…of Cops on the Beat in Cheapside
Four-Seven, Four-Seven. Bodies down. Disturbance: suspected shooting. Florence Avenue and Pointer Street. Proceed with caution.
— Dispatcher 7
Russel Compton found a sports car shot up on a side road in the deepest, most dangerous part of Cheapside. He recognized one of the drug-dealing gangers from the next district as a member of the Croaks.
“This is one of the guys we chased out of the Punishment Street apartment,” he told his partner, even though Hab was probably already picking up on the resemblance.
The car was pumped full of bullets, and the perps disappeared into the surrounding tenements as quickly and silently as they emerged.
He doubted that potential witnesses are going to want to spill any beans apart from the obvious “there were a load of guys with guns.” But he asked anyway.
Witnesses had made themselves scarce and they couldn’t agree on whether it was a drive-by or an ambush.
He found a significant amount of Fast — 60 small grey pills, divided into a dozen self-sealing plastic bags — in the car and 50,000 Capitol Dollars.
He spotted a couple of minor gangers from the Creeps will keep an eye on things. They gave themselves away by running as he and Hab approached. And they tracked them down, even though they fled through the tenements and backstreets they knew intimately.
Roughing them up didn’t do much, as standing around watching stuff is not illegal. They did admit to being members of the Creeps, but not much more than that.
Fiver-Three. FIver-Three. Suspected Arson at White Heights. Perpetrator at scene. emergency.
Harry Harrison didn’t think they needed this dispatch as he and Officer Civitas could already see the flames a few blocks away. When they got closer, they saw a couple of bystanders looking up to a third-story window.
A young lady was looking helplessly out from the window and smoke was billowing around her. The Rat saw flames in other windows of the apartment. Being a hero, Harry wanted to try to save her. It was pretty clear that, If they did not rescue her, then when the fire brigade arrived — it was bound to take several minutes, he could hear the sirens in the distance — and she would be dead by the time they could get to her.
When they got her to jump, her reflexes were so addled she misses the blanket they are holding out for her.
“Slow reflexes,” he thought, “a classic symptoms of a SLO ride.”
The EMTs with the ambulance that eventually arrived, confirmed that she was using Sulphurolithide-oxycodone.
“Also known as Sloth, Slow, or Slippery Slope.”
Making a point to find out, Harry learned from the fire marshal that the fire was caused by arson. The cause was someone setting fire to a load of flammable chemicals in a janitor’s closet in the floor above Snell’s apartment.
The fire marshal suggested it fit with the other arson attacks which had been plaguing his jurisdiction.
Four-Seven, Four-Seven. Suspected attempted suicide in progress Cheapside Overpass. Female, aged around 20, 5’ 4”, 110 pounds. Dark hair, blue sweater. Please respond.
When Ambrose Hab looked back on it later it was all clear in his memory: Kim Paleo was an attractive young waitress. She was apparently at a party took some Red Pills, and had an adverse reaction.
“So adverse, she’s trying to summon the courage to end it all by jumping off the highest viaduct in Cheapside,” he mused.
She was babbling when they arrived — all sorts of nonsensical things: demons, shadows, monsters, being followed.
“Useless gibberish.” Yet it reminded Hab of Watson’s Report somehow.
He also remembered Compton getting her attention. It even seemed like she was convinced not to jump. He remembered her saying, “I was at a party. I got a new kind of Faustus, a bad Eff.” He remembered her coherent enough to say: “It… it… it feels wrong.”
He even remembered her surprise when Compton told her the monsters were real.
“I killed some of them yesterday,” he told. The surprise on her face told Ambrose she had been trying to convince herself that she was hallucinating the shadow, imagining the monsters.
That seemed to be the turning point, when Compton convinced her to come down. He could almost remember the hug she gave Compton when she decided.
But that was not possible. He also remembering the long keening way she stretched out the last word — “wrong” — as she fell to her death.
He remembered searching her bag as her broken body lay on the ground. He remembered telling the ambulance drivers to take her to the morgue. He remembered giving the Red Pills he found in her bag to Watson for analysis.
Fiver-Three, Fiver-Three. Missing person report. Lyda Miller. 7013 Down Side View. Routine, proceed.
Officer Civitas was surprised when Hab and Compton showed up at the scene of a routine missing person’s report. He sure hadn’t called for backup.
Turned out they were following up on some other call — or some contact Russel had. Drugs might be involved.
On the seventh floor of the Down Side View tenement, which was overlooking the Home Made Foods factory, they met Hiram Miller, a slothful, food-stained sort. His apartment was a mess. It had the relevant paraphernalia and a few traces of SLO.
“Ample evidence of petty wrongdoing should we feel like hauling his arse downtown.”
That turned out not to be necessary. His partner, Lyda Miller, went missing a couple of weeks ago. He did not bother reporting it, because she is a bit flaky. “Now the place really needs tidying up.”
Actually, it was clear to Civitas the apartment had not been tidied for many months.
Armed with some kind of advance knowledge about Hiram’s purchases, Compton was able to get a lot of information out of Hiram. Lyda was a SLO addict, too.
Hallam was under the influence of SLO as he spoke to the Investigators, which means he took twice as long as he should to say anything. He also gave a vague description of Lydia and how he was supporting himself since he lost his job at Home Made Foods.
Something about the “dole.” Civitas was not sure Capital condoned any such social services.
Best he could figure, it was some compromise with the other corps which kept the peace in Luna City. “He’s lucky he’s not on Mars,” he thought they didn’t have to compromise with the bleeding hearts on Mars.
Four-Seven, Fiver-Three. Disturbance at construction site on Venice Street. Fatalities reported. Emergency. Please respond.