Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rivers of Blood Chapter 1: Jade (Original Fiction)

This is an ongoing novel that I've been writing since the past year. I thought I'd share the first few chapters in public for the first time. This is unlike anything I've ever written in the past, I think. This is also my first time writing in this particular genre. With that said, I hope you enjoy this pilot chapter of Rivers of Blood.

Rivers of Blood

Chapter 1: Jade

Soft, normally inaudible footsteps rang out as loud as church bells on a Sunday within the hollow wooden passageways that led to the Baker and Company Security and Consultancy firm.  There were empty rooms on each side of the narrow passage with dilapidated doors worn down by termites and glassless windows covered with cobwebs. The doorknobs had been hastily stripped bare by scavengers looking to cash in any piece of scrap metal they could get their hands on long ago. On the ceiling, a lone light bulb hung stubbornly from a flimsy electric wire, emitting faint, yellowish incandescent light that offered little in terms of illumination. The floors, whose boards had outlived their usefulness long ago, sighed and creaked in shallow protest with each dainty step that Cindy Garcia took.

She was a petite young thing with a small face and heavily angular eyebrows that accentuated her smart, round eyes that burned with a distinctly fiery red haze. She wore a tight-fitting one piece purple dress cut very high up to her thighs with black leather gloves, matching leggings and platform shoes. If not for the innocence of her face and her small stature, the outfit would have been downright lewd, yet, Cindy carried this highly unusual get-up with the flair and confidence of a fashion model.
“Uh…  Sheena, I think we have a guest coming up.”

Eric Williams dutifully informed his superior. Of course, there was no urgency in his tone. Eric had been working as an understudy/partner/rookie/lackey for Sheena Baker’s agency over the last few months and this kind of event had become a normalcy for him.
The empty halls that preceded their modest 4 square meter office created such loud echoes that they didn’t even need a CCTV camera nor any kind of early warning system to know that a prospective client was approaching . There was only one way in and out of the office and it would have to come through the front door and always by walking through the dimly lit passageway lined with abandoned, dilapidated offices.
 The agency itself was fairly well-known throughout the city as providing competent, well-trained personnel. It was far from the best security firm in the business, but it was reputable enough to have several retainer clients mostly from lending-institutions and small business owners that operated in the area.

Of course, this was not the reason that Mr. Williams was working for this particular agency directly under the sole proprietor, Sheena Baker right now.

The truth is that the Baker Agency also doubled as a detective agency, but more importantly, Sheena Baker was a living breathing unsung hero, a real live ace detective – although very few people even knew her name. 

“No shit, Sherlock. Go on and open the door before she gets here. It’s a girl – a very slow moving one. Oh, and don’t open the door too quickly, you might spook her. She’s a shy one.”

Sheena Baker casually ordered her subordinate without so much as batting an eye at him as she continued to pound away at some piece of paperwork on her personal computer – a clone Pentium MMX from the late 90s; the kind that took 30 seconds to five minutes to open a single program.
Eric had asked her once about the computer. Certainly, the agency earned enough money from just retainer fees, but Sheena herself could earn anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 from closing a single case from one of her private clients. Therefore, it’s not like she couldn’t afford a more modern PC.

“You don’t get it, kid. This thing has charm.  It’s the only way to play old school PC games while preserving the authentic experience,” was her response.
Of course, she also insisted on doing all her work on the same ancient PC – which sometimes led to complications since modern browsers weren’t exactly built to run on 32 mb of ram. Not when even mid-range smartphones have at least 2 gb of ram on minimum.

Eric glanced sideways at his employer.  She was older than him at 32 years of age. At 5’3” and with long, curly, disheveled hair, she wasn’t exactly striking nor even intimidating at a glance. She wore heavy dark-rimmed glasses  which Eric was more or less certain were just for show since he’d tried them on when she had left them on her desk and the glass was as clear as day – no grade whatsoever. Actually, he was certain, she’d bought it at the dollar store just across the street and they were actually glare reducing computer glasses.
Eric’s gaze traveled down to her lips, which quickly curved into a sly smile.
“What’s wrong? Are you going to confess your love for me or something? Sorry, but you’re not my type, kid.”

“W-wha? Where the heck did that come from? I didn’t even say a word? Sigh… never mind. I’ll get the door.”

Eric paused before turning the knob.  He couldn’t help thinking about how eccentric his employer turned out to be. Still, he did not regret being in his current situation.
The door to the Baker security office could only open outwards and through a doorknob from the inside. There was no knob at the other side of the door, only a metal tin that had been hastily nailed on. One might think that this is a clever, low-tech security hack, but it was actually just Sheena Baker being too lazy and cheap to replace the outer doorknob after it fell off some years ago. Fortunately, the doorknob itself was as old school as Sheena’s taste in computers and could easily be opened by sliding a credit card or some similarly shaped object into its tongue. It’s actually a trick that every kid in third grade and higher once knew back during the glory days of the super spy genre.
“Welcome, please come in. It’s a bit untidy right now, but you’d probably feel more comfortable inside.”

Eric confirmed a small click coming from the direction of Sheena Baker and nodded in affirmation.

A very small, very young-looking girl, barely even 4’11” timidly stepped into the room. Eric ushered her inside and led her to a small sofa that Sheena had reserved for prospective clients.  She bowed and quietly took her seat.

“Baker detective agency at your service. So, what can we do for you, Miss?”

Eric decided to skip the formalities. Although officially, the Baker Agency was a security firm, it was an unwritten rule that anyone who would walk through the doors of this particular office was coming in, while fully aware of the agency’s hidden services: investigating unresolved crimes when the police and other government agencies cannot help – or if it is impossible for the client to seek help from these entities for some odd reason.
The Baker agency had a policy of never prying into the private affairs of the client nor the reasons why they would seek out the help of a clandestine private eye operating under the eyes of the law. Of course, it is also an implicit agreement between the agency and the prospective client that their case may be refused without question and without appeal.
“Tell us only as much as you comfortable with. We are here to listen. If your case is deemed worthy of investigation, then we will inform you and appraise you of the fees that you will be charged. We only charge a one-time fee and payable only after we have resolved the case. The services we offer are considered outside of the commerce of men, therefore, there  are no contracts to be signed here. Once we resolve the case for you and we WILL resolve the case for you, you are on your honor whether you pay us or not.”

Smart fiery red eyes blinked nervously as Eric delivered the standard operating procedure speech. She nodded in affirmation.

“I understand.”

Her voice was thin and very high-pitched. Combined with her over-all appearance, one could easily mistake her for a child, or at the most, a pre-teen, if it were not for the engagement ring on her left ring finger.

“My name is Cindy Garcia. About three days ago, my fiancé was killed while shopping for groceries. It wasn’t even classified as a murder. They shot him in cold blood – the police did. They claim that…”

“Wait, is that the one that was on Channel 6? It was all over the news. Whoa…! So you’re his fiancé? The media never even mentioned that he had one.”

Sheena interrupted without leaving her precious MMX computer.

“Yes, that was him, Bill Taylor. He was a seaman, a 2nd mate. He’d just finished his second voyage recently and we were supposed to get married this November just after he had cleared up some family issues he was having. Some sort of land dispute with his siblings. I’m not sure, I don’t really follow that stuff.”

“But the police shot him because apparently, he was smuggling cocaine. They also claim that he fought back.”  Eric tried to be as neutral and nonchalant about it as possible, but the truth is that he felt uncomfortable confronting the girl before him with this statement.

“That’s a lie! My Billy wasn’t like that at all! He had zero connections with any drug dealers as far as I know – and he’s my fiancé, I should know! Besides, like I said, he’s a 2nd mate. Do you realize how much he makes in a month? Why would he even need to smuggle drugs? Also, he never carries a weapon in public! Never ever! The police planted the evidence and killed him in cold blood to add to their monthly quota of criminals killed. I know you guys were former police officers! You should know how corrupt the system is!”

“C-calm down, Miss Garcia. I assure you, we’re on your side here.”



“Actually,  you may escort Miss Garcia out right now, Eric.”

“W-WHAT!!!” Cindy Garcia shrieked so loudly that her shrill voice reached the same pitch as the incessantly creaking fans inside of Sheena Baker’s mmx computer.
Sheena got up from her desk and approached the smaller woman, stopping within two steps in front of her.
She calmly adjusted her glasses and then lazily placed one hand in her pants pocket.
“I’m sorry, Miss Garcia… but I’m saying that we have to refuse your case. As far as I know, there is nothing more to be resolved here. Our agency specializes in unresolved cases that the police cannot handle. I’m afraid that Bill Taylor’s case is not one of these.”

“Wh-what do you mean?”
Sheena readjusted her glasses and then looked Cindy straight in the eye.

“I’ll only ask you this once, do you really want to know the truth?”

“What kind of cockamamie question is that? Of course I do? Why do you think I’d be here in the first place!?”

“I  see…”

Sheena smiled with a look of pity on her face. She placed her hands on Cindy’s shoulders and gently pushed her down onto the sofa. It was a very gentle, almost motherly gesture and Cindy made no move to protest. In her heart, she was dreading the words which she was about to hear. She did not know what they would be, but she knew that this woman before her was formidable – that rather than the young man who had initially entertained her, she was talking to the real detective now.

“First of all, Bill Taylor is a known drug smuggler. He’s not a big-time drug lord, mind you, but he is on the drug enforcement agency’s list of known smugglers. They have been closely monitoring him over the past few weeks. I had a friend send me this email earlier. He’s an insider. Don’t ask anything more, I can’t tell anyway.”

Sheena handed Cindy a small letter.

“This is known as the ‘drug matrix.’ It lists all the known suppliers, dealers, and smugglers in this area. The police either try to collect enough evidence in order to arrest them or… well, they end up like your fiancé.”

With great disbelief, Cindy perused the piece of paper that Sheena had given her. Sure enough, Bill Taylor AKA “The Plunderer” was listed.

“Of course, this alone could be mere hearsay. After all, you have no reason to trust me on this matter. Which brings us to the next portion: motive. Umm… here.”

Sheena took out a small newspaper clipping from her shirt pocket and showed it to Cindy. It read: “City’s Last Remaining VHS Renal Store Finally Closed: Owners File For Bankruptcy.”

“This was an article from six months ago. Actually, I happened to save it because I was a regular at that store. Anyway, you are probably aware that it belonged to your fiancé’s family… but what you were not aware of is that it closed down several months ago and his family has been struggling to make ends meet since then. You know how it is. This city basically operates on a survival of the fittest principle. Really no room for old, obsolete things here.”

Eric thought this remark from Sheena to be quite ironic considering her penchant for old pieces of technology.
“You said you weren’t interested in your fiancé’s family business, well, this was basically the family business. It was a huge chain of rental stores back in the day, but they were just too traditional and refused to stock newer media like Blu-Rays and DVDs. Nowadays, even VHS players are becoming rare, so it’s no small wonder that the business went bankrupt.”

“This… I… I just can’t believe it. I mean, sure he has a motive, but where’s the evidence? They said he was smuggling cocaine, but they never produced any evidence of that. They killed him based on mere suspicion! Isn’t that worth investigating.”

“Eric, do you have a knife?”

“Huh? Oh, sure! Here…”

“Hmm… a switchblade. Nice and illegal – quite dangerous too… but I digress.”

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Sheena sprung the blade and in one swift motion, took a giant slash at Cindy’s left wrist – or at least it seemed that way at a glance.

Immediately, small clouds of whitish, crystalline dust burst from her glove.

“Well, I kinda thought those gloves looked a little bit heavy when you came in. I wonder what he told you when he gave you these? That these were some kind of unique fashion trend overseas, maybe?”

“Thi--- this is?”

“Yes, unfortunately, it’s cocaine.”
“But- why? I mean, why would he do something like this… of all things, smuggling illegal drugs? Oh Bill… why? Just why?”

Eric could think of several reasons why. Because he needed the money. With your marriage coming up and the family business going down, his salary as a second mate just wasn’t enough. Because as a sailor, Bill was in the perfect position to become a smuggler and make a lot of money very quickly. But of course, Eric kept these thoughts to himself.
Sheena scratched the back of her head.

“If it’s any consolation to you…  you should know that your fiancé didn’t fight back. That gun that they found on the crime scene. It was definitely planted. It’s an old revolver that belonged to me. The police confiscated it when the new gun laws were enforced over a year ago preventing anyone from having illegally modified and home-made guns.”
Cindy Garcia timidly got up. Her head hung low with her bangs casting a grim shadow over her eyes.  She took off her gloves and cast them aside on the sofa.

“Don’t worry, we’ll dispose of these for you.”

“Thank you.”
And with that, she turned towards the door and walked away, her small back slowly, but surely fading into the darkness.


“Hey, rookie. Would you stop that?”

“Umm… stop what, exactly?”

“Stalking Cindy Garcia. We don’t do that at our agency.”
“How did you kno… I mean, what are you talking about?”

“You really wanna play that game with me, Eric?”

“Look, Sheena. I just felt sorry for her. She had no hand in all of this and yet she’s the one who has to suffer the most now.”

Sheena  furrowed her eyebrows.

“Sheesh… kids. Look, if you have a crush on her, you should just say so. I can’t have my apprentice moping around like this so I’ll tell you what. Let’s pay a visit to her after business hours.”

“I do not have a crush on her.”

“Sure, sure… of course you don’t. What’s her address?”

“5 Rosemarie Street”

“Good job, stalker.”

5 Rosemarie Street was located in the upper crust corner of town. Eric had suspected it before but based on her appearance and clothing, Cindy Garcia was definitely an affluent lady. Although it was bad professional protocol to be visiting a client’s home uninvited, Sheena decided to humor her subordinate.
Cindy Garcia’s residence was a sprawling 2-storey residence with walls made from imported mactan bricks and tiled roofing. The windows were barred with ornate metal grills painted in black. It was quite an elegant house with a dainty yet prosperous appearance that fit its owner quite perfectly.
“Wow! This is really something isn’t it, Sheena? Uh… Sheena?”

“Oh… were you talking to me? Sorry, I was just checking something by the window.”

“Anyway, I’m pressing the doorbell, ok?”

Ding! Dong!

“No answer.”

Ding Dong!

“Hmm… still nothing. I guess she’s out?”

“Eric, try knocking and do it hard.”


“Still nothing huh… then…  HELLO! CINDY! CINDY GARCIA! WE’VE COME TO VISIT!”

“Whoa! Don’t shout all of a sudden like that! The neighbors will think we’re robbers or something.”

“Forget about that. Eric, break down the door and I mean now!”

“What? Are you crazy? That could get us arrested.”

Sheena glared at her subordinate. Her jade green eyes, normally calm and almost cynical, looked sharp enough to pierce diamonds at that moment.

“You’re serious, aren’t you? Ok then.”

Eric was not a very large man by anyone’s standards at a mere 5’7”, but he was athletic and solidly built. With two to three body tackles, the hardwood door that led into Cindy Garcia’s house finally gave way.

The two rushed inside and they did not have to look very far. What they saw next made their stomachs turn.
Cindy Garcia was lying prone and unconscious on the kitchen floor -- still wearing the same clothes that she had worn just a few hours ago. A pool of blood and some kind or organic liquid had formed around her mouth.

“Cindy!” Eric was prepared to rush to her side.
“Eric! Don’t be hasty. Follow the procedure.”


Trying his best to regain his composure, Eric went over the steps in his head over and over again as he approached the victim.

First, he did a visual check to ensure that no sharp objects or other dangerous weapons were nearby. Next, he scanned his surroundings to ensure that it was safe to approach the victim. Both conditions were met, so he approached Cindy Garcia’s body and placed his hand on her back gently.

“Hey… hey! Are you alright?”

No response.

He placed the back of his hand next to her nose. No warm sensation. She wasn’t breathing. Finally, he checked for a pulse. Nothing… furthermore, the body was cold. Cindy Garcia was dead.

The rookie detective did not need to look far for the cause of death. Clutched in the victim’s left hand was a pack of rat poison – explaining the pool of blood around her mouth. Rat poison caused internal hemorrhage.

“She’s dead… Oh, God Sheena, she’s dead! She committed suicide… because, we were too harsh on her. We killed her! Sheena, we killed an innocent person! We drove her to her death!”

“Say something! What good will clicking your tongue do? She’s dead! Cindy is dead! We were just talking to her hours ago and now she’s dead!”

“Arrgh! Would you shut up, rookie! I’m trying to think here!”

“Y-you cold-hearted woman! What else is there to think of? This is reality! The answer is right before your eyes. Case closed! We were too harsh on this young lady earlier and now she’s taken her life because she has nothing left to live for.”

“Hmm… this is reality huh?”

Sheena cracked a smile.

“Wh-what kind of inhuman being are you? How could you smile at this situation?”

“N-no. Sorry. I’m not smiling because Cindy is dead. Rather, you just helped solve this case for me.”

“Like I said, what case?”

Eric was clearly exasperated at this point.
“Calm down, rookie. Your first mistake was assuming that this was a suicide based on that one piece of evidence you found. First of all, the rat poison is one thing, but what’s that liquid forming around her mouth as well? It doesn’t look like saliva and it’s definitely not urine or semen.”

“What does that matter? It doesn’t change the fact that it’s suicide.”

“Like I said, it’s not a fact. These are what I found outside earlier.”

Sheena produced several items that she’d wrapped in some tissue paper. There were four screws, all the same size and shape and one piece of plastic that looked like a used syringe.

Eric’s eyes lit up with a sudden realization.

“Do you see what I’m getting at now?”

“Do you mean…”
Sheena adjusted her dark-rimmed glasses before speaking.

“That’s right, Rookie. We’re not looking at a suicide here. We’ve got a murder on our hands.  My theory is that the perpetrator gained entry through the grilled windows by removing the grills and of course, this syringe is the murder weapon. I’ll bet whatever that liquid is that’s mixed with her blood is the real culprit and not the rat poison.”
Sheena took out a cellphone. A Nokia 3310 that surprisingly still works to this day.

“Hello? It’s me. Yeah… yeah, I think I have something here that your boys will want to have a look at. Yes… it is that type of thing. Oh, the address? You know what? We fooled around with the evidence quite a bit so I don’t want to have to hear a lecture from the chief. Tell you what, I’ll throw away the sim card and leave it right here. You can trace my last location via GPS. Thanks!”
After some searching, the pair found an empty medicine bottle and an eyedropper inside of the bathroom medicine cabinet and used these items to procure some of the organic liquid from the crime scene.

“Cindy, I’m sorry… but don’t worry, we’ll find your killer for sure.”

“Saying goodbye to your girlfriend, Eric?”

“How can you even joke at a time like this?”

Sheena laughed hysterically, and then she grabbed Eric by the cuff of his shirt and pulled him close to her.

Despite her brash demeanor and whimsical behavior, Eric could not help but notice for the first time, that beneath her shabby tomboy clothing, Sheena Baker was definitely a very attractive woman. He blushed a bit as he thought of this and was forced to avert his gaze.
“Because life is too short for anyone to take anything so seriously. I’ve faced death head-on so many times. I’ve seen so many people – people who were important to me, lose their lives because they made one tiny mistake. Life is ironic and comedic that way – and at any given moment, at the blink of an eye, at the snap of a finger, it’s over just like that… so, I think it’s better to laugh as hard as you can, cry all the tears in the world if you’re sad, and just have fun with whatever life throws at you.”
“Th-that was actually very profound.”

“Would it sound less profound if I told you that I paraphrased that line from a book?”

Eric hesitated for a moment, before smiling.
“Sigh… no, I still think that was wonderful.”

Sheena adjusted her glasses.
“You flatterer. C’mon, let’s get out of here before the police arrives. I’ll meet you tomorrow. We’ve got a lot of work to do. For now, I’m going to pull a few strings and have some old friends examine this liquid. There’s something not quite right about it.”

“Ok, see you tomorrow, Sheena.”

“Later, rookie.”

That night, as Eric turned on the TV inside of his one-room apartment, a bitter revelation awaited.

“And now for the news. This just in, a businesswoman and former female police officer was gunned to death by a motorcycle riding duo a mere 30 minutes from now. Reporting live from the scene of the crime is…”

“N-No…it can’t be!”

“Sheena…? Sheena! SHEENA!”
To Be Continued

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