1136 words (4 minute read)

Chapter 3

Holy shit! It’s Hale. Someone broke in and stole all the data the tower had on Hale. I rub my forehead in disbelief. I’m just gawking at the code on the paper in front of me forgetting for a moment that my stupid pause in time might be seen by others. I remind myself that my poker face is not as good as it once was and i settle myself down. I look around the room hoping that no one saw how i responded to the call. I clear my throat and straighten myself up. I quickly fold the small note i wrote the code on and shove it in my pocket that fast i almost rip it. Disbelief is slowly swapping places with anxiety. I gotta get out of the station. I gotta think. I grab my coat and the case files and casually bump into nearly all the bloody desk chairs between me and the station door.

I stand on the footpath in front of the station not knowing if i should go left or right. "Don’t care which way. Just walk" i yell in my mind. So i just start walking. As i walk i can’t help but think of the uncanny coincidences leading up to this point. The exchange of punches at the pub. Dotty asking me about Hale. The case file being given to me. The actual break in at the Tower and now, the code. A chill goes down my spine as i start thinking that something is at play here and it ain’t cute. I keep walking and walking. Which is strange because i’m lazy and my feet ache. I realise my surroundings and find myself near the bridge that crosses the river to the southside of the city. My thoughts are stalled as a fire truck speeds by lights flickering and siren annoying. Then 2 cop cars do the same thing moments after. My phone rings. It’s Teresa. "Yeah?" i answer. "Chase, where the hell are you right now?" "Bridge near the southside" i respond. "Don’t jump. There’s been an explosion at 72 Emerald Street" she grunts. "What you want from me?" Her voice becomes more annoyed when i don’t reply as she likes. "A witness saw a black sedan speed off right before the explosion. The boss wants you to take a look. So shut up and get there" She hangs up before i can argue that i don’t want to when a thought puffs into my head "Emerald Street?". I quickly wave down a cab and jump in. "72 Emerald Street". The cab takes off over the bridge towards the southside. You know that coincidence crap i was spewing before. It just got another layer to it.

The drive to the street took about 20 minutes or so and i used that time to once again question my sanity. In my line of work there are few coincidences. There’s always a reason behind everything. Yet, since this story began i’ve had more coincidences than alcoholic burps. The cab slows to a halt. My mind switches back to the current situation. "$20 please mate". I chuck the cabby his money and get out. The cab pulls away and there i am, standing on the footpath in front of 72 Emerald Street with fire fighters putting out the flames to a half collapsed house. You might be wondering to yourself "What’s with this address". Well, i tell you. You see 72 Emerald Street is a 2 storey standalone townhouse. Wait for it. It’s where Hale used to live. Yep, plot setups incoming. It’s where Hale and his family used to live to be more precise. Now it’s turning into rubble. What the hell happened here?. I suppose that’s what the boss wants to know. I can’t do anything until the fire is put out. I stand there quietly looking around the nearby houses and across the street. My training telling me to always look around. Then a tap on my shoulder scares the crap out of me. Its Sam the rookie from the station. "You alright Chase" he asks. I give a positive grin "Yeah i’m alright there Sam". We both turn back towards the rubble. The fire is almost out and that greyish black smoke that smells of everything that burnt starts bellowing out of sections of the rubble. I break the silence "Teresa tells me that there’s a witness. Can you grab them for me?" Sam nods and disappears behind the smoke now covering the street to retrieve the witness. He comes back with a little old lady still in her night gown that’s far too thin for my liking. "Quite an afternoon huh?. Can you please tell me what you saw?" The little old lady begins to explain that she noticed a black sedan pull up 2 houses down from 72. She noticed the car because she knows everyone on the street and the people living in the house the sedan pulled up at weren’t home. She further states that 3 men in what looked like police tactical uniforms got out and walked into 72 like they owned it. A little while later they got back into the car and drove off. Several minutes later a loud explosion occurred and it was she who called the emergency services.

Even though i doubt she did, i asked her if she saw the license plate of the vehicle. She did not. I asked if the men had any facial features she could describe. She could not. Like the beginning of most cases i’m left scratching my ass due to the lack of information presented to me. And believe me, this will turn into a case. A case linked to the Tower break in incident i’m assuming. I thank the little old lady and suggest she goes back inside her house. Sam escorts the little old lady away, and i start to walk closer to the rubble. There was not much left of the house. Rubble and charred remains of a home. Whoever these 3 men were, they did not want much left behind. But i don’t understand why they would destroy it. There wasn’t anything left in the house. It has been abandoned for nearly 2 years now. Tower agents went through this place top to bottom for months. There was nothing they would have left behind. No way. So why the hell destroy it? And why were these men wearing police tactical uniforms? The tactical team is only called in during extreme situations. You know shit was going bad when people with guns and tactical written on their shirt walk in. But there was no situation here. Otherwise i would have been informed by the station.