The Mission Part 6

February 10th, 2012 by Wordsman

He wasn’t big on revenge, really.  He just respected the System.  The System was what allowed him to get away with doing as little work as he did.  The System meant that the men and women in blue represented authority, and if you crossed them, then it was your funeral.  So people didn’t cross them . . . at least, not much.  But if you found a squirrel trying to scamper away with a set of police keys, and then, shortly afterward, a boy trying to catch up with it, and you let them go without punishment, then the System would start to break down.  If the System broke down, Officer Escobar’s job would get a lot harder.

“Sorry,” he said, and he truly was.  “But I’m going to need to take down your name.”

The boy sighed, as if he had been expecting this ever since he had been led into the dull yellow brick room with the fairly obvious two-way mirror.  “Peter Hamlin.”

Escobar froze.  It had been a day of remarkable coincidences already.  Could this possibly be one more?  “Is your mother . . . Joan Hamlin?”

The boy raised his head.  He had the look of someone who has told himself he isn’t going to let anything else surprise him that day but has just failed to not be surprised.  “Yes . . .”

Escobar became a scale.  In each hand, he held something that he believed he could not do without.  For a long minute, the hands remained in balance.

The scale tilted.  “You’re free to go,” Officer Escobar heard himself say as he passed the squirrel across the table.

The System was all well and good, but he could never cause Joan Hamlin to suffer.

Peter took the panicking squirrel and stood.  He walked to the door slowly, as if he thought one misstep could land him in trouble deeper than he had ever imagined.

“Wait,” said Escobar.

The boy’s eyes closed regretfully.

Escobar really wasn’t trying to be cruel; he was just wrestling with the decision.  He knew that it was against regulations.  He knew that Officer Tang might very well murder him for it (she would say it was justified).  But he saw an opportunity to truly help someone in need, and those don’t come along very often, no matter what your job is.

“Now . . . is there anything I can help you with?”

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