Lt. Patterson entered the hallway to go down to the holding cell. He almost ran into a walking tower of boxes. “Hey, watch it,” he said.
“Sorry,” Lt. Huxley said. She slunk around him and wobbled through the maze of desks. Patterson watched her ass as she dropped the boxes with a bang. He smirked. Whoever was in the holding cell could wait.
“They got you doing custodial work now?” He leaned on her desk, jingling the keys in his pocket.
“No, I just like boxes,” she chirped. “The more, the better, I say. They make my desk look cozy.”
“Yeah, I bet.” He read the top box’s label. “Unidentified persons? From thirty years ago? They got you on a case?”
“No case. Just a little meantime fun.”
“You know we’ve got things like computers now. There’s one right on your desk. You make banging motions on the letters and the screen lights up.”
She cocked her head. “I seem to recall having to tell you how to find the control panel on your desktop. Besides, my Google-fu isn’t going to get me out of this one. All I’ve got is a face.”
“Wait, is this that kid you told me about? The amnesia one? Tuesday, he was just a runaway messing with you.”
“I don’t think so. When I went to get him, he didn’t show up.”
“He ran. That’s what runaways do.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think he wanted to. I found out there was a chase at the hotel earlier. They found someone using a room for three days without paying for it.”
“So they chased him out.”
Tuesday shook her head. “Why’d it take three days to find him? I think whatever he was running from caught up.”
“So why doesn’t he call you? Or the police?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s scared. It’s not like we have a good reputation in these parts.”
“He didn’t tell you where he was going?”
“He doesn’t remember anything. He doesn’t know where he’s going. I bet he’s hiding somewhere, but I’ve checked all the places a kid like him would go.”
“You’d think an amnesiac would want to be found. Unless he had reason to run,” Patterson said.
“Or he got scared,” Tuesday answered back. “Innocent until proven guilty, remember?”
Patterson rolled his eyes. “So if he’s not a runaway, you think he’s a missing person?”
“From thirty years ago.”
“Even though you said he’s eighteen.”
“I’m following a hunch. You ever heard of Rip Van Winkle?”
“You think this kid’s a time traveler?”
She laughed. “Rip Van Winkle didn’t travel through time, silly. He went to sleep for thirty years and woke up in the future with no idea what happened.”
“How in the world did you come to that conclusion?”
“Just a guess. I read a lot of science fiction. Maybe he was in suspended animation somehow.”
“Come on, Tuesday, this is your hunch? Something out of a comic book?”
“Well, all my other hunches have run dry. Besides, this kid wasn’t running away from something, he was running to something. He just didn’t know what.”
“Well, did you check the bulletins? Someone’s bound to be looking for him.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of. There’s something special about this kid, I know it. I’m afraid that whoever’s looking for him is going to find him.”
“What, because he can travel through time?”
“Not as far as I know, but if I find him I’ll ask,” she grinned.
“Good, I’d like to find out how the Canucks are going to do, if you don’t mind asking.” Patterson pushed off her desk. “I got a pound puppy to fetch. Kid keeps making trouble. Won’t show us his ID. Had to trank him in the bullpen.”
“His parents pick him up?” Tuesday said, not looking up from her box.
“No, some social services guys want to talk to him.”
“Give ’em hell, gipper.” She disappeared behind her boxes.
Roger whistled as he went downstairs to the hole, thinking about how he could see down her shirt the entire time.
Well, it can’t get much worse than this,
Ash shivered in the corner, away from the dim yellow lamp that shone down like a sickly spotlight. He looked at the door’s single slit, that overlooked the end of the precinct’s cell block.
All he had wanted to do was report a crime. But it kept getting worse. Next there was going to be a man in a black hood strapping him to a wooden wheel.
The door clicked. White light streamed in. Ash hoped no one heard his thoughts.
“Hey, kid, get up.”
Ash raised his head. Yet another officer who thought he was better than everyone. He was holding a small cardboard box.
“Where the hell am I?” Ash asked.
“You’re in solitary confinement. You got put here for fighting.”
“He started it.”
“Doesn’t matter. Look-“
“All I wanted to do was bring in a criminal. And you’re treating me like one.”
“We can keep you in here, if you want.”
Ash breathed out. He shouldn’t use his power for petty outbursts. Vengeance was best saved for the big picture.
He followed the man down the hallway and upstairs. The officer unlocked a room with a table, chairs, and a two-way mirror. He set the box with Ash’s belongings on the table.
“Goody. A new room. What are we going to do here?” Ash said.
“This is a holding room. Some people want to ask you some questions. Is that all right?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Well, technically, you’re free to go. The people who want to talk to you aren’t part of the force, so they can’t legally hold you here. You can say no if you want.”
“But I’m free? Why the hell now?”
“We got nothing to hold you on. You haven’t committed any crime. You can take your stuff and go, if you want.”
“Then why was I detained in the first place?”
“No one could identify you. You had no fingerprints on file, no ID, no one to vouch for you.”
“And that’s a fucking crime?” Fire burned in Ash’s chest.
“Hey,” the officer said, pointing his finger. “We could have kept you longer for that stunt you pulled. Could have sent you to juvey for processing.”
“But you didn’t want to deal with all that paperwork, did you?” Ash finished. “Since when did having no ID mean you got treated like a common thug?”
“This is a dangerous world, kid. We got terrorists, gang members, hermits with A-bombs. They don’t carry licenses. About forty percent of murders go unsolved.”
“So that means innocent people can be blamed for them? Some justice system.”
“Are you going to make trouble in here? Because we can send you right back down.”
Ash wanted to dare him to do it, just to piss him off. But that wouldn’t accomplish anything besides prolonging his suffering.
The officer said, “So do you want to go, or do you want to talk to these people?”
Ash gave him a shit-eating grin. “Sure, send them in. Why not? Let’s keep the party going. Who are they, anyway?”
“I don’t know. Some social services thing. For homeless children.”
“I’m not homeless and I’m not a child. What good are they going to do?”
“I think they just want to help you.” Patterson turned to leave. “Just give them a chance. They want to keep you out of trouble.”
“Why do I keep getting treated like I’ve done something wrong?”
Exasperated, the officer turned back. “Look, kid, no one knows who you are, and no one wants to figure it out. So we’re giving you a break, okay?”
Ash saw his cell phone in the box. “What about Ivan? Didn’t you ever get a hold of him? The leader of the White Knights?”
“Huh? Oh, him?” The officer paused in the doorway. “Yeah, we called that number a long time ago. The guy said he didn’t know you and you weren’t ever part of that organization.” The officer left the room.
Ash froze. “…What?”
He plopped in the chair in disbelief and clutched the side of the table.
“He… said…” Ash ground his teeth. His conscious thoughts withered away as a thousand emotions frothed inside. A warm flow bubbled in his chest. It took all his willpower to stop it from flowing out and bursting.
His hand felt uncomfortable. He released the table and saw he had made an indentation in the plywood veneer.
Screw those social services people. He picked up the cell phone and dialed. After two rings, someone picked up. “Hello?”
“Ivy?” Ash said.
“Hello? Who is this?”
“Ash?” She clucked her tongue. “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Fancypants. Do you know what time it is? Let me tell you something. If you think-“
“Ivy. Shut up. I need you to pick me up. I’m at the police station.” Ash stopped at the door, discovering it was locked.
“Police station? What are you doing there?”
“Long story. I’ll tell you on the way.” Ash stared at his hand. The warming glow tinged his hand red like glowing embers–a reactor at the edge of exploding. He pushed on the handle and something inside the door’s frame snapped.
Ivy asked, “The way to what? Are we still going out tonight?”
Ash opened the door and walked into the hall. “Not quite. Change of plans.”