All I Want for Christmas is You
I drifted back towards consciousness. Something stiff was poking into my back, jabbing at me. I wondered about that for a few seconds, until I remembered the night before. The quick check on the prisoners to make sure that everyone was safe. The visit to the clinic and the surgical eyepatch. Returning home to my apartment, with Tonfa-
“You’re telling me that the guy who jumped me in that 7-11 escaped?” I asked, my eyes narrowed. Hector nodded, frowning darkly. “Jesus Christ. He was handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. How the hell did he escape?”
I slowly trailed my fingers across the desk. I wanted a drink.
I never got the chance to see my father’s corpse. My mother told me she didn’t want me to remember him that way. I’d imagined it, had nightmares about it even, but they remained distant and blurry, more feelings than actual images. I’d always felt I had a terrible visual imagination, and it was a blessing where my father’s body was concerned. I’d imagined claw marks, gore, blood, things that would haunt me forever. Sitting here, now, in my desk, I realized that there were worse fates than being splattered with red food coloring and modeling clay like a horror movie extra. My father’s body probably looked like the tonfa he’d given to me. A simple, broken thing.
I stalked out of the conference room, frustration boiling inside of me. She was a police officer. A half-decent one, from her records. I’d pulled them up, and they’d all been in order. Li Fang Fen had joined the force in Binghamton about eighteen years ago, and she barely looked like she was out of her 20s. I guess people just didn’t notice these things.
I smoked a cigarette to try to regain some sense of normalcy. I smelled of rosewater and lavender, which made for a disconcerting change. The strange spirit had come through with disease-repelling essential oils. I’d taken a long bath in it, and while it had been enjoyable, it had made me feel like I should be eating chocolate ice-cream and doing my nails. It helped that Hector, John, and Marco were no more pleased with the situation than I was. We had met briefly on the sidewalk outside of the park, before moving to our predetermined locations to prepare for the battle ahead. It was Sunday. Horace had gone with the camera to go get what he was needed. Randall had arrived as the last of the cult’s setup was being completed. Betty and Li were… Well, I didn’t know. I didn’t need to know exactly where they hid, and with any luck, they’d remain hidden until the moment when they could do the greatest damage.
I sat at the front desk, a tall tumbler of scotch in hand. I stared down at the dispatch through a haze of amber. We were getting quite a few calls from frightened people. I took down their information, told them what I could to try to help ease their fears and advise them, and then went on to the next call. I threw a paperweight at a large, glossy black rat in the middle of a call. It hissed at me defiantly, and skittered away into a hole in the wall, followed by half a dozen others. I was tempted to get my gun, but I’d been drinking. That would probably not look good at review time. I sighed, and instead threw back the scotch, feeling the burn as it went down.
I sat at the computer, looking down at my badge. Sergeant Dane Larson. I’d been so proud when I’d made sergeant. Just like Dad had always dreamed. He’d been there at the ceremony. He’d died a few years later, in the line of duty. Then my hand strayed down to my stomach. The cuts were long-healed, but I still winced when I touched them. A phantom of the pain that had ripped through me when that creature had gutted me like a fish. I swore I’d never let something like that happen to one of the officers under my command. Not when I could still do something about it.