Lost Blonde


©It generally took five minutes to park in the aerial carport. Craddock ran a hand through his thinning silver hair and noted the time on the dashboard. The flight from his small shoreline condo had been held up by ongoing repairs to one of the primary flight tubes. The only other airlane into the city was clogged and that was to be expected. Built without thought for future traffic expansion, the tubes were too small within five years of the initial construction. City Hall always picked the most inconvenient time to carry out maintenance on the skyways. Craddock was glad he lived outside the sprawling metropolis of Tranquillity. He craned his neck to see what the hold-up was about and cursed the attendant having a chat with the guy at the front of the queue. Of all mornings, today was one time he didn’t want to be late. He gave the horn a quick dab and raised a hand in annoyance.

“Some of us have work to do, fellah,” said Craddock as he flipped his wallet open to show the attendant his badge. “I take it there are still a few spaces up on the top level.”

The attendant nodded but said nothing. He knew better than to make any sarcastic comments – and Chief Inspector Craddock didn’t expect any.

After parking, Craddock took the moving pavement, something he rarely did as exercise was more beneficial for his legs that were still recovering from the gunshot wounds from a year previous.

He reached one of the four interconnected glass towers and rode the elevator up to level sixty and the Commissioner, Cordell Hayes office. A message on his communicator over the weekend had summoned him to an early morning meeting on Monday. Craddock knew by the way the meeting had been called on a Sunday evening that something big was breaking. The only headline that caught his eye was the recent intergalactic judicial hearing that had ruled three senators guilty on corruption charges and sent them to Metron open prison facility in the far Evrinus solar system for ten years. Two of them, because of age, would not be returning. He dismissed the story as a reason for the meeting.

A soft voice announced the arrival of an elevator going up as Craddock walked across the reception area. He waved at Irene, a middle-aged Eurasian woman – as wide as she was tall, sitting behind the main desk. Craddock liked her. She always smiled and dressed in colorful clothes, unlike the lovely young things that strutted around the offices and talked in whispers. City Hall politics were not for him, nor the peacocks and sharks who fought for position or a handful of dollars pressed into their hands under the table.

“Hi, Can you let the boss know I’m on the way. I’m a little late due to his fellow civil mandarins playing games with the traffic today.”

Irene laughed. “I’m still waiting for that dinner you promised me the last time I did you a favor, honey.”

Craddock snapped his fingers. “Next week – promise.”

“You said that last week,” she replied as he pushed into the elevator.

He grinned at her as the doors closed. The elevator was full of smart suits trying to climb the ladder in local politics and even smarter secretaries who already knew who would make it and had their eyes on prospective partners. A variety of perfumes filled his nostrils, making him cough. The smell of coffee and stale cigarettes in his own precinct office was much more agreeable. He felt out of place, his gray suit, cheap shirt and scuffed brown shoes a testament to his middle-class interplanetary law job. He detested the thought that the ‘kids,’ as he called the lovely young things around him, earned more than his twenty-something years of policing paid him.

The elevator slowed and stopped without the slightest of jolts. As the doors slid back, Craddock stepped out and took a deep breath. The Commissioner's office was at the end of the corridor. He could see several figures moving around through the half-open door and hear raised voices – the loudest being Branden Beaman – BB to his closest friends.

Beaman, municipal council secretariat, was all that was wrong in local government. He had friends who without his help, would be in prison. There were those who owed him favors for building contracts and others, like the commissioner, who turned a blind eye to the man’s corrupt lifestyle in return for votes to stay in office. No one said anything and everyone got what they wanted – except Craddock. He yearned for the day he could slap the man in a far away jail cell. Their paths had crossed many times during Senate corruption scandal inquiries. There were also cases in Star City, some thousand miles away to the west, concerning prostitution and illegal gambling and protection rackets. The place was like a mecca to the rich and famous, catering for any need so long as an individual had plenty of credit. Like Las Vegas, the city that inspired men like Beaman to build it, Star City sucked in the nieve and gullible and spat them back out when they had been fleeced.

Craddock pushed the door back and stood in the opening. Beaman had sat in the commissioner’s chair and the commissioner and his assistant, bald headed Jarvis Cronin, stood either side of the desk.

“Where the hell have you been?” Beaman looked at his watch and then glared at Craddock.

“I take it you’re trying for a new job then?” Craddock turned to Commissioner Hayes. “Fired you, has he, boss?”

Beaman jumped up from the chair, his face red. “If I had anything to do with it, Craddock, you wouldn’t be here.”

He stepped around the desk and stood with legs apart. Built like a thick set wrestler with no neck, his broad shoulders indicated a man with plenty of muscle. Beside him, Cronin, the same height, reminded Craddock of a stick insect.

“Why don’t we all calm down and sit,” said Hayes. “We don’t want to insult or fight each other. We need to work together.”

“On what?” asked Craddock. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here and quite honestly, I don’t like the idea of working with people I don’t trust.”

Beaman took a step forward. “Anytime you wanna’ try your luck, you bum, I’ll meet you anywhere and knock the shit outta’ you,” he growled through gritted teeth.

“Please, can we just get on!” shouted Hayes. He slammed the door shut as several people down the hall stood listening to Beaman.

The office went quiet as the men sat and Craddock helped himself to coffee from the small machine on top of the filing cabinet.

Hayes waited for Craddock to sit. “We have a dangerous situation that needs sorting as quickly as possible.” He addressed Craddock. “It’s a delicate matter that concerns Branden’s daughter, Elsinda.”

Craddock had met her once during a raid on a nightclub, Rumors, frequented by Beaman. She was a beautiful blonde, twenty-something with legs that men couldn’t stop looking at and a figure most women would die for. The trouble was, Elsinda had a habit – several in fact, that kept getting her into trouble.

“What about her? If it’s the usual I’m sure Central can take care of things. They normally do.”

“She’s gone missing after visiting a friend,” blurted Beaman. “She left here last Thursday and was supposed to return Saturday night. When she didn’t turn up at the port, I called the commissioner here.” He waved a hand in the air. “It was an hour later we heard the news.”

“Sorry, I’m not quite on board yet,” said Craddock. “Where did she go and who did she see?”

Cronin cut in. “She has a boyfriend, Johnny Despy, doing three years in the Metron facility. He’s a small-time pimp with a couple of girls. She went to tell him goodbye.” He handed Craddock a file with an attached photo on the cover. “Shortly after she failed to return, Metron let us know that Despy had escaped and they think he got the ship back here. There was no mention of Elsinda although they do acknowledge she did make the visit but left two hours later and booked onto the port bus. The port authorities have no record of her getting the flight back.”

Craddock thought for a moment. “How the hell did he get past security?”

Beaman sat with head in hands. “There’s something else. Elsinda is supposed to be getting married next weekend to Captain Pete Klien. He’s a hotshot pilot straight out of the Galactic Starship Training Acadamy. His parents are both senators in the Governing World Council and if this gets out there won’t be any wedding and no five billion credits for the city I negotiated as a separate deal last year.”

Hayes sighed. “The finance is important but Elsinda’s safety is even more important. I need someone I can trust, Craddock – someone with your experience and knowledge. There’s nothing on the news and the flight jock isn’t due back in town until the day before the wedding. You can have whatever you want but get that kid back safe.”

Next chapter


Yes, it is very good. I loved the flow and the style. Craddock sounds like 50's cop and it has the feeling of 50's crime story. I liked it very much, especially the exchange between Craddock and the receptionist who is as tall as she is wide. The only thing I wonder is whether or not the inter galactic content rings true. It is only sci fi because you have put in things like the Metron open prison system...

Thanks for the comments. Your thoughts are on board - as always.

Hi Ray,

I like the concept, but must admit that the feel is more 50's crime than SciFi.  I think it might have to do with the descriptive style.

I like the "world building" regarding the other planets and the open prison system. However I would describe it more as penal facilities than prisons. For a very graphic visual of a maxium security penal colony watch the movie Riddick. Although I don't believe that Senators would be sentenced to such a place. Penal colonies would be graded from white collar to maximum security.

One of the issues that jumped out at me is the secretaries "female" that is searching for a going-somewhere "male" partner. Think about adding high level females (like maybe the senators that are going to prison?) would bring it out of the 50's. Even today the term secretaries have been replaced with "Assistant" or "Personal Assistants".

I don't believe dollars will be the currency of choice in 3016. Think more in the line of credits or something similar that would have a generic, global/international feel.

Also consider that in a 1000 years, technology might have passed beyond elevators and other current transport systems. JD Robb's In Death series is set in the 2060's New York with a female detective as the main character. There are cars that can fly "if needed", elevators that can take you up and down as well as sideways. Body sculpting for the lazy and a variety of novel dress styles as well as the ability to change eye, hair and skin colour. Mixed race individuals. Excotic narcotics that have various types of side affects resulting in different sub-cultures. Weapons are stunners with guns only available for collectors of antiques. Automated systems that replace most of the common everyday features. Voice controlled electrical features like lights, elevators, computers, etc. These are all soft scifi features.

Hope this helps.

Thanks. I took a long look at this and agree with what you are saying. I have sent you the revised piece to see what you think. I want to retain that certain 50's characterization but at the same time want this to be futuristic. I just need to get the mix right.