's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Black Friday"

Submitted by Olita Clark

    The suspect was wearing a blue-

    No, that's wrong. Remember your Academy classes. Never be completely specific on the details. A decent lawyer could pull it apart in a heartbeat.
    Several rapid clicks filled the otherwise silent room as they keyboard's back button was put to work.

    The suspect was wearing what appeared to be a blue hoodie with a yellow stripe down the front.

    Timothy glanced over this revision and nodded, satisfied with what he had produced so far He'd been on the job for about two weeks now, and though most aspects of the work had come naturally to him, report writing always proved to be a particular difficult task for the rookie police officer. Sure, he could put forth a decent product, but not without first spending several agonizing hours spent hunched over the keyboard. The current incident he was attempting to log was nothing more or less than a simple convenience store robbery. The entire thing was caught on tape and the lowlife who had committed the crime had already been picked up and booked. All Timothy needed to do was record the relatively straight forward events for the eventual court case.

     He'd been at the station for three hours now. Half a page of size ten font silently mocked him from its home on the dusty monitor.

    Timothy knew that he needed to pick up the pace. During their probation period, a rookie officer could be fired for the most minor of errors. An inability to compose timely reports was a major fault in the profession the young man had selected. He wrung his tie nervously, sure that the only reason he hadn't gotten the boot yet, the only reason that he'd managed to make it through the Academy, was that his stellar performance in other areas compensated for his single glaring fault.

    If you get fired, you can always move back with your parents and work at the restaurant. Some dark corner of his brain offered.

    He dismissed the idea as soon as it appeared. Hadn't he spent his entire childhood fighting to get away from that roadside diner and the tiny town which it occupied? He loved his parents, but he was always slightly sickened by how dead-set they were on molding him into their perfect son. They wanted the strong, handsome American boy who played football and eventually took over the family business from his old man. They got the strong, handsome American boy who spent his days studying and who eventually moved away to become a cop. Oh, they came to his graduation and smiled and waved and cheered at all the right times. But Timothy couldn't help but sense the disappointment that hung over them, the low gleam that haunted the back of their eyes as they insisted they were so proud of him. He was their only child, the one chance of their little legacy continuing on after their deaths. By deviating from their plans for him, Timothy had, in a way, stolen their immortality.

    Did he feel guilty for it? Sometimes, when it was late and sleep evaded him like a clever mouse dodging a cat's flailing paws. But he could hardly feel an excessive amount of grief over pursuing his own goals. Even if living his own life involved crushing the dreams of those who loved him like no other.
    The rookie leaned back and stretched with a degree of limberness usually reserved for felines. The chair gave a groan of protest but managed to remain on all four wheels. Timothy glanced out the spotless window that occupied the wall next to him and onto the city below. Glittering canyons of steel and glass stretched out out in every direction, bisected with small soot colored rivers traversed by a multitude of colorful fish. This place confused him, its loud noises and foul air so different from the rural setting in which he had lived most of his life. Even after numerous days spent in a patrol car cruising the streets he could only claim to have a passing familiarity with the area directly surrounding his beat. The very concept of such high multitudes of humans crammed forced to live and work within such close proximity to one another seemed repulsive to him. But this place was also rather prestigious in the national eye. One of the most modernized settlements in the United States, with an exceptionally low crime rate and, for a large settlement, a relatively minimal output of pollution, the city was like a shining beacon guiding the rest of the country to a new age. How could he have turned down an invitation to join its law enforcement force?

    Maybe he'd 'go out on the town' after work today. One of the many benefits of his job was an all-expense-paid universal pass for the public transit system. He could take the subway into the most prolific parts of the city, get better acquainted with the local culture, maybe make a few friends. It certainly wouldn't be a bad way to spend an evening. Most nights were spent alone in his dark apartment, sometimes watching old movies, sometimes toying half hardheartedly with his dusty gaming system. Yes, a night on the town could prove to be quite beneficial in many aspects.

    Now if only he could finish this damned report.

    Let's see, where was he? General description of the subject, right. Timothy glanced over at the glossy picture sitting next to his keyboard for reference and-
    "Shit, you ain't done with that yet?"

    His partner, the man who would decide if Timothy stayed with the department at the end of his year long probation, had once again displayed his talent of moving as silently as a midnight fog. The large man had appeared directly behind the protege with nary a sound beside the soft sloshing of liquid in his mug as he raised it to his lips. Officer Jerry Barker was everything a big city cop should be. Big. Gruff. Grizzled. Loaded with a sense of humor blacker than the coffee he constantly seemed to be drinking. Timothy liked him well enough, though he did wish the man would cut back on the cigarettes. The scent was beginning to make him feel ill.

     "Let me see what you got so far." Barker leaned over the younger man's shoulder to better peer at the computer screen. He was close enough for the rookie to get a good lungful of cheap cologne. After several seconds of silent contemplation, he announced, "You're not very good at this, are you?"
    "No sir." Came the crisp reply. Barker rolled his eyes.

    "How many times do I gotta tell you to cut that crap out? Call me Jerry. I'm no body's sir."
    "Yes si-Jerry" It struck Timothy as disrespectful, but when the probation officer asked you to jump, you asked off which bridge.

    Barker stood upright and took another swig of coffee. "Tell you what Tim. You go run on home to your girlfriend or sheep or whatever it is that's waiting for you back at your place. I'll finish this up."
    It was a trick question. It had to be. "No, I'd rather do this myself, if you don't mind."
    A pause. Another series of slurps. "Your funeral, kid. I just thought you'd wanna get out of here before they started. Cleanup jams up the roads somethin' fierce."

    "Before who starts what?" Timothy was confused. Was there a parade scheduled for today? A street cleaning?

    The aging cop gave a low chuckle that sounded as if it had taken several trips through a wood chipper. "That's right, you ain't been around for a third Friday yet. Maybe it's best you hang around up here then. You'll get a better view of the show." With this cryptic comment, Barker drifted away just as silently as he had appeared, leaving the rookie alone once more with his infernal report.
    Strange. But then, there were those in the department that claimed years of work in the underbelly of some of America's worst cites had left Barker slightly unhinged. Perhaps this was Timothy's first taste of an ever-present senility that had evaded his notice until this point. He resumed his work without a second thought on the mater.

    Several minutes later, he caught a flicker out of the corner of his eye.
    The first thing to register in his mind was the color. Ha it been black or grey he would have dismissed the movement as nothing more than a passing pigeon. Green, however...what was there with a green pigment fifteen stories off the ground in an urban wasteland? Had someone's pet parrot escaped confinement and was now running amok in newly discovered airspace? That was worth a glance. The report could await completion a little while longer. Timothy turned...

    And beheld a young woman in a verdant sweater busily scaling the face of the building directly opposite to his own. Several shopping bags, bulging with unidentified goods, hung from each wrist. The ever-present winds fifteen stories above the ground caused her honey colored hair to dance about in intricate and wild patterns. There was a small, vacant smile plastered across her gleaming ruby lips.

    Timothy's mind stuttered like an old car as it struggled to comprehend the situation playing out before it. How the woman clung to the smooth face of glass and steel in the manner of a fly. How she managed to summon the endurance and strength necessary to reach a point so far removed from the worn pavement that was her natural environment. With smooth grace, the mysterious female pulled herself over the building's guard rail to stand upon its roof. Her face was plastered with a vacant smile the caused a strange sinking sensation to overcome the rookie's gut.
    She slowly stepped back towards the rail, scaled it from the opposite side, and in a few quick seconds was leaning out over a yawning abyss.
    He rushed into action. Timothy lunged forward with a great jolt of energy. His hands scrambled across his window's surface, searching for a lock, a latch, any way to get it open and...
    And what? How was he intending to prevent the woman from weakening her grip upon the spotless metal and plummeting to her death? The building were separated by at least 30 feet; even in the deepest throes of his desperation the country boy turned cop would never attempt to jump it. He doubted she would be able to hear his pleas and reassurances over the echoed cacophony of the city below. Yet sitting idly by at his desk was not an option that ever entered his mind. And thus the search continued, finding only a smooth metal frame that chilled his fingertips to the touch. Of course, a window this high up would never open, that was to prevent-

    "Ah, the day's first damn fool."
    Timothy screamed and spun as his imagination conjured a vast array of unnatural monsters that might have slunk up behind him, scaly bellies dragging upon  the threadbare carpet as their jaws parted with great ropes of saliva hanging from each serrated tooth.

    Barker laughed. "Jumpy little shit, ain't ya?" He casually strode past his still shaking partner to stand at the window. The woman fell. He shook his head as light bemusement danced across his weathered and aged features.

    The rookie turned, slowly, disbelieving of the other man's calm.  Out the window, partially obscured by the first orange glints of sunset, he observed numerous dark shapes scaling the sides of the city's skyscrapers. Men. Women. Children. All of them with large shopping bags dangling from each arm like broken wings, all of them smiling, their eyes possessed with all the depth and awareness of a lobotomy patient's. Several reached the apex of their journeys and cast themselves back down, down, rapidly plummeting shapes, dark blots against an otherwise flawless monument to modern progress.

    "Welcome to Black Friday, kid." Barker grunted. "You'll get used to it."