The trail had led Detective Cameron Short ever upwards, from what appeared to be a simple domestic homicide turned into a clash with an underground drug syndicate. Those that were willing to talk ended up dead and those who weren’t stayed well out of Detective Short’s way. It would only be a matter of time before they stopped running and faced their biggest nuisance head-on.
The story returns with a small plane returning from a long flight to New Guinea with valuable, but highly illegal cargo.
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The pilot, who was feeling the chill, wrapped his jacket tighter around his person. The plane was an older model than the large commercial airliners he used to fly, so there wasn’t any proper insulation. Perhaps that was a good thing, it kept the product fresh until they got there.
The landing in Los Angeles airport was superficial. It was only there to put their name back on record before they returned to the air and landed on another airstrip in the country; one a lot more secretive. Until then, the pilot tried to warm his hands before bringing the plane down to slowly land.
It was a short landing as the pilot slowly guided the plane into the warehouse. He waited for the plane to completely stop before shutting everything off. He leaned forward and saw the dark figures of his partners in crime appear. One undid the fuelling latch and ran a pipe to it, while another approached the cockpit. The pilot opened the door and released the ladder.
The pilot always hated talking with the boss. He was a cold individual, his face like that of a lizard’s. Beady eyes, thin lips and often emotionless. It made it impossible to tell what he was thinking, which was awful when you had to deliver bad news. The pilot was grateful he didn’t have any such news to pass on.
The man walked aboard, hunching down as he was a tall man.
“How was the flight?” he asked, but his interest was as well.
“Good for our cargo,” the pilot replied. “All still there?”
The man in the dark trench coat turned around and checked through the one way slat.
“It looks like it is all there,” the man said. “I can see frost.”
“Does that affect the value at all?”
“No, don’t worry about it.”
“Well, worry about me. After all these trips, there should be enough for a proper plane. My hands are gonna start turning blue by the time I get to the dirt strip.”
“Man up,” the man grunted, not wanting to hear an underling's complaint. “You can take a break there when you land, otherwise, stay on mission.”
“Oh, yes, sir,” the pilot said sarcastically, giving him a mock salute.
The boss hesitated to leave after that last remark and the pilot’s heart started to beat faster than he liked. Immediately the pilot started wheezing, wondering if something would happen to him. He could only see the shadow of the man out of the corner of his eye and if he turned around it would be like he was expecting something to happen.
Yet, there was no knife or gunshot, not even a small remark about his lack of respect. The pilot wondered what was taking the boss so long when he heard steps leading away from him. The pilot settled in his seat, catching his breath and looking at himself in the reflection of one of his instruments.
“You dumbass,” the pilot thought looking at his pale face.
The boss in the trench coat descended, turning around to have a light flash on him. It was sudden and blinding, he couldn’t run away immediately without running into something, so he was pretty much helpless as hands suddenly grabbed him. The pilot saw all this and was about to draw the revolver at his side, but a cop was already in the cockpit, disarming him aggressively as if he could turn and fly the plane away on a moment's notice.
It was a fast operation and more or less successful. Detective Short followed after, looking at the tall man. He had a thin face, wore round glasses. Short placed his age somewhere in his forties. Without a doubt, this was the man who Short saw shoot the husband and wife in the country. The one who also killed Judy Glenn.
The killer’s eyes met Short’s and he understood why he was caught. At that moment, the killer wished he had turned around and taken care of Short as well. It would have made things so much easier.
“You have anything to say?” Short asked. “Or are you saving that for a small room where you’re handcuffed to the table?”
The man would not say a word, fully aware of his rights. That’s what worried Short the most. People like that know how to slip away when you least expect them to. The police took him away, leaving Short and a few officers to clean up.
It began with checking the cargo. The officer who arrested the pilot opened the back of the plane and everyone gathered at the back to see what was inside. A palette of bagged drugs, a crate of weapons, that was something they had often seen being transported to the city. Yet, what they never saw was a plane of people, bound and shaking.
Hardly anything was spoken but curses as the officers rushed to help the people. Blankets and food were easy to source, but they needed more medical attention than a single ambulance. Soon phones were ringing in every important place in the city, from the police chief's office to the mayors. It would be in the news the day after, but any afternoon papers redesigned to include the story that would shake the city.
All this played in Short’s mind before it happened as he stared at their scared faces.
“That’s why I didn't bother speaking,” Short thought. “Not a word could save him, whether it came from his mouth or the best lawyer in the country.”