Author : Benjamin Fischer
“You’re a hard man to find.”
Victor’s eyes were hazed with blood. His own blood–the cop had put a baton across his forehead. His ears still rang.
“Nothing to say, huh?” said the black coat. His cudgel flashed.
Victor doubled over and fell to his hands and knees.
“Not so tough now,” said the constable, pacing around him. He kicked aside a spray of books, knocked loose from ransacked shelves. “Skinny little guy like you an assasin? My ass. You’re definitely a garden-variety code cracker.”
The cop’s heavy boot heel ground Victor’s hand like a cigarette butt.
“You know how long I’ve been waiting for this?” the constable asked. “Damn near four months, two hundred thousand man hours, seventy million in expenses. Somebody up top wants you bad. There ain’t a rock on Luna we didn’t look under.”
The baton came down on his back, knocking him flat.
“You’re a hard man to find, Mister Constant,” the black coated cop repeated. “I’ll be damned if I don’t take my time before I turn you in.”
“In the phone book,” Victor rasped.
“I’m in the phone book,” Victor said. “It isn’t hard.”
The cop frowned, stepped back.
“Funny man,” the black coat said. “We searched all the directories. You ain’t there.”
“The first one,” said Victor, gesturing with a mangled hand at the shattered bookshelves.
“What’s he mean?” the cop’s companion asked.
“I dunno. Take a look,” said the black coat.
“It’s down by the dictionaries,” said Victor.
“Take a look,” said the cop, planting his boot on the back of Victor’s neck. He pressed Victor’s face into the threadbare carpet of the tiny apartment. He could hear the other policeman step through the debris, knocking aside the broken reading lamp, sifting through the avalanche that had been his reference shelf.
“Holy shit, here it is,” said the second cop. He had found the heavy black leather volume.
“Damn,” said the black coat.
“This has got to be an antique,” said his partner. “I didn’t know they made these.”
“When Copernicus first incorporated-” Victor started, but then his captor pressed down, choking the words out of his thoat.
“Well, is he in there?” the black coat asked.
“I’m looking, I’m looking.”
The black coat tapped his collapsible baton on Victor’s head.
“Yeah, here he is.”
“What’s the address?”
“It’s six six six-” the second cop began.
Victor was already moving, rolling out from under the black coat’s boot and slamming his mass into the cop’s other leg. His not so broken right hand grabbed the police baton. In the low lunar gravity, he easily pitched the cop into the near wall.
Victor rose, weapon in hand.
“Now you’ve done it,” said the black coat, pulling himself up. “Jerry, shoot him.”
His partner was mute.
“Jerry?” said the black coat.
Bug eyed, stiff–thin tendrils of smoke crept from under his partner’s cuffs and collar.
The black coat went for his gun. Victor slashed at him. The cop yelped, his right arm broken. Victor brought the jagged, broken nightstick up and ran it through the man’s larynx. He caught him as he fell.
Victor hefted the choking cop over to his partner, whose armpits and chest were charring. Visible flames licked at his adam’s apple and wrists. A few of the heaped books’ pages began to curl. The black coat’s eyes met Victor’s as he set him down in the nascent pyre.
Victor pulled the black tome from the clawlike grip of the dead man.
“Now you’ll be hard to find too,” he said.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows