Friday Flash: Blood Derby

Blood Derby follows on from Miss Amanda (Part 2) and In the Whorehouse (Part 1). The Hartog series of stories are set in a near futuristic world as a cross genre exploration of speculative fiction and detetive noir.

“Zero one hour and fifteen minutes … and holding.”

The bass thundered and Melody MC’s “Dum Da Dum”, the retro 90’s dance mash-up began, pumping the crowd, who needed no additional priming. But it was tradition.

The semi final bout had drawn a capacity crowd of fanatics and another record bidding match for the broadcasting rights.

Blood Derby had become the official National sport earlier in the year after the ice was pulled on the Hockey League – the Elders citing environmental concerns. The water conservationist applauded it, as did the derby sponsors. The hockey managers said they couldn’t compete with short skirts, plunging cleavages. The cynics whispered private visits from the Derby girls to the Elders had sealed the deal. Hartog didn’t really care. After tonight he was unlikely to ever set foot in another derby arena.

Hacking into Miss Amanda’s client base hadn’t been easy, but it had been worth it. He was learning. Learning quickly, aided by pass codes he could only have ever dreamed of possessing. Portia Nader’s case was opening previously guarded doors. This was no ordinary flasher/slasher case torn straight from Vice and Device case files.

Coming across Richard’s name had been like mana falling from digital heaven. A quick call had relieved Richard of his two season derby tickets, bought Hartog the perfect meet-up venue and gave him ammunition to throw at Lucinda should she ever crow Richard’s virtues in his presence. A promise to a man like Richard was a flexible notion and he knew he never intended to actually stay mum about Richard’s extra curricular love life. It was amazing what you could learn from an itemised bill. Not that he was planning on seeing Lucinda any time soon. She’d made that abundantly clear.

Hartog slipped his hand into an oversized foam hand he’d bought from a stadium vender. The middle finger was upstanding in a singularly unpatriotic pose. He laid it across his lap and tried not to image it was a huge penis resting in his lap, reminding himself he was determined to look the part, without going all out on an overpriced t-shirt and hat.

Hartog’s visitor sat ramrod straight next to him, even as he was sideswiped by the huge arse of an overweight man, trying to return to his too small moulded seat, mustard oozing over his hand from his second hotdog in ten minutes. Not that Hartog was counting.

The ref’s amplified whistle shot outward from the centre of the rink like a line of gun powder, racing towards the keg. A cheer exploded from all sides of the stadium as the two Jammers, skating ten feet behind the main pack accelerated forward to make their first jam.

The Scarlet Penetrator’s jammer in her diamante encrusted red tutu and black leather bustier nudged ahead with two huge strides. A naughty peek of ruffled black lace knickers showed, as she bent down. Her fishnet clad legs criss-crossed as she cut directly across the path of her rival, tacking for the outer most edge of the pack. Hartog caught a split second flash of the blades on the hubs of her wheels.

His guest remained unnaturally still, obvious, in the seething maelstrom of Penetrators supporters, hands folded in his lap, knuckles white in the roaming strobe lights.

The Betty Buster’s ‘blockers’ at the centre of the pack, kitted in skimpy lycra nurses dresses barely containing their iconic large breasts, drove at opposing points in the centre of the pack, forcing open a rush space. The Buster’s ‘jammer’ hurtled through but was caught at the last moment as the Penetrator’s ‘pivot’ threw herself against The Buster’s ‘block’, forcing both of them into the ‘jammer’s’ path.

The ‘pivot’ and ‘block’ won the battle to stay upright. The ‘jammer’ fell as the pack sped past.

First blood!

It splattered the white uniform and flowed out onto the pristine, polished floor. The howl of protest from The Busters camp on the opposite end of the stadium was reflected and amplified on their side by cheers.

“This should be interesting,” Hartog said, leaning into his companion’s ear to ensure he was heard.

The injured ‘jammer’ clambered to her feet and after a few wobbling strides, gained her equilibrium and rhythm. The blood flowing down her leg pooled at the top of her boot and then down the sides, leaving red tracks as she sped towards the pack. The blood slick made the coming lap more dangerous.

“The lame duck flies again.”

Hartog got to his feet and rooted with his arms in faux animation, taking the piss more than finding solidarity among the Penetrator’s fans. He thrust the ostentatious foam finger in the air just for the hell of it. Christ, he wished, somehow, that his boss was watching. He shoved the rubber digit in the air one more time, because he could hope and then sat down.

On the opposite side of the rink a Penetrator was down and from the huge real time screen above the score board it was obvious she wouldn’t get up. The tide of blood beneath her was spreading quickly.

The fans were on their feet screaming out in protest and outrage, then in encouragement. Her injuries had the potential to be fatal. The seat beside Hartog was suddenly empty.

“Time out. Time out. You can call that?” He looked hopefully down to Hartog who shrugged his shoulders. “Surely you can call time out. TIME OUT.”

“Shut up, dickhead,” the guy with the mustard stained hands yelled, grabbing at Hartog’s companion and shoving him back down in his chair. “Our girls ain’t pussies.”

There had been two reasons to insist his guest meet him at the Blood Derby. Firstly Hartog had heard, this man had a penchant for girls iwith long legs, short skirts and big boobs. A bit like Richard. There was plenty of those here tonight. Secondly, Hartog was counting on the sight and smell of the blood to loosen Benjamin Nader’s tongue.

Thanks to the Brisbane roller derby bad girls, Sheryn and Gabrielle ,who first introduced me to roller derby via their Facebook Statuses. Looking forward to seeing you girls in the flesh at the Convention Centre!

Image from Crude City Roller Derby located in South Texas.

FridayFlash: Miss Amanda

This follows on from last week’s Dirk Hartog in the Whorehouse.

Miss Amanda’s eyes lowered and her gaze held the warp and weave of her suit pants as she contemplated her answer.

“As you can appreciate, Detective – my business is of a delicate nature and we normally protect the identity of our clients. But in this case..” she broke off and poured herself a glass of water. Long French-manicured fingers curled around the crystal glass. She drank slowly then replaced the glass. “Portia had a number of high profile friends through our agency.”

“Miss Amanda,” the words fell out his mouth before he could catch them. He felt like he was addressing the old bitch who had taught him third form algebra. “We both now these are not friends, you run a business, you have clients. But you know what, you can have your weasel words. Just give me a name.”

“Let me remind you Detective you were invited here for this discussion.”

“And I can walk out right now and come back with a search and seize warrant as well as a tribe of Feedos.”

“You seem to be having lapses in social graces from all angles, Detective.” Miss Amanda’s pointer finger, rubbed at a spot on her breast bone, but Hartog kept his eyes screwed into hers. “Surely you realise I have friends who sit in places much higher than you.”

“Touché.”

Hartog stood, reaching out for the recorder and turning it off.

“Strictly off the record. Who?”

“Howard McLean.”

“The Minister of Defence!” Hartog rocked forward, his face crumpled into disbelief. “You are telling me the Minister of Defence, the former leader of the Puritan party pays for sex… and implicated in the murder of his favourite call girl.” Hartog laughed. “I’m sorry Miss Amanda, but I just don’t believe that any more than I believe he was in love with a prostitute.”

“Detective, you seem to be caught in the notion we only traffic flesh here. Let me remind you for the second time, my girls are not employed to just have sex.” She sighed and drank the rest of her water. “Mr McLean has a penchant for smart, witty women. He likes conversation. Portia was good at conversing. You only have to look at his wife to know he’d be seeking stimulation outside of his marriage.”

“Are you sure we’re not talking about sex?”

Miss Amanda ignored him. “I am telling you Detective that someone got to Portia as a warning to the Minister. And I imagine that would be of interest to you and your colleagues at the Department of Civil Welfare.”

Hartog turned the recorder back on and placed it on the table between them.

“Was there anything special about Portia?”

Miss Amanda reached out and switched the recorder off.

“You insult me with such a question Detective. Come back when you’re prepared to actually listen to what I have to say.”

Hartog stood again, slipping the recorder into his deep coat pocket.

“Thank you for your time. I will keep you updated as to the progress of the case. And I do appreciate our little chat.” He emphasised the final words, mimicking her faux politeness. Smiling a crooked smile he left before she could get out of her chair.

As he rode down in the elevator he slipped an ear pod in and waited for the phone call. He sat further down the street drinking bad coffee when the call finally went through.

“They do have Hartog on the case. Your source was correct.”

“Did he mention anything about the InfoCap?”

“He said nothing about anything found on the body and I didn’t want to venture with leading questions.”

“Did you really think someone like Hartog would whip the InfoCap out onto the table and ask if you knew what it was?”

“I did as you asked. I invited him in and feed him the information. Now what?”

“We wait and see. Did he mention Portia’s brother?”

“He’s got no idea. He never mentioned her surname. He thinks it is just another whore being cut up – quote unquote.”

“The department would not put Hartog onto a whore slashing. Sit tight. You have done well Amanda.”

“My pleasure, sir. Would you like me to book you someone for this week? I think you’ll enjoy Portia’s replacement.”

Hartog smiled, pulling the earpod out and took the tiny capsule out of his pocket again. So it had a name.

An InfoCap.

He charged his coffee streaked mug in mock toast to Miss Amanda and waited while his notebook brought up all the information the City’s database had on Portia, tapping a link and wirelessly hacking, via the NavSan, into the last known address for her neurologist brother Benjamin. It also bought up all other associated files.

When the photo came up Hartog had to look twice. Portia’s brother wasn’t any old brain boffin, but BenJin, the city’s most notorious Feedographer.

Hartog was a purist and nothing about Feedography appealed to him –24 hour news-tainment, bull shit, paparaazi styled intrusion which was cast out on everything from electronic billboards to the microwave oven.

Feedography was the scum-of-the-earth, hybrid offspring of journalism, the cult of social networking and a cultural belief everyone had something important to report and someone else was interested in that unimportant something. It didn’t free society to give everyone access to technology to film and upload for mass consumption. It was the Propaganda of the Irrelevant realised on global level for a miniscule programming budget. The Politicians and public loved it. No one had to think too hard. Hartog hated it. It was worse than anything Big Brother could have thought up. CC TV in everyone’s hands.

He did admit, BenJin did make it work for him and had made more than one City Elder or Politician cringe. He’d bought down at least two corrupt corporations. BenJin took his job seriously, more so than the average two-bit freelancer. The ten second sound-bite was BenJin’s kingdom. And now, BenJin’s only surviving relative was dead.

The game had just become a whole lot more interesting.

Crystal Tumber from Warwick Crystal Designs UK.