Concept art by Caleb Brown, ©2014
“You’re kidding. She’s not old enough to be legally working yet.” Rascati stared incredulously at his superior officer. Dennis was a large man whose appearance suggested bodyguarding or bouncing, some rough and tumble occupation. Rascati knew that Dennis was getting up in years, and knew that kind of work gave out not long after the knees did.
“Talking about me like I’m not in the room might make you feel more powerful, but all it does is make you look like an asshole.” The young woman in question glared at him. She had enormous green eyes that currently bored into him.
“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Dennis said, stepping between them in such a way as to look unplanned. “You asked for the best of the best. I brought you the best of what SPD can afford.”
“And I feel a price hike coming on.” She folded her arms under her breasts.
Rascati did the gentlemanly thing and hid a smile. “If you’re half as good as your attitude, then you’re good enough.”
“Her name’s Baerlin, by the way.” Dennis added, satisfied that blood would not be shed.
“Rascati.” He said reflexively, offering his hand.
She glared at it. “I was warned.”
Several hours later, Rascati brought some coffee and donuts into the lab as a peace offering. He had a way of putting women on edge. Fair was fair. They did the same to him.
She didn’t look up from the computer screens. Three were open, each with graphs, notes and numbers in attendance.
Baerlin accepted the offerings as her due, and bit into a bearclaw. She glared at the computer screens. Rascati relaxed a little. Apparently fierce was a full time gig.
“Look at this.” She said, pointing at a tiny dip in a rising curve of a graphed line. “Everyone’s brain activity is unique, but most brains are consistent. Patterns, we’re slaves to pattern. But here’s a pattern that is consistent among the different graphs you’re asking me to review. That dip isn’t there any other night, but it shows up in each of the four subjects, just on different dates. Not consecutive, so there’s definitely a random element, which is what made it so hard to catch. It’s within tolerance of abnormal brain activity while sleeping.”
What Rascati felt most was surprise. He’d analyzed that data at least a hundred times, and she found the abnormality in a few paltry hours. Dennis was right. She was good.
“What caused it?” He asked casually, sipping from his coffee.
She turned on him then, wide green eyes fixing him to the spot like twin spotlights. “I have no idea.”
It was an unfair question. Rascati didn’t press. Instead, he sat down on the stool next to her. “I had hopes, but I didn’t expect you to know. It’s a problem that I’ve been tracking down for months.”
“I might be able to hazard a guess if you gave me the context. These graphs are all numerical, there’s nothing to indicate what the data measures.” She said, taking her own sip.
“Sanitized for your protection, I’m afraid.” Rascati shrugged. “You’re not officially a part of this investigation.”
Her expression shifted from the open interest of a scientist to something slightly darker in nature. “I could be.”
Rascati chuckled. “Not at your rates, I’m afraid.”
She quirked an eyebrow. “Are you really all business, all the time?”
Belatedly he realized that she was flirting with him. “Yes.”
“Shame.” She said. She stood and stretched. “Thanks for the coffee. I’ll send you my bill tomorrow.”
This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!