Issue Seven, Volume One
"Day In The Life"
Edited by: David Ellis and Jason McDonald
The Underground Revised Proudly Presents...
This is in my blood. Long back as anyone can remember, my family's been cops. All the way back to twencen's NYPD. In my blood, real proper. Wasn't a question when I was a lil' kid, see what I'd be. I'd bear the gun and the shield, protection and enforcement, a hero to the people.
My name is Daniel Puglisi.
And I ... am Public Eye.
"Slow night," Adam comments with a restless annoyance. I look over to him, the overly muscled Sergeant Viera. Big guy. Made a'muscle. I find I sort of shift and suck in my stomach when I'm near him, to try to bring my shoulders up and chest out. As if my after-hours activity of eating buckets of chicken wings somehow compare to his love affair with the iron.
"My kinda night," I offer to him with that irascible smile. I find myself coughing, and cover my mouth.
"You sick again?" Adam asks me incredulously, eyes wide in amazement.
"Nah. Same sick, man. They tell me they're docking me pay, now, for sick days! Ain't my fault I ain't got a strong constitution. It's downright un-American, I tell you. So here I am, slagging my shocking right lung, an' runnin' the beat-" There's anger, venom, rising in my voice.
"Prune juice," he suggests, as if it means everything.
"Scan back?" I ask for clarity, brows peaked.
He shrugs his shoulders. "I hear prune juice is lightspeed for constitution..."
"I'm not drinking Prune Juice!" I yell back to him, and just for emphasis, down the rest of the caf. He shrugs at me, drinking his Activade in his thermos.
"Your health, man."
Far from partners, me and Adam, Public Eye operates in single survey units which can summon reinforcements as necessary, but are theoretically autonomous agents. That all means that we usually fly solo, and officially, we do. Gots our own sectors to look into. Ain't no different with us, but me and Adam - Sergeant Viera - we're old hats at this game. We know the routes. Know there isn't much worth looking into. So we spend most of our shift talking about over-dramatized or fictitious busts we've made.
"...hey, I'm gonna -- go home. I got some uh ... some payments I need to input. I'll catch up with you, Hero. To the Welfare of All Men," I give him one of the cheers, a hand thrown high into the air until his response. I call in over the radio, "Puglisi here, I'm calling it a day."
There's a strange silence that waits for me before confirmation. I'm already driving home, but there’s a technicality. "Lt. Mathier here, reading you loud and clear. Who gave you authorization to clock out?"
"...got a stomach flu, Sir." Once more, that haunting silence. I imagine his face. Tightening. Lips curling in a quieted anger.
"No comp. Have a good night, Sergeant. Get better." I can hear him cursing Unions in his head even as I DC the transmission and fly back to my home. I park the bike, cover it with a tarp, and peel off the bulky helmet as I head up the stairs calmly, exhaustedly. The door opens once I place my card through the slide-panel, which gives way. Pocketing my card key and tossing the helmet onto the counter, I'm rewarded with a blast of stale air wafting the inedible smell of week-old pizza and some surely rotted meats.
I walk by my shelves filled with holo-vids and the occasional book which I've probably not gotten around to reading yet, a point of contention in my life with Juliet. Didn't like my lack of initiative to expand my creativity. Always said I was so smart, but so lazy...
I don't look at the picture of her the day she got promoted to Lieutenant, or the picture of her with me in the park. It's a part of the scenery. I keep telling myself I'll change the pictures with something else someday. Truth is ... there's no sentimentality to it. I'm just lazy. I miss her, but ... it's done. Unless I can do something real special, and I ain't seeing it.
I toss my coat off onto the food-crusted leather seat in front of the large vidscreen and collapse into it, unbuttoning my pants. I watch movies until I fall asleep, allowing the buzz of alarm to wake me up as ever. It's a slow consciousness. I drag my feet; drag myself, to each step that leads to my destination of the bathroom. Wash my face, wake up, not bother to shave, dress, and out the door. On the bike. Another grinding day.
[Precinct 12, Male Locker Room]
The locker opens, revealing a mess of stim-drink cans, cancer sticks rudely left in corners, dust and filth, movie tickets and receipts, detritus that has accumulated over a decade of service. I stand there in civvies with a duffle bag over one shoulder and my pistol-belt rudely slung over another. I drop them both on the bench behind me and start undressing, skimming down to change. I look like I still haven't woken up. Feel that way, too.
"--new girl Chiu, inside of a week, next pay day on it," I hear Captain Olman saying, a very well-built German guy who seems to lord over the rest of us not for his height but his station. SIEGE troop. Best of us all. Elite. And he's just smiling and gabbing, leaning against a locker. I can't help but sneer, quietly, convincing myself it's a sham. Used to be my boss. Only because of my performance was he picked. I tell myself this loud enough that I overhear my name being called three times.
"--PUGLISI!" I hear, again, louder. I turn to look and see my current boss, Lieutenant Emery Mathier. Or "Emmy" for short. If I want to piss him off, at least, which seems to be a regular occurrence. I drop what I'm doing, and button up my pants. I shove everything roughly into my locker, and yank my shoulder-holster over my t-shirt just for weapon security - don't want to leave it laying around - and head into his office he leads me to.
I sit down across from him, not even thinking to report to him. "Show me my proper shocking respect!" He roars as he slams his fist on his desk. I look startled, and stand up, folding my arms tightly behind my back, head and eyes straight forward. I come to attention; legs locked together, and salute him. "Sir," I stiffly return. He salutes me back, and I stand back with those arms folded again.
He sighs, pinching his brow, and then wincing as he rubs the bottom of his fist. "You're pissing me off, Dan. Yesterday - you're borderline on Dereliction of Duty. You've been telling you since I met you - since I was a CADET, DAN! SERGEANT PUGLISI! - that you had high dreams. You were my mentor, I looked up to you. And you were never better than you are today, five years later. Captain Bershinsky assures me you used to have merit, but you lost it, Dan. I am this close - this close - to recommending you for separation. Point blank."
I suddenly break position, pointing at him accusingly. "Hey! That is completely uncalled for, Emery, and you--"
"LIEUTENANT MATHIER! Lock it up, Sergeant, Lock. It. Up."
"You called me Dan first--"
I tighten my arms behind me, and sigh, waiting for more of his verbal barrage. Some days you just shouldn't wake up in the morning. "Point blank, if you don't become the model public servant, you're off the force. I don't care what soft spot Captain Bershinsky has in her heart for you, she's not in your chain of command anymore, her recommendation means shock all to me. So. I am telling you, SERGEANT, as your BOSS, that you are going to find yourself miraculously in hale and hearty health every day for the next month, or I'm gunning for your ass and for your badge."
There is a violent silence behind my eyes. "I'm sorry, Dan," Lt. Mathier consoles in a soft voice which speaks of old friendships, and gestures.
"You're dismissed, Sergeant," suggests the same man, his back straight again, voice once more firm. What else do I do?
I get dressed and go to work.
What a retread.
[the Asian Grotto]
I meet up with Adam again as we clock in to work. And, right off, it was off to one of our haunts, the Asian Grotto, that we quickly start up our ancient Belchers model fliers, slicing through the skyline at a speed which is nothing compared to our counterparts in real departments with funding which would leave us standing still comparably.
"--jets JUST right and came RIGHT at him! He jumped ship, but I locked him in, and his Maglev junked somewhere downtown--" The voice of a bubbly, beautiful girl, deep brown skin, angular features, and a very becomingly fit uniform of a Public Eye Flyboy.
"Tee!" Viera cries, lunging her way, quickly trying to get the girl. I mutter quietly to myself. I could have her if I want to. Sure, she's about half my age, and holo-star-pretty, but I've got this certain thing, this mystique, this grizzled loner thing that --
"That's Sgt. Chiu, Sgt. Viera! Sgt TEEANI Chiu," This is how she answers him. He doesn't win more points with his slapping her ass 'playfully', receiving a returned slap - this one across his face.
"And you touch me again, you'll pull back a shocking stump!" Twisting his arm around behind his back and pinning him to the table. Viera looks a little wary, trying to pull his hand back as if it was bitten. She leans down to whisper something in his ear, before she lets him go.
I wish she'd whisper something to me. "Evening, Chiu," I tell the fellow Sergeant, and she waves amicably to me. See? She waved. Eat that, Adam. I wave down the waitress and order me and Adam ours. Good food. Lots of grease. Just like it oughta be.
It was only moments before the banter had returned between the small group of Flyboys and well-wishing toadies who sat at our end of the establishment, sharing stories and dinner, drinks passing quickly across the table. "So what'd she tell you?" I whisper over to Adam, who's looking diffident as always.
"Not during work," he responds, his smile growing smug then. I smack him in the back of the head. He looks at me sharply, and I shrug, giving him a wry smirk I have to force on my lips. Bastard. Just because he lives his life at the gym and could break me in half with his pinky...
"You get 'em, hero. Slag that cherry," I cheer with compliments, as I turn back to the noodles in front of me.
It's only then that Lt. Greg Olman wanders on up. As if I didn't feel overshadowed enough. I straighten my shoulders a little, to suggest size. "Hey, Greg -- Sir. Lieutenant." He gives me that bit-eating smile he has, and I can't help but try to appease him with my own. He's invited to sit, and he immediately begins his own ramble.
[three hours later]
"--busy night tonight. Had to stop this psychotic mutate down in Sector 14--" he banters on. But I interrupt him, insisting my own grand story.
"Yeah, well, I almost got Spider-Man a couple months back. Man! The story I could--" Then, a melody of voices rings free.
"WE KNOW!" They allow across the table. I slink back into my seat a little.
Stupid SIEGE armor. Stupid Lt. Olman. Stupid Spider-Man. "Besides. He humiliated you. Took your equipment. You barely stayed on the force," Olman reminds me of all the worst. He was there to help me process it. Leech.
It takes everything I got to swallow down swinging on him. Well, that and I'm scared of him. "Yeah, hey, count my blessings, right?" Slaghole.
Then, the fortunate cry of a beacon screaming into the armbands of each and every P.E. here. "Code Blue! We've got dangerous supernal encounter! Authorized maximal force." The place clears, immediately. I race with unbelievable motivation back to the bike. I want to show up Adam, that tank of a man I call a friend, keeps overshadowing me on this little team. Wanna show that damn SIEGE... I am smiling with delusions of grandeur, when I gun the vehicle, riding its throttle. Silence. Dead silence.
The vehicle putters and stalls. The number of swear words managed out of my lips is prolific. A whole plethora. Vehicles rush past me, and Viera even glances back at me with a sheepish shrug as he rushes past on his low-model Belcher. I'm left behind. Again.
[In front of the Four Freedoms Plaza, Stark-Fujikawa Headquarters]
It took work. The cycle was dead. I had to jury-rig its fix, kick it three times, and only then it puttered barely to life. I'm late for the fight. Late late LATE.
"Hey! You guys, I--"
I arrive on the scene, the plaza filled with construction being now deconstructed. These attacks are rocking the plaza before us, as metal and flesh meet. Report on the way says he's identified himself as a member of the Fenris, presumably amped on some kind of morphic drug or gene-splice.
There's a broken-armed Viera laying on the side of the road, laid out. Sgt Chiu's calling in for back-up, hiding behind her bike. The cocky SIEGE bastard is engaging in hand-to-hand combat with what looks like the perp - it seems to be by my account an eight foot tall Wookie, a massive bundle of muscle which is pounding its fists futilely against the SIEGE tank-armor.
My weapon is in hand, and I'm feeling particularly impotent, holding a dinky service pistol, which I sort of just hang by my hand as I run forward to Adam, and try to drag him away while Olman handles the monster. I think he's got it. Adam is wincing as I cart him off to a safe place, when I hear something go down a little bit wrong.
The Beast lunges forward, reaching around behind Olman's neck. It's screaming something incomprehensible about corporate slaves - it's got big tusks, kind of hard to make it out clearly. His massive paws manage their search around Olman's neck and tears at something. Removing a huge chunk from the back of the armor. Looks like some kind of cable.
And, just like that, it seems, the SIEGE armor becomes a prison, unmoving. Without hesitation, and a primal laughter, the Beast begins tearing into him, trying to rip open his face-plate, while CPT. Olman is screaming in frenzied terror at the site of his imminent death clawing at him like a cat reaching its paw through a mouse hole.
"HELP ME! GET IT OFF ME! GET IT--"
I pull free my weapon, and advance, arms shaking. Everyone's eyes are on me. I'm the only one alive. It's all on me. The fate of everyone rests on my shoulders. Man up, Puglisi! Man up! This is your time to shine! I hear Olman swearing as he hears me, "I've got you covered!" I yell.
Chiu is firing like wild over the protection of her bike. Viera yanking out his weapon, coughing the occasional patch of blood. Good man, Adam.
I'm raising my weapon, and aiming it -- and with a pull of a trigger, I fire square to the Beast's chest, "Ha!" I scream to the sky in triumph... Nothing. No effect. Wait, no, he's pulling away from Olman! Greg'll be okay! He'll-- no, wait, he's just changing his attention. I think I made it mad.
I fire desperately, and wildly, stray bolts of light lancing about, as I run away, firing behind me to the advancing Beast which launches itself in leaps and bounds behind me. I think I soiled myself.
I suddenly hear a crash and a monstrous scream. I don't stop for a few more seconds, but I don't hear his massive feet clopping in pursuit anymore. Looking behind me, I see what looks like a mountain of I-Beams, and it's ... on top of him. And, I think, inside of him. I think I won. I did that? Maybe? I think I did that. No, I mean, of COURSE I did that.
"I can't believe you, man! That's the finest shooting I've EVER seen!" There's a long silence following Viera's proclamation, limping my direction with a wild smile on his lips, while Chiu runs to extract Olman from his SIEGE armor.
I shrug my shoulders, fighting back the manic dancing I feel beckoned to. "Yeah, well, told you. I was an ace back before you were in grade school, Adam."
[the office of LT. EMERY MATHIER]
"No way you did that," he tells me the second the door closes behind me. My eyes dance around the office, and I'm smiling. I know I'm getting good news. I know it. He's always angry when something works out for me.
"What's that, boss?"
"It is NOT POSSIBLE that you shot out both cables holding onto those beams. There is no way you did that, Sergeant."
There's a simple shrug of my shoulders as I cockily sit in the chair without being invited.
"Well, uh, I did it."
"...there's something you're not telling me in your report --" He stops, and just sighs. I make him sigh in frustration a lot. He pinches his brow. He hates being in charge. Reads off him in waves. "Guess you did it, though, Puglisi--"
"Like I told you! I did. It was me. One hundred percent, no copy-file--" He cuts me off just as I did him.
"No, not that. You've been trying to get that rank, what is it, since Captain America was born?" He's sneering, bitterly. He seems very unpleased.
On the other hand, my eyes widen, and smile grows uncontrollably. "I -- I got the promotion to Lieutenant?! I'm out of this squad?" I begin, excitably.
Lt. Mathier throws the datapad across the desk, letting it slide. Letting me read the digital script.
Effective Promotion Date: 12 JANUARY, 2100.
"The ceremony's next Monday. Make sure your suit is pressed. This is your formal congratulations from me. That's all. Get the shock out of my office, Sergeant."
Immediately I call up Adam on the portable, "Get the gang. Going to O'Malley's tonight. First round's my cred." I can't contain the excitement in my voice.
[O'Malley's, that night]
The laughter is loud and clear. Viera's arm is in a sling, but he's drinking with us like a devil. I think that guy's got some secret exit for his alcohol, the way he puts it back. The rest of us are already off our gourd. Even Capt. Olman's with us, and he's not even hogging the spotlight for once. It's my night. And he's tributing me -- he's here for me, because I saved his life, he says. I don't mention a thing about how it really went down. I'm already working on convincing myself of the lie I'm telling, after-all. Tee, as she finally let us call her, is hanging off of Olman like a kitten, who doesn't seem to particularly mind the attention. I can feel the cred-reception he's dreaming of as we speak.
"--damn, Dan! I thought I was about to log off permanently, hear me? You saved my life! A&SF, they ... gave me the cut on the project. Let me go. But, you know, whatever. It doesn't matter. They're putting me into the Homicide Department because of my heroism out there, thanks to you, kid--" Olman stops at the sight of something.
I don't expect the next thing. Adam's eyes widen and he quiets, Tee looks real confused, and Olman shakes his head, losing his track of conversation. I'm left puzzled by the reactions around the table, I feel a hand on my shoulder just as I'm about to look behind me.
"Julie -- I mean, Captain Bershi--"
"Julie's fine, Dan," she speaks with a very pleasant smile. I'm made to squirm a little bit under her touch and that soft voice. I remember that voice clearly. I remember it laughing, I remember that smile. I remember it moaning, even. I could've married that girl, I tell myself. And I should've.
Everyone tries to pretend they're talking to each other and not listening in. But I'm the topic of attention, all eyes on us. Makes me feel nervous and proud. She's changed her mind. She saw the err of her ways. She wants to get back together...
"I wanted to give you my congratulations, Dan. I knew you had it in you. Somewhere, but, you know. In there." My back straightens as she talks, and I gesture to sit.
"Hey, baby, I told you ... I was going places..." I realize even as I speak how stupid I sound. Her eyes widen, and amusement splashes in them with a laugh issuing her voice. She gasps, and holds her hand over her lips.
"Thor, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh, I just -- well. I'm happy you ... went ... somewhere, finally," and she's fighting the laugh again. My mood detonates on itself, and I sink into my chair.
"Hey, Dan, I just - no, I'm sorry, Dan, just ... no. But ... out of respect for ... what we had, I just ... wanted to tell you if it was different earlier. But I'm ... happy you're making it different, finally. Just keep at it. It's never too late."
I spring up at that, eyes shooting to her. "Never too late--" I begin, once more desperately gripping at straws for a possibility that we might be a 'we' again.
"--except for us. That's too late. And ... don't call me 'Baby' again. I'm Juliet because I'm off-duty. But that was a hundred lives ago. Don't -- just be happy you're being promoted. I'm happy for you."
I look around the table, and back to her. "Just one drink, alright? To old times?" I suggest, plaintively, offering to signal the waiter. She sighs, and sits down. The rest cheer as the Arson Department Chief, Captain Bershinsky - Juliet or Julie - slides into the booth with us.
You did it, Danny. You've made the big times now. Lieutenant Daniel Puglisi. That's what I am now. That name means respect.
My eyes blur as I try to take in my surroundings. Behind the grogginess of my morning vision and the alcohol still swimming behind my eyes, it takes me a few seconds. I feel nauseous, and like I just got run over by a bus.
Oh, Thor, I never want to drink again.
But then I hear a soft sigh, and I try to raise my arm. It's pinned. I glance over, and see ... Captain Bershinsky?! Julie? I -- I got Julie! I -- yeah, of course. I remember! I hope I do. I'm sure it'll come to me later. I knew she couldn't resist me for that much longer.
"mmmwha?" I hear her murmur, and I kiss at her neck, tenderly. She wakes up, sobering instantly, and looks down to me. She yanks up the sheet immediately, eyes wide. "Shockme," she gasps, in horror.
"Again? I guess I--"
"GET THE SHOCK OUT!"
"It's my house!"
"Ohshock, this can't be happening, this is a mistake," she gasps, ranting onward, unbelieving, hand pinned to her forehead. She rushes out of bed, grabbing her things, and throwing them on. She's barely dressed as she makes for the door like a dart.
"Hey, Julie, it's okay! I -- I still love you! It wasn't a --"
"IT WAS A MISTAKE!" The door slams behind her. I slump in my bed for a second, dismayed...
But then I smile, brightly. I nailed Julie.
The ceremony was impressive. The standard Precinct-Back-Stairs deal, I stand in the rank and file of my team, squad, department. Each department in line. We're all attired immaculately or nearly in our Dress Uniform, my woman ... I mean Captain Juliet Bershinsky ... up on stage, grimacing, trying not to meet my eyes, with our Commissioner commanding our formation to its attention and ease, before calling forth one name.
Sergeant Daniel Vidar Puglisi.
I rush up to the stage, in a tightly woven fashion. I shaved today, and I don't know if I like the look, but it's very professional for once, as I move up the steps.
'Project: Eagle, on my command,' a voice whispers from the grass surveying the scene.
I stop, turn on a sharp pivot 180 degrees to face the crowd before, and stand stock still at attention, fingers tightly at my pants seam.
"Attention to Orders!" Captain Bershinsky - Julie, I think to myself - begins, reading the commands for our Commissioner as everyone else snaps to attention. The Commish and his driver, they begin their ceremonial pinning and hand-shaking. But Juliet, she looks so beautiful, up in those grays. I see the way she catches my eye. She remembers what it was like, to ride the Puglisi Love Train, I bet you she's thinking she made a mistake now. Coulda been MRS. Puglisi, played her cards right...
"The Mayor of New York, acting upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of the New York Public Eye, has placed special trust and confidence in the duty, integrity and abilities of Sergeant Daniel Vidar Puglisi. In view of these special qualities, and his demonstrated potential to serve in the higher grade, Sergeant Daniel Vidar Puglisi is promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant Daniel Vidar Puglisi, New York Precinct 12 Public Eye, effective this day, the 12th of January, 2100, by order of the Mayor of New York."
Through these words, I stand taller and taller. I feel impenetrable. Impervious. Important. Lieutenant Puglisi. It has a profound ring to it, it--
It's amazing the sound of skull fragments exploding and a life being taken disappear entirely underneath the massive sound of the large energy blast striking her brow, incinerating her entire head, and leaving Captain Bershinsky's decapitated body to hit the ground limply, lifeless, her blood and brains covering me, as the entire Precinct watches on, as holovids reel.
It takes me several moments to even realize what happened. The world is silent as I rush to her aid, the screams of the masses silent against the horror before us in my mind, shock taking over as I rush to her. A little piece of me loved her still. And right in front of my eyes, as she pinned the metal to my collar ...
Who? Who would do this? How? In the middle of a PE function, nothing but the law, and he ... kills the Head of the Arson Department?
My eyes look to the sky for answers I can not find. The world becomes one mass of movement and speed. The killer, they're gone. I know it in my gut.