Chapter 2 Part 3

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As Guyton disappeared into the shadows of the alleyway, the perp looked confused, then pocketed his piece and walked away.

Instinct made Guyton fumble for the microphone that was always attached to his uniform—officer down, requesting backup—but he found only his shoulder. "Oh yeah," he moaned, letting the side of the building ease him to the dirty floor of the alleyway. The pain was easing up, not a good sign... before, anyway. Now he was already healing.

Heedless of the pain and old instincts, he pushed himself back on his feet. He had to catch that maggot and... and what? Which way had he gone?

"I got better," he said, faking a British accent. His old self was already piecing the incident together, so he could write the report: Suspect approached in a non-threatening manner, then drew a weapon and ordered me into the alley. After a few words, he shot three times at close range, then turned and walked away. He mentally struck turned and, then forced himself upright. It hurt less than expected.

Back at the apartment, he saw a notification on his laptop: New message from Birch.

"I wonder what he wants," Guyton grumbled, opening the email.

Subject: Congrats

I'm sure you're not feeling your best right now, having been shot and all, but I get to be the one to tell you: good job.

You didn't plan it, but putting yourself in the line of fire saved an innocent couple from meeting the same fate—and they wouldn't have healed like you did. Still, the higher-ups said it's a plus on your record, so you're doing fine on your first night out.

Remember, everyone from me to the higher-ups want you to succeed. Even Astin. Make us proud.

Birch.

"Lovely," Guyton grimaced, then pushed himself upright, wincing at the anticipated pain, but it was nearly gone already.

In the bathroom, he undressed to survey the damage. Somehow, the jacket was nearly unscathed—just some dirt from the alley. The shirt was less fortunate, with three holes and bloodstains up front. No exit holes in back, but no matter. It was ruined. He checked his belly in the mirror: not even a scar to mark the occasion.

A twinge, then a harder one, and Guyton turned to face the toilet. It happened almost right away: he puked up a gout of chunky blood, spattering the bowl up to the rim. The wave passed, and he flushed. "Stands to reason," he told himself. "You get gut-shot, you get blood in your gut." Before he could turn away, another cramp seized him. This time, it was more clear, but something went tap tap-tap. He looked into the toilet, and saw the three bullets.

The chief is shitting bullets, he remembered. That was the time a perp turned out to be a nephew of a city councilman, running for re-election. Now he could no longer remember what the moron had done to get pulled over—just that he had given Guyton some lip, and thus earned a fat lip. In the end, they persuaded the politico to back off, lest word get out that he was demanding preferential treatment for family members. He got a one-week suspension while the storm blew over.

"Me, I'm just puking bullets," he quipped. But the crisis was over, and Guyton plopped himself down at the laptop in his underwear. There was still a good six hours left in his shift, and he meant to make good use of it.

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