FLINT: Part One
Humanity has spread across the stars. In the far reaches of space, a new colony is being built by Terragon Industries. The planet known as New Haven is planned to be a designer colony where the rich can settle and thrive. For now, the planet is mostly uninhabitable except for the large dome that covers a city the size of New York City.
Inside the dome, Aaron Flint is a private eye who has escaped his dark past on Earth. His expert set of skills has earned him the reputation of being a “fixer” — A man that can get any job done. So long as the price is right. . .
Frank’s Pub was an old brick and mortar building amongst the sprawling steel and glass metropolis that was New Haven. The neon sign outside flickered incessantly and the bricks hadn’t been cleaned in ages. Yet every day the usuals showed up. The crowd was a mixture of cops and crooks. Some patrons held both titles. The beer was cheap. The liquor was weak. But none of that mattered. The old brick building reminded everyone inside of the home they once lived on: Earth. Frank only had one rule. Any talk of justice or villainy was off-limits. There was an exception. Aaron Flint was one of the regulars at Frank’s Pub. Today, he wasn’t here for just a drink.
Flint creaked open the glass door and listened to the little bell ding. Nobody took notice except for Frank the Barkeep. Flint made his way across the room and took a seat at the bar. Waving a finger up in the air, he ordered his usual. Frank snagged a bottle of cheap whiskey and popped some ice cubes in a small tumbler. He laid the glass in front of Flint and poured a sip of the drink.
“Mornin’, Flint” Frank grumbled.
The sky outside was dark. Stars filled the black void that swallowed the planet. Even though it was the smallest of details, just looking at the night sky felt alien. The stars weren’t in their right places. It was bound to happen when you live several million light years from home. The small clock that sat behind Frank’s bar ticked to 3:10 in the morning. Flint took a long sip from the glass and let the drink burn in his mouth. It felt clean. He swallowed the sip with a sneer.
“You got anything for me today, Frank?” Flint asked with his gravel voice.
Frank looked back to Flint while cleaning a glass that had just been returned and nodded.
“As a matter of fact, I do.” Frank said.
He set the glass down in the steel sink and gestured to a woman sitting in an old, red leather booth at the back of the pub. The dim light above her head cast heavy circles under her eyes making it hard for Flint to tell if it was just the lighting or if the woman was beyond exhausted.
“Special request just for you. Whoever she is, clearly wants the job done right.” Frank said with a chuckle.
Flint finished his drink with a sharp swallow and pulled a twenty from the money clip in his pocket. He tossed it down on the counter and got up to walk over to his potential client.
As he made his way across the bar, Flint took note of certain details about the client. She was probably in her late-30s. She looked as if, had life treated her differently, she would have been beautiful. Blonde hair, blue eyes, a tight body. But life was vengeful to even the best of people living in New Haven. As he neared her, he noticed the heavy set creases in her face, the eyes that were sunken into her skull, and the distant gaze of a woman who’s seen far too much in her life.
Sitting down opposite the woman, Flint pulled out a small notebook and pen from his jacket pocket. He flipped to the first empty page and clicked the pen open.
“What’s your name?” Flint asked.
“My name is Annette.” She responded.
“Annette…?” Flint asked, waving his hand through the air to signal for her last name.
“Just Annette.” She replied firmly.
Flint jotted the name down in his notebook while nodding.
“Okay. So, what can I do for you?” Flint asked, getting right to business.
“It’s my sister.” Annette replied. Flint waited to see if she would say anything more.
He made a mental note of just how verbose his new client was.
“What about your sister?” Flint pressed on.
“Her name’s Miranda. She’s been missing for several days. That is strange for her. Normally, we talk almost every other day. The last time I talked to her was Monday.”
Flint paused his writing and squinted. He thought about what today was. The past few years were all a blur to Flint. Tuesday.
“Last Monday, I take it?” Flint made sure.
“Of course last Monday.” Annette scoffed.
Flint made another mental note that his new client also had a temper. Understandable for a missing person case.
“Why can’t you just go to the police?” Flint inquired.
Annette looked around the room at the dozens of badges that sat in tables adjacent to their conversation.
“Don’t worry about them. They won’t listen. House rules.” Flint paid no attention to the police sitting in the tables around them, “Now, why can’t you go to the police?”
“Because… Well…,” Annette still nervously eyed the cops, “I was trying to get my sister smuggled onto Haven.” She finally managed, looking as if she unloaded a thousand pounds off her shoulders.
“Ah. Tell me more.” Flint said while adjusting to write faster in his notebook.
“Five years ago, I left my sister to come to New Haven. It was our dream to always come here and I finally saved up enough money to make the trip. But there wasn’t enough for both of us to come at the same time. So, I promised her that I would do whatever it took to get her on-planet with me. Ever since then, I’ve been sleeping with the scum of the planet trying to make enough to get my sister here. And I finally did it.” The tough facade that Annette previously wore now faded. Her eyes started to water.
“As you know,” she continued “a few months ago, the government decided to start closing off the ports and limiting people on planet because of the resource cutbacks. Well, my sister was denied access to the planet by the bastards at customs. So, I took matters into my own hands. I knew a guy from my work that could get people on planet. He smuggles girls. So, I found him and paid him everything that I’ve been saving ever since I got on this damn planet. I told him to bring my sister to me.”
Flint nodded. Giving all the money upfront? Rookie mistake.
“And your sister never made it even after you paid him, right?” Flint asked.
“Exactly.” Annette answered, returning to her terse tone.
“So, who is this guy you hired to get your sister here?” Flint probed.
Annette reached into her bag and pulled out a business card. It was high-class. Thick material that shimmered in the dim lighting of Frank’s Pub. Annette slid it across the table to Flint who placed it into his notebook after reading the name. Jinkou Shang.
“I’ll see what I can do, Annette.” Flint responded while flicking the elastic band around his leather notebook to keep it secured shut. “But it will cost you.”
“I know that Mr. Flint. And when you find out what this man did to my sister, I beg of you to take my money back from that filth and you keep it. It’s everything that I had.”
Flint let out a long breath. He hated working for jobs that didn’t have money upfront. But work had been slow lately. He stood up. Before leaving the table, she outstretched her hand. It held onto a small picture. Flint grabbed it and examined it. The woman was a beautiful blonde. An idea of what Annette looked like before the underworld of New Haven chewed her up and spit her out.
“That’s Miranda. Please, Mr. Flint. Find her.”
Flint just nodded. He made sure to never promise clients anything. He turned away from the table.
As Flint made his way to the front door, he heard Frank call out from behind.
“Hey Flint,” Frank yelled, “be careful with this one. I don’t have a good feeling about it.”
Flint continued out the door.
“You never do, Frank.” Flint replied. He was greeted by the pitter patter of a heavy rain that was just starting. He pulled his keys out of his jacket pocket and looked at the address on the card he took from Annette.