Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heavy Type - Freedom of the Press

by John Prins

The number on the door read '217'.

As far as Jacob was concerned, it was a gateway to hell.

Jacob had the undesirable job of standing guard outside the door while the forensics team went to work inside. The door was firmly closed, something that Jacob was very thankful for. He didn't share the cast-iron stomachs that the forensics team did, and he was feeling a more than a little queasy.

Jacob had been the first officer on the scene. Whomever had done this had...lingered.

Jacob had managed to keep the contents of his stomach down. Fortunately, the air coming in the hallway window helped. It may have been the height of the summer, but even hot, humid air helped as long as it was fresh. It certainly wouldn't look good for him to be heaving his guts out instead of guarding the door like he was supposed to. People didn't expect Peacekeepers to be affected by this sort of thing.

Jacob could hear somebody coming up the steps. He sincerely hoped it was somebody coming to relieve him. He dearly wanted to go home and take a very long, very hot shower, to wash away the cold sweat he was standing in.

One thing was for sure. Any desire Jacob had to ever go into Homicide division had completely vanished. They could keep it.

Jacob's eyes narrowed. Not relief, that was for sure. Peacekeepers didn't sport video recording gear. A reporter. Jacob took a good grip on his nightstick. Some things were better off unseen.

The reporter came on, undaunted. How he had gotten by the POLICIA line downstairs was a mystery. Probably bribed them to look the other way. The reporter was young, maybe 19 cycles. Pure rookie. He probably didn't even know what he was getting into. Standard procedure was to take away his recording equipment and get him off the property. Crossing a police line was a crime.

There were bigger crimes. Jacob let go of his nightstick and leaned against the wall.

The reporter looked genuinely shocked. He hadn't even a chance to berate Jacob about the freedom of the press and other journalistic rights. He had fully expected to be dragged out of the building - maybe even take a few bruises in the process. It was all part of the job. You had to take risks to get the good stories.

Jacob, in defiance of all tradition, studiously ignored him.

Not believing his luck, the reporter grabbed the door-handle and gave it a twist. Not locked. He glanced aside at Jacob, who seemed fascinated with the papering of the opposite wall. Amazed, he opened the door.

Jacob heard the door slam shut, but tried very hard to ignore the sounds the reporter was making several feet away on the floor. It didn't sound pretty.

At last, the only sounds Jacob could hear was coughing. That was good. Presumably, there was nothing left in the reporter's stomach. Jacob stood away from the wall and knelt down next to the reporter, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

When the reporter finally stopped coughing and could look up into Jacob's eyes, Jacob knew that he understood. Hand shaking, the reporter took off his recording equipment, removed the data disk and broke it into several small, silvery pieces. He then stood up and walked away on shaky legs. He took the elevator this time.

Jacob just knelt there, staring at the pieces of the shattered disk on the floor. Freedom of the press. The people have a right to know. Jacob believed in it. The reporter believed in it.

But sometimes, sometimes, the people have a right to not know.

[Next: Jacob's Day]

[John Prins] [Heavy Type]

The above article was archived from Heavy Type: A Heavy Gear Fan Fiction Website as part of the Hermes 72 Archive Project. It has been edited from its original form and is used without permission.

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