26
Nov
16

Safety Nation Chapter 6

I don’t have much of a preamble for you this time. If you live in the U.S., I hope you had a fun and safe Thanksgiving. If you don’t live in the U.S., I hope you have a great weekend.

In case you have missed the chapters so far, here are links to them:

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3

Chapter 4 Chapter 5

Announcement/Blurb

Cover Art

As always, the chapter below, and entire novel, are copyrighted.

— — —

Safety Nation by Logan Riley

6

Two weeks had passed since we busted the orgy. When we returned that night, Huxley looked disappointed. Had he expected a ticker-tape parade and riches lavished upon him? Nothing happened. Nothing changed. Nobody noticed. We booked the offenders and sent them on their merry way without any fanfare. Since then, Huxley had been even more irritable.

I arrived about twenty minutes late. I didn’t see the need to show up on time. Besides, my tardiness would delay Huxley from getting the evening’s work started, and I derived a modicum of pleasure from that.

When I got to Sex Detail, I found Huxley slamming his fist repeatedly into the electronic map on the rolling easel. Each time he hit it, it rolled away from him, so he pulled it back and punched it again. Each collision caused the screen to flicker wildly.

“His exercise routine is coming along nicely,” I said to Lowry.

Huxley whirled around at the sound of my voice. “What the hell took so goddamn long? Where the hell were you?” he growled.

“The bathroom.”

“You just save that for when you’re off the clock, got it?”

He turned back and looked at the map. The screen was dark, and tendrils of smoke drifted out of it. “The map’s busted,” he said.

Huxley faced Lowry and spoke to her in a condescending tone. He had dropped the sweet act after he realized she wasn’t going to sleep with him. “Lowry, it’s time to take off the training wheels. I’m letting you out on your own tonight.”

“Great,” she said, perking up.

“We’ve got five dates, all high-risk. We’ll divide and conquer like always.”

He dug some paper and a pen out of the desk. He scribbled something on each piece of paper. He handed the first to Lowry and said, “You’ve got these two.” He handed me the second and said, “You’ve got one. Think you can handle that?”

I shoved the paper into my pocket without looking at it and said, “I think I can manage.”

He leaned in closer. His hot breath smelled like rotten cabbage. “I can’t wait ‘til you’re gone. It’s gonna be so sweet when they kick your ass out,” he said.

He stared intently, waiting for fear to come to my eyes. It never did. His face went flat. He huffed and said, “Let’s get moving.”

I ambled toward the parking garage. Lowry caught up and we walked together.

“You’re finally independent. Looks like you’ve made it to the big time,” I said.

“I’m just glad I’m not stuck with Huxley anymore.”

“Once you get promoted out of here, it’ll just be me and him again.”

“How awful.”

“Maybe you can do something about him when you’re at the top.”

“Maybe,” she said with a wink.

We said our temporary goodbyes and split up. Inside my vehicle, I wondered what to do next. I had no intention of tracking the date. With the Auto-Driver disengaged, I drove aimlessly for a while. I lost track of time. I simply enjoyed the feel of the road. When I tired of that, I turned into a residential area, the darkest I could find, and parked. I tilted my seat back, closed my eyes, and drifted off.

There was a sudden banging of a fist against glass. Someone was shouting. Their voice was muffled. I sat up and tried to get my bearings. The clock showed several hours had elapsed. Outside, the figure was hammering incessantly. It was another agent.

It wasn’t just any agent, it was Huxley. I rolled down the window. His muffled cries became perfectly clear.

“Ha ha! I got you!”

“What? Huxley, what’s going on?”

“I caught you, you piece of shit, that’s what’s going on!”

Everything came together. I had been shirking my duties ever since I started back on this assignment, and Huxley wanted to prove it. He must have followed me to confirm I wasn’t monitoring the date. The fact that I was asleep was the cherry on top.

“Your ass is gone! As soon as we get back, I’m talking to the Chief! Say bye-bye, Smithy.”

I rolled the window up. I didn’t want to listen to him anymore. Huxley grimaced and resumed pounding on the window. I started the car and drove away.

Lowry was already at the Central Office when I returned. She had made an arrest on her first date. The couple from the second date had broken up mid-dinner, so she didn’t bother following them home. She was typing on her terminal when I arrived. I relayed the events of the evening to her. Huxley hadn’t shown up yet.

“What do you think he’ll do?” she asked.

“He’ll report it to the Chief. The Chief will talk to me. After that . . .” I trailed off and turned my palms up.

“Will they fire you?”

“Nobody ever gets fired.”

“So then what?”

“Probably a demotion to Sewage Detail.”

“Huxley,” she said, her voice lowering a register. “That son of a bitch.”

As if summoned by a spell, Huxley appeared before us. His arms were held wide, and he waltzed around the desk with an invisible partner. “Well, Smith,” he said with a manic energy, “your reckoning has finally come. I hope you’re ready. Don’t bother apologizing, it’s too late.”

He danced his way to the Chief’s office, where he disappeared. Meanwhile, Lowry and I waited in silence. For once, I wasn’t sure what to say. Lowry’s brow was furrowed and flames burned behind her eyes.

When Huxley returned, he looked like he had won the lottery. “Smithy, Smithy, Smithy,” he said, projecting his voice as loudly as he could. “The Chief wants to see you in his office. I hope you’re ready to grovel and kiss ass. Not like it’s going to help.”

I didn’t acknowledge him. As I walked toward the Chief’s office, Huxley said, “Why don’t you come along, Lowry? You won’t want to miss this.”

This marked the third time I was sent to a superior for disciplinary action. I hoped it was some kind of a record.

Unlike the main area, the Chief had an actual office with a closing door. We entered and Huxley hopped over to stand beside the Chief. The Chief’s name was Wyndham, and he sat behind a battered metal desk. The room was cramped, with barely enough space for all of us to fit inside. It was atrociously decorated with faux wood paneling. A rickety ceiling fan spun slowly above.

Wyndham was unbelievably fat. I was amazed that someone could get that fat with all the unhealthy foods banned. He wiped the sweat from his bald head with a handkerchief. The ceiling fan did little to drop the sweltering temperature.

Wyndham was not the Chief of the entire operation. There were several Chiefs, and each presided over a number of departments. Wyndham oversaw Sex Detail, Air Quality Detail, Hair Care Detail, and Sewage Detail. He mostly left the departments to their own devices.

Wyndham looked me up and down and said, “Inspector Huxley tells me he found you asleep at the job. Is this true?”

“This work is so riveting, I can hardly stay awake,” I said.

“Please don’t joke about this, Inspector Smith. The safety of the public is not to be taken lightly. Do you take your work seriously?”

“Maybe not as seriously as Huxley. He’s a pretty serious guy.”

“Inspector Huxley also informed me that two weeks ago you purposefully let three sex offenders escape. What do you have to say to that?”

“I didn’t.”

“He made it up?”

“He’s got it in for me, Chief.”

“And why would he?”

“I used to have his job. And I wouldn’t let him get away with all his sick crap. I suppose this is his way of getting even.”

“Sick crap?” Wyndham said, his eyebrows rising.

“Masturbating in the middle of–”

Huxley interrupted, “Chief, please. This is hardly relevant. He’s trying to distract you. The fact is he has been insubordinate and shirking his responsibilities. And listen to the way he talks to you!”

Wyndham nodded and wiped more sweat from his bald pate. “Quite right,” he said. “Inspector Smith, I had Healthcare Detail run an investigation. A few weeks ago, you reported on a couple that you claim failed to have intercourse. Do you remember that?”

I wasn’t sure where he was going with this. “Yes,” I said.

“Then how do you explain the fact that the woman is now pregnant?”

“Pregnant?”

“Healthcare took a blood sample from her and dated the time of conception to that night. And now she is pregnant without a license to procreate.”

“We got you now, motherfucker!” Huxley said, delighted.

I resigned myself. I would be going to Sewage Detail. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with Huxley any longer. With an acquiescent sigh, I said, “I fell asleep. It wasn’t a big deal. Who cares if these people have unprotected sex or group sex? How is any of that illegal?”

“How?” Wyndham asked with genuine surprise. “The First Government deemed it unsafe and therefore illegal. That’s how!”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

“It makes perfect sense. The First Government said it makes sense, therefore it does.”

“But there’s no reason for it to be illegal.”

“The reason is that the First Government says it’s illegal.”

“But why is it illegal?”

“Because the First Government says it’s unsafe.”

“How is it unsafe?”

“Because the First Government deemed it unsafe and therefore illegal. That’s how!”

“Well, they’re wrong.”

Wyndham coughed and his face turned bright pink. More sweat popped onto his forehead. Flustered, he replied, “Inspector Smith! Under no circumstances is anyone allowed to question the authority of the First Government!”

“How do you know they aren’t wrong?”

“Because they decreed they are always right.”

While we spoke, Lowry grumbled something under her breath.

Wyndham continued, “This kind of behavior is simply not allowed. For lying, insubordination, and sleeping at your post, I was going to demote you to Sewage Detail. But now, after what you’ve said, I have to reconsider. Clearly, you are not in your right mind. Only an insane person would speak against the First Government.”

The agitated grumbling from Lowry grew louder. Neither Huxley nor the fat man seemed to notice. Something bad was coming.

Wyndham wiped his forehead again and took a breath. There were deep rings of sweat beneath each of his arms. He was exerting himself just by talking. “You must be insane. I’m going to petition for your immediate and permanent hospitalization in the asylum.”

“Hold on, Chief,” I said, slightly panicked.

“You aren’t insane?”

“No.”

“Then why are you speaking against the First Government?”

“I’m just questioning it, that’s all.”

“And why would you question the First Government?”

“Maybe not everyone wants all these rules.”

“To question the First Government doesn’t make any sense. There’s no other explanation except that you’re insane.”

“Chief, listen–”

He raised a hand to silence me and said, “That’s my final decision.”

Huxley jumped up and down, squawking, “I finally got you!”

A powerful force pressed against me. I stumbled to my right as Lowry knocked me aside. Wyndham looked at her as if he had never seen a woman before. The sweat poured down his face more profusely than ever.

“I’d like to say something,” Lowry said.

“Yes, Inspector, um, what is it?”

“I can’t stand here and listen to this. You have to know that Smith is a good person. He isn’t crazy. He just made a mistake, that’s all. Please don’t do this to him.”

“I’m afraid we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to insanity,” he said, shaking his head.

“If anyone’s insane, it’s Huxley.”

Wyndham looked at Huxley and frowned. “I’m sorry, but Inspector Huxley is an exemplary government employee. You would do well to act more like him.”

“But, Chief–”

He held up his hand, silencing her, just as he had done with me. He looked annoyed. He didn’t want to hear any more. “Enough. You’re done talking. I’ve made my decision. Why don’t you leave, missy?”

“Missy?”

Her brewing frustration hit its boiling point. Lowry flung her suit jacket onto the floor. She ripped off her tie, and undid the top three buttons of her shirt. Her breasts bulged out, barely contained by the lacy frill of her bra. All eyes in the room zeroed in on her.

“Lowry, please, stop, don’t worry about me,” I said.

She either didn’t hear me or ignored my words. She stepped around to the other side of the desk. She lifted a picture frame. Its back was to me so I couldn’t see the photo. “Is this your wife?” Lowry asked.

Wyndham nodded nervously but didn’t speak. He was trying hard, and failing miserably, to resist ogling her. Huxley wasn’t even pretending. He leered at her like a pro.

Lowry put the picture frame back down and faced Wyndham squarely. She gently caressed the sides of his bald head with both hands. After a moment of this, she shoved his face into the ample curves of her bosom.

“Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do to make you reconsider?” she asked.

Wyndham didn’t put up a fight. Lowry released him, and he kicked back in his chair, gasping for air. His face was flushed. A lecherous smile stretched from ear to ear. He looked away from her and said, “Inspector, this is very unbecoming. I’m sorry, but my hands are tied.”

Lowry walked around the desk again and gathered her tie and jacket. As she buttoned her shirt, she said, “I suppose my hands are tied, too.”

“What do you mean?” Wyndham asked.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to report you for sexual harassment.”

“What?!” he said, his sweat coming down like a waterfall.

“Did you not just throw yourself into my breasts?”

“Y-you wouldn’t.”

“This has been a very traumatic experience for me, Chief.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to report your behavior as well.”

“Go ahead. But I’ll make sure your wife finds out. I’m sure she won’t be as understanding as your superiors.”

Wyndham hung his head. His eyes bulged.

“You little bitch!” Huxley hissed. “Don’t think you can pull the same shit on me. I saw the whole thing. They won’t believe you over me, I’m the head of a department.”

“Report me,” she replied nonchalantly as she finished putting her outfit back together. “But if you do, I might feel compelled to let everyone know about your activities on the job. It doesn’t seem very safe having a pervert on Sex Detail.”

“Damn you,” Huxley grumbled.

The room fell quiet. The only sound came from the creak of the overhead fan. I was stunned. Lowry was so bold. The way she took on these two guys, she was incredible. She commanded the room.

Finally, the fat man spoke, “All right. Let’s just say I gave Inspector Smith a verbal warning. And the rest of this meeting never happened.”

Lowry shook her head. With her hands confidently on her hips, she said, “Not good enough.”

“What do you want?” Wyndham asked submissively.

“A promotion.”

“Oh, yes, yes, good idea. I’ll transfer you anywhere you want to go.”

“And Smith, too.”

Realizing he would be rid of both of us, he said, “Of course, Smith, too.”

Lowry turned to me and asked, “Where would you like to go?”

I wasn’t sure. Was there an assignment I would enjoy? Any choice would be a shot in the dark. “Healthcare,” I said, remembering Lowry’s aspirations.

“Yes, no problem. I’ll get on it right away,” he whimpered.

“Aren’t you going to congratulate us?” she asked.

“Congratulations on your promotion,” Wyndham said.

Lowry motioned for us to leave. As we exited the room, Huxley spat, “Don’t think you’ll get away with this, you bitch.”

Lowry wheeled around. She marched up to Huxley. Her body surged with power. She buried her knee in his crotch. He doubled over and collapsed onto the floor. He emitted a low, pathetic moan.

Outside the room, I said, “Thanks, Lowry. How can I make it up to you?”

She hooked her hand into the crook of my arm. “You can start by buying me a cup of coffee,” she said.

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