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Almost a Whisper

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The police station is smokey. The kind of stale smokey from too cramped a space with too many cigarettes. I sit back in my chair staring at the ceiling fan billowing the smoke about in a circular pattern. I really don't want to fill out this paperwork. Double homicide, had to discharge my weapon in pursuit of a suspect. Do you have any idea how much paperwork you have to fill out when you fire a gun at someone?


My partner Nick Gant slides into his chair and leans back to see what I'm looking at.

"Earth to Cassie."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll get to the paperwork," I say.

"It's not like Captain Hu won't have both of our asses on a platter if we're late on it again," he says, "I wouldn't worry about it."

The vision hits me like it always does, like a too bright light being shone in your eyes. Uncomfortable and unavoidable. It only ever comes in bits and pieces. Long black hair, a thick black liquid , a familiar voice screaming, a gunshot and then I'm back. Back in warmth, enveloping warmth.

The vision fades and sight returns to see Nick's concerned face and the ceiling fan still billowing away. I'm on the ground now, must have fallen out of my chair. Not the first time a vision has hit me that hard. Nick is really close. It's not bad.

"You okay, kid?" Nick asks.

Kid. Well that certainly ruins the mood.

"Yeah," I say, standing up, brushing myself off.

"Dispatch just came through."

Nick's standing up too. No one else in the station has made much of a fuss. A fainting Watcher isn't exactly an uncommon occurrence in homicide.

"Let's get going then."

Homicide in the 21st century isn't what it used to be. Once you've got Sniffs looking at evidence and Watchers tracking your every possible move you start to think twice about pulling the trigger on someone. Incidence of murders went way down for a while, but the black market saw a business opportunity. People still wanted people dead, and the free market provided. Technology to hide scents so Sniffs can't find you and to scramble memories so Watchers can't follow your proliferated, and the police couldn't stop them anymore than they could stop drug trafficking. Arguments in favor of the new technologies cropped up. Removing scents protected your privacy and removing memories were introduced for therapeutic uses. We were back where we started. A Watcher and a Mover maybe make better cops in some situations, but it often came down to good old fashioned footwork.

"Christ, it's Hook Waters," Nick says.

And footwork was going to be rough on this one. Hook Waters was a powerful information broker in the city. A man like that makes a lot of enemies.

"I really wish it wasn't Hook Waters," I say.

His body lay on the floor of his office, the rest of the room relatively undisturbed. It's always surreal seeing a body like that. You expect the world around it to be in disarray witnessing such a violent act, but that's rarely ever the case.

"You and me both," he says, "But look on the bright side. Think of all the paperwork."

"Yeah, great," I say, kneeling down to get a better look at the wounds.

"One gunshot to the head, most likely self-inflicted," a coroner nearby says.

"So he killed himself," I say.

"Or he was Pushed," Nick adds.

"Like with a capital P?" I ask.

"Seems most likely. I never saw Hook as the type to kill himself. So question is, who wanted him dead?"

"Just about half the city."

"And they call you unhelpful."

"I'm helpful. Who calls me unhelpful?"

"You want to be helpful? Watch the scene."

I gather in focus. Pulling a vision out of nowhere is tricky. You've got to separate yourself from yourself. I like to imagine myself floating above my body looking down. Seeing what my body can't. And even then it takes a lot to narrow down the images. Focus the scattered ideas and sensations down to a particular place, a particular time. Try to sift through the possibilities to see what might happen and how to make it happen.

The vision hit me again. Long black hair, black liquid, voice, scream, gunshot. The sound pierces through me and almost shakes the images out of my grasp, but I pull myself together.

I see Nick with his hands on the desk, then a metal box with a piece of paper in it.

"Got something. Metal box, somewhere in the desk."

"Okay, how do we get it out?" Nick asks.

"I don't know, do your Mover magic."

"See? Always so helpful."

I sigh and continue, "You can figure out if there's a metal box somewhere in that desk can't you? By trying to move things around and looking for something heavy? I've seen you do something similar before."

"Yeah, I could try something like that, but I'm not particularly keen on getting my ass handed to me by the Captain for destroying evidence. She's already breathing down my neck for that paperwo-"

"I assure you," Captain Wu says, "You'll get more than your ass handed to you if you don't get me that paperwork."

Nick's whole body tenses and he lets out a sigh, his face contorted in distress as he comes to term with the Captain's unexpected presence.

"Good morning, Captain," Nick coos. "You're looking lovely today."

"Cut the crap, Gant," Captain Hu says.

"Yes, ma'am."

I try, somewhat unsuccessfully to stifle my laughter.

"I authorize you to inspect this desk for a lock box. Waters is the kind of person to leave a dead drop. Let's hope it's intact," she says.

Nick places his hands on the desk and the familiar womp womp sounds of Moving begin to creep out muffled from wood until finally Nick stops.

"Found it."

It takes some work to figure out how to extract the box, but it comes out intact. In the box is a piece of paper. You never get used to the deja vu. It turns out to be a receipt for a cafe about three blocks from Waters's office.

"Captain," Nick says offering the receipt, "If you'd do the honors."

Captain Hu takes a glove off and grabs the receipt. Her eyes roll back as she takes in its scent. Do I look that dumb when I get visions?

"Carver," she says.

"He met with Henry Carver."

I don't know how I always get myself into these situations. Here I am, stuck under a desk in a closed office building, hoping the men with guns don't find me. Oh, I'll just go talk to Mr. Carver alone, we can trust him. He's probably not behind all of this in the first place. Oh no. It'll be great. I even watched the likely futures and this wasn't one of them.

So how do I get out of this building alive? There's only two exits to this floor. Too many guys with shotguns to shoot my way out. If I could just see where they were going to be I could get around them and out, but I'm having some trouble focusing with the massive spike of adrenaline in my blood stream. God, I need a drink. Or something to focus on.

I start sifting through futures. Five men, searching in a grid pattern, they find me, I'm gone. Five men, I get up, head north, one finds me, I'm gone. Five men, south, shots fired, I bolt, sixth man at the south entry. Five men, east, shots fired, I shoot back, I'm hit. Try again, shots fired, I'm hit. Dammit. Try again, shots fired, take cover, Nick comes in.

Nick is here. I suppress the thumping of fear and joy in my heart and focus.

Nick takes a hit. There's nothing but windows west. Worth a try. Fire into the windows, shots fired behind me, I dash through the glass and fall three stories and then slowly waft down from the other two. Nick.

My eyes open and adjust back to the dark with the lighter gone out. It's a dumb fucking plan, but windows it is. I dash towards them letting three shots in a group out to shatter the glass and I charge through it. I close my eyes. Something about watching the ground get closer doesn't seem appealing. One story. Two. Three. Four. Come on. And suddenly the air catches me. I hit the ground a little harder than I'd like, but it doesn't feel like anything's broken.

"Nick, six incoming!" I yell, just before the shots start.

I hear the much welcome and familiar womp of bullets flying off of Nick's energy. I roll over, hoist my pistol up. Sixteen shots, three in the window, thirteen left to the car. Hope Nick parked nearby. I let out a steady stream of shots. Thirteen, twelve, eleven, I get up, ten, nine, I start backing up, Nick instinctively follows me, eight, seven, six, five, still not at the car, four, three, two, car.

I dive over the hood and let my last shot out as Nick gets in and starts the car. I slide in after him and he slams the accelerator, crouched down to avoid any errant fire coming after us.

I let out a long sigh.

"That was a little too close," I say. Nick grunts painfully in response. I look over and he's clutching his side.


I sit, once again, staring at the ceiling. This time slumped into a chair in a hospital waiting room. Call came down the wire that the feds rushed in soon after the fire fight at Division headquarters, Henry Carver is missing, and I'm going to have a really shitty couple weeks in interrogation rooms making and signing statements about what happened.

But I don't care about any of that.

The doctor's say the bullet grazed Nick's lung and he's in critical condition, but will likely survive. The word likely has me worrying.

After hours of waiting a doctor finally comes out to tell me I can visit him. I think for a split second about whether or not I can. About whether or not I'm going to cry. About whether or not I should hold his hand. About whether or not I can keep it all in after all of this. And then I nod and follow the doctor.

You never get used to the deja vu.

The smell of disinfectant fills my nose, the squeak of nurses' shoes on linoleum fills my ears, and an intense fear fills my heart. Long black hair, thick black liquid, familiar voice, scream, and gunshot.

Nick is laying in his bed. A woman with long black hair stands beside him, her eyes black. A Pusher. A thick black liquid oozes from one nostril like blood. Nick's holding a gun against his temple, staring off into the distance, tears running down his cheeks. And a vision hits me. On the one hand I see myself with Nick, children running, laughing, playing, pictures on the mantlepiece, Christmas trees, I've always wanted real Christmas trees. And on the other I see myself in black at a funeral.

I snap back into reality and my gun is already in my hand pointed at the woman.

"Cassie," Nick says, almost a whisper.

"Nick!" I scream. His eyes snap up to meet mine.

"Kid?" he says incredulous. And I pull the trigger.