Dark City Blue
Sample of Dark City Blue
Two days ago, division found a half-beaten, half-pretty, naked fifteen-year-old girl stumbling down the Hume Highway. The case got bumped to Sex Crimes, then the CO bumped it to Tom Bishop. The girl didn’t speak a word of English, and after a translator arrived she didn’t speak a word of anything. Yesterday, Bishop and Ellison hit up every pimp and whorehouse in a two-kilometre radius of where she was found. An hour ago, they got an address from a gonzo smut shooter as to where simulated rape videos were being shot. Only they weren’t so simulated.
Ellison shifted her attention from the dirty windscreen to the clock on her phone. ‘What the fuck takes so long?’
‘Relax,’ Bishop said. ‘It takes as long as it takes.’
She mumbled a profanity and shifted her weight from one arse cheek to another.
Bishop lit a cigarette and wound down the window. The shit smell of three-day-old roasting garbage blew through the car from the rubbish bins some bastard had kicked over the night before. He fixed his gaze on the green stucco house at the end of the street. Three bedrooms. One bathroom. Paint-chipped walls. Overgrown lawns and a burnt-out shell of a car in the yard. A shithole.
The radio crackled to life. ‘Any movement?’
Ellison picked it up, pushed it to her lips. ‘Nothing but the street.’
Moose and Winters were around the back of the house doing the same thing they were: sweating, waiting and trying to stay alert.
Twenty minutes and another cigarette later, Bishop watched a car pull up in the rear-view. He slipped on his sunglasses, climbed out and clocked the street: empty in every direction.
Reeves emerged from the fleet and approached Bishop with a shake of his head. ‘They wouldn’t do it, mate.’
Ellison kicked the side of the car. ‘Fuck.’
She left a dent in the door that Bishop ignored. ‘Did you go to Kean?’ he asked.
‘And to Beechworth and Pointon. All said the same thing: not enough evidence for a warrant.’
A breeze pushed across Bishop’s sweaty face as he turned to watch the green stucco house. His mind raced with all the horrible things that were going on inside. Still, probably nowhere near as bad as the reality of it.
He took a breath.
Bishop popped the boot, pulled out a shotgun, racked it and moved toward the house with Ellison and Reeves in his wake. ‘You hear that?’ he said.
Ellison looked up and down the street. ‘Hear what?’
‘Screams. Waiting for a warrant, we heard screams then entered.’
Ellison pulled her weapon, checked the chamber, let the slide fall back into position. ‘Works for me.’
‘Reeves, go get lost in traffic.’
Reeves nodded, headed to his car. A moment later, it pulled into the street and the engine faded away.
Bishop wiped his face with the sleeve of his leather jacket as they crouched behind a dilapidated picket fence. Ellison handed him the radio. He pushed it to his face.
‘I want you boys to wait a couple of minutes, then meet me around the back.’
Winters’ voice filtered back through the two-way. ‘Sure, boss.’
‘Where do you want me?’ Ellison asked. She couldn’t keep still; her eyes darted every which way.
‘Front of the house, pick the door quietly.’
‘What if the shit hits the fan?’
Bishop gave it some thought, rubbed his jaw. ‘Then kick it in.’ Bent at the waist, he made it down the street and into the front yard.
There were two cars parked on the kerb and a shitbox Ford up on blocks. Bishop slid in behind it, peeked over the bonnet. Tattered yellow curtains that were once white hung in the windows and blocked any way of seeing in. He moved closer. Dry grass crunched under his feet as he crept between the house and the fence. The windows were painted black and beyond that, at the rear of the property, lay burnt grass and a makeshift fireplace surrounded by empty longnecks and cigarette butts.
He pushed against the back wall of the house and waited.
Winters and Moose. Each held their weapon with one hand while they climbed over the rear fence with the other. The pair wore Hawaiian shirts, loud, offensive. They sidled up to Bishop. ‘I take it we’re going in, boss?’ Winters asked.
Bishop nodded. ‘There’s no warrant; you boys up for that?’
‘Cool with us,’ Moose said. ‘I’m assuming we heard screams?’
Bishop nodded. His eyes shifted to the back door. ‘That thing locked?’
Winters slipped his fingers around the knob and quietly turned. Locked.
Winters got started as Bishop knelt down beside the basement trapdoor. The forty-dollar padlock was a good attempt at security, but the rusted-out latch it was connected to wasn’t. Bishop pulled his flick knife and undid the screws. He looked to Winters and Moose and their Hawaiian shirts. ‘Try to blend in.’ And then he stepped into the darkness.
The smell was terrible. Shards of light pushed through the cracks in the newspaper-covered windows. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the black. Dog cages lined each side of the damp pit.
Bishop swung his shotgun low and to the left: a cage. Naked girl. Twelve years old, maybe. She huddled in a corner and tried to cover herself, but there wasn’t much space for her to move and nothing to cover herself with.
Bishop brought a finger to his lips. ‘Shh.’
Whatever language she spoke, she understood.
He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out a flashlight. Hitting the switch, he scanned the basement: two more cages, two more girls.
The floorboards above creaked. Dust sprinkled down and fell through the light; somebody was in the house and, judging by the steps, they were around one hundred and fifty kilos’ worth.
Bishop headed up the three wooden steps, wrapped his fingers around the doorknob, opened it a crack and peeked through. The hall was empty. He stepped onto the warped floorboards and closed the basement door behind him. Despite their attempts at blacking out the windows, the hall was bright. The walls were bare, yellow, the floors scuffed and dusty. Muffled sounds of fucking leaked from the front of the house. Bishop raised his shotgun and took baby steps toward the source. Each room he passed was bare and cold. Nobody lived there and hadn’t for a long time.
The scene was common enough: the makers shoot fuck films in empty houses for a couple of weeks before moving on to another location. By the time the movies are shot, cut, distributed and intercepted by the VPD, the location is already two months old and pointless tracking down.
Bishop passed through the kitchen. The fuck sounds grew louder as he neared the doorframe and waited, the nightmare only inches away on the other side of the flimsy wall. Sweat ran down his face. His palms were wet. He wiped them on his jeans, took a breath … Then his heart stopped.
A barrel pushed into the back of his neck. ‘Easy,’ the voice said as a hand took away his shotgun. Bishop turned and ran his gaze from the .357 up the arm of the musclebound monster. He was tattooed from head to toe, With a minor tilt of his head, the monster motioned to the other room and Bishop stepped into the lounge.
Girl on the floor. Crying. Dirty mattress.
Table of knives.
Above the girl, a fifth man. Masked. Naked, Machete in hand.
Bishop was outmanned and outgunned. ‘You’re all under arrest,’ he said.
Nobody was amused.
Ellison kicked the front door to splinters. Scanned the room. Aimed. Bishop hit the deck. She fired. Sprayed what was left of the monster’s head on the wall.
Scumbags yanked out weapons.
Sidearm in hand, Bishop rose to his feet. The masked man moved on him. Machete above his head. Bishop fired. The blast slammed him back into the wall.
A scumbag lurched at Ellison. She fired. Missed. He tackled her to the ground.
Bishop felt a gun on him: the director. He raised his weapon as the girl on the mattress jumped to her feet. Terrified. She tried to run, didn’t know where. Bishop shifted his aim.
‘Down,’ he yelled.
She didn’t hear. Couldn’t hear. The director about to shoot them both. No time: Bishop slammed the butt of his gun across her cheek. Out cold.
Scumbag fired. Missed. Hit Winters instead. He hit the floor.
They opened up. Bishop took out the director as Moose put six into the one on the right.
Ellison was still down on the floor. She had a bastard twice her size in a headlock. Veins on his forehead popped. Spit pushed though his clenched teeth. A moment later, his body went limp.
As fast as all the bad noise started, it came to a stop, leaving only the heavy breathing of the living and gun smoke lingering in the air.
Moose helped Winters to his feet. He leant against the wall and coughed.
‘You alright?’ Bishop asked.
Winters tore at the velcro and let the bullet-ridden vest drop to his feet. He ran his fingers over his chest. ‘Think I busted a rib.’
Ellison peeled herself off the floor, scooped up her weapon.
‘How about you?’ Bishop asked.
‘I’m good.’ She motioned to the brick shithouse on the floor. ‘Better than him anyway.’
The smoke burnt Bishop’s throat. He lit a cigarette and called to Moose. ‘There’s three girls in the basement; get them out and call an ambulance.’
As Moose left, the adrenaline in Bishop’s body began to bleed away. He dry-rubbed his eyes. When he opened them, it was to the sight of a naked child, battered, bruised and out cold by his feet. Bishop lifted her onto the couch. She weighed next to nothing, and his leather jacket looked enormous draped over her small body. Greasy hair lay over her face; he slipped a strand behind her ear.
‘What is she, thirteen?’ Ellison asked.
A cracked window from a stray bullet let a warm breeze flow over the room, drying the blood on the walls. In the distance, sirens blared.
If there’s one thing worse than a crooked cop on your heels then it’s a whole unit of them.
A fistful of people are murdered, fifteen million dollars is stolen and detective Tom Bishop is stuck in the middle. When he hits the street, every clue points in the same direction his colleagues in a police department demoralised by cutbacks and scandals. Hunted, alone and with no place left to turn, Bishop embarks on a hellish journey down into the gutters where right and wrong quickly become twisted and problems are solved with gunfire and bloodshed.
Over the next two days, Tom Bishop will be cornered. He will be beaten. He will bust into prison. He will shoot at police. He will team up with violent criminals. He will become one of them. He will break every rule in the book, chasing a lead nobody else will go near down a rabbit hole of corruption, murder and buried secrets.
Will Bishop become the very monster he set out to destroy?
A modern hard-boiled tale that unfolds at a relentless pace, Dark City Blue is Serpico, if Serpico snorted a fistful of cocaine and hung out with Lee Marvin.
“Dark City Blue is a freight train of a thriller crashing through some madhouse city night while a bomb’s ticking down to zero. It’s the cage fighting equivalent of a police procedural: violent, gaudy, and packing heat.” Trent Jamieson, author of the Death Works trilogy
” … noir on No-Doz … ” Fair Dinkum Crime
(Any connected device including Kindle)
(iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
(All devices except Kindle)
(Dead Tree Book)Report availability issues to email@example.com
Luke spent most of his twenties as a freelance writer and listening to rock ‘n roll. He drinks heavily on occasion, is a half decent musician and his idea of a good time involves a jukebox designed to bleed ears.
Luke’s work has been recognised by The Inside Film Awards, MTV and The ATOM Awards. He writes in cafes, bars and in parking lots on the back of old fuel receipts and cigarette packets. He doesn’t believe in writers block or in the magic bullet theory and his favourite album is Exile on Main Street.
Luke’s writing is as much influenced by AC/DC and Johnny Cash as it is by Richard Stark and Raymond Chandler. He is undertaking a Master of Screenwriting at the Victorian College of the Arts and has absolutely no intention of moving to a shack in the middle of nowhere. He likes bad traffic, noisy neighbours, cheap beer, loud bars and has been occasionally known to howl at the moon.Find out more