nickel

Last week, one of the most horrible experiences that could ever happen to anyone happened to me. I'm Nickel Emerson, a Lieutenant in the LAPD's Special Investigations Unit (As a side note, officers in the SIU don't wear the regular police uniforms for undercover purposes.) I have short dark brown hair and opaline green eyes. Also, I stand at about 5'-6". I joined my department only about four years ago, which is long enough to get you into a tight squeeze. Still, without such a great police squad on this side of town, I probably wouldn't have survived last week, literally. A mob boss that I had put away in my first year was out for blood. My blood. He had broken out of prison especially for me, not that I feel flattered. Let's start from the beginning.

It was Tuesday, and I had returned home from a long day at the station. As I walked into the entryway, I heard the distinguishable sound of crunching glass. I looked around and saw that every single window in my place had been broken and that the entire floor area of the apartment was covered in glass. Fortunately, I was wearing my thick-soled boots and wasn't cut, but it would be quite a mess to clean up. In the middle of the sitting room, also on the floor, was the calling card of my nemesis. It was a simple index card with a large black X on it. It always puzzled me why he chose something so simple.

I decided to call my partner, Ron Thatcher. "Hello?" a half-delirious voice answered.

"Hey, Ron. It's Nickel."

"What's up, Nick? I only saw you what, fifteen minutes ago?"

"Cute. I thought you should know that someone's trying to kill me, and you, as my partner, are in danger as well."

"You're not joking, are you?" he asked, suddenly dead serious.

"Not even as much as rocks jump."

"Who is, uh, after you?"

"Jerod Sly. He left his calling card, as well as some glass, in my apartment. The fact that he knows where I live scares me."

"Look, Nick, you're not safe in your apartment. Come stay over here tonight. It'll make me feel better, if not you."

"No, Jerod would expect that, and I'd be putting you in even more danger. No, I'll stay somewhere more 'fun'."

Ron knew that was my buzzword for my best friend's, Heather's, house. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I'll be fine, so don't worry."

"Alright. Thanks for calling me, Nick. Bye."

"Night."

About a million things were flying through my head at that exact moment, but the only one I remember is wondering how Jerod had gotten out of jail so soon. It had only been a little over three years since I had put him away.

I called Heather and made arrangements to stay at her house. Heather Simon was a young Second Lieutenant in the SIU. Standing at exactly 5'-4" with gleaming red hair and a constant smile, Heather had an angelic, innocent look about her, though I knew she could handle herself better than most officers and was even ruthless at times. I packed a few things and left for her house.

The next day, Ron and I went back to my apartment to check out the scene. We dusted the whole place and found nothing. There wasn't even a microbit to suggest where Jerod Sly and his gang had gone. Unfortunately, we didn't have to go searching for them.

Three shots flew through where the living room window had previously been, making three neat little holes in my wall. Ron and I ducked as fast as we could. "Hey," he commented, "Less work for us."

"I hope you're not trying to make me feel better," I sarcastically replied.

We pulled out our guns and returned fire to the street below, where three gangster were assaulting us from a beat up Caddy.

At this point in time, both Ron and I were on one side of the window. So, to get better aim, Ron called that he was moving to the other side of the window.

A realization hit me and I screamed, "No, they know where we are," but it was too late. He was shot and he fell down. To me, it seemed like slow motion. I crawled over to where Ron was and held his hand. "Dammit! You never listen to me." I started crying, even though I was still yelling at him. "It's always worked out okay, but I knew someday it wouldn't. I knew." I couldn't talk anymore, choking on my own tears.

The bullets suddenly stopped. "Come on, Nick." He wiped some tears off my cheek. "It'll be alright, but I'll miss you." With that he faded away.

"No, Ron! Don't do this to me!" Through the grief and fury, though, somehow my sense of duty came through. I looked around everywhere. After a minute, I found it. A tiny camera hidden in the ceiling. I shot it with my handgun and it popped and then made a fizzing electrical sound.

I peeked out the window to check on our gangster friends. They were jumping in their black Caddy and leaving. I ran downstairs and jumped in my silver convertible '59 Porsche roadster. I raced after the gangsters as I called the station on my radio.

"This is Lieutenant Emerson. I'm in pursuit of three murderers on, uh, Jackson. Repeat, I'm in pursuit of three murderers on Jackson. Requesting reinforcements. This could get ugly."

My boss, Inspector Dave Callow, came on the radio. "Nick, is this related to Jerod's revenge?"

"Dave, now it's my revenge." I turned a sharp corner, "I'm now on Fifth."

"Who was murdered?"

I sighed, "Ron was."

"Be careful and don't get ahead of yourself," he lectured, "Remember that Jerod still wants to kill you."

"Yes, but he'd better watch out for me first." I hung up the radio, still on the tail of the gangster's Caddy. I thought it was odd that they weren't shooting at me or trying to lose me. Great, I thought, I'm being led into a trap. Which is fine with me, then I get a chance to see Jerod face to face.

About five minutes later, after dodging cars around town following the Caddy, the gangsters stopped in front of an aging theater. They jumped out of their car and ran in the building.

I stopped my Porsche right next to their Caddy and radioed headquarters, "Alright, boss. They stopped at the Terra Belle theater downtown and went inside. Shall I follow them in?"

"Wait till the squad gets there. I just sent them to you."

"Normally I'd protest, but HQ is only a minute away, so alright."

"Good. Dave out."

I hung up my radio and didn't have to wait long for our squad to show up with Heather leading them. As they started to get out of their cars, I ordered, "I'm going inside solo at first. Come in when I signal you, and if I don't signal in fifteen minutes, come in anyway."

Heather got out of her '63 Corvette and walked up to me, "Are you sure you don't want me along?"

"Yeah. If they want me, I can lure them out. Then I won't have to search for them. Plus, I know it's a trap and I don't want anyone else in danger."

"Okay, but be careful."

"Tell the other guys that," I called as I went inside.

The door closed behind me as I surveyed the theater. There was a lecture or something of that sort going on in the main auditorium. Man, why did Jerod have to involve civilians? Maybe I can be quiet and find Jerod before I cause an uproar. I decided to conduct a systematic search starting with the basement. To my right was a door labeled 'Basement' and upon opening it, I found stairs leading down. There wasn't any light at all when I reached the bottom, so I pulled a miniature flashlight out of my back jeans pocket and searched around the room for a light switch. I noticed it on the exact opposite side of the room. As I walked over there to turn on the light, I heard an electrical buzz and abruptly ran into something. I tried to see what it was that I ran into, but nothing was there. I reached out in front of me and hit something as hard as rock in midair it seemed. I followed it around until I had made a complete circle and was back at my original starting point. There was only one conclusion I could come to: I was trapped.

Suddenly, the lights turned on and in front of me stood my nemesis, Jerod Sly, and two of his men, which happened to be two of the three that I had chased in the Caddy.

"So," Jerod elated, "The 'Great Lieutenant' has found herself in a trap. How are you going to get out of this one, Nick?"

"Well, I had already come to the trapped conclusion, so not to sound stupid but…what is holding me in here?"

"A state-of-the-art, high tech force field. The only one on this side of the states. Anyway, you'll have time to ponder over my previous question, because you are going to be the last one to die. If you remember correctly, you killed some of my best men last time we met, so I feel it's only fair to kill all of you squadron first. They are all walking into another trap I set."

"Your gang can't beat them," I stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh, keep the optimism going as long as you can, dear, but my men have missile launchers."

Oh no! They'll never make it. What have I done? I thought desperately. I knew I would have to get out of my trap.

"I knew you'd see it my way," Jerod laughed cruelly. I just glared at him. "Also, I'll be taking you gun and any other weapons and gadgets you might have." He snapped his fingers and his men came through the force field and aggressively took everything on me except my clothes. Then, they walked out again as if nothing was there.

"How did they do that?" I queried.

"There is an option that everything can go in, but nothing can go out, unless of course you have the special device that my men are wearing. For now, though, I'm switching it back to normal mode where everything stays out. We wouldn't want something flying in and hurting you, now would we? You can try to get the device if you want to." He grabbed a small box-like object off of one of his men, hit a switch, and threw it about five feet away from me. Once again, Jerod laughed.

I couldn't do anything but wait, so I sat down.

"See you later, babe." I hated being called 'babe', and he knew it. Jerod and his guys left me by myself.

As soon as they were gone, Heather walked in as casual as could be.

"Wha? You aren't supposed to be in here for another ten minutes!" I complained and then I smiled, "But I'm glad to see you."

"I figured you'd get in a jam."

"Thanks," I sarcastically replied.

"So, how do you get out of there? I know bad guys have a habit of telling us police people all their secrets."

"You see that device right in front of you?"

She grabbed and said, "Yeah?"

"Is there a switch on it?"

"Uh-huh. It says normal mode, which it's on, and optional mode."

"Good, switch it to optional mode and toss it in here."

"Alright." She followed my instructions exactly.

When I had the device in hand, I strapped it on me and strolled out of the vicinity of the force field. "Don't suppose you happen to have a portable radio on you?"

"Yeah, here." She handed me a technical-looking walkie-talkie.

I took it and held the button, talking to my old friend and the police squad's leader, "Captain Norman, this is Emerson inside the theater. Caution upon entering, it's a trap. Repeat: it's a trap."

"Copy, Lieutenant. We'll be careful."

"They have missiles, Jake."

"Missiles? Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir."

"We'll have to risk it for the civilians. Norman out."

"Missiles?" Heather's mouth dropped. "I wasn't trained for this."

I smiled again, "Come on, we've got to go." I led the way upstairs. When we got to the top, I peeked around and it was clear. Heather and I walked out into main lobby as the squad came in. They nodded at me and I ran into the auditorium. "LAPD, Everybody out! There is a dangerous situation in this building! Everybody out!" I yelled.

A stampede of people ran out the door as the man on stage bellowed, "What is the meaning of this?"

I flipped out my badge, "LAPD. We are clearing out the building because there is a whole mob in here."

"Oh my," he gasped.

"Sir, please leave. They are armed and dangerous."

"Alright."

After he had left, I noticed that Heather was still with me. "Hmm. I need to see the Captain. You stay here and lookout for Jerod or his gang. I'll send someone in to keep you company."

"I want to help you, Nick."

I thought about it. I knew it would be dangerous, but I needed help. "Fine, but watch your back and mine too while you're at it."

"Yes, sir," she smiled.

"Come on." We walked out of the auditorium and saw the Captain guarding the lobby.

"You sure cause a rush, Nick," he commented.

"I try, Jake. Everything's clear in there, but send in a few guys to keep watch over it."

"Vides, Johnson, get in there. Anything else?"

"Yeah, they took my gun and I need a radio. Got any extras?"

"Uh huh," he said, not surprised. "Over there."

"Thanks." I walked over to where he had pointed and grabbed the equipment.

As I walked back, a Sergeant went up to the Captain. "Sir, all of the civilians are clear of the premises, but there was no sign of the gang anywhere."

"Oh no," I gasped. "Are any of your guys outside?"

"Yeah," answered the Captain. "We have to guard the cars."

"I hope they're okay. We're in more danger, though. Jerod wanted us in here."

"Are you saying…"

There was a crashing sound and some of the ceiling fell down. "It's the trap!" I yelled. There was another crash as we all jumped and ducked. "Jeez. We've got to get out of here." I got up just as there was another crash. More ceiling fell as I walked over to the door. I tried it, but it was locked. "Whelp. We're thoroughly stuck," I announced. The crashes kept coming as I thought of a plan. I looked at my belt and the device was still there. I turned to the Captain, "Radio all of your men to go to the basement. I have an idea."

"Sure, Nick, but…"

"No buts, just do it."

Agreeingly, he grabbed his radio and sent out the message, "This is the Captain to all units. Go to the basement immediately. Repeat: IMMEDIATELY!"

"Come on everybody," I ordered. I led the way back downstairs. I saw the force field still up. "Alright. Everybody in there, now!"

"I get it," commented Heather. She went in and everyone followed her lead. After what was left of the squad had come and gone in, I followed up the rear. "This is a great idea, Nick."

"I hope so," I replied as I flipped the switch back to normal mode. Fortunately, everything fell around us, the force field protecting us.

About five minutes and a lot of rubble later, the missiles stopped hitting the theater. The Captain tried to leave the force field, but was stopped by it. "Okay," he said, "How do we get out of here?"

"Well," I explained, "I have a device just for that. We have to go one by one, but it works." I turned on the "present" from Jerod that was still on my belt and succeeded in leaving the force field. "See?"

"Oh."

"Captain, catch," I called as I tossed it to him.

As he joined me on the other side of the field, he questioned, "Where…?"

"It's a long story," I interrupted.

"Uh huh. Simon!"

Heather grabbed the device and came out also. We kept passing it back and forth until everybody was out of the force field.

Our group crawled through the concrete to the basement's stairs. We ascended them and when we came upon the lobby, we surveyed the mess. The building was amazingly still standing, though there were multiple holes in the structure. Unfortunately, we were stuck in the building because of the rubble.

Suddenly, ropes dropped from above us and we looked up to see Jerod's men descending to the lobby. At the top stood Jerod, looking triumphant. "Ah ha, Lieutenant. You'll have to tell me how you escaped once again before I kill you." He laughed maniacally.

I yelled at the top of my lungs, "Everyone, take cover!" I stayed out in the open to confront Jerod as everyone else ducked underneath rubble for the eminent shooting fight. "Sorry, Jerod, but you'll never know how I escaped, because I won't give you the pleasure of killing me."

Jerod swirled down a rope to face me on the ground. He held a handgun.

Shots began to fly around up and I taunted, "Come on, you coward. Fight me man to woman in hand-to-hand combat."

"No problem, Lieutenant," he said through a sly grin.

He tossed away the gun and put up his fists to fight. He threw a few punches at me, but I easily avoided them. Tired of ducking, I grabbed one of his punches and threw him ungracefully into a pile of rocks. I gave him the courtesy of getting up, and he did slowly. He was also now bleeding from the jagged rubble.

Jerod glared at me a moment before running towards the closest rope. He hurriedly clambered up it without a thought of the bullets flying around him. I began wishing I had a bulletproof vest and then followed him up on a rope right next to the one he was on. I couldn't quite catch up to him, but he was hit by a stray bullet in his arm halfway to the roof. While he was doing all he could not to fall off, I hurried to get to his level. I then high kicked him. It was enough to knock him off the rope. I watched him fall the length of one story to the ground. I knew he was dazed, if not unconscious.

I carefully made my way down the rope, dodging bullets here and there. When I was finally on flat ground, Jerod was up, but balancing precariously. "Give it up," I cautioned him.

He just looked at me and then ran. Rolling my eyes, I once again chased him. I was on his tail the whole way as he ran to a door. He tried opening it, forgetting that he and his men locked them all.

"Alright," I asked, "Where you gonna go now?"

Jerod swung to face me and quick as lighting, he pulled an Uzi out of his jacket. "I suggest you give up now, Nick," he breathed heavily. He was in a pretty bad condition, but I wasn't going to test his reaction time. I knew I was no match for the gun.

"Um, this may seem like another one of my stupid questions, but why didn't you pull that out while we were on the ropes?"

"I like shooting people on the ground," Jerod answered.

"Oh, yeah," I retorted sarcastically, "That makes sense."

"Never mind that. All that matters is that you are going to die, Lieutenant." He aimed precisely at me and his finger moved towards the trigger.

I closed my eyes, expecting impact, but I heard a type of war cry from a female voice. I opened my eyes in time to see Heather flying at Jerod. She landed on his back and held on with all her might. I ducked behind some rubble while she was distracting him.

Peeking beyond a huge piece of concrete, I pulled out my handgun to try and get a good shot at Jerod. I saw Jerod slam Heather back against a wall to get her off of him. She finally let go and slumped to the ground. I shot a few times at Jerod, but missed bbecasue of the bad angle I was at. Jerod aimed at my best friend and shot her directly in the chest. I blasted more at him as he left running, but only got a few shots to his legs. At least he'll leave me a trail, I thought.

I ran to where Heather was lying and held her head in her lap. I ignored the blood that was staining my clothes. "How was th…that, sir?" she whispered.

"Damn you! It was my fight. But thanks…" I answered as she went limp. "No!" I screamed, "Not another one! Arrgh! You'll pay Jerod!" My words reverberated off the vented walls over the sounds of gunfire.

Teary-eyed, I cautiously creeped over to where the Captain was hiding. When he saw my face, he stopped shooting long enough to asked what happened.

"Heather's dead, too," I stated succinctly.

"I'm so sorry to hear that, Nick."

"Captain, do you have anything automatic?"

He reached behind him and handed me an AK-47. "Here. Go get that jerk."

I grinned, "Whoa. Thanks." Then I followed Jerod's trail of blood. I found a pool of it next to an open doorway and concluded that he took the time to unlock a door. So he can't be too far. The trail led me to an alley that was only a block away. There Jerod was sitting behind a dumpster, next the a brick wall, resting because of his loss of blood.

"I've got you trapped, Jerod," I yelled. "Give up now and I may not hurt you…too much, anyways."

He shot at me in response. I took cover behind another dumpster and there we had our own little shooting fight. That was, until I accidentally leaned out too far and a bullet of his hit me on the side in the lower ribs. Now that I was injured, Jerod became more confident, So he walked out of his hiding place and towered over me.

"Ha, Lieutenant. In the end, I still win."

"I don't think so, buddy." I shot with the AK-47 and didn't let go of the trigger until the gangster had fallen. The ordeal was finally over.

He had shot at the same time and had hit me a couple more times, but fortunately it wasn't anywhere vital. Out of breath, I pulled out my radio and contacted the Captain. "Jack, this is Nick, do you read?"

"Yeah, Nick, what happened?"

"Jerod is down, but could you kindly send for an ambulance. I got a couple wounds that need immediate tending to."

"Sure thing," he replied. "Norman out."

Then, I collapsed backwards and waited for the Paramedics to arrive. Laying there, I was glad my vendetta with Jerod was finally over, but it had cost the lives of two of my closest friends, not to mention some of the officers of LAPD's best squad. They later made me a full-fledged Detective, but I don't think I deserve it. I was doing my duty. Ron or Heather would have done the same for me. But now they can't.