Free Write Friday #23: Triumph/Whodunit?
“We’re almost there.”
“I know, I know.”
“Well, hurry up, will you?”
“Look, even if I wanted to hurry, I couldn’t. It’s so damn dusty up here and this space suit is heavy.”
Miranda Tokugawa and Renata Da Silva had been climbing for a week now. Part of that was the sheer scale of what they were attempting to do: there was no way to do this quickly, but part of that was also where they were doing it. This wasn’t a climb that was built for speed- the higher you got, the more careful you needed to be. Equipment needed to be checked. Spacesuits needed to be cleaned and checked for dust. The checks on their rover became more thorough. There was no margin for error.
“Are we there yet?” Miranda asked.
Renata laughed. This had become their running joke during the long climb up. They would climb all day and then climb into their rover at night, taking turns to shower, then eat dinner, clean and check their equipment and then keel over from exhaustion only to wake up the next day and do it all again.
“So, where’s the official spot?” Renata asked.
Miranda glanced down at her wrist pad. There was a flashing indicator that was blinking more rapidly the closer they got to their final destination and finally it turned solid and began beeping in her helmet speaker.
“Yes! It says-” Miranda stamped her foot down into the dirt. “Right here.”
“Excellent,” Renata said. “You want to use the rover camera for the photo?”
“Sure,” Miranda said. She punched out a command on her wrist pad and she began to maneuver the rover into position.It took a minute or two, but when she activated the camera on the front of the vehicle, she smiled in satisfaction.
“Do you have the flags?” Renata asked.
“Yes I do,” Miranda said. She made her way over to the spot where Renata was waiting and handed her the two folded up flags. Then she extended the flag poles one after another and plunged them into the ground as deeply as she could. Renata handed her one of the flags and Miranda unfolded the flag of Japan, while beside her, Renata unfolded the flag of Brazil. They clipped them both to the flag poles and both women then knelt down to flip up the extenders on the pole to hold the flags out, so they would be displayed properly in the thin atmosphere.
Then, Miranda let out a yelp of triumph and Renata did too and despite their heavy spacesuits and the clouds of dust they kicked up, they locked arms together and managed a few awkward jumps before they stopped and laughed.
“We did it!” Renata said.
“Yeah we did!”
“First women to climb Olympus Mons without a rover!”
“Never mind first women, first humans!” Miranda said.
“Pretty damn awesome, if you ask me,” Renata said.
“Not just awesome,” Miranda replied. “It’s a triumph!”
The Chief’s Office was up on the second floor of the Kinmen County Police Bureau. Pei-Shan opened the door to the stairwell and took the stairs two at a time, Wei-Ting following in her wake. They emerged into the hustle and bustle of the bullpen where the Detectives worked.
As Pei-Shan made her way across the wide room to the glass enclosed office a series of whistles and jeers followed in her wake. “Someone’s in trouble,” one of the detectives laughed.
“He’ll get you, my pretty,” another mocked. “And your little dog too.” He barked loudly at Wei-Ting who jumped and was rewarded with howls of laughter from all sides.
Pei-Shan favored both men with a withering glance. “Hwang, Tan. I see your comedy routine is improving. Pity about your detective work.”
“Hey now,” the first detective, Hwang said. “Low blow.”
“Actually,” Pei-Shan corrected. “No blow. It slipped through your fingers and Penghu County got the bust.”
“Hey, screw you Pei-Shan,” Tan shot back. “At least narcotics do real police work. How many murders have you solved lately?”
“More than you have, Tan,” Pei-Shan replied as she reached the door to the Chief's office. She knocked twice.
“Come in,” came the voice from inside. Pei-Shan opened the door.
“Oh, it’s you,” The Chief said. “Get in here. Bring the rookie.”
Pei-Shan stepped inside and stood to one side to allow Wei-Ting to enter and then closed the door. The Chief was in his late 40s, but looked much older. He was one of those people who looked perpetually annoyed.
“Hey there, handsome,” Pei-Shan grinned. Their divorce had been fairly amicable, but she still enjoyed needling him whenever she could.
“So, whodunit?” The Chief asked, ignoring her.
“Who did what?” Pei-Shan replied, a picture of innocence.
The Chief glowered at her. “Don’t get flirty with me, Pei-Shan, you know damn well what I mean.”
“We know a couple of things,” Pei-Shan admitted. “She was texting with someone outside of China and we have footage of her coming ashore via a fishing dhow the night before she was killed.”
“You talked to the military?”
“They stonewall you?”
“Yep,” Pei-Shan said. “But our inquiries are ongoing.”
“Not anymore.” The Chief enunciated slowly. He pushed back from his chair and, reaching out, picked up a manilla folder up off his desk. “Now, I’ve got a meeting.”
“Wait,” Pei-Shan said. “You’re taking us off the investigation?”
“No,” The Chief replied. He walked around the desk and placed the manilla folder on the side of the desk closest to Pei-Shan. “I’m saying your inquiries are going to have to stop.”
“But someone was murdered!” Wei-Ting burst out, angrily.
“It’s okay, rook,” Pei-Shan said. She exchanged a long glance with the Chief and then looked over to the manilla folder on the desk. “Tell the wife hello for me.”
The Chief rolled his eyes. “Oh sure. She’ll love that.” Then he opened the office door and was gone. Pei-Shan leaned forward and grabbed the manilla folder.
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