Shifting Ice: Secret Tensions

The fourth installment of Jared Vaillancourt’s ‘Shifting Ice’ series.

By Jared Vaillancourt [Creative Writing Bureau Chief]

Chapter Four

“Just try to relax, Mr. Vintis,” the Jukkopo officer said for what seemed like the third time. “I am your friend. I just need to know what you know, so that we can determine who is responsible for Mr. Lizix’s death,” Vintis looked up at the officer and swallowed.

“They really killed him?” Vintis asked. The officer bobbed her eyestalks. Vintis sighed. “I’ve known Jaxal for months. I didn’t think he’d have it in him.” The officer tried to emulate a relaxing chuckle and sat on the stool opposite Vintis’. She cupped her tentacles on the table.

“You must understand, Mr. Vintis,” the officer said slowly, “tensions between the Izraal and the Pyryx have always been high. Even to this day they’ve never liked being in the same room as one another. Granted, these are generalizations, but…” the officer paused, her eyestalks intertwining to consider Vintis. That worthy bowed its head and nodded.

“But what I saw confirms them,” Vintis replied, trying to control its shaking. The officer sighed.

“I understand this is difficult,” the officer said reassuringly. “Being a witness is perhaps one of the hardest things in the galaxy. But we need your testimony to put Mr. Jaxal and the other patrons away.”

“I… it just doesn’t seem real,” Vintis muttered. “The Pyryx didn’t provoke him. He just came in for a drink, just like me. Jaxal started to taunt him as soon as he sat down.”
“What happened then?” the officer asked. Vintis looked up at her; one of her eyestalks was bent down as she tapped her tentacle across her note flexi. It blinked at the other three.

“I told Jaxal to stop, but he ignored me,” Vintis admitted. The officer bobbed her eyestalks.

“Did you participate further?” the officer asked. Vintis shook its head.

“I knew things would get violent,” Vintis continued. “The Izraal were all focused on… Lizix, did you say?” it asked. The officer bobbed her eyestalks. “They ignored me. I decided to sneak out of the bar and make it to a city-COM.” The officer looked down with another eyestalk as she recorded this.

“And that is when we received your brief transmission,” the officer concluded. “Tell me, Mr. Vintis. The COM box was smashed. We found Mr. Lizix’s internal fluids all over it. Did you happen to see what caused this?” she asked. Vintis closed its eyes and nodded.

“They threw him through the window,” Vintis explained. “I barely had time to duck.” The officer bobbed her eyestalks as she finished her recording. She then stood and reached out with a tentacle, the flexi gripped between its two tendril-like fingers.

“Can I have your verification on this?” she asked. Vintis sighed and touched the flexi. It beeped once it had recorded its citizen number from its DNA. “Thank you, Mr. Vintis.” The officer stood and motioned to the door. “You are free to leave.”

“I’m not a mister,” Vintis muttered as it stood up. The officer chuckled as it walked by.

“Of course, my apologies,” the officer added as the door closed, “Ma’am.” Vintis turned, but the door was closed. It sighed and made its way down the hall towards the entrance hall.

“Vintis! Are you all right?” Kyraa’s voice sounded from a bench on the far side of the room as Vintis emerged from the corridor. The tall, slender Izraal bounded over other waiting aliens and benches as she hurried to grab Vintis by the shoulders and pull it into a tight hug.

“Hey! Kyraa! I’m fine,” Vintis chuckled as she lowered it back to the floor. Kyraa laughed nervously and worked her small hands together.

“I heard about what happened,” Kyraa said quickly. “Did the Pyryx hurt you?” she asked. Vintis, its coat already over its back fins and one shoulder, stopped short of the exit.

“Hurt me?” Vintis asked. It turned to face Kyraa as it finished pulling on its coat. “Kyraa, the patrons exploded on the poor creature! Jaxal’s been charged with his murder!”

“I know, it’s not right,” Kyraa said as she crossed her arms and angled her head.

“Stupid Pyryx comes in and starts a fight and we poor Izraal get blamed for defending ourselves. Is that justice?” she asked. Vintis ran both hands over its head.
“Kyraa, that isn’t what happened!” Vintis tried not to shout. “Jaxal started the fight!”

“I’m sure he had good reason,” Kyraa said as she walked past Vintis and held the door open. Vintis sighed and put on its goggles, shaking its head as it stepped into the sunlight. “Hey! Do you need a ride home?” Kyraa asked. Vintis waived her comment off.

“I’ll see you at work,” Vintis shouted over its shoulder. “And I hope nowhere else.”

To be continued…