blade runner art
A Short Story Written & Illustrated By G.R. Kissell
Kenai Alaska, August 2018

     "What a friggin' mess," Ned Clemens thought as he watched the coroner's spinner land.
A dozen Inuits Indians were dead, their eyes pushed in and heads crushed lying outside of a smoke hut, dead in the snow.
Ned had been a sheriff for fifteen years on the Kenai peninsula, and had never seen anything quite like what lay before him now.  Not in all his years of dealing with death,  had he ever seen such gore.

     Sure, he’d seen a mill worker or two snap and cut up some hooker. He’d even seen a few husbands in his career get cabin fever and wipe out their family. But he remembered one specific occasion for it’s pure ferocity.  Jack Thompson, a local mechanic, had been snowed in for two and a half weeks with his family during the blizzard of 2012.  On what would be the last night of their isolation, Jack pulled out a shotgun and proceeded to shoot each member of his family, two children both under 10 and his wife.  Hell, he even shot his dogs. Then, using the same old 12-guage-pump shotgun, he sealed his lips around the barrel and squeezed off one shot.  One was all it took.  Ned remembered how the power of the blast had embedded Jack's hair into the drywall and the pressure of sealing his lips on the barrel had caused his throat to split open.

     A gun blast is one thing; it always makes a mess.  But what lie before him now was done with someone’s bare hands.  Yep, Ned thought, he'd seen plenty of gore in his time, but never, had he ever seen so many at one time dead or so brutally butchered.  Brutally butchered? Ned stopped momentarily, realizing the words that had just flashed through his mind-brutally and butchered-and wondered if there was any other kind of butchery other than brutal.  He thought how silly it was to throw those two words together in a sentence. It was like using very unique or kinda pregnant.  Ned had always felt it was the liberal media to blame for the brainwashing of people like him into using such oxymorons.  What he thought to be the subtle training by those covert newsies in the over use of such metaphors to describe what should be considered just plainly and simply a bloody tragedy and nothing more.
Ned looked down at John Tall tree, the tribal medicine man and noticed the strangeness of the way his head had been crushed.   There didn't seem to be any blunt trauma, it was as if the head had been placed in a cushioned vice and slowly caved in.

     It was while he stood over the tribe’s medicine man that he looked up and saw the surly man with cropped hair and wrinkled trench coat approaching him from a freshly landed spinner.
The man hadn't shaven in what appeared to be two days and he stank of gin.  Ned knew immediately the guy was a city cop, but he didn't expect what came next.

     "You must be Sheriff Clemens,” Deckard extended a hand to Ned Clemens who accepted the greeting.  “Name’s Rick Deckard, blade runner unit, LPD."

     Ned sucked in the cold air through his teeth, returning his hand back into the mock warmth of his jacket. "Blade Runner?  What the hell you boys interested in here?"

     "I'm looking for a certain someone," Deckard looked down at the dead medicine man and then back up at Ned. "Apparently now you are too."

     "You think a skinjob did this?"

     Deckard looked at the body of the medicine man. “A military model Nexus 5 calling itself Koduk-Eskimo or a native American template… I’m not sure of the ethnicity- along with two 4’s escaped Mars outpost two weeks ago.  I retired the other two in a munitions plant outside of San Louis Obispo.”

     Ned laughed. “Not a very good place to have replicants running around.”

     “No.” Deckard replied as he rummaged through the clothes of the medicine man, then looked back at Clemens. “You don’t mind do you?”

     “No.  I already did that, but feel free to look around.”

     “Thanks.” He continued rifling through the old man’s clothes. “Anyway, I was able to trace Koduk’s movements to a flat on Camano Island Washington where an old man rented out rooms in his three story house. A neighbor had given Koduk a lift to his job on a fishing boat out of Mukilteo Washington the morning of the same day the old man’s body was discovered by two other tenants.  The condition of the body was much the same way your dead bodies here were found, pronate with the hands extended from the body, eyes gouged out and skull crushed.”  Deckard stood up and walked over to the other bodies lying in the snow. “The boat was found yesterday, grounded on Cape St. Elias in the Prince William Sound.  The crew was found in the lower deck…”

     “Pronate, hands extended from body, yada, yada, yada.” Ned cut in.

     Deckard gestured a “right on the nose” by bouncing his fore finger off the tip of his own nose. “And now, this morning, I’m here.”

     The two men watched as the first of the bodies were loaded onto the coroner’s meat wagon.

     “Is it a psychotic, this replicant?” Ned asked.

     “I wouldn’t be so anthropomorphic. It’s more likely programming. I guess it doesn’t know any better. Kills when it’s afraid of discovery and then moves on.”

     “Well, with the temperature being 12 degrees out and lividity having set in as well as knowing that there is no vehicles involved, I’d say our killer replicant has a four hour head start on us but is most likely close by.  Still, there’s a lot of area to cover out there.”

     “How many men do you have sheriff?”

     “Not that many. But we got dogs.”

     “They real?”

     “No.  The entire state of Alaska couldn’t afford real tracker dogs.”

     Deckard seemed disappointed. “Well with the area we need to cover, we’ll need to split up.”

     “That and taking to the air will help too.” Ned added.

     “Good, let’s do it.” Deckard said turning and heading towards his spinner.

     “Hey,” Ned called after the rep-detective, “what do we do if one of us runs into this thing without you around?”

     Without breaking stride, Deckard replied; “Shoot first and don’t let it get it’s hands on you.”
Ned sucked in some cold air again through his clenched teeth, looked down at the dead Tall Trees whom he’d known since his own childhood and then turned towards his own vehicle, thinking of how he would radio in for a posse. He couldn’t help but whisper to himself; “What a lovely day for a lynching.” But not really meaning it.

“We got to more down here.  Holden is already working on a case and Gaff just ain’t up to snuff.”
Bryant’s voice crackled a little as he spoke through the vid-com.  Deckard figured the poor quality was due to being so close to the pole.
“I can’t be two places at once, Bryant.”
“I just want you to get on the stick up there and air that Eskimo out and hurry back down here.  I got Fritz breathin’ down my neck for results.  Goddamned civilian politicians are as useless as tits on a boar but they sure want results when elections are coming up.  Not to mention my doctor told me I had to lay off the sauce cuz my liver’s starting to ache.”
As Bryant paused, Deckard had to laugh quietly to himself over how many benders the two had been on together.
“I’ll finish up as quick as I can and be back by,” Deckard said then hesitated to think. “If this thing does what they normally do, I’ll be back by Friday.”
“I guess that’ll have to do. You just make sure you’re back by Friday. Bryant out.”
It’s funny, but Deckard wondered what the hell Bryant would do if he knew that he’d been considering quitting.  Iran, Deckard’s wife, had been complaining of his constant mood swings, and long hours and how the two were drifting further and further apart.
The voice of the sheriff over the com-link broke the silence of the cockpit.
“I may have found something Deckard.”
“What is it?”
“Old abandoned structure northeast of your location, I’ll send you the coordinates if you like.”
“Might as well, there’s nothing out here,” The digital mapping screen chirps and comes to life. “I’ll meet you there.” Deckard said as he turned his spinner northeast.

The spinner purged into it’s landing mode as Ned, seeing a dark earth and wood structure like a black spot on a white canvas, sitting in the distant snow. The building was an old hunter’s place back around 2009.  The old fart had moved on after the war when animal life sharply dropped off and work as a skinner and taxidermist wasn’t exactly a booming enterprise, much less a legal one.
Snow wafted about under the spinner’s jets as it set down on the eastern side of a tall snow covered hill, nearly a quarter mile from the structure so as not to alert the thing, if it were inside, of his presence.
Retrieving his snow glasses, Ned stepped from the spinner out onto the snow, cold biting into his cheeks.

“Damn, why didn’t I call in this morning?” He asked himself as he slogged toward the structure of the old tanning hut. The door was loose as he stepped through it into the darkness of the old shack.  The loosness of the door was  something that Ned thought as strange.  Someone had either been recently or was here now. With his 440 Smith & Wesson blaster locked, loaded and out in front of him, he used his right hand to remove the goggles, his eyes acclimated quickly as he looked around the bizarre shrine of death. Animals in all sorts of poses littered the tabletops and shelves strangely illuminated by the almost solid blades of light cutting in through cracks around where the ceiling met the walls, which was the only source of light in the all but pitch dark room.  As Ned bravely stepped forward into the darkness, he noticed that the room went at least three meters back into the hillside, giving the strange effect of it being larger inside than it was outside.
A sudden scraping sound of the door pushing wider open behind him as if by force made Ned turn with weapon ready, only to find Deckard pulling off his own pair of goggles.
“Jesus, I could have shot you!” Ned said in a loud whisper.
“I said I’d meet you here, which generally means outside.”
Ned turned back toward the dark interior.  Deckard moved around his right side.
The two men quietly moved deeper into the darkness.
Then Deckard gestured with his left hand for Ned to go to the other side of a group of tables that had once been home to a multitude of instruments and chemicals.  Deckard wanted the two of them to approach a door that sat at the very back of the room against the farthest wall from both sides, which meant they had to split up.  As they drew closer to the door, something caught Ned’s eye.  It was a 7 foot tall Kodiak bear hunched over facing away from him.  Ned remembered seeing some before the war.  But Ned also wondered what was so strange about the bear that drew his attention.  Something at the core of him made him stop and look at it.  Something that at first made him think that he really had the instincts of a good Blade Runner, but a moment later when the bear turned and shoved it’s four inch claws into the soft of his abdomen, he realized he lacked the speed.
The claws had made contact with his rib cage and he could feel himself leaving the ground.  He tried to let out a noise, but his diaphragm was now pressed completely against his lungs and he couldn’t even take in any air.  Ned lifted the blaster toward the head of the thing, but in a blink it was across the room.  Where the hell was Deckard he thought. Then he looked down into the eyes of the thing under the bear skin. He looked at the coal black eyes that looked back at him.  He tried to grab the arm as the other came up across his throat.  Hot jets of life flowed out of him. The, like a rag doll, he found himself airborne flying across the room. Before he hit the ground, he thought it was funny how he had just been killed by something not considered alive wearing the skin of something extinct.  Ned never felt the floor as he impacted with it, nor did he hear his neck catching the corner of one of the oak tables, snapping loud enough for Deckard to hear.
Deckard, who had tried to get a clear shot before Ned could be killed, had failed.  Ned landed two in front of him, causing Deckard to jump to avoid being taken down by the sliding body.  Deckard landed on his knees but weapon up and ready.  He fired at the bearskin, but Koduk was fast. Deckard knew that if he were to survive, he’d have to keep his distance but maintain the high ground.    That meant getting back to the main door, keeping this thing inside and away from the spinners.  Deckard realized that that was exactly what Koduk was thinking. He saw the blur of movement as Koduk rushed for the door.  Deckard fired three consecutive shots, but only one hit Koduk.  His reply to the shot was a quick parry to the left that was immediately followed by an old wooden oar, planted square across Deckard’s chest.  Deckard flew backward from the impact, crashing through an old wooden cabinet under one of the oak tables. From within the cabinet and almost unconscious, he fired four more shots that followed the replicant out into the snow.  Then Deckard was up and moving.
He ran out into the blinding snow, rummaging for his goggles.  He quickly covered his eyes and surveyed for which direction the skinjob had headed.  Then he spotted Koduk, halfway between the shack and Ned’s spinner.  Too small of a target for him to shoot at this distance and there was no way he’d catch him.  Deckard drew down his sites and slowly squeezed the trigger.
Koduk felt the blast of the spinner’s explosion as the explosive pistol round pierced the main fuel container. He fell back into the snow, scrambled to his feet and looked in the direction of Deckard who was standing with one hand holding the goggles over his eyes and the other with a blaster aimed in his direction.
Then Koduk began moving toward the other spinner that sat perpendicular to where he was from Deckard.  Deckard too moved toward the other spinner, this time with a bit of a head start due to it being closer to him.  Once he reached it he saw that Koduk had already turned and was heading off away from him, toward the water.  Koduk could handle the freezing waters of Alaska, and Deckard had never thought of that as a means of escape.  He cursed his stupidity and began to follow the replicant.  Now that his eyes had adjusted to the light outside, he looked down through the goggle lenses to see large patches of blood in Koduk’s footprints. It was slowing too, Deckard sensed the distance closing.
Koduk fell, and rolled down a snow bank at the edge of the frozen shore.  Then he stumbled out onto the ice.
Deckard cleared the snow bank, blaster up, and fired.  The round hit dead center of the replicant’s back.   Like being hit buy ton of bricks, Koduk fell to his knees.  Deckard approached with caution, as the replicant, on his knees still, fell forward, landing on his knuckles putting him on all fours.
“You win.” Koduk said, spitting blood at the same time.
Deckard now circled around to face him.
Koduk slowly twisted himself into the lotus sitting position.
His face became calm as he looked out past Deckard onto ice and snow.
“Isn’t it funny that they made me an Eskimo.” Koduk coughed up larger chunks of blood as now a pool of it was pouring out onto the ice from the open wounds in his chest. “It just seems like such a waste to make me be from a place that I can’t go back to, to die.” Then with absolute clarity in his voice and stiffening of his posture, Koduk looked squarely into the horizon, “Finish it.”
Deckard squeezed one more round off that took most of the head of his quarry off.  The body slumped over to one side and emptied the rest of it’s life onto the frozen ground.
“Finished.” Deckard said to no one.
Putting on a pair of surgical gloves, Deckard reached into the bloody flesh where Koduk’s head once was and removed a metal chip attached to the inside of zygomatic process of the templar-mandibular joint. This would be all that he needed to turn in as an identifier that Koduk had been retired.
He slowly turned to head back toward the shack, removing the gloves and dropping them on the dead replicant.  The cops would be there soon to clean up the area.  That’s what they were best for up here anyway. Cleaning up after the crime. They would be thankful to Deckard for killing their beloved sheriff’s murderer.
It was silly how these people just couldn’t seem to think of the damned things as objects.  But then, so did Deckard.  Something Blade Runners weren’t supposed to do, feel for their targets.  Especially not Bryant’s number one guy.
So, Deckard thought, if he didn’t tell anyone, who would ever know.

The End