Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chapter 62

Detective Dina: Episode #1
First Day on the Force, Part III

Dina's excitement carried her from the police station to her very first crime scene, but when she arrived and saw two officers bickering out front like rattled chickens, her excitement skidded to a halt.  What's going on here?

"The Chief promoted me first!  That makes me the superior officer!" the male officer shouted, gesticulating widely.  That must be Myron, Dina thought.

"Promoted first by one whole minute.  Big whoop!" the female officer shot back, standing her ground.  "I don't care how many times you 'order' me to, I'm not going in there first!"  And that must be Sylvia with a Y.

He growled, "Yes you are or I'm telling Detective Carlo--"

"Why, what's in there?" Dina asked, stepping up.  Both officers jumped in fright.  Chickens.

"Where'd you come from?" Myron blurted out at the very same moment Sylvia asked, "Who are you?"

"I'm Cadet Dina Hildebrand.  Today's my first day on the force.  Detective Carlo Tapia sent me here to help with the crime scene," Dina said.  She spoke calmly, feeling their embarrassment ripple around her, as if her words were a sudden break in a ravaging storm.  They don't like that I caught them arguing.

Myron's eyes bugged out.  "Another cadet?"  He turned to Sylvia and said, "That's the Chief for you: hire 'em, then fire 'em.  How long do you think this one will last?"

Sylvia ignored him.  Her eyes were fixed on Dina and she smiled (overly nice, Dina thought), saying, "Wonderful.  Nice to meet you.  My name's Officer Sylvia Damico.  This is my partner, Officer Myron Coronado."

Myron nodded politely, but his eyes were still hard.  "It's just you?  Where's Detective Carlo?"

Sylvia clasped her hands in worry, "He's not coming?"

"Of course he's coming," Myron said.

He added, harshly, "And when I tell him you disobeyed a direct order--"

"You're not in charge!" Sylvia said, aggravated.

"Stop being so Insane!" Myron growled. "Why did I have to get stuck with an Insane Sim for a partner!?"

"Don't call me that or I'll tell Chief Winston!" Sylvia shot back.  There it is again. What is it with the Chief and Insane Sims? Dina wondered.

"Enough with the pecking order," Dina cut in.  Chickens indeed!  "What's the big deal over who goes in first?"

"There's a bear inside!" Sylvia gasped.

"There's a bear inside the Blue Velvet nightclub?" Dina asked, incredulous.  They can't be serious.

"Look, maybe we should just wait for backup," Myron suggested.  

"Yes, backup," Sylvia agreed.  "Detective Carlo should be here any minute.  He'll know what to do."

Dina didn't want to wait for Detective Carlo.  This crime scene is my testing ground.  I can't chicken out like these two.  I have to go in.

Dina asked, "Who told you there was a bear inside?"

"Well, no one exactly..." Sylvia stammered.

"We secured the crime scene yesterday," Officer Myron said, all-business.  "Took pictures, swabbed for fingerprints, and started interviewing witnesses.  Detective Carlo called us back this morning to do another walk-through, in case we missed anything."

"That's when we saw the bear enter the nightclub," Sylvia said, her voice shaking.  "It tore right through the yellow tape and bashed through the padlock on the front door."

The bear used the front door?  Dina almost rolled her eyes, but thought better of it.  She believed Sylvia's fright was genuine.  It reminded Dina of her twin sister, Nina.  But she's deathly afraid of clowns, not bears.

"What's this case about?" Dina asked.  Detective Carlo had practically booted her out the door, with no word about what to expect when she arrived.  "It's part of the test," he had explained.  "Part of being a detective is dealing with the unexpected."

Luckily, Officer Sylvia was more than happy to explain if it meant they could keep standing outside.  She said, "Vandalism, for a start.  We kind of expected some spillover from the protests.  They don't often turn violent, but occasionally you get the Star Wars fanatics--sorry, fans--causing all sorts of trouble."  She giggled.  "My favorites are the protestors dressed up like hot dogs.  That's who vandalized the Blue Velvet nightclub: hot dogs.  Well, teenagers dressed up like hot dogs."

Teenagers, Dina grumbled to herself.  She vaguely recollected her girls talking about the protests along the waterfront.  They begged her to go; they said all the cute boys would be there.  One big party scene.  Dina had told them no, along with "go do your homework."

Dina flipped open her notebook.  "What were these protests about again?"  She couldn't remember.  It hadn't been up there on her list of Things I Care About.

"Take your pick," Officer Myron said, crossing his arms.  "Everybody is protesting about something these days.  No toddlers, no pools, no pets.  Not enough community lots, not big enough lots.  Nothing to do, nothing to wear.  Then there's the demolitions.  Lots everywhere are being bulldozed and people are worried their homes are next--if they even have one.  Don't get me started on the Townies."

Dina looked around.  That explains the empty lots.

Sylvia whispered, as if relaying a dirty, shameful secret, "But Myron, we're Townies."

He scowled at her.  "No, we're Career Sims.  For all intents and purposes, we live at the police station."

Dina didn't like where this was going.  Not only did she have a big house, but her sister had one too.  Dina felt sorry for all the homeless Townies in the world, but it's not like she could do anything about it.  I married one, isn't that good enough?

Dina pretended to write something in her notebook, just to make it look like she hadn't heard them.  She started with a nonsense scribble, but it turned into a flower.  The never-ending artist in me, Dina laughed to herself.  Efrain affectionately called it her 'underwear inspiration' -- it could happen anywhere, anytime and you had to be ready to write it down or brush it out, pants or no pants.

Dina finally looked up and said, "So... looks like the Blue Velvet is the last one standing, huh."

Officer Sylvia took one long look at Officer Myron's face and asked, "Should we tell her?"

Dina froze.  Tell me what?

Officer Myron hesitated.  "Well, Detective Carlo did send her here..."

"Tell me what?!" Dina demanded.

Sylvia sighed, "It's more than just vandalism."

Officer Myron pointed to the front door of the Blue Velvet nightclub.  "Inside those doors is Willow Creek's first ever crime scene involving a murder.  A Sim died in there.  Eaten by a cowplant."

"Cowplants don't grow inside nightclubs.  Someone placed it there intentionally," Sylvia said morosely, nodding and shivering with fear at the same time.  Her head looks like a Bobble-Sim, Dina thought, feeling insane.

Murder?  In Willow Creek?  Dina couldn't even grasp the thought.  Things like that just didn't happen in her Simverse.  Maybe other Simverses where Players were cruel and a little off their knockers, but not this one.  Not this one!

Officer Myron warned, "The Chief doesn't want this getting out.  The news reporters will eventually sniff it out, but we've all been told to keep a lid on it as long as possible."

Dina was only half-listening.  She started pacing nervously.  "So someone -- maybe one of the vandals?-- lured the victim into the nightclub where they fed a Sim to a starving cowplant?" Dina rambled, trying to visualize this happening.  Uck.  "Who was it?  Who died?"

"Still no I.D. on the vic," Myron said.  "We only just got the labwork back from the swab sample.  I had to do that one."  His face turned a little green.

"He had to swab the cowplant's tongue for evidence," Sylvia helpfully supplied.  "That's how we know the cowplant ate a person: there's Sim DNA on its tongue.  It's not like we have a body or a witness."

"No witnesses?"

"The only ones we have are for the vandalism," Sylvia said. "Not the cowplant murder.  We don't know if they're even related."

"And the cowplant's still alive in there?" Dina asked.  She stared at the windows, but she couldn't see inside.  First a bear, and now this...

"For now.  Detective Carlo couldn't figure out how to safely move it, and the Chief agreed we should leave it for now," Officer Myron said.

Sylvia spoke up, "And, yes, it's still alive and well!  We're not about to kill it!  That'd be two murders.  Cowplants are practically family.  Many Sims have cowplants at home.  It's all we have until we get real pets."  She added with a giggle, "I just hope we get Star Wars costumes for the pets, too!"

Myron shook his head.  "Which is why investigating all these cowplant owners has turned into a nightmare -- there's too many of them!  We need more clues, so that's why Detective Carlo sent us back to look."

"Then we should look!"  Dina said, full of gusto.  I didn't join the force to stand around and talk!  She tucked away her notebook and slapped her pant pockets.  "Okay, I'm going in!"

"What?!  You can't, the bear-" Sylvia cried at the same time Myron said, "The cowplant!"

"Cowplants don't scare me, not if they've been recently fed, which this one has," Dina said.  "And real bears don't play the piano.  You hear that?"

Dina watched as the two officers cocked their heads, listening intently.  A melancholy melody drifted from the Blue Velvet nightclub, swelling Dina's heart with memories of home, strangely enough.  It sounds like something Mama would play.

Dina was very proud of her mother's musical talent, and if it helped to soothe her twin sister's fiery Hot-Headed temper, all the better.

As the musical notes drifted away in her mind, Dina said, as an afterthought, "If you two hadn't been arguing so loud, you might have heard it."

Officer Myron was clearly abashed.  He said to Sylvia, "I guess we can secure the perimeter while Cadet Dina takes point."

"I'll take a look at the back entrance and meet you guys inside," Sylvia offered.

As Officer Sylvia walked away, Myron faced her and said, "Are you sure you want to go in?  I don't think Chief Winston will be too happy if one of her cadets gets mauled by a bear or eaten by a cowplant on her first day.  This is way over your pay grade.  Way over mine!  Where's Detective Carlo?"

Dina said, "It's not a real bear."

"I know, it's just... Anything can happen now.  We have a murder--" his voice broke "-- anything can happen."

"That's why I have to go in.  I signed up to fight crime!"

Read Part IV of Episode 1!
Or ... Read Chapter 63 (next normal blog post)