#8 Traffic: Part 5

Into the portal station

Another week has gone by, which means it’s time to return to the triverse. Chapter 8 here concludes the ‘Traffic’ storyline (which isn’t to say elements can’t return at a later time), so next week we’ll be heading off in new directions. Exciting!

If you’re new or have been busy, here are some quick links:

Read from the start

Read the previous chapter

Previously: The body of a young woman washed up on the bank of the Thames. A chain link motif on her skin leads DC Yannick Clarke to The Palinor Express, a brothel specialising in extra-dimensional entertainment. One police raid later and there’s a new lead, pointing in the direction of the portal station at the heart of London. Meanwhile, DI Christopher Bakker is quietly pulling at loose threads from an earlier case…

Early Shift
On duty: DC Nisha Chakraborty and DC Zoltan Kaminski

1972. August.

Working for the police wasn’t guaranteed to be an enjoyable experience, but Robin Cole did her best to make the SDC office as pleasant as possible. When the telephones weren’t ringing and there were no files to distribute to the desks or parcels to ship out the door, she busied herself with elaborate displays on the windowsills of green, leafy plants. Each desk had its own small succulent, adding bursts of colour between the folders and papers. She wasn’t a detective - wasn’t even a police officer - but she had her role to play, and she took it seriously.

After John Callihan had died she’d redoubled her efforts, trying to add something positive back into the office. A small reminder that life kept going, always, even when it was hard. She stood at the side of Nisha’s desk, looking into the waste basket at a pile of soil and greenery that had fallen from her discarded plant pot. Robin sighed. It was to be expected.

There was a knock from DI Bakker’s private office, partitioned off from the rest of the open plan space. She looked over to see Bakker staring at her through the glass, miming holding a cup of tea in one hand. He smiled gratefully and gave her a thumbs up, then the blinds flicked shut again.

The department did important work and helping the detectives to keep working made her feel like she was contributing to keeping the city safe. Doing her bit to make the world a slightly better place, one cup of tea at a time.

She knocked on Bakker’s door having made two mugs, aware that DS Collins had been in there for a half hour already. Andrew was a friend, someone that she knew valued her efforts and never took her for granted. As the DS, Andrew spent most of his time in the building, keeping everything operating smoothly and liaising with the teams out in the field, which meant they got to spend a lot of time together. If he wasn’t a decade older than her they might have had something.

“Ah, Robin, thank you,” DI Christopher Bakker said, his voice clipped and polite as ever. He wasn’t a warm man or known for giving effusive praise, but equally there was never any doubt about his opinion on matters. “Over here, please.”

She started clearing a space to the side of Bakker’s desk. As tended to be the case, the two men carried on speaking as if she wasn’t there.

“Do you want me to re-open the case?” Andrew was asking. He nodded appreciatively at her as she passed him his mug. “Thanks a bunch, mate.”

Bakker shook his head. “No, nothing formal. Just a simple walk-by. Send a bobby, someone who wasn’t involved in the investigation, and has no prior ties to us.”

Robin cleared away old mugs, placing them onto a tray.

“And you want them to stick their nose into the flat, see if the witness is in?”

“That’s right. Present it as a courtesy call. In the vicinity, making sure everything’s been alright since the incident. That sort of thing.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

Robin excused herself, clicking the door quietly behind her. She rarely had the full picture - or even half the picture - of what was going on at the SDC. Andrew always said it was better that way - and the glimpses she caught on the evidence board and the snatches of conversation she did overhear were more than enough to give her nightmares.

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