The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘crime drama’

NaNoWriMo: The Plan

Posted by BigWords on November 22, 2009

Pope Joan took the ID cards and spread them across the table in a fan shape. “Do you have any idea how long it has been since I saw so many of these. Mmm… Brings back old memories.” She lifted a card and sniffed it. “There are still traces of cocaine on this one. God, I miss the old days.”
“You told me that they contained information.”
“That they do. Now, young Charlie… You brought me cards with Charlie…” She paused, “I find that ironic. Anyways, the information on the cards is directly related to the importance of the individuals who were issued with them.” She picked a card from the table and inspected it. “The serial number that rests along the bottom of the plastic indicates the location of issue…
APC 05
“The person who issued the card…
158-392-602
“The status of the card holder…
D8
“And-” Joan broke off from her train of thought, noticing another card on the table. “Where did you get this one?” She held the card which belonged to the enforcer Talos had killed so many years earlier.
“It was from a friend. He killed a guy with a funky eye. I took the card.”
“You might be in luck. This would have been issued before the cards were keyed to specific locks. You can get into buildings which the Kings haven’t upgraded yet. Saying that, those delightful fools rarely spend money on physically protecting their belongings because they have enough rep to do what they want.”
“That’s good to know.” Charlie pondered.
“Do you know where the strongholds are located?”
“No, but I can find out.”
“Ah, the power of self-belief. Give me your hand.”
“I’ve told you often enough – We’re not going there.”
“Please, give me your hand.”
Charlie cautiously offered his hand. Joan produced a small tool from her purse and pressed it against Charlie’s hand.
“What is this supposed to do?”
Joan pressed a button on the device, eliciting a howl of pain from Charlie.
“Now you have an embedded chip in your hand you won’t show up on the Kings security systems.”
“Y’know, I’m getting really fed up of people setting me up for shit without advance warnings.”

####

Charlie banged on the door of the pawnbroker, eyeing the street for movement while he waited. The street was too dark to be completely sure, but it felt as if as if there were people moving around in the shadows.
“Yeah, whaddayawant.”
Charlie held the card up to the cam. “I need a word.”
The pawnbroker beeped the door open. “Come on in.”
Charlie swung the door open, the strong smell of old wood, freshly cleaned metal and blood hitting him as soon as he entered. “I’m here to talk about the last shipment.”
“It was sent out, just like all the rest.”
“Well it didn’t turn up, and you were named as the last person to see it. Care to comment before I am forced to do something I don’t want to do.”
The pawnbroker paled at the thought of his name being sent to the Kings’ enforcers. “I’ll take a look at my records. No need to act rashly here, ‘kay.”
As the old man disappeared to the back room Charlie took a look at the display of items stolen from across the city. Some of the objects still retained the blood of their previous owners, and it was surprising how much of the worthless junk had been priced at high prices.
“I have the paperwork here. It was sent to the lock-up on the fourth roadway at the side-entrance to DigiMax. Frankie the Nail took it up a couple of days ago.”
“Let me have all the paperwork you have. The bosses are taking inventory, and anything out-of-place will be accounted for.”
The pawnbroker handed over the file in his hand. “You want everything?”
“Every last piece of paper. Every digital file. Everything.”

Outside, Charlie held the box of information close. He stifled the urge to grin like a fool, moving hastily to his hov. Things were improving at a rate of knots, and soon he would be ready to show the Kings how business could be done.

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NaNoWriMo: Tragedy

Posted by BigWords on November 19, 2009

“Did you enjoy yourself?”
Charlie thought about the question. “Yeah. I liked the shiny.”
“That’s all you ever think about. Money, money, money…”
“I think about you as well.”
Lara took his hand. “Riiight, and I suppose that you didn’t even give that blonde in the short black skirt a second look.”
“Which blonde?” Charlie played along.
“Yeah, like I really believe you,” She joked back.
Across the road three men slipped into the alley, out of sight. Charlie pulled Lara closer to him, quickening his pace. “Believe this. The street is about to get very dangerous.”
At the end of the street an enforcer quietly watched, moving away only when Charlie made eye contact with him. More people rushed from the sidewalk to the relative safety of the buildings on the ground level roadway, looking up to the sky and at the ends of the street. A lurching feeling deep in his stomach gripped Charlie, wishing all the time that his knowledge of the street gangs was better.
A black hov appeared from where the enforcer disappeared, flaring burnished orange neon lighting from under the vehicle, lighting its’ path. The three men reappeared from their hiding place across the street, wielding rifles and carrying grenades.
Charlie stopped in his tracks, pulled Lara close to him and moved to the doorway of a bar. The door was locked, leaving him no options. He shielded her from the street with his body, holding her as tightly as he could.
“Keep your head low.”

A flash of light from the street heralded the exchange of gunfire. An EMP grenade slid near the hov, bounced, exploding near the row of parked hov’s, oldtime wheels, and Charlie. Pieces of plastiglass and metal flew from the vehicles, showering the sidewalk. The hov slowed enough so that Charlie could see clearly the passengers. He could see the windows slide open, and see the firearms emerge from within. The men on the opposite side of the road were attacking the hov with every weapon at their disposal, and Charlie knew that there were always civilian casualties when turf wars spilled out on to the streets.
The Hov sped off as an explosion brought down a wall onto the men who were firing at them, Their enemies dead, the hov rose two feet in the air and sped off as fast as it could, leaving the scene of the battle without a second glance at Charlie.
An astonished tone in his voice, he asked Lara if she was all right. Her arms limp around him, he lifted her chin to see into her eyes, already knowing, even before her head was tilted back so that he could see, that she was dead. His heart pounded.
“Lara, we have to get out of here.”
She didn’t respond.
“Lara?”
Cradling her, blood seeped through his fingers. She made a whimpering sound, then the world was so much lonelier than before. Lara was dead.

Charlie stood in the rain of dust and debris, holding her.
“I swear. The people who did this will die by my hands.”

####

Connell looked out at the street. Three weeks on the job, he thought, and they stick me in the middle of this shit. The crowd of news reporters at the ends of the street, with their hov cams above the throng for the clearest pictures, made him sick to his stomach. Vultures, he silently cursed them, you’re a bunch of fucking vultures, preying on the dead.
The scene had been left more or less intact, and even though he knew – evidence or not – that the devastation was due to the Kings asserting their dominance of the streets, there was little that would bring out more experienced officers to the scene. Connell, third lowest placed in the police academy’s year, was the best that victims of the massacre could hope for to investigate their deaths.
“What’s a second-rate cop like you doing at a major crime scene like this?” The voice belonged to a woman Connell recognized from the last investigation into the Kings.
“Move along before I arrest you for loitering at the scene of a crime.”
“You can’t arrest me for being here.”
“No, but I can’t arrest you, but I can shoot you.”
“I’m not carrying a weapon.”
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Would you mind showing me your ID card, ma’am.”
“And when I put my hand into my coat you’ll shoot me. Your statement will claim that you thought I was going for a weapon and you’ll be exonerated.”
“You’re a lot smarter than your jacket would have a person believe.”
“And you’re a lot dumber than a cop ought to be.”

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NaNoWriMo: Escalation

Posted by BigWords on November 18, 2009

“So… You talked with Pope Joan?” Cyia asked.
“Yeah. Thanks for the advance warning.”
“Did she make you kiss her ring?”
Charlie scowled at the joke. “Fuck you. It ain’t funny, I should have been prepared.”
“Consider it a free lesson. You can’t always know everything.”
“I would have appreciated a little more background before I went in.”
“Ah… But did you learn what you needed to learn?”
“I learned enough. For now, anyways.”
“Then we are good. Are you going to act on the knowledge she imparted?”
“Right away. There’s no time like the present to introduce myself to Wilson.”

####

Wilson’s face was ashen, his hands shaking. “Is the money retrievable?”
“No. The hov was trashed, the money taken… Hell, whoever did it even had the stone-cold balls to take Darzian’s head. His fucking head. Can you believe that shit?” The enforcer on the other end of the comm shook his head.
“Has anyone else been attacked?”
“No. we’re stepping up on the business district, but there isn’t anyone working that stretch organized enough to even think about tangling with us.”
“We need to make a show of force. Something extravagant.”
The door slid open to allow Wilson’s robot entrance. “Sir, you have a guest.”
“Who is it?”
“The gentleman did not identify himself, but he requests an audience with you immediately.”
Wilson thought for a moment. “Show him in.” He turned to the comm signal being displayed on the wall. “It’s probably about the attack. I will talk with you tomorrow.” He flicked at a button on the side of the screen, killing the feed, then moved to the doorway to greet his visitor.

Charlie entered the room, carrying a bag at his side, “Hello Mr. Wilson.”
“I don’t believe I have had the pleasure of an introduction. Mr…”
“You can call me Dennis, just like the comic strip. You read Dennis?”
“I don’t believe I ever have.”
“Well, y’see… In the strip he is always messing up Mr. Wilson’s plans.”
“I assume there is a point to all this. I’m rather preoccupied at the moment.”
“There is a point,” Charlie placed the bag on the table in the middle of the room. “Mr. Wilson has all of these grand ideas, kind of like yourself, and yet no matter what he does he can’t get away from the shadow of Dennis. It really is a wonderful metaphor for the situation you are in right now.”
“You’re threatening me? Do you know who I am? Have you any idea what I can have done to you.”
Charlie unzipped the bag, “I’m sure you want your belongings back.”
“You… You attacked us?” Wilson approached Charlie.
“It wasn’t an attack on you. This is an attack on you.” Charlie lifted Darzian’s head from the bag. “Alas poor scumbag, you probably knew him well.” Charlie threw the head at Wilson, who was busy rapidly retreating across the room from the head.
“You can’t do this. You can’t do this. NOT TO ME. I’M IMPORTANT.”

####

This, you might have guessed, is what I chopped off the end of the previous post. Too many gags in such a compressed portion of the story made me think that it was too goofy compared to the rest of the material, but having re-read it a few times (and passing it around to a couple of people) I have decided to put it up anyway. The tone of the story shifts quite a way as it goes on anyway, so adding new elements where there is room shouldn’t be too drastic… And this is a first draft anyways.

The ring joke made me laugh out loud as I typed it, but I’m wondering if it is a bit too far. Whatever. It’s undercut by a streak of SF, so that should let me off the hook.

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NaNoWriMo: Ascension

Posted by BigWords on November 17, 2009

Charlie kneeled on the second level roadway watching the road below, aware of the time. Joan had said that the Kings were punctual, but the level of care they took was beyond anything he had expected. The long hov appeared at exactly midnight, just as it had the night before, and the night before that… Charlie recognized it immediately as the one from the drive-by shooting, deciding that he needed to do something to honor Lara.

“They have schedules to keep. You have no idea how much pressure they are under, darling. Back in the old days it was about surviving, but these days it’s closer to being a car salesman. The hired help have to take in a certain amount of money before they start earning anything. You would be very surprised at how little the street-level members actually make. Barely enough for nice clothes and good company.” Joan took another sip of her drink as she reached for her comm.
“The money flow isn’t what I’m interested in. I need to know about hierarchy.”
“The money flow is the hierarchy dear boy, and the sooner you understand how the Kings operate, the sooner you can find your way in.”
“I don’t want to join them, I want to rule them.”
“Ambitious, handsome and-” Joan eyes fell to Charlie’s crotch, “quite possibly very well hung.”
“Not that you’ll find out.”

Charlie hefted the block of concrete onto the guard rail with all his strength, timing his moment as well as he could. There was an elastic second when the block refused to move, but it slid from his hands quickly enough, and as it tumbled through the air Charlie exhaled. His aim and timing were perfect, hitting the front of the hov directly above its’ power cell, smashing the vehicle into the road. It tilted forwards, scraping the road beneath and showering the air with sparks as it hurtled onwards. A split second later the hov was tumbling roof over air-buffers, shedding pieces of metal, carbon fibre and plastic in a trail of debris. Charlie rushed to the stairway leading down to the roadway below, hoping that he would be able to get what he needed.

“So tell me about the enforcers. The ones I have met never lived long enough to learn anything from. They answer to the person in control of the city, right?”
“The enforcers answer to their commanders. One level up, and none of them worth the air they breathe. They take their cut of the money and pass the rest up the food chain. Now, here is where I should politely ask you to leave, but I feel like living dangerously today. A very attractive, metropolitan and distinguished gentleman named Wilson runs the east end of town with a rod of steel.” She sighed at her poetic description of his management style. “He is, sadly, too squeamish for anything more interesting than paperwork, but he has… Had some uses. He’s been entirely humorless recently, but he’s the go-to man if you want to do anything in that part of town.”

Staring at the trashed hov, Charlie saw the driver’s body through the smoke. Carefully avoiding the flames, Charlie dragged the corpse from its’ seated position onto the road. He tried to ignore the smell of burning flesh from the goons in the back seat as he cut away at the clothing of the driver, looking for the ID card and comm which would supply him the vital access to Wilson that he sought. Noticing the small bag of paper money in the footwell of the hov, he paused and made a grab for the bonus prize as well.

“Who does Wilson answer to?”
Joan thought for a moment. “There are many, many threads in the fabric of a crime empire, and not all of them are entirely vertical pathways. You have to remember that those who reside outside the borders of the city will very rarely make themselves known. They have, from what I gather, nothing to fear in the way of legal problems, though their underlings are less reliable.”
“The police always look the other way?”
“They look-” Joan flashed a leg, “Where their eyes lead them.”

As sirens flared in the distance Charlie had what he needed. The police would arrive shortly and believe that the scene of the crime was no more than a horrific act of vandalism. Then he spotted the severed head of a goon lying on the road. Smiling, he lifted up the head.

“When you speak to Wilson, as I’m sure you will, he should lead to you to the men you really want to talk to.” Joan paused. “I never spoke with you. You were never here.”
“I never spoke with you. I was never here. I never saw your freaky-ass parading around in suspenders.”

####

Two time-frames. Not sure if this works or not, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I actually have a bit more, but I think ending the scene there has more of an impact than side-tracking off into a different topic.

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The Idea Store – The Laws

Posted by BigWords on October 11, 2009

While I was searching through my folders looking for suitable stuff to share, and there are many, many hopeless stories in the wings, waiting for their moment, I came across a television pitch that reeks of badness. It isn’t just awful, it extends to a place beyond the edge of the terrible to a new location which has yet to gain a descriptor. Really, the dialogue is so bad it is painful to read. The idea however…

Ah, the ideas. I like coming up with ideas, and the one which caught my attention was a twist on the Murder She Wrote / Columbo / Kojak ‘concept crime drama’ with a twist that hasn’t really been touched on. I would liken it to the early-to-mid Seventies wave of gimmick-television, but that seems somehow counter-productive. This is one idea which – under other circumstances – I would eagerly follow up on, but I have enough on my plate right now and the idea is one which will take time and work.

Feel free to mock…

The Laws

Murphy’s Law (pilot episode)

if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong

During the course of the episode the MC is widowed, has his car stolen, his dog runs away, is fired from the police force and his house burns down. That is just the start of his problems, because he is then implicated in the massive crime case being brought against a local businessman who is believed to be a crime lord…

The set-up is so that he has a mission to work to for the first season: to clear his name, and then to get his job back. I even re-wrote the pilot as a two-parter, with the second episode (O’Toole’s Commentary) ramping up the misery to show just how bad his life was going to get before it was gonna get better.

Hanlon’s Razor

never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

At some point in writing the first episode it became clear that having a ‘big bad’ hovering behind the scenes was merely a distraction, and rather than adding plots it was confining ideas. Exposing the ‘crime lord’ as merely being an idiot was a neat subversion of the familiar trope of crime lord geniuses, and segued neatly into one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to write.

Scheier’s Law

any person can invent a security system so clever that she or he can’t think of how to break it

The murder of a security specialist throws fresh suspicion on Murphy, as he was the last person to see the man alive.

The impossible-murder scenario has been so well-ploughed that I couldn’t get through the writing without some major cheating. The murderer his in the house, then fled when the police arrived – dressed in a police uniform. Lame, I know.

From giving myself a headache trying to open up the complex world of crime drama, I decided a story set in a location I knew about would be something easier. Nope. Trying to write about software programming is one of the more difficult aspects of the modern era. You either simplify the subject to make people feel like they can understand things, or you write about the subject realistically and lose half of your audience.

Conway’s Law

any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it

A cracker’s attack on a server exposes a murder at a large company which has been in the news due to financial irregularities.

In the end I decided to drive the story with a comedy element that felt forced, and even with heavy re-writes this feels out-of-place alongside my general idea for the show – which is stated in the title of the pilot episode. This was meant to be the most miserable, downtrodden, beaten-up character who had ever been seen, and terrible things were meant to happen to him in every episode.

I suppose this goes to show that when I have an off day (lasting, in this case, several weeks) I can produce ideas that are decent, but my writing still sucks ass worse than anyone’s writing really should.

####

One more snippet before I put this to rest. It’s from a file labelled as ‘analecta’, and hasn’t got anything of real value in it, but this struck me as being the beginning of something rather than a neat self-contained idea:

Orange and green numbers clatter from the typewriter at machine-gun pace, obscuring the sounds of dying angels. There are feathers floating down from heaven tonight. Billy is busying himself with his studies, head down in a book on necromancy, while in the corner of the room Sarah is cutting off her face with a razor blade.

Richard inhales from the cigarette hanging loose on his lip, fingers bleeding on the keys of the new typewriter, turning red the universe he writes.

Not that I’m able to say what the hell it should be, but it brought a smile to my face as I remembered it. Might be a post-modern take on The Rapture, might be a neat little horror story…

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