Socko’s First Case – Sample
‘What do you think of this then, Corp?’ I called as I dragged the one-point-five metre high Christmas tree up the last of the stairs and into the small room that we called an office. I had a thick coat over my uniform, partly because of the bitter cold, but also because it was the only chance I had of getting anything like a bargain in this town; if people caught the merest whiff that you might be a Kingsman, they’d shut up shop and disappear faster than a ferret down a drainpipe.
My name, by the way is Garrett. Andy Garrett. But everyone calls me Socko. I’m seventeen, just out of the academy, and the newest recruit to Lieutenant Dixon’s Kingsmen Special Investigations unit, or KSI.
Corporal Dan Barnes gave the tree a derisory glance as I dumped it on the floor in a spray of pine needles and snow. ‘Was that all you could get?’ he asked disapprovingly.
‘Come on, Corp, it’s not that bad,’ I said. ‘And anyway, I don’t reckon you could have done better, seeing as it’s Christmas Eve and all. I mean, not even PJ could do that!’
PJ was Lieutenant Jessica Dixon. Our boss. Few people knew that behind that hard-arsed gun-toting femme-fatale exterior lurked Her Royal Highness, the Princess Jessica. She absolutely hates the ‘P word’, which is why we call her PJ behind her back. At the moment, she was off playing princess at the palace, entertaining some ambassador or other, and as the saying goes, while the cat’s away, the mice will put up the Christmas decorations.
Our headquarters is Exam House, in the High Street. Way back, before The Collapse, it was part of a thriving university. But now… let’s just say there’s no need. Exam House is a large ornate building, with a courtyard, marble floors, pillars, paintings of historic figures hung on the walls and so on. Our office however, is round the back, on the second floor of a town house in one of the side streets. That shows you the high regard that the Kingsmen hierarchy hold us in. But we do have a little kitchenette with a small wood burning stove and separate toilet facilities. One of the pleasurable little perks of being a Kingsman is plumbing. It’s all based on old pre-Collapse designs, but honestly it’s a bloody miracle!
I wedged the tree into a bucket while Corporal Barnes pulled out the bag of tinsel and assorted baubles from the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet and spread them out on a desk. We both made a grab for the fairy. Barnes won, by dint of being closer.
‘Had to rescue this from the rubbish last year, after her nibs caught sight of it,’ Barnes joked.
It might have been a traditional fairy once, but its dress had been dyed black, and a little yellow crown stitched carefully in yellow thread onto the front. The wavy blonde hair had been dyed red and each hand held a tiny approximation of a 9-millimetre handgun made from a small piece of bent wood.
Barnes pulled a chair across the room, climbed up and placed the fairy on the top of the tree. ‘God bless you, ma’am!’ he said, throwing a quick salute. He jumped down and sloped back to his desk.
‘Well, get the rest of them up!’ he said, indicating the remaining pile. ‘They won’t do it themselves! And when you’re done, I’m dying for a cuppa…’
I groaned, and dragged the baubles over to the chair, where I set to work. I’d only been at it a few minutes when the door crashed open and a voice boomed out that filled me with dread.
‘Right, you miserable pair of slackers, I want you to… What the f…’ The voice trailed off.
Sergeant Wailing had terrorised and terrified me all the way through basic training. But what on earth was he doing here? Instinctively I jumped down from the chair and came to attention. The man stood in the doorway, 6ft 2, his flattop perfectly parallel to the door frame. The small scar under his left eye twitched, never a good sign.
‘Cadet Garrett, what the hell are you doing?’ he bellowed.
‘Christmas decorations, Sergeant,’ I shouted back. The automatic response never leaves you, so I’m told.
I could see he wanted to chew me out some more, but fortunately for me, Corporal Barnes chose that moment to let out a small snigger. It was almost inaudible, but it was enough, and Sergeant Wailing turned both barrels on the hapless corporal, who jumped to attention with a rapidity I’d rarely seen even among cadets.
But the tirade was not forthcoming. Instead, he yelled, ‘Major Bond’s office! Both of you! At the double!’
‘Yes, Sergeant!’ we chorused, and almost tripped over each other in our rush for the door.’
End of sample
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