Liquify, p.1Henning Brazer
* * * * *
Copyright © 2010 by Henning Brazer
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
* * * * *
Liquify is one of Dixie's earlier adventures and takes place well before the events in Bloodhound
Dixie was dealing with the worst kind of German - irritated ones. He didn't want to be here, they didn't want to be here - but still, here they were - barred behind closed doors in one of Germany's biggest malls, waiting to be blown up by a madman and his delusional sister.
The very same madman in question - Lukas Knauf - was sitting, beaten, bloody and securely tied up a couple of meters away on the ground. Hans, the German detective who ran support on the case was keeping an eagle eye on him; almost willing his spirit to break and spill the beans on the whereabouts of the chemical bomb Lukas and his sister Helena hid somewhere in the mall about an hour ago.
Dixie's beautiful assistant and girlfriend Rani was making coffee for the angry customers of the Galataria mall who moments ago almost killed Lukas in a blind rage. It has been a long day. Rani looked over lovingly to Dixie as he was pacing up and down, trying to come up with a solution to their predicament. Ignoring the almost freezing temperatures the festive season brought, he had chosen to wear the most garish Hawaiian shirt yet as it seemed to be a combination of a purple T-rex, blue flowers and a sunrise. Added to that was his customary knee-high khaki shorts and purple beach sandals. He had left his yellow coat and scarf somewhere on the floor - possibly never to be seen again. She loved him dearly but if they ever got out of this she vowed to have a chat to him about his sense of "style".
Dixie was stumped - his gift of an enhanced olfactory system was not doing him much good as there were too many odours in the air - he could not get a fix on any distinct scent. The specific smell he was searching for was the smell of experimental Chemical X500L which Helena Knauf stole from the government lab she was working at as a janitor for extra money over the Christmas holidays. The report he read was specific that X500L smelled almost like candy, but picking up the trail of the stuff in a mall over Christmas time was proving to be near impossible as everything smelled like candy.
Dixie decided that it was time to question Lukas Knauf one more time.
Dixie roughly grabbed Lukas by the collar: "Only a half an hour is left on the clock Herr Knauf. If we die you die as well. Care to tell me where your sister hid the bomb?"
Lukas looked away from Dixie's red hot gaze: "Amerikaner, if we die, we die - maybe it will send the right messages to the corporate fat cats of this country who forgot the man in the street."
Hans was not having anymore of this and gave Lukas a forceful punch in the stomach. The mad bomber was writhing on the floor in pain as Rani approached them: "What the hell do you think you are doing? This man is close to death enough without you punching him." Hans just shrugged and moved away.
Rani kneeled beside Lukas and spoke in pleading tones: "Please Mr. Knauf, I know you don't really want to kill anybody. You and your sister blew up two malls so far, but you always made sure they were closed at the time and that there was no customers left. Maybe if you tell me why you are doing this we can help?"
Lukas slowly sat upright and replied with a bloody smile: "Ah, Fraulein Shulpa, it is good to see you again. This has been a merry chase, has it not? It is true, we do not want to kill anybody but a miscalculation of the closing time on Christmas Eve unfortunately put us all in this position. Another sin of commerce that can be laid at the feet of the corporations - were it not for their greed, you, me, my sister, Dixie and all the customers would be long gone before the bomb exploded - but such is life I suppose."
Rani dabbed the sweat from his forehead: "Please Lukas, why are you doing this? Can we not stop this?"
Lukas just smiled: "Sorry Fraulein Shulpa, but that is impossible. I do not know where my sister hides the bomb. We carry no phones when we do this. I am lookout for police, she hides bomb in mall."
"As to your question of why - it is very simple. We come from a long line of toy makers. Every Christmas we would work hard and sell our wooden toys to the big Malls like this one. It is a tradition that is almost a thousand years old. But not this year. This year the corporations decided that handmade toys are too expensive, too low in stock - so they get China factory to make plastic version. They are killing the German Christmas, so we decided to kill their business."
"We did not mean to kill their customer."
Dixie was going on his hands and knees trying to get any sort of scent that could help them in the next twenty minutes when one of the customers approached him: "Please sir, I know it is bomb, but why do they not let us go? Why lock us inside?"
Dixie looked at the frightened woman and then looked at the police outside the mall which was protected in their hazard suits. He didn't like the news he was about to share with the customer, but decided that they needed to know in order to make peace with the situation if they can: "The chemical they are using in the bomb is very volatile. It was made to Liquify specific materials while keeping others standing. Materials like wood, steel, copper will all be liquefied, as well as all biological material."
A look of horror crept over the woman's face as the truth dawned on her: "We will all become like liquid?" Dixie turned from her: "Yep, we are all sauce if we do not find that bomb soon." The woman howled in despair and ran towards Lukas in order to eviscerate him: "I will kill you! I never see my grandchildren again! I kill you!" Hans begrudgingly halted her progress and he turned towards Lukas: "See what your evil does Herr Knauf? You are killing as all soon. No Christmas this year."
Lukas was crying uncontrollably now: "Believe me Herr Detective, if I could help I would - but there is no way to contact my sister. She will only leave one minute before the bomb blows as she has hazard suit and needs to be close to detonate. She will find us all dead here in the end."
Dixie decided a change is strategy was needed as their time was almost up: "Lukas, listen to me very closely as there is only fifteen minutes left over. Is there anything about your sister that is different from other people in this mall? Anything like perfume, or she eats more cheese than normal, or maybe she does milk wrestling - I don't know - anything?!"
Lukas shook his head: "No Herr Bannerman, nothing weird about her. Except she cut her hair this morning, if that helps." Dixie frowned: "Why did she cut her hair? Trying to look good for your act of terrorism?"
Lukas gave a half chuckle: "No Herr Bannerman. When we built the bomb this morning she singed her hair with soldering iron. It was such beautiful hair, pity."
Dixie's eyes widened in shock: "Singed hair - that is an odour I can find!"
Dixie threw his phone to detective Hans Gimmler: "Here Hans, we will phone as soon as we find her. Let her speak to Lukas and maybe she will not detonate the bomb. Rani, you are with me."
"Lukas, which entrance did you guys use? That will be my starting point."
Lukas awkwardly nodded towards entrance number two which was fifteen meters away. Dixie and Rani ran at full pace. Hans whispered to Lukas: "You better hope they find her Herr Knauf, otherwise your end will be nastier than whatever the Liquify chemical can do to you."
A metre from entrance two Dixie came to a complete and sudden stop. He looked in a daze as he tilted his head skyward and deeply breathed in the air through his nose - an action that Rani saw many times before. The only way Dixie's brain could interpret what he smelt was by showing him a colour trail to follow - and this was what he now saw floating before him - an ember of green smoke that lead to the elevator shaft.
"She definitely came this way."
They ran to the elevator so that Dixie could "see" which buttons Helena pushed, but it was all for nought as the elevators were out of service. Rani was perplexed: "These elevators should be working non-stop. Why are they out?" Dixie looked at her: "Dammit, she must be in the elevator shaft. We will have to take the stairs and I will have to take a whiff at each door." Rani was now panicking: "Dixie, this is a seven storey mall, and we only have ten minutes left."
Dixie pulled her close and gave her a passionate kiss: "Then we better hurry."
An eternity passed as the two would be saviours ran up the stairs only to stop at each elevator door and then continue on their way. They were tired and out of breath when they finally came to the seventh floor which was home to digital goods. Dixie leaned against the elevator door and finally managed to breathe in between gasping for air: "The odour is the strongest here. She is definitely on this floor. Help me force these damn doors open."
With a combined herculean effort Rani and Dixie forced the doors open to find Helena Knauf standing on the inside, on top of the stalled lift with a revolver in one hand, a detonator in the other and the bomb lying at her feet. She was dressed in a yellow hazard suit, but Dixie knew at this range the blast of the bomb will kill her as well.
"Stop, you come closer and I shoot you dead!"
Dixie pulled Rani in behind him. Slowly he reached for his front shirt pocket: "Steady now Fraulein Knauf - someone here wants to speak to you." Helena was having none of it and she slapped the phone from Dixie's grasp with the hand holding her revolver. Dixie saw the whole scenario play out before him in a swirl of colours and scents.
In one quick movement as the phone dropped to the floor Dixie disarmed Helena Knauf by grabbing her wrist and pressing down hard on her various pressure points. A flash of hot white pain went up Helena's arm and she went to her knees. Rani was beside her like lightning and grabbed the detonator just before she could press the button. Dixie let out a sigh of relief.
The danger had finally passed and when the mad bomber and his crazed sister were taken into police custody and the dangerous Chemical X500L was returned to its rightful owners Rani decided to give Dixie his Christmas present a bit earlier under the mistletoe - much to Dixie Bannerman's delight.
Maybe this will be a great Christmas after all.
* * * * *
Thank you for reading Liquify. If you enjoyed this short Dixie Bannerman tale, make sure to check out Bloodhound
Here follows the first two Chapters to wet your whistle:
* * * * *
Lucy wanted to be famous.
When she was younger, around eleven or twelve, she would put on shows for her family in their living room. Grandiose dance numbers followed by stretched out singing performances and poetry recitals. They were filled with all the passion an attention staved teenager could muster, and after each act her shy twin sister Gretchen and their parents would give her loud applause and sometimes even call for encores if it wasn’t too late in the evening or anything of marginal interest showed on television.
Most of all she loved to act, and in all her self-written plays she eagerly emulated the fainting movement she saw the damsels in distress do so many times in the old movies grandpa could not stop watching. This was the only action that in her mind adequately conveyed a true sense of despair, anguish and agony.
As she was lying in the alley, blood everywhere, she finally knew differently. This was despair. This was anguish. This was agony. The sweat was streaming from her forehead and formed cool little puddles in the crook of her neck. Thankfully the shock to her system has helped the pain subside somewhat. There was a stench in the air and Lucy hoped it was not her. She would love to go out of this mortal plain with a little bit of dignity.
The man was now pacing up and down. He was getting something ready in her peripheral vision, but she could not see what it was. All the strength has left her body and she could not muster the will to turn her head.
Lucy thought about the moment that she knew was soon to come on many occasions, as all people normally do. She imagined that she would die at the ripe old age of ninety, an accomplished actress who just divorced her sixth husband because he was getting too old and her life motto was to never date anyone over forty. The funeral would have been the news affair of the decade, countless fans gathering in the streets to pay their respects. Rose petals strewn on the road as the coffin made its march to a final resting place under peach trees and beside a lily garden.
But now, strangely, and uncharacteristically, as the moment drew closer she did not think about herself at all. About the missed opportunities and adventures that she will never have. The movies that she will never star in, the true love she would never find. All she thought about was Gretchen. Dear, shy Gretchen.
Who will care for her? Who will listen to her going on and on about her boss who she is secretly in love with? Who will visit Wednesday evenings and look through her endless supply of scrapbooks? Who will watch old Mel Gibson movies with her and giggle at the funny hairstyles that were a trademark of the eighties?
Lucy’s time to wonder about these things was now over. She wished she had just a minute more to ponder over life, love and everything in between, but she realized this was not to be as he approached her again. His massive form blocked out the streetlight as he grabbed her roughly by the hair. The knife slid over her throat in one smooth motion. She didn’t even feel it. The man turned her over and placed her head in a bucket filled with water. She actually felt relieved as the water was quite cool and this was an unusually warm evening.
And as he was drowning her, she could hear him scream: "Give back what you have stolen! Give it back!!"
Mercifully she did not hear anything after that.
On a sunny Friday afternoon in 1939 with the picturesque Simontown as the backdrop, Just Nuisance was formally enlisted into the Royal South African Navy to a great amount of pomp and ceremony. With a Christian name like "Just" and the trade of "Bone Crusher" on his enlistment form it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that this was no ordinary seaman.
Just Nuisance was a beautiful brown Great Dane and was officially the first dog that was ever enlisted and classified as an "able seaman" of the Navy. His love for sailors, boats and trains earned him a free pass to go from train station to train station all around the Cape Coast, sleep in the sailor cabins and have all the navy rations he could eat - and he could eat a great deal.
It was down the main street of Simonstown that Just Nuisance led his drunken brethren safely home after a night of heavy drinking, and it was also here in Simonstown that Dixie Bannerman decided to create a new home for himself by opening a
It was one week after the brutal murder of Lucy Masters and Police Captain Greg Smalls and his subordinate Detective Henry Khumalo stood nervously outside the aforementioned place of business in St Georges Street. Henry uneasily eyed the big sign above the door that spectacularly reflected the mid-morning sun. A mixture of purples and black, in the ominous shape of a coffin, with chrome letters boldly proclaiming in an Arial Black font: "The Grease Coffin".
As a bead of salty sweat rolled into Henry’s eye, he blinked and turned to Greg: "I am not comfortable with this sir. I think we should at least give our guys on the ground another week before we go to... extremes. We’ll all pull double time to find this bastard."
Greg calmly eyed detective Khumalo up and down. He remembered a time when he was that young; willing to take on life and all the challenges it may present. But this was not up to them. "Sorry Henry. You know we cannot postpone this any longer. The Mayor; your boss AND mine, wants us to wrap this up as quickly as possible. Multiple serial murders in a tourist destination like Cape Town are not the sort of headlines we need.
Now, don’t worry too much, the Mayor's old friend Gus Bridle recommends this guy very highly. They worked together on some high profile case in London a couple of years ago. You, me and the whole team will just have to live with this Dixie Bannerman's reported... eccentricities and make the best of a bad situation."
Henry looked beseechingly at his Captain to see if sanity would prevail, but he knew the old warhorse for too long and he has never seen him back down from a course that was already set. So, with a sigh and a slouch he followed him inside.
The Grease Coffin was sparsely but finely decorated with pink padded chairs and dark red counter tops. In the corner, from a classic jukebox, you could hear a faint Pixies tune playing. The music was a haunting choice this early in the morning. One lone patron sat and poked at his whole-wheat toast with a butter knife. George Dent lived in Simontown his whole life. For fun he took long strolls down the beach with his poodle Sissy or spent time with his guilty pleasure; an extensive collection of underground 1940’s Adult comics he kept stashed in a secret drawer under his tool bench in the garage. A place his burly wife would never look, he was sure.
Liquify by Henning Brazer / Thrillers & Crime have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on17 votes