“Ayton, the commander wants to speak to you. Get down to the station.”
I’d just closed a case, and was looking forward to a few days of downtime, when I got a call from the boss’ receptionist. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done to piss him off. After all, the case had gone better than expected; instead of just sending the criminal in question down, I’d managed to arrest a few of his goons that had been running illicit activities behind his back that the police had otherwise had no leads on. I tried not to worry too much about it, giving myself til the afternoon to relax. I’d earned it.
My idea of relaxing didn’t last long, though. An old and distant friend of mine had arrived with a congratulatory present of a litre bottle of whiskey. His name was Francois de Sable, and he had moved here from France when he was a child. He’d gotten a pretty big foothold in British politics from an early age, and now spent the majority of his days hosting and attending fundraisers and political parties, rubbing elbows with the richest and finest of District 1. In all honesty, the time I’d spent at college with him was a time I would rather have forgotten; I’d found him arrogant and found spending time with him a torturous experience. At the time, however, I’d had my sights set on moving my way up from District 4, and figured getting on the good side of someone such as Francois de Sable would be beneficial to my cause.
By the time I left college, I’d changed my mind completely. Perhaps befriending Francois had been good for something in the end, in that it taught me to better appreciate what I had. District 4 was far from a shithole, and I was content enough there. I’d been raised well, and I had a long way to fall before I would have to brush with the low-lifes in District 10. District 10 was part of why I’d joined the police. District 5 was the first district that really suffered from any kind of crime, so most police officers from any higher districts were mainly there for appearances. A low crime rate and exemplary officers looks good for the press. I’d put up with it for a while, but the idea of being paid for nothing started to get to me, and I offered myself up for their covert operations programme.
I got rid of Francois by telling him I had to get ready for work, and spent most of the afternoon staring holes into a glass of the whiskey he’d given me. I wanted to drink it, every cell in my body screamed at me to, but I needed a clear head. I couldn’t fall back into my old habits. I poured it down the sink eventually, but left the rest of the bottle, just in case. I told myself I’d keep it as a trophy of my success, but I didn’t believe it for a second. And with a second, lingering glance at the whiskey bottle sat on the kitchen counter, I left for the station.
“Benedict, congratulations on the last case; you did us proud” the commander, Albert Morrow, said jubilantly as I entered his office. “Take a seat, my friend.”
I sat down in the empty seat in front of his desk, suspicious of his intent. Albert Morrow and I had never been what you would call friends. We tolerated each other, much like I tolerated Francois, and it was a well known fact the phrase “my friend” was one frequently uttered by Albert when he expected something of a man that he wouldn’t like.
“How’s the wife?” Albert asked, taking his own seat.
“I’m not married, sir.”
“Oh, no, of course you aren’t. What happened with that girl? The Spaniard.”
“Get to the point, Albert.”
“As you well know, District 10 is out of control. The government wants it cleaned up; they want the drug lords taken down, real police back on the streets, schools re-opened, the usual.”
“I fail to see how this has anything to do with me.”
“You’re our best covert officer, Benedict.”
“I’ve never been to District 10, I’ll stick out like a sore thumb,” I frowned.
“Which is why we’ve found you a partner,” Albert smiled, but there was something off about it.
“You know I work alone.”
“Not this time.”
“This partner, did he volunteer or is he following orders?”
“She doesn’t know yet. You have to persuade her.”
“Great” I said sarcastically. “When do I go in?”
“Tomorrow afternoon. We’re moving you to 10 today, after that; you’re on your own. Happy hunting.”