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Murder in New Eden

by Charles C. Cole

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Chapter 16: Wayne’s Office

part 2

In “Wayne’s Office,” Dr. Valdez washes his hands at a steel set tub. He splashes his face. He’s stressed, tired: self-congratulating. Another life saved! So many details! So many ways the procedure could have gone wrong! He stands over Boyer, smiling down at him. Boyer opens his eyes. He’s dazed and disoriented, feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable. His defense mechanisms go on high alert.

“Where am I?”

“Hello, young man, welcome to Satellite City New Eden. My name is Dr. Vittorio Valdez. I just brought you back to life. You’re welcome.”

“I don’t know you.”

“You will. In time.”

“Where are the rest of my guys? Where’s Sergeant Cody?”


“Don’t make me ask twice.”

“The rest of your guys are sleeping.”

“Take me to them.” Boyer sits up. He has a scalpel in his hand, which he grips tightly. His knuckles blanch as he squeezes his fists.

“I’m afraid we’re getting off on the wrong foot, Corporal Boyer. I’m not your enemy. In fact, I was hoping we could work together. Maybe you could join my team.”

“I have my own team. What is this place? Where am I?”

“I guess you could call it a medical unit, although we usually work on dead bodies here.”

“A morgue?”

“More or less.”

“Do you usually do your best work in a morgue, doc? Alone? Where are the nurses? Where is everyone?”

“Easy there!” Valdez swallows around a hard awkward lump in his throat. “I needed privacy. I’ve never done this procedure before. I didn’t need someone looking over my shoulder, distracting me.”

“If you make a mistake, you can put me in a body drawer and walk away. Is that it? Nobody has to know.”

“You’ve got the wrong idea; I’m very proud of my work.”

“You’re not being on the level, doc, if you are a doc.”

“I am. You can ask my patients. They’ll tell you.”

“For the record, I don’t owe you anything. I don’t make deals when I’m unconscious. So whatever you thought you were going to get out of me for ‘saving my life’, think again.”

“Goodness! Is this how all soldiers behave when you first turn them on? You’re a firecracker, you are.”

“Do you know what a safeword is, doc?”

“I’m familiar with the term.”

“Do you know what mine is?”

“No. It wasn’t in the documentation I received.”

“I’m going to find my team. You can take me or I can leave you here. You may not want to go with me; to be honest, I’m a bit mission-focused, my own taskmaster. But if I leave you behind, it may not be pretty.”

“A little gratitude, that’s all I ask from my patients. That’s all I ever ask. But sometimes the combination of discomfort and medications makes them behave abominably.” He laughs, embarrassed by his own honesty. “I try to overlook it.”

“Last chance. What’s it going to be?”

“This is not the way I expected this conversation to go. I had plans. Are you really closing the door to other options?”

Boyer pats Valdez on the shoulder. “Thank you for bringing me back to life. I’ve got to go. Nothing personal.”

With his other hand, he jams the scalpel through Valdez’s windpipe, catches him, and lays him gently down on the steel autopsy table. “Sweet dreams, friend.”

From a darkened corner by the exit, Director Pelkey cringes. He wants to open the door and run, but he knows he’ll be caught and, probably, killed. If only he had handcuffs, then he could pretend to be a hostage, too. Or he could take his tie off and wrap it around his wrists. If he had time. Out of options, he simply turns to the wall and closes his eyes. If he’s going to be murdered, he doesn’t have to see it happen, he reasons.

“You,” says Boyer.


“Turn around, slowly.”

“I’d just as soon not make eye contact with the man who’s going to murder me. Just make it quick.”

“Turn around,” Boyer insists.

“Okay.” Pelkey’s resolve disappears. He does as instructed, keeping his eyes closed. “I’m Communications Director Tobias Pelkey. I work for the mayor. The dead man over there... was Dr. Vittorio Valdez.”

“He really was a doctor? Oops.”

“Yes, oops.”

“Open your eyes.” “If I can’t describe what you look like, then maybe you don’t have to kill me. You could tie me up and gag me or something.”

“I don’t have to kill you,” says Boyer.


“I could just cut your tongue out so you can’t speak intelligibly.”

“That would make it incredibly difficult to do my job.”

“Maybe they could find you another job.”

“I like my tongue,” says Pelkey, sounding pouty. “I’m used to it.”

“Where am I?”

“The morgue.”

“Bigger picture, small man.”

“Satellite City New Eden. It’s like an artificial moon. We mind our own business in the vastness of space.”

“Is my team nearby?”

“Not far.”

“Let me talk to them.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“Are they okay?”

“I think so.”

“You think so?”

“They’ve been in cryosleep for over a hundred years. I suppose it could leave some wear and tear. But maybe not.”


“Why? Because it’s not exactly a natural state for the human body, day after day, year after year.”

“Why cryosleep?”

“Good question. I wasn’t there. I don’t know, honest. Nobody seems to know. But Police Chief Schiavelli has reason to believe you worked alongside his great-grandfather, Vincent Schiavelli.”

“Chief Vincent? Is he in cryosleep, too?”

“No. He’s dead, I’m pretty sure. Just your team. Most of your team.”

“Why only most?”

“Jefferson Cody...”


“He died. It was an accident.” It’s an instinctive fib to keep Boyer feeling alone.

“You’re lying.”

“I’m not, I swear. They tried to thaw him out like you, and it didn’t go well.”


“Why what?”

“Why are you thawing us out?”

“There’s been violence. Chaos. The chief is overreacting. He’s declared martial law. The police can do pretty much anything they want, with impunity. It’s not right. We’re desperate. We have no access to weapons. We can’t do anything ourselves. We need order restored. Your team represents our last hope.”

Boyer looks back at Valdez’s lifeless body on the autopsy table and shakes his head. “Why didn’t he just say what you said?”

“I guess because you caught him completely off-guard.”

“Was he the only one who could thaw my team out?”

“Just him.”

“Let’s go.” Boyer grabs Pelkey by the collar and walks him to the exit.

“Where are we go going?”

“You’re going to show me your world. What your life looks like here. And I’m either going to like what I see or I’m going to burn it down. I haven’t decided. So show me the good stuff first.”

“Of course. Right this way.” Pelkey has a thought. “Wait!”


“You’ll probably want your uniform. It’s folded on the chair by Dr. Valdez.”

Proceed to Chapter 17...

Copyright © 2018 by Charles C. Cole

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