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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