Life Take Two

Life Take Two by Chris Barraclough, Science Fiction, 4,500 words

A controversial new agency returns the deceased to their loved ones via the process of cloning. But the consequences become obvious to two cops investigating the accidental death of an elderly man...

A darkly comic short sci-fi tale. Check out www.chrisbarraclough.co.uk for more ebooks, and my novels Bat Boy, Crack, Kitty and Dead Dogs on the Amazon Kindle Store. Thanks!

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1. An unfortunate encounter with a bus

 

C7 231 After securing the scene and interviewing the witnesses, take another look. Does anything look suspicious? Out of place? Think about motives, as well as opportunity.

 

Jacobs leaned against the bus and pulled a yellow yo-yo from his jacket pocket. The string was tangled in about twenty different knots and he took to them with his nails, working each one apart until the string was once again a perfect line. A flick of the wrist and the string disappeared inside the plastic ball.

            “Feel free to help out any time you like.”

Jacobs glanced over at the wreckage. Reynolds was on one knee, glaring at him. His gloved hands leaked crimson drops over the tarmac, and the twisted pieces of mobility pod. “Why don’t you check out the stiff, eh? ‘Stead of playing with that bloody cracker toy.”

            “We’ve done all we can,” Jacobs said, crushing his palm to his mouth to stifle a yawn. “Dental ID confirmed. Cause of death pretty obvious.” He patted the bumper of the bus, which bent inwards at the very centre. The victim’s pod had borne the brunt of the impact, hence the widespread distribution of its component parts. Unfortunately that hadn’t saved Mr Webb, whose skull was forced into the windscreen of the bus hard enough to crack both objects. Skull had come off worse. The road was coated in viscera, chunks of brain matter and bone, covering the thirty metres between the bus and the body. ‘Street crew has already interviewed witnesses. Just waiting on SCV now. Book well and truly followed.’

            ‘Ahh, shit,’ Reynolds said, dabbing at a dark red stain on his shirt sleeve.

            ‘You got some on your pants too,’ Jacobs said, pointing to a spot above his partner’s knee.

            ‘Oh bastard, bollocks!’ Reynolds flicked a chunk away with two fingers, then rose and kicked a broken headlight clear across the road, where it skidded under the holobarrier and missed a bystander by half a foot. Almost a dozen people had gathered, watching and murmuring despite the splashes of rain pattering the street.

            ‘Calm down, will you? It's just a hazard suit.’

            ‘I know, but fuck. I hate wearing these fucking things.’ He swept his sleeve across his brow, leaving a gory smear in its wake. Jacobs shook his head and checked his phone. The video footage from the skycam had downloaded, so he skipped to the time of the accident, holding his thumb on the screen until Mr Webb appeared in the shot. He was sat in his mobility pod, hands clutching the steering wheel, ample body barely contained in the tiny vehicle. The pod was stationary on the pavement, facing out into the road. Jacobs saw the crossing light at the far edge of the picture, currently red, as the traffic roared past.

            The light was still red when the pod jerked forwards and was smothered by the bus.

            ‘Poor sod,’ Jacobs said. ‘Must’ve knocked the accelerator by accident. All it takes, one spasm of the knee, yeah? The next you know, some guy’s standing in your brains.’

            ‘Yeah, real deep. Can we go now?’

            ‘Sure,’ Jacobs said. ‘Time to inform the relatives.’

            ‘We get the best fucking jobs.’ Reynolds sighed. ‘Where we off to?’

            ‘Let me check.’ The pair checked out with the street crew and strolled to their car and Jacobs tapped his phone, clearing the camera feed and bringing up the victim’s profile. A picture of an elderly lady with dark green hair and a rainbow tattoo on her left cheek appeared, with her fingerprint records, DNA scan and a life synopsis. ‘The wife is a Mrs Natalia Webb, Flat E21, 93 Alscot Road. That’s just down the road.’

            ‘Suits me fine.’ Reynolds grunted as he pulled open the passenger door. ‘The quicker I get back and grab a shower, the better.’

            ‘Whoa, hey, what are you doing?’

            ‘What am I doing?’ The question caught Reynolds off-guard. He stared back with narrowed eyes, his lower lip stuck out.

            ‘I’ll tell you what you’re not doing. You are not getting back in that car with that suit on.’

            ‘Well, what the hell do you want me to do? Take it off in the middle of the fucking street? Flash my arse at those bloody bystanders?’

            ‘You’ve got boxers on, don’t be so prim.’

            ‘Oh, come on, you can’t be serious.’

            ‘I’m deadly serious. First, if you get any blood on the upholstery, it will stain.  Second, how do you think Mrs Webb will feel if you turn up at her flat with pieces of her husband all over you?’

            ‘Son of a bitch,’ Reynolds said, slamming the door and stamping around to the boot. He dragged out his holdall and dropped it at his feet, then started to strip.

 

 

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