I was cleaning my Google Drive and found this. It’s the prologue to the story I was trying to write last NaNoWriMo, before November got nuts and I had to abandon it. But I liked the idea. Maybe I’ll get the chance to revisit it next time.
It had been a quiet day around the precinct for Detective Sam Thurman. It’s normally quiet in the precinct for everyone except Sam and the other guys in vice, but today even the gambling dens were keeping a low profile. The escort services still hadn’t gotten their phones back since that giant lizard-marmoset thing destroyed those hubs last week.
Sam’s girlfriend was a project manager at MetroCom, so he’d heard all about the damage to the telecommunications grid. Katrina was working late this week, like almost everyone else who worked with infrastructure. He’d make Kat dinner this weekend and let her vent about it. The fish market by the wharf should be reopened by then.
That was a worry for later. It was a bright, warm afternoon. The sun was out longer, probably since everything above the 43rd floor of the Prescott Building had been melted away last Thanksgiving. Sam had cut out from work early, and he was determined to enjoy the walk back to his apartment. His dog Smutty would be happy to see him when the sun was up. Maybe they could do an extra lap or two around Pine Park before dinner.
As long as they were inside after dark. You never knew what was going to rain down on you. Sam’s cousin Julie was still getting used to her prosthetic leg — a gift from a cinder block that had cut a picturesque parabolic arc during a dust-up with some huge multi-legged robot across town. She was lucky, too. That same fight included a steam shovel through a high school basketball game. If it had been daylight, Julie might have seen the cinder block coming in time to move.
Sam and Julie had always been close. He didn’t blame her for moving out to rural Idaho after that. He missed her very much. Maybe he and Kat could go visit this summer.
Sam’s gloomy woolgathering screeched to a halt when he almost stepped off the curb into a giant footprint.
“Hey!” shouted a voice beside him. “Watch where you’re walking!” Someone grabbed his arm in a strong grip.
Sam froze — you always froze first, looked around later. The hand on his bicep belonged to a man wearing a hardhat. “Careful, buddy,” he said more gently. “That’s my crew down there.” Sam glanced down to see three workers at the bottom of a massive three-toed hole. They had been working to remove the jagged end of what looked like a broken water pipe. Sam would have fallen at least eight feet before landing on them.
Sam blew out a breath. “My fault,” he said. “Sorry. It’s hard to keep your eyes peeled in all directions at once.”
The foreman left him go and nodded. “Yeah. As long as you’re stopped, will you help me set up this barrier? I can’t catch everybody.”
“You bet.” The two of them stepped over to a bright yellow sawhorse with a flashing light on top and each grabbed an end.
“When did this happen?” Sam asked as they put the barrier across the edge of the hole. “I didn’t see this when I walked through here on Monday.”
“Mid-morning today. I don’t even know what the fuck it was. Forty feet tall, looked like a green and red striped poodle on its hind legs. It had the weird feet.” The foreman gestured to the hole. “I don’t know. Didn’t seem like a big deal. Wasn’t going out of its way to kill anyone. Didn’t stop him from flying it straight up about two miles and slamming it back down to the street.”
“Naw, just stunned. But he yanked it out of this hole, threw it towards the harbor, and he left. I heard he gave everyone a jaunty wave. Didn’t bother to pinch off this sewer line. The hole filled with shit before we got here. Siphoning that off wasn’t much fun.”
“Typical,” Sam sighed. “I’d take a statement from you and help you lodge a complaint, but we’d only be wasting our time.”
“You a lawyer or something?”
“Yeah?” The foreman laughed. “We still have cops in this town?”
“Heh.” Sam smiled back. “There’s plenty of crime that doesn’t look good on television. Corporate fraud, shady land deals, people not checking ID before selling cigarettes to minors.”
“Oh, Jesus. Can you imagine him busting up a Kwik-Stop because some 19-year-old had a fake ID?”
“Exactly,” Sam said. “We’re not ripping chunks off the moon to throw at giant death rays, but we still have laws.”
“Well, good luck to ya, Officer. We better get that pipe fixed so the asphalt guys can fill in this hole.”
The foreman nodded and turned back to his team in the footprint. Sam continued walking, taking more care to watch where his feet were going.
He was maybe half a mile from his building when a woman shouted “Hey!” and someone brushed past from behind. A kid in his late teens, maybe early 20s, almost fell over but got his balance. He turned to glare back at Sam before bursting back into a run. He was carrying a scuffed leather purse.
“A purse-snatcher?” Sam thought as he started running after the kid. “Really?”
He heard the woman’s voice again, this time as a full-throated scream. “Stop him! He’s got my purse.”
“Goddamnit!” Sam hissed to himself. “Why would you scream?” He ran harder. The kid slowed down enough to make a sharp left and disappear down an alley.
Sam had almost made it to the head of the alley when a red-blue blur smeared across his vision. The wind whooshed past, almost blowing him over. Sam leaned against the corner coughing from the dust kicked up. He heard a couple of shouts, the short bark of a pistol, then a loud crash and what sounded like a small rockslide. “Oh, man,” Sam muttered, straightening out and stepping around the corner.
He descended in front of Sam, not quite all the way to the pavement. Sam glanced up to look into that stern face. The famous spit-curl didn’t have a single hair out of place. He was clutching the purse and appeared to be unaware of the blood on it. As Sam watched, his eyes flashed white. Sam wondered if he’d just been rendered sterile.
“You have a gun, citizen. Why?” he said. Sam knew his shoulder holster wasn’t visible when he was wearing his sport coat. Probably sterile and maybe a nice batch of leukemia.
Sam pulled his badge out of his back pocket. “Detective Sam Thurman, eighth precinct.”
His face lost some of his sternness and he nodded politely and smiled. “A pleasure, Detective Thurman.” He pivoted in mid-air and pointed back down the alley. “The evildoer is down there. He won’t be stealing any more purses for a while.”
It was too dark to see from the brightly lit sidewalk. “I see,” Sam said, not knowing what else to do. The academy should offer a course in how to handle these situations.
He turned back and extended the purse, which Sam took gingerly. There was no point in worrying about corrupting the crime scene, but Sam still preferred to not to have his fingerprints all over it.
He extended a powerful hand, which Sam politely reached up to shake. For one insane moment, Sam considered doing chin-ups. “I will let you return the stolen property to its owner. I must go. Thank you for your service, Detective!” He released Sam’s hand, extended his arm straight up, and shot into the sky. More dust blew into Sam’s face. At about 100 feet, he looked back down and gave a jaunty wave.
A woman stepped over to him. Her eyes were wide and she wore an awed expression as she looked into the sky.
After a few moments, she looked at Sam as he recovered from his latest coughing fit. “Can I have my purse?”
All of Sam’s training told him that this was evidence and he should not surrender it until the case was closed. But Sam had gone through this kind of thing many times back when he was a beat cop. Back when there were beat cops. He extended it to her.
She looked repulsed from the blood covering the bag. Without taking it from Sam’s hand, she cautiously opened the flap and removed a stick of lip balm and a key ring. “Okay,” she said. “You can throw that away. That’s nasty.” She turned and walked back the way she’d come.
Sam shook his head and dropped the bloody purse into a trash bin, then steeled himself and walked down the alley.
After maybe 50 feet, he found the idiot kid. He’d been thrown into the side of the wall. He’d slid to the ground and a cascade of bricks had half-buried him. The missing brick pattern on the wall resembled nothing so much as someone being crucified. In his right hand, the kid held a gun that had been crumpled into a ball with the his finger still on the trigger.
Sam knelt and felt a faint pulse. As his eyes fully adjusted, he could see the blood on the perp’s lips and a sort of bubbly froth in his mouth.
“Damn it,” he muttered, pulling out his radio. “This is Detective Thurman, I’m in the alley behind Dewey’s Sports Bar & Grill at the corner of Lake and Stuart. I’ve got a Code-S, one victim.”
“Roger that, Detective,” came the voice. It sounded like Wendy. “Ambulance or coroner?” It was Wendy, all right.
“Ambulance if they hurry, coroner if traffic’s bad. Weak pulse, probable punctured lung. Multiple lacerations, god knows how many broken bones. He’s partially buried under a bunch of bricks.”
“Jaywalker?” Wendy’s voice came back. She’d lived in this town too long.
“Purse snatcher. Almost got away with a used Chapstick and an apartment key.”
“Roger. Lucky to be alive. Medics in route, ETA four minutes.”
“Roger. I’ll stay until they arrive. I can help move bricks. Thanks, Wendy.”
“Have a good night, Sam.”
He remained kneeling on the ground making sure the erstwhile purse-snatcher kept breathing. There seemed to be some sort of tattoo on the exposed arm, partly visible under his torn t-shirt. Sam pulled out a pencil and gingerly lifted the t-shirt away. The tattoo said “Marty & Sally” inside a stylized heart.
“Ah, Marty, that’s a mighty cornball tattoo,” Sam chuckled. “Sally’s gonna be pissed when she hears about this.”
Soon the ambulance pulled up to the head of the alley and two muscular men carrying a stretcher between them made their way down. Sam helped them carefully move the bricks. They left with Marty within a few minutes.
Sam stood in the alley until he could no longer hear the ambulance siren. Then he trudged back into the sunlight. There was still time to get home and get in a good walk with Smutty. He could fill out the report tonight. There was no rush. There wouldn’t be any charges.
Off in the distance, something exploded. No one on the sidewalk broke stride. That’s Metropolis for you.
Sam looked up into the blue late-afternoon sky visible from between the buildings. “I fucking hate you, Superman,” he said. Quietly. Very quietly.