The Cases of George Alpha – Sample
Below you can read the beginning of Cupcakes,
the first episode of season 1, Old Spirits.
It was very early in the morning and Duncan Freight had not had anything to eat in the past twenty-four hours. He was really, really hungry and fancying a nice loaf, he was lounging near Brothel’s Bakery at the corner of 57th and Pleasant, waiting for the right customer to exit the building.
A car stopped in front of the bakery, a sleek black sedan with blinded windows, so you could not see who was inside.
Must be one of the really posh people, Duncan thought.
A young man stepped out of the passenger seat next to the driver, and headed into the bakery. In passing, he gave Duncan a polite nod. The awkward grin he was offered in return caused him to hasten his step.
The door to the bakery announced the coming of the first customer of the day.
Duncan carefully glanced through the window, observing the transaction taking place, money being exchanged for freshly – or possibly not so freshly – baked consumables. Practically smelling it, his mouth started watering as he stood ready.
As soon as the man exited holding the paper bag, Duncan jumped forward, pulled the bag from his hands and dashed down the street.
‘Hey!’ the buyer called out, startled, followed shortly with a familiar ‘Thief! Hold the thief!’
As he took a right into a narrow alley, Duncan could hear the man running in pursuit behind him. You’ll never catch me, he smiled to himself, I know these streets much better than you do.
Turning from the alley onto an abandoned street, he heard a loud crack and noticed he was suddenly flat on the ground. It took a moment for the shock to pass.
Well shit, he silently cursed, they shot me.
From his cobblestone vantage point he saw the paper bag lying ahead, whiffs of vanilla and sugar tickling his nose.
And I was so looking forward to that, he thought as his spirit returned to Central.
The voice sounded suddenly in my head, causing me to cringe and having to correct the trajectory. Close call.
Although I had had the Dispatcher implant for many years already, I would never get used to the sound of a voice directly injected into my brains, and always at the most inopportune times.
‘Good morning, Linda,’ I directed my thought back at the dispatcher.
These implants were tricky, they allowed for two-way communication but you needed to think in a specific direction to ensure the right message came through at the other end. Until you got the hang of it the department suggested you turn the implant off in the evening and on in the morning. It was hard enough for the dispatchers to handle the actual communications without having to sift through the wet dreams of some of the younger officers, and nobody liked the awkward moment when you walked into the precinct the next day.
Strangely enough, the thoughts that people directed at each other sounded exactly as if they were talking, some voices could almost put you to sleep, while others gave you an instant headache. Linda’s was… hard to ignore.
‘Are you currently doing anything important, detective?’
‘Um, no,’ I said, zipping up and flushing the toilet, ‘I just finished breakfast.’
‘Excellent, there has been a homicide down at Rowdy street. The captain has put you on the case, Rascal and his men are already setting up a perimeter.’
‘What kind of homicide?’
‘The kind where somebody got shot and died,’ Linda replied dryly.
‘I see. Okay, well, I’ll pack up my Abilities and head over there right away. Tell the captain I’m on it.’
‘Have a nice day, George.’
‘You too, Linda.’
Arriving at Rowdy street half an hour later, I worked my way through the crowd and ducked under the police ribbon. A man lay sprawled on his back, quite obviously dead given the gaping hole in his chest. His clothes were filthy and the soles of his shoes were half off.
Probably a homeless guy.
I walked up to sergeant Rascal who was interviewing some of the – undoubtedly innocent – bystanders.
‘Good morning Rascal, what have we got here?’
”Morning George. A deceased John Doe, probably mid forties, shot in the back while running away after he stole a bag of cupcakes from one of the Brothel’s customers.’
I needed a second to let all that sink in.
‘Small cakes baked in a paper that looks like a cup.’
‘Yes, thank you, I know what they are. What I don’t see is the connection between cupcakes and brothels.’
‘Oh right, sorry, I was referring to Brothel’s Bakery, it’s a popular bakery one street over, through the alley right here. Our John Doe grabbed the bag from a customer there and was trying to escape, but got shot in the back when he turned into this street.’
‘Only the two men that were chasing him, the customer and the baker boy. They’re the ones that flipped the victim over to check if he was still alive. They didn’t see the shooter though, as they were too far behind. We’ve got their details and initial statements already, we’re done with them. I kept them here in case you still wanted a word.’
Looking at where Rascal pointed, I saw two men standing, one of whom was wearing a bakery apron. I thanked Rascal, approached who I presumed was the customer and flipped out my notebook.
‘Hello sir, my name is detective George Alpha, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions, mister…’
‘Eddie Larkon, sir.’
‘Hi, Eddie. I’ve been told you saw what happened here, could you tell me your story, and start at the beginning please.’
‘Eh, ok. We were on the way to the bank when Mistress Panache told the driver to stop and asked me to get some cupcakes. Wh–‘
‘I’m sorry, Panache you say?’
‘Yes. I’m the primary servant of lady Valeria Panache.’
‘Ah, who owns the Panachian Bank?’
‘Yes sir, where we were headed.’
‘And your mistress asked you to buy some…’
‘Does that happen often, that your ladyship wants cupcakes?’
‘Oh yes sir. At least once a week.’ He glanced around and whispered conspiratorially, ‘Mistress Panache has a real sweet tooth.’
I accepted this as a fact and wrote it down.
‘So, you bought these cupcakes, and then…’
‘When I stepped back outside the store, that man there grabbed the bag from my hands and ran away with it.’
‘Had you ever seen the man before today?’
‘He was leaning against the wall when I entered the bakery. But before that, no, not that I recall.’
I nodded. ‘Please, continue.’
‘I chased after him through the alley. It was after I saw him turn the corner into this street that I heard the gunshot, but he was already on the ground when I arrived here.’
‘You did not see him get shot?’
‘No, he was behind the corner already, I was too far behind.’
‘Did you see a shooter?’
He shook his head. ‘When I saw him lying there it took me a moment to realize what had happened. By the time I looked around I only saw the baker boy, Travis, running towards me.’
‘Are you and Travis acquainted?’
‘Not before today, sir. I had seen him at the bakery before, but he just told me his name while we were waiting here.’
I nodded, taking notes.
‘And Travis was also chasing the victim?’
‘Yes, he wanted to cut him off from the back alley of the bakery, but was too late.’
‘Did you see anybody else, except for Travis?’
‘Not at that time, no. A lot of people showed up after a while, but at first it was just Travis and me.’
‘And what about your mistress, where was she?’
‘Oh she stayed in the car the whole time, sir. Waiting at the bakery.’
‘I see. So our victim was shot, you arrived, then Travis. Then what happened?’
‘I went to check if the man was still alive and turned him over, but when I saw it was hopeless I backed away again, and called the police.’
‘And what did Travis do during that time?’
‘While I was looking at the… the victim… he picked up the bag of cupcakes and tried to hand it back to me. I told him that was no longer important and that he should leave it on the ground. So he put it down and then waited along with me here.’ He bent over to me again, whispering. ‘I think Travis might be a bit slow, sir. He appeared very confused that I no longer needed the cupcakes, them being part of the crime scene and all.’
‘Ah, I see. Is lady Panache around here still?’
‘No, she went on to the bank, since she did not see anything. But she told me to inform you she’s at the full disposal of the police.’
‘That is very gracious of her. One last question for now, can you think of any reason why someone would want to shoot this man, Eddie?’
‘Maybe because he was a thief?’
‘Right,’ I nodded. Pretty harsh punishment for just stealing some cupcakes though.
I had gotten all I wanted from Eddie for now, Rascal and his men would have taken the more detailed statement. Switching to interview the other witness, I saw what Eddie had meant when he suggested the man might be a bit slow. He looked to be in his early twenties, old to be a baker boy in the first place, and his eyes radiated ‘frightened puppy’.
‘Hello… Travis, is it?’ I approached him.
‘Yes sir, Travis Barker, sir.’
‘I am police detective Alpha, can you tell me what happened here, Travis?’
‘Um, I was bringing a tray of bread to the counter when that man,’ — he pointed at the victim, — ‘stole mister Eddie’s cupcakes and ran off. Fred told me to run around the back and try to stop him, but I was too late, on account of first having to put the tray down safely, you see.’
‘Yes, I see. Fred is the…’
‘Fred Brothel, sir, the baker.’
‘Right, and what happened after Fred told you to catch the thief?’
Travis appeared to think for a moment.
‘I put down the tray, ran to the back door, opened it, ran down the alley – the one behind the bakery, turned left on Rowdy, ran here.’
‘Did you hear a gunshot at any point?’
This required some more thinking.
‘Yes sir, when I opened the back door, sir.’
‘Tell me Travis, when you rounded the corner onto Rowdy street, what exactly did you see?’
‘I saw mister Eddie sir, looking at the man on the ground.’
‘Ok, so what did you do when you got to mister Eddie?’
‘I picked up the cupcakes, sir, gave them back.’ He frowned. ‘Only mister Eddie didn’t want them back, said they were part of the crime scene, he told me to leave them. I’m sorry, I touched them sir, I didn’t know. I put them back down as soon as mister Eddie told me to!’
I nodded, looking at the paper bag next to the body.
‘That’s ok, Travis. I’m sure it’s no big deal. What was mister Eddie doing when you got here?’
‘He was trying to help the man on the ground, sir. But it didn’t work, on account of him having a hole in his chest.’
‘Right. Thank you, Travis.’
‘Can we get the cupcakes back now, sir?’
I stared at him, he was being serious.
‘I’m afraid not, Travis. Like Eddie said, these are now part of the crime scene, we’ll be taking them for the investigation.’
‘Oh,’ he replied sullenly. ‘But mister Eddie paid for them.’
I had to tread carefully here.
‘Yeeees… we’ll get them back to mister Eddie once our investigation is done.’
‘Oh. Ok then. Can I go back to the bakery now, sir?’
I looked at the crime scene.
‘Actually, one more thing Travis. You told me you picked up the cupcakes and put them down again. Can you show me exactly where they were before you picked them up?’
I lifted the ribbon for Travis to cross. He hesitated for a moment, then walked to a spot about 2 meters beyond the victim’s head and pointed down.
‘I think it was here, sir.’
I nodded, that made sense if the victim had been running and was shot in the back.
‘Thank you Travis, you can go back to the bakery now.’
Relief dawning on his face, he gave me a beaming smile and ran off.
You just read the first three scenes of Cupcakes, episode 1 of Old Spirits.
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