Coffee and Lasers

Fingers tapped away at a touchscreen keyboard at Detective Jon Dunford’s desk. His bloodshot eyes moved from the smooth, glossy finish of the screen to a cup of black coffee sitting on the top of his wooden desk. Lips met the ceramic curve in a distasteful accord; the coffee was ice cold. He threw the mug to the ground in a fit of disappointment, shattering it instantly. The noise echoed through the room, prompting the other officers in the bullpen to turn their attention to Dunford.

“Cold coffee,” grumbled Dunford with a reassuring smirk. The other officers returned to their busy work. Once the attention was off of him, Jon thrust his hand into the bottom drawer of his desk and felt around for the cold steel of his trusty flask. The small canister fit snugly in the palm of his hand. He pulled it out, opened the top, and discretely pressed it to his lips. However, no alcohol flowed from the opening. Pulling it away, he checked the screen on the side of the bottle. It was flashing “EMPTY” in bright red letters.

“Great,” sighed Dunford. As he dropped the flask back into the bottom desk drawer, the chief, sweaty and disheveled, burst into the room of officers.

“We just got a call about a rogue robot terrorizing pedestrians in front of a diner on the corner of 5th and Elm.” Catcalls from a rambunctious of previously bored officers filled the bullpen. One by one, they stood up and began to ready their laser pistols.

“Where do you think you jokers are going?” interjected the chief. “Do you think I’m going to let you blue hooligans resolve a dangerous situation?”

The room fell silent. The officers returned to their seats. Jon chuckled quietly to himself.

“That’s right,” said the chief triumphantly. He turned toward Detective Dunford. “Dunford! This one’s yours. Clean this mess up quickly and quietly.”

Jon stood up and nodded. The chief pointed to the door to the parking garage before returning to his office. Jon reached across his desk and grabbed his laser pistol. He checked the battery, which read “FULLY CHARGED” in bold green letters, before strapping it into his holster. As he ran through the bullpen toward the exit, he feel the angry eyes of the other officers staring him down. Straightening his collar, he laughed and pushed the metal door to the parking garage open.

The concrete and metal parking garage was dark, dank, and humid. A standard police cruiser caught his eye, but his itchy trigger finger told him he wouldn’t be bringing back any robotic prisoners this evening. Beside the cruiser sat a hover cycle. Its slick frame and twin engines caught his eye. In a rush, he mounted the craft and allowed it to scan his retina. The computer logged him in and plotted his current destination, a small diner on the corner of 5th and Elm. Jon activated the thrusters and shot out of the dark parking garage and into a blue and red sky painted behind a setting sun.

Dunford raced past parked hovercrafts and robot hot dog vendors. He activated his lights and siren, giving him even more room to weave in and out of traffic. The hover cycle’s speed increased and even more wind blew through his brown hair. After a few more minutes of driving, he squinted his eyes and spotted the diner. In front of the diner stood a towering hunk of metal with an innocent waitress in its clutches.

Detective Dunford brought the hover cycle to a quick stop and hopped off in a hurry. He drew his pistol and aimed towards the rogue robot’s head. The metal death trap let out a horrendous screech. The waitress squirmed in fear. Her bobbing blocked Dunford’s shot.

“Get out of the way!” he shouted. The waitress ducked quickly. Dunford clenched the trigger and shot a laser blast straight at the metal demon’s head. The robot exploded in massive ball of flames. The remnants of the robot crashed onto the warm pavement. Jon Dunford holstered his laser pistol and helped the waitress to her feet.

“Thank you so much,” she said, pulling Dunford close. “Is there anything, anything at all’ that I can do for you?” Dunford remained quiet as he thought about her question.

“Got hot coffee?”