Cindy Koepp

Writing on the Edge

Sergeant Ed Osborn finished checking over his report. After scribbling a circle on the corner of a notepad, he signed his name and started the date.


May 25, 196-


The radio on the table behind him clicked. “Car Seven. Officer in need of assistance. Two hostile Eshuvani.”


Osborn glanced at the radio. From the strain in Tucker’s voice, they’d both be spending the rest of the watch at the hospital. Osborn scrawled the last five on the date, dropped his pen, and bolted to the dispatcher’s desk in the next room. She handed him a paper with the address.


He ran for the parking lot and looked at the script on the paper. What do they want at a sporting goods warehouse?


He slowed as he reached his car and scorched his fingers on the sun-heated door latch. The inside, even hotter than the door handle, could do double-duty as an oven, and not even the sea breeze off the coast could do much for that.


Osborn started his car and flipped the switches for both lights and sirens before he picked up the radio mic. “Car One. Send me one unit for backup.”


The dispatcher relayed the call.


“Car Five. Will handle hostile Eshuvani call with Car One.”


Osborn nodded. Out of that pair, at least Mark Hollis had some experience with hostile Eshuvani. He’d nearly gotten his head blown off to get that experience, but he knew to keep his distance.


Most of the civilian drivers Osborn encountered were decent enough to honor his siren and move aside. He accelerated out of a turn and into the industrial district of Las Palomas. Car Seven’s reds blinked, and both front doors hung open showing Tucker, paler than usual, slumped at the wheel. Parrish, almost as dark as his black uniform, had one suspect against a stack of empty wooden pallets near the brick building’s west wall.


The suspect stood an easy six-foot-four and had the nonhuman, narrow build common to the Eshuvani. He had both hands raised and spindly fingers ended at the wrist with a small bit of webbing near the base to look like a palm.


Parrish pulled out handcuffs.


Don’t do it, Parrish. Keep your distance. Osborn parked behind Car Seven and bailed out, gun in hand. “Stay back, Parrish! Wait for backup.”


Parrish kept his eyes on the suspect but nodded and tucked the cuffs into his belt.


Checking behind stacks of empty pallets and splintered boards, Osborn crept forward.


A second Eshuvani darted from behind a pile of crates and charged at the other officer. Osborn led the target, but he had no clear line of fire.


Osborn tensed. “Parrish!”


The newcomer gave him a hard shove. He slammed into the stack of pallets then dropped flat on his back. The pile teetered. The first suspect bared teeth, filed to sharp points no normal Eshuvani would approve of, and turned to pull the stack onto the officer.