GENRE: Speculative Fiction
Inspector Kate Swanson knew the junior officer standing by the courtroom doors watching her. Flaherty was flushed with excitement. He looked so desperate to get her attention that for one horrendous second she thought he might shout over.
The accused sat to Swanson’s right on a separate table with his lawyer. Little more than a child, he had been arrested six months ago for petty theft after stealing a bottle of vodka from a supermarket - a dare from his fellow gang members. Dressed in a prison jumpsuit, his narrow eyes looked absent. Swanson listened to the familiar sound of the verdict followed by the equally familiar sentence.
There was only ever one sentence.
The boy barely reacted. She had seen the weary look of resignation countless times before. No doubt the hope had been ground out of him during his probationary incarceration in the holding zone.
‘Court dismissed,’ said the Judge.
Flaherty was by her side in seconds. In his ill-fitting uniform, he looked like a schoolboy playing dressing-up games. He smelt of nicotine and sweet aftershave. He pulled at he clip-on tie which dangled from his throat. ‘Ma’am,’ he said.
‘What is it?’ asked Swanson.
‘It’s Judge Lloyd, Ma’am. He's missing.’