12 – If Youth Knew

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My alarm went off, and I proceeded to turn it off. I had to get to work again today. It wouldn’t be an entertaining day. Miranda wasn’t scheduled to arrive until tomorrow. As such, I would likely just work my usual route. I wasn’t investigating any burn sites because there was no evidence to retrieve. It had all been burned.

I went upstairs, got a small breakfast, then left. I didn’t give myself much time to prepare anymore, as sleep was more important than anything else. This was especially true now that I constantly spent every night out on the town.

After a short walk- I still didn’t use the bicycle I had been given- I arrived at the Police Station. I went inside, and made my way to a locker room to get ready.

“There hasn’t been a fire the past couple of nights,” I overheard one officer say.

“Yeah. It seems like the arsonist has taken a break,” said another.

“I almost wish they wouldn’t. Nothing exciting happens now that they’re not lighting fires. Hell, maybe if I’m lucky, there will be a big weapon bust.”

“Hey man, don’t get your hopes up.”

I finished putting on my belt, and I left the locker room. I went to the meeting room. I was still just going to be told to go to my regular route, and so was nearly everyone else. Maybe a couple people would be told to do some finer forensics at the burn sites. Even so, it wasn’t too likely that they would find anything new. Our investigation units were an utter waste.

After a few more minutes, every had arrived and seated themselves in various places. I sat in the second row, two seats left from the center aisle, as always.

Commander took her place in front of all of us. She cleared her throat, and started giving out mission areas. “Martin, take your usual preassigned route. Hero, take your usual preassigned route.” This went on for a few moments, and then I was assigned my usual preassigned route. I left, got into a car, and drove to my area of watch.

Because I didn’t have a partner, my current preassigned route was that of scouting. My job was to drive around a few set blocks and scout for anyone who could be considered an offender or a risk.

Nothing eventful happened for far too long. I easily spent three hours driving about my wide berth, without doing anything. No one seemed to be doing anything illegal or stupid. I hadn’t even seen a petty theft yet. Usually, I would have arrested at least one or two people by now.

I parked my car, and decided to take a lunch break. This had begun to feel all too tedious. I stepped out of the vehicle, and took a look at the lunch assigned that day. It was a sandwich with processed lunch meats and cheese. It wasn’t a satisfying meal. It was the only thing that made me miss my childhood. At that time, I at least got a few good meals.

Then, I began to think. I didn’t truly believe that everyone was as impoverished as it seemed. Despite how many homes had fallen into terrible disrepair that could cause many deaths once winter came back around, everyone still managed to eat. I think it had something to do with meal tickets handed out to Police and Joint Forces veterans. They received a hefty amount of ration tickets, and it’s possible that they would pass out what they got, and keep a minimum amount to themselves.

Although, a lack of insulation and warmth was possibly much more dangerous than missing a few meals occasionally.

I finished my meal, and got ready to go back and continue my rounds. I opened my car’s door, and slid inside. I started the car, and drove away. Not two minutes into my route, I heard whimpering in my back seat.

I stopped the car where it was, and rushed myself out of the door. I tore open the back door, and saw a child lying on the floor in front of the seats, just below where I could see with any mirror. Once the door opened, the child panicked and flew to the other door, trying desperately to open it. Unfortunately, the doors only open from the outside. Once you’re inside the back seat, you’re stuck there.

The child wasn’t screaming. She was silently pulling on the handle of the door, frantic but quiet. I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Usually, getting into an officer’s car illegally would lead directly to an execution. I wasn’t really all that afraid of executing a child. However, I didn’t believe that the protest group I was in would approve of more children being killed.

“Come here.” The child still panicked at the door, and it took me more cooing to convince her to get out.

Once she did get out, she was shaking with everything she had. I noticed she had opened and eaten a food ration in the back seat. She was probably orphaned.

Now, adopting her would be too much for me. I wasn’t going to take in a child that I couldn’t take care of myself. However, I figured letting her go would suffice. Maybe someone will hear about my mercy, and will spread the word. At this point in time, I need as much positive press as I can get.

“Kid. You’d best watch out. Once you start stealing from the wrong people, your life will go downhill. Now, I’m not going to do anything. However, another Officer might. The penalty for stealing from a cop is death. I certainly don’t want to kill you, and I don’t want to see you killed. Now get out of here.”

The child slid away from me and the vehicle, and scrambled into a patch of relatively nearby trees. It was only one of maybe six in our town. However, it was the largest. The child likely hid in there while she wasn’t trying to steal her next meal.

A few more uneventful hours, and I went back to the base to be debriefed by Commander. The drive wasn’t long, but it felt incredibly arduous. I wasn’t sure how anyone could handle that level of boredom I met.

I parked in the garage for our vehicles, and headed to the conference room. I took my seat, only a little more than a minute early, and waited.

At least, I would’ve loved to have just waited, but I was approached by Hero, who had questions to ask. “Hey Fifteen,” he sat next to me, and leaned in close. “I saw you let that kid go.” I was surprised to hear him say that, but I wasn’t going to let him know that.

“Yes, I let a child go. I gave her a stern lecture about the threats surrounding her, and told her to be careful who she steals from. I let her go.” Hero pat my back.

“You’ve got balls, lad. I know many other women, and none of them would have the gut to do what you did. Although, I’d suggest you be less conspicuous when you do generous things like that. One day, something like that will have-” He quickly stopped talking and moved over a seat as we heard the doors to the conference room open. The other Officers were coming in, followed by Commander.

“Alright,” Commander shouted above the noise, “Let’s not waste a second. Did anything important happen while any of you were out?” No one responded.

“Good. Less time I have to waste here. You are all dismissed. Except Fifteen. I would like a moment with you,” Shelby concluded. Hero gave me a distressed look, then left with everyone else.

I stood up, and jaunted past the table, toward Shelby. “Hey Ren. Famine is holding a meeting tonight, at eight o’clock. Here’s the address.” Shelby handed me a slip of paper. It was already five-thirty. The location was about thirty minutes away from here, which made it forty five minutes away from home. I would get to go home, then I’d have to leave again.

I sighed. “Alright. I’ll certainly be there. Do you want an escort?”

Shelby shook her head. “No, I’ll be fine. I’m heading there early anyway.”

I nodded. 

She continued, “I’ll see you there, Ren. Don’t do anything stupid, alright?” She got up to walk away.

“Hold on, Shelby. I have something to tell you.” She stopped, and faced me once more. “I had a little girl break into my car during my lunch break. She stole a ration. When I found her, I let her go. I thought you might like to know. Hero certainly complimented me on the action.”

A light lit up in her eyes. “Really now? That is something worth a compliment. Good job, Ren. It looks like your days laughing at a fire might be put behind you. Keep this up, and the horsemen might trust you again.”

Perfect. “Thank you. Now, we ought to head out.” Shelby nodded, smiled, and left. Her smile was more admirable than most other people’s. She could utilise that.

I left the police base, went home, had a meal, filed my report, then left. It was time to finally be a part of a real meeting.

Next Chapter

Author: Kaleb Kathleen Walker

I write short stories, and post them to my site justmynarratives.com

3 thoughts on “12 – If Youth Knew”

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