Published in the LOVE ON THE DARK SIDE collection of erotic paranormal short stories.
Vicky and her boyfriend Sam are in bed, watching an all night marathon of Vicky's favourite cop show...
As the Channel ident flashes, I steal a split second glance at Sam, but he’s fast asleep already, mouth open, mad, black, curly hair sticking up at all angles and a tea stain down the front of his muscle vest. What a contrast to the sartorial GQ treat that lies ahead of me.
The story preamble begins. Some nasty perp up to no good as usual, but I’m not yet paying full attention due to The Detective not appearing until after the credits. Then the credits begin… thunder rolls… and the room goes black!
‘Fucking, fuckety fuck!’ I shout, regardless of Sam’s slumbers, and like an idiot, I start stabbing buttons on the remote still in my hand. As if that’ll restore the electricity.
And yet, against the odds, it does do something. Thunder cracks again and the lights flicker faintly but only for a second. They go out again, but astonishingly, the television springs back to life. The screen looks slightly blue tinted, but not too badly. It’s still perfectly watchable.
And the credits of my beloved cop show are still a-rolling.
At least it seems to be my cop show. My heart leaps again with bubbling excitement. It must be a special episode or something - maybe recorded just for this marathon - because the sequence of images isn’t one I’ve ever seen before. The frames are sharp, ultra clear, almost 3D, and as they fade from one to the other, each one of the hairs on the back of my neck seem to prickle and rise individually. And even though it’s the same familiar music, and the same graphic styling, there’s only the one character featured in the montage.
It’s just The Detective with no sign whatsoever of the rest of the team.
And at the end, he seems to walk towards the camera, my guy, tall and intent, dressed in an immaculate thousand dollar suit of bluish grey. His long stride eats up the ground, and as he approaches, he just keeps on coming… and coming… and coming…
‘Vicky Sheridan?’ he enquires imperiously when he reaches me, flipping out his hand‑cuffs from the clip at his belt. But before I can answer, he grabs me by the shoulder, hauls me from the bed and snaps the cuffs on me while I’m still wondering what’s happening and trying to catch my breath.
‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.’ He grips my shoulder again, and propels me forward, parroting out the Miranda as if I’m the lowest of low -life of scuzz-buckets he’s just apprehended. ‘You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at government expense. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?’
By now he’s manhandling me through a familiar door into a familiar room, and I’m so gob‑smacked I don’t have a breath of resistance in me.
It’s the interrogation room. We’re in a familiar chilly grey box with the mirror and the metal table and chairs that I’ve seen in scores of episodes. And it’s just as soulless and intimidating in real life as it is on the television.
Real life? What the hell am I talking about ‘real life’ for? My heart’s bouncing around as if it’s on a bungee and my skin is a pointillist fresco of painful goose-bumps. This isn’t real. How can I be here?