felt sure the assailant would make a move somewhere in the area tonight. In the past he had always made an attack on a Friday.

Halfway down the road he heard the sound of a patrol car in the distance. The sound of it's siren was like some demented soul wailing for it's lost humanity. "At least the uniform boys are doing their job." He mused.

Just as he slowed to a stop at the pickup point, his radio came to life again. "Orange" said the decoy's voice quietly.

"Shit!" Peterson cursed. That was the code word she was to give if she thought the mugger was close. How could this happen? He had already given the order for the task force to stand down and they would have already left. Sue was without any cover. Procedure required her to remain silent until the act played through, and he couldn't even ask her where she was. He desperately checked his mirrors, trying to spot her. He knew she had to be somewhere nearby.

"Demos moving back to cover." Came a welcome message. At least one of Sue's shadows was still alert. If only he could reach her in time. She would then be protected and something could probably be salvaged from the operation.

"Freeze bitch, or I'll change your pretty face." Peterson heard the menacing threat over Sue's opened radio, accompanied by her terrified scream.

Frantically looking around, Peterson saw two struggling figures some distance down the street and leapt from the car. It would take too long for him to turn the vehicle, and Sue needed help immediately. As he ran towards them, he saw one of the figures fall to the ground and the other vanish from sight into a side passage. "Sue are you all right?" He screamed into his personal radio. It had to be her who had fallen, and he feared the worst.

His legs were straining as he strove to close the distance between himself and the prone figure. Why didn't she answer? He could see her arms feebly waving in the air. Just before he reached her, she sat up, and he almost fell in his haste to kneel by her side.

"Damn!" Sue said, as he looked frantically for any injuries. "Where did he go?"

"Are you OK?"

"Yes I'm fine. He tripped me up and I felt rather heavily. Now where is he? Don't let the bastard get away." Sue said, struggling to her feet.

"He ran down that alley, I'll follow. Call in a description. We may get him yet."

Peterson ran into the darkness, switching on the torch, he had fetched from the car, to thread his way through the obstacles littering the way ahead. At the far end, he momentarily saw the figure of his quarry silhouetted against the dim streetlights of the far road. He would at least make the effort, but the man had too big a lead for there to be any chance of catching him.

Part Three - The Decoy

Susan Wilson strode relentlessly on the pavement, every sense alert despite her weariness. She was an accomplished actress, and an observer wouldn't have seen her fatigue. To a casual onlooker Sue presented the image of a smartly dressed young executive on her way home after a late session in the office. Her light gray jacket and skirt, with white blouse and shoulder bag, said that here was a successful businesswoman. She was a pretty girl, with shoulder length blonde hair framing a round face. Her makeup was just sufficient to accentuate her good looks, indicating her good taste. Only a trained observer would have noticed the single lie in the picture that she presented. One look into her sky blue eyes revealed the watchful confidence of someone used to action and danger, for Sue was an undercover police officer.

Now on the third night of a decoy operation, she was ready to go home and have a long cold shower. The attempt to lure their target into the open had come at the end of a long day's work. The case load she and her colleagues had meant that they were having to put in an eight hour day on other jobs, before they turned their attention to the current case. This meant that, after a further two hours of walking through the district on a hot humid night, she was ready for a cold drink and a chance to unwind.

Reaching the end of her pre planned route, Sue spoke as if to an invisible companion. "That's it Sarg. I've reached the end of Vine. Do you want me to start again?" She was talking into the open radio link she wore under her blouse. The unit gave her continuous communication to the officer in charge of the operation. She prayed he would call the effort off for the night, as all she could think of now were her aching feet.

"No Sue, call it off. It's already late and our boy usually makes his move earlier in the evening. I'll pick you up outside the club at the other end of the road," came the welcome reply eventually. Then she heard Dave Peterson give instructions to the other members of the team to stand down.

Glancing around, Sue saw the two officers who had been her shadows, break away and head for the car at the far end of the street. Heaving a frustrated sigh at another abortive evening's work, she headed for her rendezvous with the sergeant. Riding back to their base was the one bright moment in her long tedious day. She had felt a secret crush for the handsome officer, and believed he too found her company attractive.

Passing a nightclub on the opposite side of the street, Sue glanced across at a group of partygoers arguing outside the entrance. A couple of the men were obviously drunk, and were sizing each other up. There would be trouble there soon. The uniform branch would be busy for a few hours, until the clubs closed. As if to confirm her assessment, Sue heard the siren of a patrol car in the distance. The sounds bounced off the buildings like a ball around a pool table.

Just as she was about to cross over onto the other side of the road, Sue noticed a furtive movement in a recessed doorway a few yards ahead. Could this be the man they were all trying to catch? Sue had to make an instant decision. This was possibly the only chance they would have and if that was their target ahead, and not some drunk taking a leak, then she had to give the man a chance to make his move. She hesitated for just a moment, her protection had been withdrawn, and that left her in some danger. 

Ahead at the junction, she saw Dave's car rolling to a stop, and decided to take the chance. "Orange." She said giving the code word to alert those who were still on the air. Thankfully she heard Dave's curse in the earpiece hidden by her hair, then the equally welcome response from one of her backups. Walking on Sue tensed, ready for instant action, but being a skilled actress there was no outward sign of this.

It took considerable restraint to step past the doorway without looking, knowing as she did, that someone was lurking there. For safety, she kept to the outside of the path, putting as much space between her and the doorway as she could. This meant that any attack would be out in the open, in full view of the street, giving her time to react.

The instant she had passed the gloom of the doorway she felt her shoulder bag torn from its resting-place. She spun in her tracks under the impetus of this, and was greeted by the sight of a knife blade glinting evilly in the street light. Unbidden and unrehearsed a scream leapt from her throat, and her attacker threatened to use his weapon. Sue raised her hands, ready to defend herself as he continued to threaten her with the knife. Over his shoulder she could see a car turn into the street; she recognized it as one of their own vehicles. All Sue had to do now was to wait, and the man would be captured. Instead, unpredictably, her attacker moved with surprising swiftness, and Sue felt her legs swept out from under her. A split second later she hit the ground heavily, and for several long moments she lay stunned on the ground.

Struggling to sit up, Sue looked around frantically for her attacker, and met the concerned eyes of Dave Peterson. "Damn! Where did he go?"

The sergeant quickly checked that she was all right, then instructed her to radio the description of her attacker and ran off in pursuit.

Changing channels, Sue broadcast the details as she watched their unmarked car speed down the road to the junction, in an attempt to get ahead of their quarry. Having studied maps of the local area, Sue realized that unless the mugger was stupidly slow, the vehicle would not get there in time. Once through the alley the criminal would be able to disappear in the streets beyond. Their only hope now was to try to make a positive identification from photos, if the man had previously been arrested.

If only the man had stuck earlier they might have had a chance.

Part Four - The Final Act

A car pulled into the parking lot of the derelict cinema and coasted to a stop. Behind the wheel was Dan Masters, a training officer in the local police department, while alongside him sat a young rookie, out on his first real patrol. As he switched off the engine and lights, Dan looked across at the trainee. He was worried about Officer Kessinger. The rookie was understandably nervous and excited at being allowed to practice what had, until now, been theory. This state of mind, however, didn't excuse his stupidity in forgetting to take his medication before starting work that evening.

Peter Kessinger had left his accommodation at six o'clock, in such an excited state, that he neglected to take the anti-histamine tablets he had recently been prescribed. For some strange reason, after years of perfect health, he had developed an allergy to something in his present environment, and he was suffering from hayfever. His eyes felt irritated and his nose was starting to run.

Dan felt angry with the rookie and was debating whether to report him. The recruit's efficiency was becoming seriously compromised, and it would be necessary for them to leave their patrol area to visit a pharmacy. Once they did that, he would have no choice but to log an official report. This would mean more work for him, and he was already tired and irritable, because he was pulling a double shift, missing being at home for his six year old daughter's birthday party.

He studied the young officer for a moment then came to a decision. Realizing that official action was unavoidable, Dan reached for the radio handset. He would report the situation to their shift supervisor, who would either authorize them to detour from their patrol route, or, alternatively, would fetch the medication to them. Just as he was about to close his hand on the microphone the radio crackled into life, and simultaneously, Dan saw a figure run from the alley opposite the carpark.

Saran slowed to a walk as he exited the gloomy canyon, now he was back in his home territory and could disappear within seconds should he feel threatened. As he crossed the road, he looked down at his hand and what he had believed was a purse. Now he realized that it was a wallet that he had snatched from his recent victim at knifepoint.

Opening the worn leather wallet, Saran was expecting to find a credit card or two, which he could sell to one of his acquaintances. Instead, he felt a cold chill flush through his body, followed by a feeling of anger as he recognized the contents.

"Shit! That fucking bitch was a cop," he snarled. "I should have sliced her up good!"

Aware now that he had narrowly escaped a probable trap, Saran threw the wallet into the bushes beside the road. The streetlights caught the badge as it flew through the air before it disappeared into the overgrown remnants of a former ornamental border around the carpark ahead. Then, conscious of the danger of being caught by any pursuit, he looked behind him back up the alley. "Damn" he cursed, seeing a figure coming towards him, a quarter of the way from the far end.

Sprinting through the tangle of the former flowerbeds, Saran ran onto the carpark.. He passed the rusting remains of a burnt out van, and was about halfway across, when he was suddenly dazzled by the headlights of a car parked in front of him. Instantly, he changed course to his right, simultaneously pulling his knife from his pocket.

He hadn't taken more than two steps, when a voice shouted from behind the lights. "Police Officer, stop."

Saran turned and looked towards the headlights. Just at the edge of vision, he could make out the figures of two cops holding guns. "Ah… Shit!" Saran cried, throwing his knife to the ground, then stepping two paces towards the lights and away from his weapon. Then he put his hands behind his back in submission, waiting for the officer to handcuff him. Seeing his defeated attitude, one officer holstered his gun and stepped forward into the light. Despite his apparent surrender, Saran was not going to give up without a fight. Against guns though, his knives were useless. He needed to get closer to the men. He watched as the other cop moved away from the vehicle, just sufficiently to cover his partner.

Waiting, tense with the need to flee, Saran stood motionless as the cop walked around behind him. Just as the man reached him, his partner sneezed, then sneezed again. Saran couldn't believe his luck; the gun was no longer pointing at him, and as yet another sneeze racked the cop, the idiot was no longer even looking at him. The other cop, realizing that he was no longer safely protected, started to step away, but he was too late.

Reaching into the sleeve of his jacket, Saran drew another knife strapped there, and in one fluid movement, swung around, bringing the razor sharp blade slicing through the air.

Dan Masters never stood a chance, as the deadly cutting edge was barely slowed by the muscle and tendons of his neck. The finely honed edge opened his jugular vein and windpipe with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, and he fell back gurgling as his blood fountained into the night.

Saran, meanwhile, had reversed the movement of his arm, and threw the blade with practiced accuracy at the stomach of the still sneezing rookie. Then, whilst the knife was still whistling through the air, he ran for the darkness.

Saran sprinted into the bushes in front of the crumbling picture-house just in time, as he heard someone else running onto the carpark behind him. He paused in the safety of the vegetation, looking back at the scene of carnage he had created. He saw a man kneeling and comforting the moaning form of one cop, while nearby, the body of the other lay in a pool of blood.

Saran felt so alive, with a feeling of power and superiority. The cops had tried to arrest him, and he had killed one of them. He hoped that the other would die too. He felt almost invincible, but then common sense prevailed, and he realized that it would be wise for him to get out of the city tonight. He slipped away into the poorly illuminated canyons of the ghetto, laughing to himself in the knowledge that he was safe from immediate pursuit. The cops wouldn't attempt to follow him into this area without a massive effort, for here the gangs ruled supreme. By the time they had enough manpower, he would be far away from here. He would be back again though, in a few months, and then he would kill again.

I make no apologies for the story line and the ending. They are as I intended them. I feel that the reader should be made to think about the character, and it was my intention from the start was to leave you with a sense of foreboding. I hope that I succeeded in my aim, and that you enjoyed the exercise all the same. Bruce Willmott

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