By Jay St John Knight
There was no traffic about on the roads as PC Anne Coldine and her partner drove their route. An indigo sky fought with the tentative rays of sunlight as dawn crawled its way over the horizon. They were on their routine patrol, cruising up and down the streets of one of Hammerside’s nightclub districts, keeping the peace. She had forgotten the amount of tickets she’d written for public urination. Or the amount of times she’d advised inconsolable friends who had fallen out to ‘just sleep on it’. Back at the station they called these shifts the ‘parent patrols’. She could see why. Her partner pulled a right down Eustene Street and drifted past a kebab shop that was closing up.
“I reckon their jobs are harder than ours on nights like these.” Tom said as he nodded towards one of the workers mopping up vomit outside the shop.
“I think you’re probably right you know.”
“Bet they get paid shit all too. A fraction of what we get for the same abuse.”
The patrol car carried on down the road and Anne stared out of the window, watching a flock of birds in the distance pulsate in the air like one giant entity. It reminded her of the view from her mum’s house out in the country, birds dancing in the fresh dawn over the Downs and morning hikes with the kids in their bright wellies through pine forests and over wet marshland. She missed the countryside.
“Oh, what have we got here?” Tom’s voice snapped her back and she saw a man sprint across the road, vault over the central barrier and disappear down an alleyway, quickly followed by another man dressed in black.
“They’re making for the underpass. Try and cut them off.”
The car raced down the road and towards the exit of the alleyway. There, she spotted the first man burst out and make for the underpass that led to the park, the other close behind.
“Drop me here, I’ll pursue on foot.”
Anne was a fast runner. She got to the stairs leading down to the underpass and took three at a time, practically jumping down the last set before she heard the shot. She paused, if only for a nanosecond to take her gun out, before sprinting towards the entrance. There, silhouetted in the amber glow of the strip lighting, the man in black knelt over the body of the runner, rifling through his pockets.
“Freeze!” She slowed her pace; panting heavily, panic settling in.
The man stood up slowly and turned to face her. His gun hung at his side and in the other hand he held a wad of bank notes.
“Stop.” His voice echoed down the underpass. “You won’t hit me by the time I raise my gun at you, you’re shaking too much and I’m too good at this.”
She stared at him, in shock at his calmness. Words failed her.
“I’m going to leave half of this money on the floor. You’re going to turn around and I’m going to disappear. You will say you lost me, and then you can either pocket the money, or not, that decision is entirely up to you.”
She looked at the figure, unable to speak, as he picked out half the notes and dropped them on the floor. She pictured her children running around in their garden, her husband making dinner in the kitchen smiling. Tom’s voice crackled over her radio.
“Anne? What’s your situation?”
Tears welled in her eyes.
“Anne? I heard a shot.”
She slowly turned around.
“He got away Tom. Call in back up.”