Tuesday, October 05, 2004


At the Cop Shop

"Ew, gross, lady! Put that thing back in your purse!"

Desk Sergeant Tilsit Unificant was used to people bringing all manner of weird shit in off the street, but this was a new low. It looked like one of those Russian dolls, a little--last year Sgt. Unificant's neighbor had brought one with Russian premiers back from a visit to St. Petersburg, Gorbachev on the outside, then his predecessors smaller and smaller on the inside, and this bald little fatty reminded him of that--but instead of smaller dolls it must have had some kind of dead animal inside. The thing reeked of three-week-old fish. And it was covered in some sort of thick viscous white slime. And the crazy woman had it lying loose in her purse!

"I most certainly will not put it back," the woman said, and stood it on the desk. It promptly fell over, and drops of white slime spattered his paperwork. Sgt. Unificant grimaced, pulled a paper towel out of his bottom drawer, dabbed at the spots distastefully. "This fell out of the sky, right into my lap. It does not belong to me. You must take it."

"Like hell I must," Sgt. Unificant said. "Get it out of here. It stinks."

"What kind of attitude is that for a police officer to take?" the woman said. "Why, this could have been used in a crime!"

"What, a skyjacking?" Sgt. Unificant scoffed. "And then the skyjackers flushed it down the toilet?"

"It's possible," the woman said. "After all, it's organic. It wouldn't have been picked up by the metal detectors."

"It's got nothing to do with whether it would have been picked up by the metal detectors, ma'am!" Sgt. Unificant snapped. "Why--this could be anything! It could be an alien, for all I know! It could be infected with some sort of horrible space disease!"

"All the more reason for it to be in the hands of the police," the woman said crisply, as if not accustomed to taking no for an answer. "Who is your supervisor, young man? Perhaps he will be better informed as to the proper duties of police officers than yourself."

Sgt. Unificant sighed, stymied. He leaned back in his chair, looked over his shoulder, caught the lieutenant's eye, motioned.

In a moment the lieutenant came over.

"What seems to be the pro--ew, what the hell is that? Get it off the desk! Did you bring this thing in here, ma'am?"

"Don't you start with me, too," the woman warned. "It's your responsibility now. Do something with it."

And she stormed out of the station.

The lieutenant stifled a gag reflect, then called to one of the uniform cops lounging nearby.

"Rosetti," he said. "Go get her, bring her back."

"Yes sir."

"And Unificant--bag this piece of detritus and have it sent to the ME. Maybe she'll know what to do with it."

"Yes sir."

Sgt. Unificant glared at the little figure malevolently, just imagining how hard it was going to be to get the stink out of his clothes and his hands after widgering it into a plastic baggie.

And then--it moved.

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