Judge Dredd: Juve’s Play

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Free fiction
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In May I submitted a story to the Judge Dredd the Megazine short story competition. Sadly my story wasn’t one of the three chosen as winners, but since I quite like the tale I thought I’d share it on my Blog.

Obviously Judge Dredd and his world are the creations of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra and the property of Rebellion Developments, I’m just borrowing them, and should Tharg the Mighty have any copyright issue I’ll happily take the story down 🙂

* * *

Juve’s Play

He was in pain, but frankly he’d handled worse, and if anything the screaming was more agonizing than his wounds.

As he dragged himself onwards with difficulty, Dredd mentally catalogued his injuries, if only to distract him from the shrilling of the juve. He’d taken a slug to his left arm; the limb was now limp, and he couldn’t feel his fingers. His right arm was broken in several places, and every time he dug his fingers into the carpet to pull himself along shattered bones rubbed against each other sending spasms of pain through his body.

He could just about still feel his legs, but they weren’t much use at the moment. He chided himself for not spotting the creep under the bed before they’d unloaded a scattergun into his shins. He’d relaxed, always a mistake, thought he’d got them all with only the shot to his left arm in reply. Then the scattergun had boomed, and Dredd had fallen.

He’d twisted as he went, lawgiver tracking under his body in order to target the final enemy. With no time for subtlety he’d sent a hi-ex round under the bed. The mattress had contained the blast, but bloody fragments of cloth and feather now drifted like red rain in the air.

He’d fallen onto his arm, even as the bed exploded, the crack as bones shattered masked by the dying whump of the hi-ex round. His lawgiver had tumbled from his grasp, but to be honest it wouldn’t be much help now anyway.

Looking through his helmet visor he focused on the juve. Kid was four years old, still wearing the same clothes he’d been wearing when the members of the Roger Moore Block Tryad had kidnapped him three days before. He was bound tightly to a chair, though the kidnappers had left his hands free for ease of feeding. Right now as well as screaming the juve—Jasper Cufflink III—was using his free hands to bang on the box fastened to his chest, and each time he thumped Dredd winced.

It was a simple affair, made from plasteen or some similar composite, black in colour and lacking any markings aside from an electronic display, where blood red numbers were counting down towards zero. Even if the box only contained the feeblest of home made fertiliser explosives, Dredd gauged there’d be enough to ensure there’d never be a Jasper Cufflink IV, and he put his own chances of survival as 50/50 at best.

Given several of the Tryad were members of the Roger Moore Citi-Def, the likelihood was they had some potent stuff in there, so the more likely outcome would see both him and the juve vaporised.

He dug his fingers into the carpet and hauled himself another few centimetres closer to the ticking bomb and screaming kid, already knowing he’d never make it in time.

He always knew he’d die on the streets, but even though he’d killed his killers first, it grated to know that the creeps who’d finally take down Judge Dredd would be such a pack of idiots.

Idiotic mistake #1: When kidnaping the sole heir to a multi billion cred Soy-mush empire it was stupid beyond belief to shoot dead every relative the heir had in the process.

Idiotic mistake #2: Whilst painting over the Roger Moore Block citi-def markings on the side of the hov-truck you were using to commit the kidnap was a smart move, leaving the raised eyebrow logo that every Judge in the sector knew meant you were from Roger Moore wasn’t.

Idiotic mistake #3: When judges show up at your door, even if one of them is old Stony Face himself, for Grud’s sake at least try to bluff your way through it before you start shooting. Dredd hadn’t even known their apartment was the one, he and rookie Judge Roark were just conducting door to door interviews, as were dozens of other Judges throughout the block.

The hyperactive  little toad of a man who opened the door, however, didn’t bother to even try the old “evening officer, how can I help you” ploy, instead his eyes had gone saucer wide, he’d screamed “Judges!” at the top of his lungs, and then he’d pulled a zip gun and shot the rookie clean through the chest.

Idiotic mistake #4: When faced with two Judges, Dredd and a rookie in a white helmet, and when you only have time for one shot, you shoot Dredd!

Dredd had drawn his lawgiver and blown a hole through the toad’s stomach. He hadn’t paused after that, he’d kicked the dead man out of the way and run into the apartment.

There were three other kidnappers (or so he’d thought) and though they got a few shots off, only one had been remotely accurate. Dredd fired three times, each a head shot that would save the City the cost of a cube.

That’s when the kid had started screaming, and the bomb’s timer had started ticking, obviously programmed to kick in when one or more of the Block Tryad were dead. Dredd had just called for back up and bomb disposal when the last kidnaper had fired from under the bed.

Dredd hauled himself another few centimetres closer. The counter said 54 seconds. Even if backup was on its way, the chances were they wouldn’t make it in time, and he couldn’t check because the fall had damaged his helmet mike.

50 seconds.

Dredd wasn’t ready to give up though. He couldn’t make it to the bomb in time, but there was someone closer who could.

Jasper Cufflink III stopped screaming mid yelp as Dredd’s boot knife thudded into the high backed chair, the merest whisper from his right ear. The kid turned his head slowly and gaped at the blackened blade.

Dredd gave him no time for introspection. “Pull the knife out, now!”

The deep growl that could make even innocent cits confess worked wonders. The juve didn’t even question, he tugged the knife free.

“Now prise the lid off the box.”

The kid spent precious seconds staring at the bomb until he realised Dredd wanted him to insert the knife blade into the seam that ran around its middle. He did as instructed and a moment later the top half of the device popped free, though it remained connected, dangling from the bulk of the bomb by several wires. The countdown clock now swung in the air like a pendulum.

30 seconds.

“There should be a lump of something like clay inside there with wires connected to it. How many wires do you see?”

The kid looked down, then looked up. “Two,” he said holding up a pair of pudgy fingers.

“What colour are they?”

“Red.”

“Sure, one’s red but the other…” Dredd felt his heart sink.

“Both red,” said the kid.

20 seconds.

Dredd took a deep breath. “Cut ‘em both,” he muttered through gritted teeth.

The kid awkwardly reached the knife inside the box, then tugged upwards, the blade initially just pulled the wires into view, but then it sheared through them both.

10 seconds.

Dredd exhaled.

9 seconds.

“Stomm,” he cursed.

The countdown continued.

“Nice try, kid,” he said, but Jasper Cufflink III wasn’t listening, he was staring intently into the box. After a moment he dug in with the knife and began waggling it around.

3 seconds.

Dredd clenched the fingers of his right hand, despite the pain.

3 seconds.

The clock had stopped. Dredd looked up. The juve was holding up a capacitor of some kind, his eyes were twinkling as he stared at it.

Dredd pondered that the kid might make a damn fine Tek-Judge someday, and now he was a ward of the City he could be inducted into the Academy with no hindrance.

He’d just started to consider that Justice Department could probably take control of the Cufflink Soy-mush Empire as well when he heard a door that had swung shut kicked open once more, followed by heavy footfalls. Someone ran into the room, Dredd saw green Judge issue boots pass by.

“Bomb squad!” he heard a voice cry, one he recognised. The man stopped dead when he saw the kid with the dismantled bomb. For a second he looked down at the scene, then he turned to regard Dredd. Dredd couldn’t see the other man’s eyes behind his visor, but the slackened jaw spoke volumes.

“You need to check your watch, Holiday” groused Dredd. “The nick of time was twenty seconds ago.”

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