The Third Place

Overview

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Look below for a sample fom Chapter One.

We chased the thief briefly. It was getting late. I was ready for a drink and my body was ready for its nightly ablution. Davidson raised his blaster and tracked the youngster as he ran up an ancient stairway which led out of the market into total darkness and unseen dangers of the night. Davidson’s finger hovered over the trigger, but I knew he wouldn’t shoot. The transient’s panicked footsteps faded into the distance.

Davidson lowered his weapon. “We were never going to catch that kid.” He gave me a lazy shrug. “I’m not shooting anyone over a gross synth sandwich. Fucking kid will be punished enough when he eats that thing.”

Jaymee Cullen was the street vendor responsible for producing the awful combination of flat bread and colorless meat crushed together with a slippery stink of sauce. He shouted obscenities at the thief as he arrived noisily alongside us, his battered old wheelbarrow spilling bread and ageless meat on the cobblestones.

“You could have shot him!” Cullen said, stabbing a finger into Davidson’s face. “I can report that! You’re supposed to”—

Davidson’s blaster appeared in a blur of motion, the chunky weapon’s barrel squashing against Cullen’s nose. “I could shoot you, Cullen. Don’t fucking forget that. I’m way too tired to chase down a transient brave enough to try the shit you’re peddling in that cart of yours. What the fuck are you doing this close to curfew anyway?”

“I’ve still got time. You can’t”—

Davidson’s gun pushed upwards, squishing Cullen’s strawb-colored nose like it was about to pop. “Don’t tell me fucking can’t, shit seller. You think we’ve got nothing better to do at the end of our beat than serve the likes of you?”

“I’m sorry,” Cullen floundered. “I didn’t mean any disrespect.”

“I’d blast your face off, Cullen. Don’t forget that. If I didn’t have to push that stinking wheelbarrow of yours off our patch myself, your nose would be at the top of the fucking tower right now.”

“I didn’t mean any disrespect,” Cullen said. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry, what?”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“Don’t fucking sir me,” Davidson snarled. “Try again, you rat faced piece of shit.”

Cullen’s narrow eyes widened with panic. Davidson’s expression was grim, his finger twitching over the blaster’s trigger. Cullen gave me a worried look, pleading for support which I did not give. He returned his gaze to his tormentor. “I’m… I’m sorry, Enforcer.”

“That’s better.” Davidson jammed the blaster a touch higher one last time before withdrawing the weapon and holding it lazily in front of Cullen. “Take your crap and get the fuck out of here.”

Cullen didn’t waste any time. He scampered forward, dropping his shit all over the place in his haste to escape.

“And come back here early.” Davidson shouted. “If I see this shit all over the market when I start my shift I’m going to blow a hole from your fucking arse to your neck!”

Cullen rushed away, leaving the scene with a rattling clatter of loose wheels and ramshackle metal. When he was out of sight, I gave Davidson a long overdue shake of my head.

“You almost made him shit himself.”

Davidson grinned back. “Yeah, well what can you do. Give trash like Cullen an inch we’ll be up to our necks in fuckers. This is our patch, Ray. Got to maintain order, keep the fuckers on their toes. Lord knows, there are a lot of potential fuckers out there.”

There was movement to my right. In the shadow of the Megalith, a figure shrouded in blankets was sitting in darkness, watching us. “What about this one?” I said. “Another fucker?”

Davidson glanced across. The transient leaned forward, her face moving into the dim yellow streetlight. She was a diminutive and youthful creature, dark eyes locked to Davidson’s blaster with a bold curiosity that should have meant more to me than it did at that moment. Noticing our attentions, she recoiled into the darkness and buried herself in the heavy pile of cloth.

“She’s new,” I said. “You recognize her?”

“Probably just got here,” Davidson said. “Won’t last long if she stays where she is. Did you see those fucking crazy big eyes, though? Beautiful.”

“It’s almost curfew,” I said. “I don’t think she knows. How is that possible?”

“No idea.” Davidson holstered his weapon. He shouted across to the girl. “Hey! You shouldn’t be here! Curfew is coming. Curfew is big, big trouble if you stay here!”

The girl nodded briskly, dark eyes wide with surprise and curiosity. She got to her feet, gathering up her blankets and wrapping them around herself. She stood, staring coldly, those bright eyes taking in everything with a wonderment I had never seen in a transient before.

“Good for you!” Davidson shouted. “Now get indoors, get safe.”

The girl didn’t move. Davidson grunted his favorite obscenity and turned towards the bar. He spat at his feet, irritated, and started marching towards the bar. After a few paces he stopped and turned back to the girl, who was still staring at us beneath the dull yellow lamp. “Whatever they told you is wrong!” Davidson snapped. “You’ll die if you stay here. You need to get out now, understand?”

She didn’t answer. Her gaze shifted from mine, round eyes moving to something silver that had appeared in Davidson’s left hand.

“Here!” Davidson tossed her a large coin. “Get yourself a room at the Dosser. In the morning, go back where you came from.”

The coin rolled towards the girl. Her hand flashed out, grabbing the money and then disappearing back into her bundle of cloth. The big eyes flitted to Davidson. “Thank you.”

Davidson grunted and waved her off. The girl moved suddenly, running to the right and disappearing towards the rocky foundations of the Megalith. Davidson sucked in air, preparing to shout after her, but he instead released a low sigh of frustration.

“Not that fucking way,” Davidson hissed. “Well, that was a waste of a fucking coin.”