Consequences Part 10

October 28th, 2011 by Wordsman

Tracy Tang had had more than enough of these cryptic mind games.  She wasn’t in the CIA; she was a police officer.  The life of a police officer is supposed to be simple.  There is right, and there is wrong.  You stop one and defend the other.

She cuffed the old woman and took her by the arm, just as she had done a hundred times before and just as she would do a hundred times again.  The routine was comforting while it lasted.  It lasted as far as the stairs.

At first she thought that the old woman had tripped her.  She regained her balance and spun around, ready for the chase.  But the woman wasn’t running.  She just stood there calmly with an awkward smile.  “See what I mean?”

Officer Tang ignored her.  She grabbed the criminal’s arm and pulled.  Nothing happened.  The woman clearly wasn’t exerting any effort at all, but suddenly she was harder to move than if she was made of lead.  Officer Tang tried using both arms.  She wouldn’t budge.  The officer got down off the stairs, went around to the woman’s back, and pushed.  Nothing.  She tried pulling in the opposite direction: easy as pie.  But when she went back to pushing, the woman went right up to the edge of the first step, and then it was like she had hit an invisible wall.  No amount or type of exertion on the part of Officer Tang—and believe me, she got creative—could get her up the stairs.

“I’m stuck here,” the woman said, without a trace of her former smile.  “Neither you, nor the army, nor anybody else can get me out.”

But Officer Tang was not beaten that easily.  There was more than one way out of the station.  She had the woman do an about-face and brought her back through the turnstile, past her pillar, and onto the platform.

“It won’t work,” the old woman said sadly.

“You have the right to remain silent,” Officer Tang reminded her.

A train pulled in a few minutes later, and the officer spent every instant of the twenty seconds the doors were open trying to force the woman on.  She might as well have tried to push a jumbo jet up the Grand Canyon.  A number of subway passengers watched curiously.  A few who wanted to board through the door she was occupying expressed their displeasure.  “Official police business!” she bellowed, and she kept on working at it until the doors slid shut.  In fact, she was so absorbed in her effort that she continued to try even after the train was gone.  Luckily for both of them, the mysterious force preventing the woman from getting on the train also stopped her from being knocked onto the tracks.

After failing to get the woman out through two different maintenance tunnels, even Officer Tang was ready to admit that she would not be able to bring this perp in on her own.  It was time to call for backup.  In fact, it was time to go ask for backup in person, because she wasn’t sure she could explain the situation effectively over the radio, if she could at all.

But what about the criminal?  Could she really leave her there alone among all those innocent citizens, leaving them at risk of being slapped to within an inch of their lives at any moment?

“Stay here,” she ordered, looking around wildly in the desperate hope that another officer might happen to be walking by at that very moment.  “Don’t think you’re getting out of it because of . . . whatever this is.  I’ll be back to arrest you properly soon.”

The old woman was smiling again.  She was sore all over, but it was nothing compared to what she had done to herself in her own attempts to get past the unfathomable barriers blocking every exit.  “Like I have any choice.  I’ll try not to commit any crimes while you’re away.”

Officer Tang’s wandering eyes settled on a nearby garbage can.  “Oh, you’d better believe you won’t.”

As she sat there attached to the waste receptacle—a new low in a life that had set the bar underground since Day One—she decided that the handcuffs were a punishment for her being amused by the officer’s distress.  She made a promise to herself to never again take pleasure from another person’s misery.  It was a promise she kept for almost five hours.

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