There was something different about this particular night.
To a casual observer, it seemed to be an ordinary one in the city. People scampering to get home in time. To have dinner with family or friends, enjoy a few hours of rest before heading back to the boring routine of their day jobs. What a life!
It was a cold night, a soft breeze blowing giving the city goers a refreshing cool feeling as they rushed to finish the day. Not that there was really anything fresh about the cool air of this city.
Something fresh was on the horizon...something new, novel, innovative!
A man standing on a particular low rise apartment building chuckled as he rambled other synonyms in his head. A lit cigarette was between his index and middle finger of his right hand, but he wasn’t particularly keen on smoking anymore. It was bit for show.
Just like how his current attire was for show. A long dark brown coat, dancing with the breeze. A dark blue fedora hat, tipped slightly at the front, hiding parts of his face. A matching suit, (without a tie because that would have been too much) that made his appearance rival that of any 50s gangster or police detective.
It was the best attire he owned and yet he was wearing it while standing on top of a rooftop at night, not smoking and no one there to see him. Why?
His gaze was distant. Out to the farthest outskirts of the city, to the brightly lit bridge that was the only means of getting to and from the place and of course the suburban houses at the far the east.
The city was amazing. It had everything, best of all worlds.
And yet...there were things still missing. Rather there were certain morals and values that had been forgotten as though it was a piece of paper carried away by the wind into who knows where.
Where was the city he had grown up in? The city he had come to know for most of his conscious life is now but a stranger. His child self would have looked on in worry at the cityscape in front of him.
His father would have been devastated at the place he had used to call home. He had spent his life serving the city and it would have killed him to see such a derelict one taking its place.
Well things were going to change...or rather things were going back to how they were. The city and its folk will come to see the errors of their ways.
And the city will be reborn to its former glory! Or rather, to take back its glory. With him leading the march.
Too lost was he that he didn't hear the door to the rooftop slowly opened. The new visitor of the rooftop waited for an acknowledgement but when none came, the young man cleared his throat. “Hey.”
The man didn’t respond as his associate stood a couple of feet behind him. “Everything is all set. We’re just waiting for the time.”
He nodded and his associate turned to leave but the younger man stopped. He sighed and finally turned. “If you’re troubled, you can still…” He trailed off as he turned to look at his associate, his incredibly younger associate.
The young man was in his early twenties. The exact age, the man had not dare ask. His short brown hair unruly, the style of his generation, framing his square face. His blue eyes young and curious with his youth. His height and built were average but the same could not be said for his intellect.
His associate, like many of his generation, was well versed with the innovations of today. The technology that seemed to be the heart and soul of life these days. The man wouldn’t be able to fulfill his plans if he didn’t have someone like the young man standing in front of him.
The younger man sighed and looked over the other man’s shoulder, out to the city he had also called his home. “I back out, you won’t have an operation.”
“I don’t have an operation if anyone is not comfortable with the role they are going to play.” replied the other man. “I am asking a great deal from you...from all of you.”
“And yet we all said yes,” replied the younger man. “I’m not worried about me. My hesitation...”
The older man smiled. A real, bright smile that the younger man has yet to see on the other man’s thin face. This was a smile that actually reached his jet black eyes.
“You don’t have to worry about anything Jon.” replied the older man. “Frankly, you should be excited.”
The younger man, Jon, snorted and finally turned towards the door. “Only you would be excited about this old man.”
“Seeing a well thought of plan come together is exciting,” replied the older man as he turned to watch the city again.
Jon took one last look at him, shook his head and turned to his watch. “Two minutes.”
“I won’t miss my mark,” replied the older man. Jon shook his head one last time and left the rooftop, leaving the older man alone once again.
Less than two minutes, and it was show time. He wasn’t lying. The excitement was already killing him. It took a whole lot of his self-control not to shout to the heavens how everything was coming into place.
He took out his phone and readied himself. A few seconds remaining and his thumb hovered over his phone screen.
He called. The operator answered, the usual greeting he had memorized after all those years of being in the mix of it all.
“Good evening,” the man began, his gaze towards the city bridge once again. “I hope I don’t get you into trouble, my dear...but I will be committing five crimes this week, one currently happening as we speak. All five are not connected but they will change the city.”
He smiled as he heard sirens for the other block, knowing fully well that Jon would have muted any background sounds of the call, amongst other things that Jon was doing in making their location unknown.
“And by change the city, I mean real big time change,” continued the man as he began walking around the rooftop to the other side. As he stood on the ledge, his gaze focused on one of the famous shops that had left its mark on the city. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of what was going on inside the dark shop right now.
“Five crimes will be committed in this city this week.” he repeated as he looked at his watch. “Why am I telling you this? I don’t mean to brag...but no one will be solving any of them.”
He turned to the city once again, it’s light dancing in the darkness of the night. “And the city will never be the same again.”
Five crimes will be committed in this city this week. Why am I telling you this? I don’t mean to brag...but no one will be solving any of them.
Police Chief Theodore Crane shut his laptop forcefully, putting an end to the recording of the said confession of a criminal who had called in on his own plans the night before.
The call had came in at 22:12 and since then police officers had been on alert for any crime that would hit the city. The many politicians had been informed and were having their own debates whether this was something to take seriously or not.
Chief Crane didn’t really care about that particular debate. What he did care about was the reputation of his task force. No one was going to make fun of the men and women who dedicated their lives in serving the city.
“Mason,” the chief began as he glared at the lanky detective standing straight in front of his desk. “You’re weird. You never follow rules and you disobey orders on a daily basis…”
“Sir, if you’re going to fire me I--”
“Don’t interrupt,” snapped the chief. The older man sighed and leaned back on his chair. Even sitting down, the chief seemed taller than Jay Mason.
Theodore Crane was a man nobody should mess with. He was built both physically and mentally to intimidate anyone. He was tall and well built, his short brown hair combed neatly. His suit pristine and wrinkle free. His face may have signs of his age but his brown eyes were sharp and alert.
Dare mess with the city’s police chief and who knows where you will end up…
Standing in front of his desk getting a lecture, looks like it.
Jay Mason wasn’t one to follow authority. No, he was the one that spit and laughed at authority. One wonders how he passed and became a police officer, let alone a detective.
But what Jay Mason lacked in respect of authority, he made up for intelligence and always solving the impossible cases.
That’s why as much as Crane didn’t want to, he was assigning Mason to the late night confession case.
“As I was saying,” Crane continued as he leaned forward, his hands clasped together and on top of his desk. “The many civil servants of this city are debating whether to take this seriously or not….well I am not going to wait for them to sway the press. I am assigning you to this. Catch the smug bastard before he does anything.”
“Um, sir,” began Mason. “Not to be insubordinate or anything, but I don’t think we can really do anything if no crime has been committed.”
“We don’t just catch bad guys, Mason,” exasperated Crane. “We prevent crime.”
“Yes that’s all well and good,” answered Mason. “But what happens when, if we do catch someone, and he lawyers up. I highly doubt the argument of preventing a crime to be committed will let us--”
Crane pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. Dealing with a man like Mason was mostly like dealing with a child. “Mason, you don’t solve this, you’re fired.”
“You sort of always hang that in front of my face chief--”
“Mason,” hissed Crane dangerously, giving the detective his famous glare. “Go to your desk, do whatever it is you do and get me this bastard.” He met the detective’s eye. “Are we clear?”
“Crystal, chief,” said Mason with a mock salute and left the office. The entire floor was nonchalantly listening in on the conversation but as Mason stepped out they were all faking being busy...which they failed at immensely.
The late night phone call had been on everyone’s minds as soon as the chief had heard of it. The police department wasn’t known for subtlety. It was known for being an open book and a leaking roof. No information was ever kept confidential and out of the public eye.
The story had been the first thing on TV that morning as Mason had gotten up.
A man had called late the previous night, confessing to five crimes that will occur in the city...the first one apparently occurring the previous night as the call was made. All crimes were not connected except for the one fact that they all would have an impact on the city.
But the reason why everyone was on their toes was the last part…
“But no one will be solving any of them...”
Meaning the man intended to get away with it. Usually Mason wouldn’t give much thought...but given the warning, the show and effort being put into this crimes, there was something more to this case than meets the eye.
Mason was curious of course. Whether Crane assigned him to the case or not, he was going to work on the criminal confession case.
The man had called and said that five crimes would be committed. He didn’t say how severe the crimes were but he did say it would change the city.
That sent the fear through everyone. Changing the city meant devastation to most people...but Mason couldn’t see that as the elaborate motive.
Why five crimes? Why call? Why at the exact time of 22:12? Was it a commemoration of some sort?
“Ben, any reports yet?” asked Mason as he reached his desk.
His partner was on his computer, scouring through numerous calls and cases that had arrived the previous night in search of the first crime.
“None at the same time or anytime close to the call,” replied Benjamin Ivans, a tall young man with immaculate gelled blonde hair and piercing brown eyes framed by his perfectly narrow face. The usually face of the police that politicians want representing them whenever there were press events or galas that needed attending to.
Jay usually had him do all the press with their cases. Him not having any patience with reporters and nosy question. The totally opposite of his partner, in more ways than one.
Jay was an average looking man. Not that tall but certainly not short. He didn’t look much of a fighter and he was certainly not as good looking as his partner. His shoulder length brown hair was always unruly given the wind of the city and he didn’t bother to keep it in check. His brown eyes were always piercing as though he could read anything, human or object alike. A trait he has attributed in helping him be good at his job.
His organization skills, the lack of in this case, however meant he was lousy at filing paperwork which brings to another extreme between him and Ben.
Ben was neat, organized. Always making lists and checking them off as they are done. Their shared office with two desks was a sight to behold for any person peeking in.
The desks were pushed together front to front, making their owners sit opposite each other which helped in their brainstorming. It showed a clear separation between the spaces of the two detectives. Ben’s side was immaculate, folders arranged neatly, files well kept in cabinets…
Mason’s side was a forest. Papers everywhere, drawers full of snacks and random books. There were no cabinets on his side, but the wall was one big cork board, arranged in no sensible order to anyone but Jay Mason himself.
His usual motto was everything is connected, which makes the stack of colorful ribbons on one side of the office, a lot of sense.
They had just wrapped up a case a few days ago and Ben had not had the time to wrap up the cork board. Him being swamped with paperwork for all the things they had done.
Mason sighed as he stood and surveyed the board. Time was the crucial thing here, whether the crimes were dangerous or not. He grabbed an empty shoe box underneath his desk, not really caring why it was there in the first place, and stood.
He started unpinning pictures and newspaper clippings, reports...and just shuffled them into the shoe box.
“We don’t have anything yet,” said Ben as he watched his partner prepare the board for a new case.”
“We have this,” replied Mason as he turned and took the folder from Ben’s desk, grabbed the transcript of the call and pinned it right at the middle of the board.
Mason leaned back on his desk and stared at the caller’s words. “I may not be a profiler but maybe we can get anything from the caller’s words.”
“Alright,” replied Ben as he stood and walked over to stand beside Mason. “Well, what do you see?”
“What do you see?” fired back Mason, not tearing his gaze away from the transcript.
“Man’s got some balls,” replied Ben. “He’s arrogant. Full of himself. Absolutely positive he will get away with it--”
“Anything that we can actually use, Ben,” replied Mason. “You’re projecting your hatred for the man, poster boy.”
Ben glared at the nickname. He hated it when his colleagues all think that he’s just some pretty face. He’s assisted in solving some tough cases and yet people still think of him as the pretty face the police couldn’t risk getting beat up.
“Don’t get me wrong,” replied Mason, not looking at him. “You have a strong sense of justice. That life is black and white. This man said he will commit five crimes. He is automatically in the black area.”
“What he is doing is wrong,” pointed out Ben.
“If he’s actually done something already,” argued Mason.
“He said so,” pointed out Ben.
“Yes, we’re just supposed to take his word for it,” replied Mason, still not looking away.
“You don’t think the call was legitimate?” asked Ben, surprised. Mason would never have emptied the board if he thought this case was a waste of time.
“I think there is a very intelligent man out there,” replied Mason, walking over to the board. “He is going to do something, criminal or not. I don’t know why he called or if what he said is true or not...yet.”
Ben smiled as he walked closer to stand by his partner once again. “But?”
“But,” smirked Mason as he finally turned to give Ben that famous ‘I know something’ look the detective was known for. “I do know one thing.”
He pointed to a few words on the transcript. “He said those words multiple times. He emphasized them by repeating it.”
Ben leaned closer and read, “Change the city?”
“He meant those words,” continued Mason. “His goal is to change the city.”
“That doesn’t sound like a good thing, Maze,” replied Ben. “That sounds like a really bad thing.” Ben walked over to his computer and played the recording. “He sounded excited. Five crimes, changing the city and his tone of voice...maybe we should classify this as a terrorist--”
His computer chimed and Mason walked over to stand behind him as Ben started typing. “Reported break in at Jaz.”
“The old shop?” asked Mason.
“The historic shop that was one of the few original shops of the city,” lectured Ben. He turned and eyed Mason. “The owners thinks the robbery was done around ten last night.”
Mason eyed him, knowing the smug look. “You going to tell me what else is noteworthy or you going to withheld the information until we’re at the scene?”
Ben stood and grabbed their coats, tossing Mason his. “There was a piece of paper found on the scene. A small piece of paper with one word written on it.” He fished out his phone from his pocket and showed it to Mason. “I asked first responder to send it to me.”
Mason took the phone and there one the screen was a small square piece of paper with a typed word. “First.”