Short Story: Neil’s Farewell

Sat at his desk, nothing seemed to be happening. Filling in the paperwork, Sergeant Neil Reading tried to get ahead of it so he could go on the beat he so loved. He looked up at the photo frame on his desk. The picture was Neil and his seventeen year old sister, Lizzy. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he saw the two of them mucking about in the picture. Lizzy was in Neil’s arms, him making it hard for Lizzy to get away from him. His smile started to fade as he saw who was calling his mobile phone. MICHAEL was printed on the screen, draining any joy out of Neil’s face. He picked up his phone and clicked decline. He put the phone back down and tried to get on with his work. His desk phone rang and he saw the time was 3:45pm. He picked up the receiver and held it to his ear.

‘Sergeant Reading.’ Neil was a little lost in the papers.

‘I’m home and I’m ok.’ Lizzy had phoned in.

‘Hey trouble.’ Neil started to grin.

‘You looked in the mirror?’

‘How’s college been?’

‘Well, I accidentally showed up a teacher on the knowledge I had of crime. You’re rubbing off on me.’

‘It happens. You got homework?’

‘Yeah. Thought I’d do dinner first and then move onto it.’

‘Don’t be up later than nine. You have a lecture tomorrow.’

‘I know. I know. I should be fine.’

‘You’ll be a fine copper, you know.’

‘Not as good as you though.’

‘I think you’ll be way better than me.’

PC Tash Price knocked on the office door. Neil looked at her, taking in her whole body.

‘Sarge, we got a lead. Warehouse on the outskirts of Kingswell.’ Tash spoke quietly.

‘Have you got to go?’ Lizzy hoped not.

‘Sorry, trouble. I’ll try not to be too late tonight. If I think I’m gonna be too late, I’ll make sure Mum comes to check on you.’ Neil promised.

‘I love you.’ Lizzy seemed nervous.

‘I love you too. I always will.’ Neil hung up the phone.

‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have interrupted.’ Tash apologised.

‘It’s ok. Let’s go.’ Neil pulled his extra bits of uniform on.

Tash and Neil walked with speed through the corridors. They made it out to the yard and into an area car. Tash drove them there, knowing exactly where to go.

‘She can’t know what we’re about to do, not yet.’ Neil broke the silence.

‘She’s your sister. You do know she’ll be taken back to your parents due to her being seventeen?’ Tash was worried.

‘She’s got the flat in her name as well as mine. She can make her own decisions now she’s seventeen. She won’t choose to go back, not with him after last time.’

‘You think she’s gonna be ok?’

‘No idea. I hope so. She’s tougher than she looks. Just look after her for me. Lizzy may still be a kid, but she’s becoming a great cop through college. She wants to go to Tally Ho when she’s old enough. I won’t stop her and hopefully they’ll take her on.’

‘They know what kind of copper you are. They’ll know right away from meeting her what kind she is.’

The area car pulled up at an industrial estate. A warehouse stuck out with clear enough clues something was wrong.

‘Stay in the car. If something goes wrong, call it in and get backup.’

Neil got out the passenger seat and headed into the warehouse. It looked like it had been an old bakery of some kind. Boxes were stacked high all over the ground floor. Neil opened one of the boxes. He found it was full of packets of flour.

‘What do you want flour for?’ Neil spoke out loud.

A loud ticking started to fill the room. Neil spun on the spot, looking round the room to try and locate the source. He stepped closer to the centre of the room. A package was addressed to him. He opened it with force and found ticking compartments starting inside the box and then spreading out to the edges of the building. Neil grabbed his radio and clicked the transmit button.

‘Charlie Yankee from 10, urgent assistance to a warehouse in the Kingswell Industrial Estate. Charlie Yankee 2’s vehicle is in the location to give our exact location. You need to send an officer to 24 Canley Hill and make sure Lizzy Reading is alright. Something-‘

The device inside the package exploded into fire. Neil was caught in the centre of the explosion. The building was torched. Whoever wanted to get Neil out the way was making a good go of making it happen. He found a body lying in the dust. They were completely obliterated. There was no skin or teeth left for identification, but bits of uniform were left. Neil pulled off his nametag and stuck it on the body. He pulled all his belongings out his pockets and scattered them round the body. He stumbled out the back door of the warehouse and staggered away, sirens and vehicles speeding onto the scene to discover Sergeant Neil Reading was dead.

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Short Story: Lizzy Reading

Sitting in her bedroom was all Lizzy could do to keep her emotions steady. Her hands were shaking, a letter in her hands. She struggled to swallow air without a sharp pain in her chest. She felt the urge to run and hide, but that wasn’t an option. She read the letter again, for the fifth time that morning and paused when she reached the name of the person who had written the letter. Neil Reading.

The name hit repeat in her head, just like a stuck record. She had thought he was dead for nearly four years. He had left the flat to her in his will. She got to stay in her sanctuary, but now there was doubt what happened to Neil, she couldn’t let it settle. Sitting still was now having the reverse effect she wanted. Lizzy stood from her bed, still gripping the letter and looked down at it one last time. She gently placed it on her desk. Taking a deep breath, she moved to the wardrobe.

Lizzy pulled out the clothes she needed. She got out of her PJs and into her Locksford Police Station uniform, the basics anyway. She smoothed out the shirt, tied the shoelaces of the Doc Marten boots, brushed down the trousers and tied her hair into a neat ponytail behind her head. Glaring at her reflection of the wall length mirror pushed her over the edge.

‘OK, Neil. You wanna play the tough guy? Then take on this.’ Lizzy’s Brummy accent bled through her words.

She smirked, hearing her accent sound like the true Brummys and not like the accent they try to pass off as Brummy in Peaky Blinders. She picked up her backpack, prepared for the day ahead, and left her room, not looking back to see the figure starting to climb out of her wardrobe.

Short Story: Bella Part 2

Bella sits on the floor, staring out the window. She gazes up at the clear sun, not bothering to watch what her older sister, Rose, is doing. Bella fidgets slightly, but she doesn’t move from her spot. Jonathan enters the living room and immediately spots the difference between his daughters. His eldest daughter, ten years old, is writing in an exercise book. His youngest daughter, seven years old, is staring out the window like she has been since she got up early in the morning.

Jonathan took a deep breath and walked towards Bella. He crouched next to her and plonked himself down on the floor next to her.

‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ Jonathan tried to engage her in conversation.

‘Daddy?’ Bella asked, looking right at him.

‘Yes, sweetheart?’

‘Why am I different? The others keep running round the playground, but I just want to read my book. They pick on me for it.’

‘They shouldn’t pick on you for it. It’s wrong. You’re different because if we were all the same, life would be very boring. You have different interests to them, that’s all. There’s a reason we do things a certain way, but it takes time to understand why.’

‘Is that why Rose won’t wave at me at school?’

‘What?’

‘She ignores me at school. Everyone stays away, but I can hear them laughing and looking at me. Am I naughty?’

‘No. They just don’t understand you yet. They’re still learning, like you are.’

‘OK.’

Bella looked away, a little disheartened. Jonathan gently pulled her close and sat her on his lap. Both of them looked out the window, but Jonathan kept glancing at Bella, worried sick how much of a situation Bella was in and was hiding from him. He kissed her head, trying to put the worries away.

Short Story: Run To Him

Silence carried up to her room. Her back was to the door into her bedroom. She had wheeled her desk chair to face her bed and be level with it. She had a cardboard box open in front of her. The lid was top to the bedding, a box of bullets placed on top of it. a Revolver without the ammunition magazine inserted sat on the bed, taunting her. Taking a deep breath, she prepared herself for what she was about to do. Her hands moved fast.

She grabbed the box of bullets and started to fill the magazine with as many as the magazine would hold. She checked it was securely filled and slid it into the body of the Revolver with a click. She pulled the safety off and stood from her chair, listening for any movements. She carefully pulled her room door open and tiptoed downstairs.

‘They’re dealt with, sir. They won’t be troubling us anytime soon.’ A man spoke into a mobile phone in the living room.

She peeked round, checking for how many targets there were. She could see three men, all with their own weapons. She tested her trainers and found they were secure and ready for anything.

‘No, we haven’t found it. Sir, they had a daughter, a teenage one by the look of the pictures.’ The man was alarmed as he spotted a picture on the mantelpiece.

She took a deep breath and pointed the Revolver at the man on the phone.

‘DOWN ON THE GROUND!’ She yelled.

The men turned in shock. They hadn’t been expecting her to be there.

‘Like you’ll-‘ The man who had been on the phone started.

She shot one of the men in the shoulder knocking him to the ground quickly. The other two men were horrified.

‘Sir, I’ll call you back.’ The man got off the phone.

She kept the Revolver trained on the man putting his phone away.

‘Tough little thing, aren’t ya?’ He tried to patronize her.

‘Weapons on the ground, all of them.’ She demanded, authority seeping out of her words.

The two men did as she asked, but the man who had been on the phone tried to shoot her. She moved and shot him in the shoulder. She shot the other man in the collarbone, fracturing it. She ran into the living room and grabbed the backpack stuffed behind the sofa. Without a second glance she yanked the backpack on and ran out the house. She hid the gun in one of her pockets and kept running until she couldn’t hear anyone or any vehicles following her. She walked under the treeline until she reached the main road. She hailed a taxi and got in.

‘Where to, love?’ The taxi driver asked.

‘Nearest international airport please.’ She said.

‘Going on holiday?’ He asked, taking off.

‘Something like that.’ She shrugged.

She looked out the window, knowing she wasn’t likely to see the place she called home for a long time.

Short Story: Bella

Standing under the window frame on tiptoes, Bella watched the snowflakes fall from the sky. Her imagination was caught by the sight of the flakes. She watched numerous flakes fall and many of them landed on the window frame outside, adding to the mound that started to collect.  She tried to go higher on her tiptoes, but she didn’t have enough height or balance to do so.

‘You should be in bed, young lady.’ Jonathan watched her from the living room doorway.

Bella pointed at the snow, pleading with him to let her see it a little longer. Jonathan walked to her and picked her up into his grip. She looked out the window from the new height and saw the winter wonderland. Bella giggled and squealed with delight at seeing the new world of snow from a height she couldn’t have reached without him.

‘You like the snow?’ Jonathan gently kissed her head.

Bella nodded, beaming. Jonathan stepped closer to the window and let Bella look outside even more. She could see the entire road was covered in snow.

‘Come on. Let’s get you to bed.’ Jonathan started to walk away.

Bella started to get upset, but Jonathan walked with her in his grip upstairs. They walked into her bedroom, tidy until you looked at the floor with toys everywhere. Jonathan gently placed Bella on her bed and tucked her in. Bella started to whimper, so Jonathan pulled out a book from the bookcase. Bella was unsure about the book, but it had snow on it, so she started to go for it. Jonathan gently held Bella close and read her the story. She tried to fight the tiredness, but it won in the end. Bella fell fast asleep in bed. Jonathan put the book down and tucked Bella back into bed. He gently kissed her head and tiptoed out of her room, shutting the door behind him. Jonathan walked to his own bedroom and found Kezia waiting for him.

‘What was it?’ Kezia asked.

‘Bella wanted to see the snow. She’s fast asleep now.’ Jonathan got under the covers by his wife.

‘She talking yet?’

‘Nope. She made her feelings clear, but she didn’t say anything.’

‘At least she’s still acting like a child. She turns five soon. She won’t be a little girl anymore.’

Kezia turned her lamp off. Jonathan lay on his back, turning his own lamp off, wondering what kind of life Bella would have if she couldn’t communicate with words. He tried to drop off, but his only thoughts were of his youngest daughter, whether she would have a life of her own in time.