SOMEWHERE ELSE: Little Bastard
The sickly-sweet stench of burning meat was thick in the air.
At the apex of the road, where it curved and cut between two mountains, the wreckage sent plumes of black smoke into the sky. Fire crews worked hard to extinguish the flames, and police did their best to hold back a long line of traffic.
The sky had darkened to a rich red by the time the wreckage was safe to approach. The twisted tangle of charred metal was barely recognisable as the car it had once been. Nearby, another car, smashed but untouched by the fire, lay on its side, as the ambulance crew tended to the driver.
From a distance, Detective West lit a cigarette, and watched passively as Detective Bigman returned from the scene.
"Kit car," Bigman said. "With a petrol engine, if you can believe it. That's why it went up like it did. The driver's burnt to shit."
"You don't say," West said and gave the younger detective a baleful look. "What about the other car?"
"Regular electric. The driver's got some cuts and bruises, and in mild shock, but apart from that, he's okay. Damn lucky, if you ask me. The petrol car must've been doing a hundred when they hit."
"Any ID on the dead guy?"
"Yep," Bigman held up a clear plastic evidence bag, "what's left of it."
West took the bag and frowned. Inside was a shrivelled plastic card. The name and picture were melted away, and just the tail end of a barcode strip and insurance number remained.
"Look at the last three digits," Bigman said.
"I know what it means," West grumbled. "But who was he?"
"I've been wondering that myself," Bigman replied, "I mean ... someone famous, you think?"
"I don't give a shit," West said. He flicked away his cigarette and it hit the ground with a shower of sparks. He looked at the melted ID card. "I'm more interested in where this fucking idiot got his hands on petrol." He sighed, and gave the evidence bag back to his younger colleague. "I've seen enough, and I'm cold. Get a statement from the other guy. I'll see you tomorrow."
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