Some people may think that being a female detective in a big US city is cool, but it's not: it's hard, and sometimes very depressing. I know what you might ask me: have you ever shot anyone? Yes, I have, and I'm not proud of it. Have you ever seen dead people? Yes, I have, and it can be very gross sometimes. Most of the times, though, it's just downright sad.
My name is Constance Stunt, Connie for my friends (yes, they love to tell the same old joke: Connie pulled her stunt again!) I'm 39, and I am a detective at the Marina del Rey police department, L.A. I've been a police woman for 15 years now, and I'm growing pretty tired of it. As I said, it's hard, and sometimes I feel like my work leads me nowhere: I catch the bad guys, but one day later they get out of jail with the compliments of their overdressed and overpaid lawyers.
But the reason why I'm telling you all this is that something special happened a couple of months ago, and boy, did that break the routine. I could not make an official report, so all I can do is write it down in my personal notes. Feel free to believe me or not.
I was doing the same old car watch on a well-known drug dealer we had been following for almost a week, waiting for a wrong move. It was night, about 11:30 pm, and I was getting pretty bored of staying in that cold car, when I suddenly realized that my wristwatch had stopped, as well as the car's clock. I looked at my cell phone, and as sure as hell it had stopped too. I was still trying to understand what might have happened to all my clocks, when I saw a tall blonde standing outside my car. I swear she appeared out of thin air. She was wearing a blue dress that perfectly matched her eyes, and she was smiling. Her smile was warm and reassuring, but I didn't feel reassured at all. Instead, I felt that something was terribly wrong. I started getting out of the car, but I couldn't complete my move: a man was standing in front of my door, partially blocking it. Now where did he appear from, too? The man was overdressed, too: grey suit, white shirt, grey tie. His eyes were also grey, and very, very cold. His hair was blond and straight, almost child-like. But there was nothing child-like about his attitude. He was looking at me as if my mere presence were annoying him.
My training finally kicked in: I drew out my police card and shoved it in front of the man's face.
"Police. You are interfering with an undercover operation. Identify yourselves."
The man's eyes never wavered. I could tell he was not impressed at all. His voice was as cold as the rest of him.
"Sorry, you are interfering with our operation. Now get back in the car and leave."
This time I didn't hesitate: I pulled out my gun and aimed it straight at the man's chest. I didn't mean to, but he wasn't leaving me much vital space.
"I'm serious, buddy. This is a police operation and you cannot stay here. If you don't leave immediately, I will be forced to arrest you."
Before the man could reply, the woman touched his sleeve as if to pacify him and started to talk.
"We're sorry, detective, we didn't mean to interfere in your operation, but we have been pursuing the man in there for quite some time and we know that tonight he's about to do something he shouldn't really do."
When I finally managed to avert my eyes from the man, I watched her and I decided that she looked pretty sincere.
"Who are you? Do you work for some governmental agency?"
"Sort of. But we cannot show you any IDs. We're undercover, too."
"I see. How convenient. Then you won't mind telling me your names, so I can check them out with my headquarters, will you?"
The blonde woman smiled that reassuring smile again.
"My name is Sapphire, and my partner's name is Steel."
"I mean your real names, I'm not interested in nicknames."
"They are not nicknames. That's how we're called where we come from."
"And where might that be?
"We are from another country. An ally."
"Are you from the UK? I picked up a British accent."
"Yes, you could say that."
"Listen, Ms... Sapphire, I could say many things, but right now all I want to say is: if you are about to enter that building and arrest my man, then I want to lead the operation. Understood?"
She was silent for a few moments, and she kept looking at her partner's eyes. They looked as if they were silently exchanging some form of information. I did hear something, but it was so faint, it sounded like the wind trying to whisper something in my ear, and I couldn't quite make out what it was saying. It was pretty weird, really.
The woman finally answered.
"Very well, detective. We will get into that building together, and you will watch your man doing something pretty strange. It might not look like a criminal offence to you, but believe me: it will be VERY wrong. We will act before he completes the… transaction. It's important that you let us proceed without interfering. You will be able to arrest the man when we are finished."
I looked at her for at least thirty seconds, trying to understand if she was telling the truth or was trying to trick me into something dangerous, but it all was so unusual, I could not rely on my instinct anymore.
"All right. I want to believe you. How do we proceed?"
The man spoke this time, still looking at me like you would look at a nosy child.
"We will get in there and do what we were sent to do. You just stay behind and don't start shooting with that gun of yours."
"Oh, you mean, if the people in there start shooting at you, I can sit and watch, and save my bullets? No problem, buddy."
"I expect they will be too busy to shoot."
"You don't know these people: shooting is their second nature, and they won't hesitate killing you, me or anybody else who gets between them and whatever they are trying to accomplish."
"Just try to stay out of trouble, and everything will be fine. Let's go."
I didn't know the man, but I already hated him and his warm personality!
I grabbed my bullet-proof jacket, a spare pack of ammunition, and ran after the two agents, or whatever they were. I didn't feel like calling my captain and explain the situation: I still didn't know what the hell was going on.
I knew the drug dealer was with at least another man, and I was really curious to find out how these two unarmed people were hoping to subdue two or more ruthless criminals. The man looked cool enough, but the woman certainly didn't look like a martial art pro.
Yet they were walking up the stairs with a self-assuredness that surprised me. And how the hell did they know where they were going? And what was that freezing breeze they were leaving behind them?
They stopped at the third floor and approached a door on the left side of the aisle. The air around them was getting colder and colder, and I felt like I was standing in front of a huge freezer's open door. Once again they looked at each other intensely, and once again I heard something whispering in the back of my mind. That barely audible sound distracted me, so I reacted slowly when the man abruptly smashed the door open with his bare hand. Boy, that at least explained his name!
But I was not prepared for what was waiting for us inside the apartment: my drug dealer was on the ground, presumably dead, or at least not looking very well, for he looked decidedly old. His skin was wrinkled and dry, his hair was all grey and his open eyes were glazed. Yet I knew he was only 25! And he looked like he died of old age!
There was another man in the room, and he was facing… a little girl! But he was scared as hell, and he was recoiling from the girl, who was obviously trying to touch him. Steel sprang into action and positioned himself between the child and the man. The girl touched him, and I swear I saw her getting all glazed with what looked like frost. She screamed, and disappeared. Surprisingly, Steel collapsed, while Sapphire was trying to reassure the surviving crook. My brain finally managed to move my body, so I handcuffed the man and read him his rights, although my mind was still trying to take in the situation.
Before I had a chance to ask what had just happened, Sapphire knelt worriedly in front of her partner, who was clearly trying to speak, not very successfully.
"T-take…. t-time…back. M-must…save t-that… m-man's life."
Did he really say "take time back"? Before I could try to make sense of his words, Sapphire's eyes started to glow an eerie blue, and I heard a strange, deep rhythmic sound vibrating right down to my very bones.
I know you won't believe this, but I saw myself back in the car, watching at my clocks, then I saw me talking to the two agents, and finally I saw us breaking into the apartment. And then I saw everything all over again, but this time the two agents didn't stop by my car, but went straight upstairs. I closed my eyes, feeling confused and slightly nauseated.
When I opened them again, I was back in my car, still watching at my wristwatch. I jumped out of the car and, without even bothering to take my bullet-proof jacket, I dashed into the building. When I reached the third floor, the door was open. I got into the apartment, and I saw the same scene as before, except this time my drug dealer was alive and looking the same, young son of a bastard. He and his friend were trying to get out of the apartment, but my instincts luckily kicked in: I drew out my gun and aimed it at the men's face.
"Freeze right there! LAPD. You're under arrest."
The two were too distraught to react, and they let me handcuff them without so much as a peep.
Once taken care of that, I turned my attention to the scene inside the apartment: Steel was again on the floor, shivering, and Sapphire was looking worriedly at him, apparently careful not to touch him. I locked my two crooks at a solid table leg bolted to the ground, then I approached the two agents.
"What happened to him?" I asked Sapphire.
"He's… not feeling very well."
"Shall I call an ambulance?"
"No need. A friend of us is coming: he will take care of his… problem."
"What kind of problem is it, exactly? Has he been shot?" As soon as I asked that, I realized it was a silly question: there was no blood staining Steel's grey suit.
"No, he's suffering from a relapse of an old disease of his. Nothing to be concerned about. Why don't you take care of your two drug dealers?"
I could easily tell she was trying to get rid of me, so I said:
"All right, I'm bringing them to the station. You stay here, though, I want to talk to your as soon as I'm back."
Once downstairs, though, I called a reinforcement car and, as soon as my colleagues arrived, I asked them to bring the two drug dealers to the station. I had something else to take care of.
When I got back upstairs, I heard another voice booming from the apartment. Now who the hell was that? And how on earth did he get into the building without me noticing him?
The deep voice was saying:
"Steel, Steel, why do you keep doing that? You know very well that it's dangerous without me insulating you."
I heard Sapphire's voice answer him.
"It was a rather urgent situation, Lead. He had no choice. The time child was threatening two lives."
'The time child?' Then I heard Steel's voice, uncharacteristically faint and shaky.
"Not to mention our lives, and possibly also the detective's."
The booming voice asked:
I chose that moment to make my entrance.
"This detective. I expect an explanation, Sapphire, and it better be very convincing."
Boy, the newcomer's looks certainly matched his voice: he was huge! But he had a very kind expression on his smiling face, so I didn't classify him as a potential threat.
Sapphire smiled at me, too, while Steel of course just frowned at me, and asked:
"Do you remember what happened?"
"Of course I remember. I'm not as old as that drug dealer looked a few minutes ago. By the way, what happened to him? And why is he his young, despicable self again?"
The three exchanged that strange look again, and this time I definitely heard something. A female voice, barely audible, was saying: 'She shouldn't be able to remember. When I took time back, she wasn't in the picture again.'
"What do you mean, 'took time back'?" I asked.
Boy, did I get their attention! Now they were staring at me with a shocked expression, and even Steel looked positively surprised.
"You heard that?" he asked.
"Not very clearly, almost as if someone was whispering in my ear. But it was Sapphire's voice all right."
Steel looked at his partners and said, in a very somber voice:
"Our course of action must be reconsidered."