Monday, January 30, 2012

Unusual Circumstances

Title: Unusual Circumstances
Word Count: 2227
Genre: Realistic Fiction (Fantasy)

I know, you're looking at that genre and wondering 'what the heck?' But, it's difficult to put this piece into one genre. It's a character sketch I wrote years ago (back in 2008) as a part of a collaboration project (which got about 4 chapters into the story and then went belly-up). The character sketch itself is realistic fiction. There's nothing completely unusual about it, though there are clearly things out of place. But, my character, as it turns out in the course of the novel, has powers. A la Heroes. Hence the fantasy tag.

I don't think I'll use this character again (though her name is one of my favorites, so that may come back). She was written in a weird time in my life, and I don't think I can get into her head again. But, I might use her concept again. She has a rather interesting back-story. As always, let me know what you think.

Unusual Circumstances

The room was darker than usual, though if she tried, she could see the corners. One lone fluorescent light beamed down on her face, causing the detective's face to be in shadow. His mustache seemed larger now, overpowering his other features, and it was certainly what made him distinct from other men. He was also quite large, though most of it was probably not muscle. If he wore glasses and put on a plaid shirt, he would look very much like the stereotypical high school geek, just a little larger. His badge gleamed a little. 'Denver Police Department' it read, and she rolled her eyes a little at him flaunting it now.

The man cleared his throat and her eyes moved back up to his face. She couldn't see him, as he was still out of the light, but she imagined him smirking a little.

“Please state your name for the record.”

She thought about giving him a fake name, or even the name of someone else she knew, but it was pointless; they already knew who she was. That's the only way they'd been able to find her. She took in a deep breath and stared down the man.

“Elizabeth Miriam Stern.”

He jotted down her name on a piece of paper. “And your birthday?”

“June 15, 1986.”

“Ms. Stern, do you know why you are here today?” She thought she heard him laughing at her a little, mocking her for being in this position.

She smiled a bit in response, hoping her expression would indicate she was mocking him in return. “Because you thought it necessary to drag me here after work. Though I am quite grateful you decided to wait until after work to arrest—sorry, detain—me. The hospital administrators wouldn't have taken too kindly to any of their employees being taken by the police while at work.” Of course, the hospital administrators were rarely pleased with what went on in the lab. She was just a lab technician, a rather low level job, and they treated her as such. It didn't matter that she was far more efficient than anyone else in there. One of these days, she will have saved up enough to move on to bigger and better things. Maybe she'd even put her college degree to use and do a little scientific research. Or maybe she'd get another degree that would give her the influence to tell those administrators to shove it.

He leaned forward onto the metal table separating them, his face finally coming into the light. “Come now, Ms. Stern. This is no time for fun. You know just as well as I do why you are here.”

She bit her lip in thought and tapped her fingers on the edge of the table. “No... nothing is coming to me.” She shook her head a little and smiled at the detective. “Though I do know that you can't keep me here without reasonable cause. That's still illegal for U.S. Citizens. Do you have any charges?”

The man's mustache bristled slightly, giving her the impression that they didn't have exactly what they needed for an arrest. “Very well, we'll do things your way. Where were you on the night of April 10th, around seven o'clock?”

“Nothing, hmm? Alright, I'll play. That was a Thursday, was it not? I was doing what I always do on Thursdays: sitting in my living room and watching my weekly allowance of television.”

“Any witnesses?”

She rolled her eyes. “My dog. She might maul you if you try to ask her, though. She doesn't take too kindly to people threatening me.”

He smirked again and rubbed his mustache thoughtfully. “Tell me, Ms. Stern, are you seeing anyone?”

The picture was almost too comical for her. If she were in any other situation, she probably would have laughed. “Are you asking me out, detective?” She smiled mockingly at him, meeting his eyes in defiance. He stared her down until she relented. “No, detective. My 'significant other' and I broke up a few months ago. Last I heard, he was on his way out east to New York or Washington, or some other big city out there. I haven't thought it necessary to look for someone else as of yet.”

“Messy break-up?”

“I fail to see how that is any of your business, but no. We parted on fairly good terms, though it was still difficult. The ending of any long relationship is difficult.” She turned her head away, closing her eyes to fight against the wave of sadness that crashed over her. The wounds were still too fresh to discuss with anyone, let alone someone who didn't know her. The break had been fairly clean, but the decision to break things off had been very difficult for her. Still was, if she was honest with herself.

He heaved a sigh and looked down at his paper. “We have a witness who says you were downtown at Cowboy's, arguing with a man on this night.”

“Your witness must be mistaken.”

“And if she's not?”

She smirked. “I already told you where I was. If you have any other proof that I was there, I'd love to hear it.”

He shifted in his chair and moved on to another line of questions. “Are there any people familiar with your habits? Friends, family, neighbors, anyone you're rather friendly with?” He stared her down, clearly hoping she would break and confess whatever it was he suspected she did.

She shrugged and folded her arms over her chest. “My neighbor, Samantha, takes care of my plants when I go out of town. I talk with her with some regularity, though I wouldn't exactly consider her a friend. All my family live out of town, and I only talk to my sister on a regular basis, every Sunday night. She's like a best friend to me, and would probably know me better than anyone. My coworkers, James and Heather, are familiar with my work schedule, should you want to interrogate them as well. I go swing dancing with a small group of friends every so often...”

“And who might those friends be?”

She glanced at him, clearly annoyed with the interruption. “Josh, Michael and Destiny. Destiny and I do things other than swing dancing as well on occasion. She's about as close to a best friend I have beyond my sister.” Of course, everyone else thought she was a tad bit too serious for her age, and opted to go out and party rather than take life seriously. “Other than my weekly television shows, and my work, I really don't have any habits for anyone to really know. I go to bed at different times every night, and do different things before I go to bed, depending on how I feel...”

He looked back down at his paper and jotted down a few more notes. She looked around the empty room while she waited for him to break the silence. There was a mirror on the other wall and she looked at herself carefully. Her long brown hair had fallen out of its bun, and wisps of it were now framing her rosy cheeks. She readjusted her glasses, knowing that she would have to go and get contacts one of these days. The threat of all those infections made her a little leery about them, though. Still, her ex, Joey, had said that she looked better without the glasses, letting her deep brown eyes actually be seen. Her face was still as youthful as ever; that's why she opted to work in the lab for a while, so that people wouldn't get so anxious about someone so young treating them, even if she wasn't really that young.

The detective cleared his throat and she went back to focusing on his face. “Do you associate with anyone named Ryan Smith?”

She thought for a moment. “The name sounds vaguely familiar, but he certainly isn't in my inner circle. He's probably come in for some blood tests or something. Are you ever going to get around to telling me exactly what you suspect I did?” She glared at him across the table, wishing she could use him as a practice dummy for her workout. He looked pudgy enough to give a little when she punched him, so it wouldn't leave her any worse for wear, and his annoying train of questions was certainly firing up her temper.

In response, he pushed a picture across the table. It was of a man, severely bloodied, dressed in torn and dirtied clothes. She looked at the picture with a mix of intrigue and disgust. She looked back up at the detective. “While I have no doubt I could inflict such injuries if I tried, I didn't do this. Now, unless you have any actual evidence linking me to this crime, such as the knife that caused all these wounds, I suggest you let me go.”

His head tilted in question, his eyebrows bunching together slightly. “How did you know it was a knife?”

She smiled and raised her eyebrows a little. “It's rather obvious, isn't it? The wounds are deep, and were clearly caused by at least a somewhat sharp instrument. It looks like fists—rather strong fists—could cause the bruises and potentially broken bones, but something sharp had to make the cuts. My guess is a knife, though without actually seeing the body, I couldn't tell you what shape of knife.” At his confused look, she continued. “I have a degree in biology. I know the parts of the body quite well, and took a handful of forensics classes when I was considering going into that field. I eventually decided that I would rather deal with live people than dead ones. Even if the dead ones don't talk back.”

He looked decidedly uncomfortable and looked back at his paper. “Just a few more questions, please.” He slid another photograph towards her. A close-up of a part of the body, the neck. It had a necklace around it, one with a column of progressively larger gemstones, alternating blue and white in color. “Do you recognize this?”

Of course she recognized it. It had been the necklace her sister had given her for her last birthday. It had been one of the only pieces of jewelry she would wear, along with the ring on her thumb her mother had given her before her parents disowned her. The necklace represented the strength of the relationship she still had with her sister, despite their parents' disapproval. The chain was different, of course, but the chain was most certainly hers.

She thought quickly and nodded slowly. “Yes, that's the necklace I got from my sister. It went missing about a month ago. I figured it had fallen off at work, and was devastated when I couldn't find it.” She hoped that was enough to convince the detective she was not the suspect he wanted. She wondered who would want to frame her for such a crime, and why her. She smiled at the detective, not betraying her thoughts. “Anything else, detective?”

He watched her face carefully and shook his head. “I'll be in touch. I highly advise you don't leave town until we get this all cleared up.”

She pursed her lips and stood, waiting for him to lead her out of the room. When she was finally in the bright light outside, she let out a long breath. She didn't particularly feel like riding the bus home, so she started walking, thinking the whole time. All she really wanted out of life was to help. She had long figured that the best way to do this would be through medicine, due to her fascination with science. One day, she hoped she might become a physician, but that wasn't part of her immediate plan. She didn't want to give up her entirely life quite so soon.

She knew she would have an easy time accomplishing her goals; she had graduated at the top of her class in college, and had a number of offers to work in biotechnology upon graduation. She had spent her last semester in London, and didn't want to be tied down to any one position for the rest of her life, so she turned them all down. Her parents weren't happy with her decision, but she took their disappointment in stride and did some introspection.

Of course, this all led her to reject much of what her parents clung to in belief, so they disowned her. Her sister had supported her all the way, and she guessed this was because her sister felt much the same way, but was too afraid to disappoint the parents. She did regret hurting her parents, but she didn't regret the year she spent traveling and holding temporary jobs after college. It was the best thing she could have done.

When she finally reached her apartment, she opened the door, only to be tackled by her rather crazy Golden Retriever, Lily. She took in a deep breath and smiled. It was good to be home.