Testing the Glass

‘Hi, Mister…’

‘You may call me Vlad,’ I said to the scientist from behind my sunglasses. She took a moment to adjust to my accent, then smiled at me again.

‘Vlad,’ she nodded. ‘Pleasure to meet you.’

‘Indeed,’ I snorted. ‘Now, you said you had something to show me?’

‘Of course,’ she nodded. ‘Your assistant said on the phone that you didn’t like to wait.’

‘Oh, it is not me that minds,’ I shook my head. ‘It is your kind.’

‘I beg your pardon?’ she asked, sweetly.

‘If I wait, for even an instant,’ I explained. ‘You have a frankly annoying habit of turning to dust, your entire civilisation collapsing into ruin and myth from which only I emerge unscathed.’

She gaped at me, lost for words. After a few moments, I grinned and gestured ahead of us.

‘Hugo said you had some commercial window tinting solutions that would suit my needs?’

‘What? Oh, right,’ she regained her composure. ‘Yes. My lab discovered something very interesting from the samples you supplied. Something very interesting indeed.’

‘Are they fraudulent?’ I asked her, stowing my sunglasses in my jacket pocket as we descended the stairs.

‘That’s just it,’ she said, excitement making her pulse quicken. ‘They’re even better than anticipated.’

‘Better?’ I frowned. ‘How is that possible?’

‘I didn’t believe it initially either,’ she held open a glass door for me. ‘But it’s true. These samples are no ordinary commercial decorative glass. Melbourne simply isn’t prepared for the ramifications of this discovery.’

‘Show me,’ I whispered. She obliged with a nod at one of her assistants, who quickly typed a command into a computer terminal.

The whole room turned dark, then lit by a dull green glow of emergency lighting. A mounted laser system descended from the ceiling, positioning itself in front of a pane of glass. Either it hadn’t been there when I’d first entered the room or I’d been unable to focus on it properly; I wasn’t sure which was worse.

‘Alright,’ the woman next to me said. ‘Places, people. Let’s make history.’


Late for Dinner

‘Are you ready?’ Leah asked, nervously clopping down the hallway in her high heels, struggling to thread an earring onto her lobe. Her tight dress made her strides short, which only added to the nervous, frantic energy she was carrying.

Mike barely heard her, staring intently up at the staircase he was leaning against. Leah sighed, exasperated, and threw her purse at him.

He caught it with a start and turned to look back at her with a grin.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ he laughed. ‘I was just thinking – do we need a balustrade?’

‘What?’ Leah frowned, earring successfully attached. ‘Come on, we’re gonna be late.’

‘Just, hear me out,’ he said, catching her by the arm as she tried to walk past him to the front door. ‘Picture it: a glass stair balustrade, running all the way up there.’

He waved his hand to accentuate his vision, but Leah wrenched her arm away.

‘Is that really what you want to be thinking about right now?’

‘Would you prefer I think about how much your dad hates me?’

‘I’d like it to be on your mind,’ she said, gesturing to the minute hand on her watch.

‘Relax, relax, we have plenty of time,’ Mike scoffed. ‘I wonder if I should bring this up with him?’

‘Why?’ Leah shook her head. ‘Why would you bring it up with him?’

‘He used to be friends with a glazier operating in Melbourne. He might be interested.’

‘He might be more distracted by it being his birthday party, is just what I’m thinking.’

‘It’s a fair point.’

‘Honestly, I’m not even sure why you’re bringing it up with me.’

‘Alright,’ he frowned, ‘I said it was a fair point.’

He sighed and glanced down at his own watch.

‘Huh, would you look at that? Mine is ten minutes slower than yours.’


‘Yep, coming immediately,’ he said, grabbing his jacket and following her out of the door.


Truth and Glass

To pass the time, Vai decided it would be a good idea to snoop through a few boxes of files. She flicked through page after page, tossing anything she found uninteresting to the floor and making a mess. Maphira didn’t bother trying to clean up after her. They were about to cut a big hole in a window, after all. It wasn’t like they were trying to cover their tracks.

Maphira simply sat watching her ex-partner, remembering the good times of them looking through case files together. That was so far behind them now, but seeing Vai go through paper like this brought the memories back fresh.

“Why did you really do it?” she suddenly said, the question not even going through her mind before it left her lips.

“Do what?” Vai asked without looking up. They must have been some interesting reports. Maphira wondered if any of them were about office glass tinting. It seemed unlikely, but it’d be an interesting coincidence given that’s what they were there to complete, supposedly.

“You know, join the Conclave. Betray me and the force. I know it wasn’t about the money.”

Vai shrugged. “I don’t know, I just needed a fresh start, I guess. I wasn’t feeling it anymore, you know. So when I told Captain Hold I was thinking about leaving, he mentioned that he had an opportunity for me elsewhere, but I would have to stay in the force a while longer.”

“But you loved detective work. I find it hard to believe that got stale.”

Vai looked up now. She considered the window across from them. It was a nice one, which clearly some other business for decorative window glass close to Melbourne had gotten to first. “I didn’t leave because the work got stale.”

“Why then? Why did you need a fresh start?”

Now Vai gazed at Maphira, her eyes deep with emotion. “I left because I couldn’t be your partner anymore. I left because I was in love with you, Mai.”


The Balustrade Incident

‘Well, Timmy,’ my father sighed from the foot of the stairs. ‘I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson.’

‘That’s it?’ my mother frowned at him. ‘I literally don’t know how we’re going to get to our bedroom tonight and that’s all you’ll say to him? That you hope he’s learned a valuable lesson?!’

‘It’ll do him no good to get angry,’ my father sighed, exasperated. He went to lean on the balustrade like he always did when he was arguing with my mother in the hallway, but had to quickly readjust to it not being there anymore.

My skateboard – flying away from me after I rode it through the upstairs hallway – had seen to that pretty spectacularly. Shattered glass covered the stairs in a glittering powder, which I suspected was the only reason my mother hadn’t raced up them to give me a hiding.

I honestly wasn’t certain she still wouldn’t.

‘I hope you know that you’ll be paying for this glass replacement, young man,’ she called up to me, hands on her hips.

‘We can’t expect that,’ my father frowned.

‘Oh, we both know that it’s surprisingly affordable, Harold.’

‘I’m sorry,’ I squeaked down to them. ‘It was an accident.’

My father beamed up at me from below the wreckage. ‘It’s alright, son. Accidents happen.’

Alright?!’ my mother screeched. ‘We had these glass balustrades installed by a Melbourne company! They’re the best in the world!’

‘I mean, they’re fine,’ my father frowned again. ‘It’s just glass.’

‘Just glass?!’ My mother looked like she was about to crack a rib. ‘Who are you?’

‘I’m just saying, it’s more important that everybody is okay and that nobody got hurt. Besides, I’m sure this won’t happen again, will it Tim?’

I’ve never shaken my head “no” so vigorously in my life.

‘There we go,’ my father went back to beaming. My mother stormed off towards the back door.

‘Where are you going?’ he called after her.

‘I just realised I can climb the trellis!’ she snarled.

All of the blood drained out of my face.