Blood. There’s blood everywhere on the street. Armin is on his knees, petrified and in shock. The ring on his right hand with a blood red gem is glowing. He looks into his friend’s lifeless eyes. He couldn’t save him.
“A- Al-” He struggles to speak.
Armin snaps out of daydreaming. He looks to the person calling his name and immediately stands from his chair.
“I apologize Officer Brown!” he speaks quickly.
Albert Brown raises an eyebrow at Armin. This young man with his slick back hair and small frame glasses is Albert’s new partner. Straight out of the police academy.
Albert clears his throat. “Relax son, you can just call me Al. Okay?”
“Al? Oh okay sure!” Armin says, relaxing his shoulders back.
He studies the older man before him; he had a bit of a gut, bushy black mustache and his police uniform seem kind of old. Not someone he expected to be a ‘veteran’ L.A cop as he was told by his superiors. But Armin doesn’t question his new partner and just accepts it.
“Come on. Let’s get out there.” Albert says as he finishes his cup of coffee.
Albert and Armin are on the road. Albert is driving and Armin rides passenger.
“So tell me about yourself.” Albert says, breaking the silence between them.
“Well I graduated from the top of my class, I’m a good marksman, aced all my-“
“Whoa, whoa.” Albert interrupts him. “I’ve read the report. I know all that already. I mean tell me about you.”
Armin thinks for a moment. “Well I, um. I’m not too sure what you mean?”
“Like I wanna know more about you. What do you like to do for fun?”
“Favorite kind of music?”
“I don’t really listen to music. I like podcasts though.”
Albert laughs. “Oh my God, L.A is going to eat you alive out here.”
“What?” Armin says.
“You don’t like music or what?”
“No it’s not that. I just never really took time to get into it.”
Albert shakes his head. “No I won’t accept it. My new partner is going to get into music.”
Albert pushes a button on their radio and turns the knob. A country song begins to play.
“What is this?” Armin asks as the song plays.
“Country. A lot of folks like to say it’s terrible but I don’t think they really take the time to listen.” Albert answers.
The two keep driving along the road, listening to the song as it plays. Armin listens and smiles.
“Why do you like country?” He asks.
“It tells a story. I like music that can tell a story. Whether it’s sad, happy or something.” Albert explains. “Speaking of stories, why did you join the force?”
“To protect and serve.” Armin answers.
“That’s not the answer I want to hear. Why did you really want to become a police officer?” Albert asks again.
Armin thinks for a moment. “Well I want to protect people. I see how messed up this world is and I just want to do my part to help keep it safe.”
Albert smiles, he’s satisfied with that answer.
“Why did you join?” Armin asks.
Albert’s smile fades. “A long time ago when I was a kid. I saw a boy my age get shot down by two cops. They were answering a call of a robbery that took place. He was unarmed, but the police thought he had a gun.”
“What did he have?” Armin asks.
“It was just a candy bar he had stolen from that store. He was only ten.”
Armin doesn’t know what to say. Albert continues his story.
“You think something like that would make someone hate cops, and don’t get me wrong I did hate them. But I took the time to think and I had to understand the neighborhood I grew up in was dangerous. I’ve seen cops die from gang members and thugs. But it still doesn’t excuse what they did to that boy.” Albert explains, not taking his eyes off the road. “I wanted to make a difference. Protect the good people of this world from evil. Law and civil. Instead of hating the police, join them and show people were not dangerous. Learn to think first before reacting, so innocents don’t die.”
“I’m sorry.” Armin says.
Albert smiles. “Don’t be. I’ll teach you everything to being a better cop. One that won’t make mistakes.”
Armin smiles too. They continue to listen to the country song as they make their runs.
Albert and Armin have been working together for a few weeks now. The police sirens are on and Albert is speeding down the road. They are responding to a call about a robbery at a gas station. They reach the store and get out the car. They both have their guns drawn. They see the suspect outside the store, a teenager in black hoodie with a grocery bag full of money.
“Freeze!” Armin yells at the teenager.
The teenager draws his gun on them. Armin prepares to shoot.
“Armin wait!” Albert suddenly yells.
Armin looks at Albert confused.
“What? No he has a gun!”
“Just wait!” Albert orders.
The teenager is pointing his gun at them but doesn’t pull the trigger yet. Albert looks to the teenager and talks to him.
“Come on son, please put the weapon down.” He says.
The teenager is scared, the gun is shaking in his hand. “Go away! Please!” he pleads.
Albert begins lower his gun. “Were not going to shoot. Let’s just talk.”
Armin is shocked. “Al what are you doing?!”
Albert holsters his weapon back. “Armin put your gun away.”
“Are you crazy?! No!” Armin snaps.
“Armin… please put it away.” Albert asks once more.
Armin looks at the teenager who still has his gun pointed at them, then he looks at Albert who’s looking right back at him.
“Armin. Trust me.”
Armin lowers his gun and holsters it. He feels like he made a bad mistake.
“See? We’re not going to shoot you.” Albert begins to slowly approach the teenager.
The teenager still seems scared and has his gun still aimed at them. Armin is nervous, sweat forms on the back of his neck. Albert gets closer.
“I just want to help you son. No one needs to die.” Albert says to the teenager.
“I can’t go to jail!” the teenager yells..
“I know you don’t. But I can make sure you don’t get killed or serve a longer sentence than you have to. Please lower your gun.” Albert ask again.
The teenager is hesitant at first, but then he finally lowers his weapon. Albert now gets closer and grabs the gun from him. The teenager doesn’t fight back. He starts to cry.
“I’m sorry. I just needed money for my mom.” He cries.
“It’s okay. I understand but you committed a crime. Maybe we can lower your sentence.” Albert says as he takes the money from him as well.
The teenager doesn’t resist and Albert cuffs him. Armin is shocked. Albert was able to handle the situation without violence.
Some time passes and another patrol car arrives to take the teenager into custody. Armin sits in the car and waits for Albert to finish his report with one of the other officers. He’s still surprised how much of a risk Albert took. The driver door opens and Albert enters. He relieves a sigh.
“You hungry?” he asks.
“What?” Armin says annoyed.
“I could go for a burger right now.”
Armin is now serious. “Al what was that? You could have died!”
Albert looks at Armin with content. “You’re right. I could have died. But so could have that kid.”
“He was robbing a store and drew a gun on us! He was dangerous!” Armin says.
“I get it son. I know what I did was risky, but I took a good look at the kid and didn’t see a criminal. I saw a boy who making a stupid mistake.”
Armin doesn’t understand but continues to listen.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely bad people in this world. But most of the time, in situations like these, it’s just someone making a mistake because they’re scared. That kid didn’t want to rob the store, he just wanted money for his sick mother.”
“Okay that’s sad and all but he still could have shot you!”
“The gun was fake.”
Armin is confused now. “What?”
“The ‘gun’ he had was a toy he painted black. I noticed it almost immediately when he pulled it off. You could still see pigments of orange on the tip. He just used it to get the money. If you would have pulled that trigger, you would have killed a young man who was unarmed and scared.”
Armin is silent now. He feels bad.
“Look don’t feel like you made a mistake. You did well and was being cautious. However, there are some things the academy does not teach you.” Albert speaks.
Armin looks at Albert again. “Like what?”
“You may know how to shoot a gun, the correct procedures and protocol of being a cop. But the one thing the academy never teaches you are the people. You have to learn how to read them. Look at the scene as it’s taking place. Not everyone is a criminal. Most of the time they are just dumb and scared.”
“Well how do I exactly tell the difference?”
“I’ve learned to trust my gut. It’s always good to be prepared for the worse, but it also never hurts to think for a moment. Analyze the situation. Our duty is to protect and serve the people. That means even risking your life to save them.”
“Well I’ll try.” Armin says.
Albert lays his hand on Armin’s shoulder. “I’m happy to have a partner who has my back. Thank you.”
Armin smiles. Suddenly a voice from the dispatch radio in the car comes on.
Albert picks up the walkie and speaks into it. “This is Officer Brown.”
Armin can’t really understand the voice from the other side, but Albert suddenly gets very serious.
“I understand. We’re on the way.” He says and puts away the radio. He turns on the police sirens and steps on the gas, quickly taking off.
“What is it?” Armin asks, now worried.
“Remember how I told you that there are bad people out there?” Albert says not taking his eyes off the road.
“We got a call for backup. Some of our guys had a run in with a very dangerous gang called the Blood Kings.” Albert says.
Armin has never heard of them. “The Blood Kings?”
“Yes. Most gangs just contain punks. But not the Blood Kings. This gang isn’t very big, but they are extremely dangerous. Their people are mostly just ex-cons and mercenaries and they will not show mercy.”
Armin is nervous now. “Isn’t this something the SWAT team can take care of?”
“Yes but our boys are in trouble right now and were going to provide backup until more help comes.”
“Okay let’s do this.”
“Armin I mean it when I say these men are dangerous. So do not hesitate to shoot. Got it?”
Armin nods his head. “I understand. Let’s go help.”
Its evening and the police car hauls quickly down the streets of L.A. Albert and Armin arrive at a warehouse. There are other cop cars in front and a few bodies on the ground. Albert and Armin exit their vehicle, guns drawn and cautious. They walk towards the bodies. Some are cops and the others appear to be members of the Blood Kings. Armin scans the area, he feels sorry for the fallen officers.
“Armin.” Albert whispers to him. “Over here.”
Armin goes to Albert who kneeling next to a downed cop. He’s still alive.
“Hey man what happen here?” Albert talks to the cop.
He coughs vigorously and speaks. “There’s only a few of them in there. Stop them, I’ll be fine. Make sure they don’t get away.”
Albert nods his head and leaves the injured cop there. He looks to Armin. “We’re going in. Be careful.”
Armin listens and follows Albert’s lead.
They sneak around the warehouse trying to find the remaining men of the Blood Kings. Armin hears some voices and gestures Albert to stop. They listen.
“We have to get this to the boss quickly. Do NOT let this out your sight, do you understand??” the voice says.
Armin gets a better look at the man talking. He sees only three guys, all of them wielding assault rifles, and one of them is holding a small wooden box. Albert sneaks in behind Armin but accidentally hits a shelf. Something falls off and shatters on the floor. The three men suddenly look at their directions and raise their guns. Without even a warning, the men begin to unload. Bullets fly at them. Albert and Armin get down to cover.
“Shit were pinned!” Armin yells.
“Hang on and don’t move until you stop hearing them fire!” Albert orders.
Armin listens and they both stay down, hoping to not get shot. The firing suddenly stops and in one quick move, Albert stands up and points his gun. “Fire!!” he yells.
Armin stand too and they both shoot their weapons. The three men move. Armin shoots one in the head instantly. Albert gets another in the chest with a few shots. The last man quickly loads another clip into his weapon. Before he even fire, Armin shoots and gets a head shot on the last man. All three of them are dead.
“Damn son, you really are a good shot.” Albert compliments him.
Armin smiles. “Thanks.”
They approach the dead bodies. Albert picks up the wooden box that the men had.
“Wonder what’s so important about this box.” Albert says.
He opens it and seems a bit confused. He shows Armin what’s inside of it.
“A ring?” he says.
The ring was on the nice silk bedding. It had a blood red gemstone and strange designs on the trim.
“A fancy looking ring. Probably worth thousands. I mean look at the size of that gemstone.” Albert says, admiring it.
He closes the box and hands it over to Armin. “Come on, let’s go take this back to the department. Backup should be here soon to help clean the place up.”
Armin and Albert begins to walk out. Suddenly Albert spots a man with a handgun. He points it at them.
“Look out!” Albert warns. He runs and pushes Armin out the way. The man fires his gun and it hits Albert.
“Al!” Armin yells.
Before the man can get another shot in, Armin quickly shoots his gun at the man first and shoots him in the head. The man goes down. Armin checks on Albert, fearing the worst. Albert grunts in pain.
“Oh my god Al! Are you okay?” Armin panics.
“Yeah I think so.” Albert says, checking himself. “Yeah I’m okay, it only grazed me.”
Armin relieves a sigh. “Thank goodness.”
Albert laughs. “It’ll take more than that to kill this old man.”
Armin helps him stand up and they both exit the warehouse, unharmed.
The sky is black and rain clouds are beginning to roll in. Albert and Armin are driving down the dark roads of L.A. After the SWAT team arrived, they did a quick sweep around the warehouse for more hostiles. THey found a few more members hiding and contained them.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive?” Armin asks.
Albert chuckles, “No I always drive. Besides I’m fine, medics patched me up pretty easily.”
Armin is holding the small wooden box the strange ring is in. It’s about the size of a book. They are driving back to their station to put in as evidence.
“Why do you think they wanted this ring so bad?” Armin asks. He opens the box to look at the ring inside. The blood red gemstone is slightly glowing.
“Probably worth a lot.” Albert suggests.
Armin grabs the ring to take a closer look. “Whoa this is weird. It looks like its glowing.”
“Glowing?” Albert repeats him.
Armin is intrigued by it and studies it more. The designs on the trim look ancient. Like tribal markings.
“Put it on. When are you ever going to be able to try something like that again?” Albert says.
“I don’t know…” Armin mutters.
“Ah come on. Try it.”
Armin smiles and slides the ring onto his right ring finger. Suddenly the ring sends a shock through Armin’s body.
“Ow!” Armin yells.
“The stupid thing shocked me.” Armin says angrily.
He tries to take it off but it doesn’t budge.
“Oh no.” he says.
“What is it?” Albert asks.
Armin keeps pulling on the ring but it doesn’t come loose. It’s stuck to him.
“I can’t get it off!” He says.
Albert laughs “Really? You got the evidence stuck on your finger?”
“It’s not funny!” Armin snaps at him.
“It’s kinda funny son.” Albert says, still laughing. “Look its fine. We’ll get it off when we reach the station.
Armin rolls his eyes. “Whatever.”
Albert looks at Armin who’s just staring out the window now.
“I just want to say you did good kid, so thank you.” He says.
Armin looks to Albert. “You saved my life, I should be thanking you.”
Albert smiles. “Were partners. It’s what we do.”
“Yeah. We’re partners.”
Albert turns some music on. A country song starts to play. They both nod to the tune of the music.
“So I was thinking. You should come to my house this weekend. My wife can make some damn good bbq and I know she would love to meet you.” Albert says.
Armin smiles. “I would love that. Thanks Al.”
“You know my daughter the other day was telling me this story that she wa-“
A large car T-bones their police car. Armin and Albert get tossed around in the car as it flips and roll over on the street. Albert is tossed out and Armin is still inside. Everything goes silent. The music is still playing on the radio. Armin begins to regain his vision. Is head is bleeding and there are scratches on his arm from glass. The police car is flipped upside down.
“What the hell happened?” Armin mutters to himself.
He looks around his surroundings. The front windshield is missing and notices Albert isn’t next to him anymore.
“Al?” Armin calls out.
He unbuckles his seat-belt and falls down. He grunts in pain but ignores it. He needs to get out of this car. Armin begins to crawl out through the front window. He’s on top on broken glass, shredding through his uniform and skin. Armin is able to get out the car. It’s dark out and it’s beginning to rain. Armin suddenly hears voices up ahead.
“Where is it?” the voice yells.
Armin sees four people up ahead. One man has a gun pointed at another man who’s on his knees, being held by two other guys. Armin eyes take a moment to adjust. His heart suddenly stops. Albert is the man on his knees.
“Al!” Armin calls out.
He tries to get up but struggles. He left arm might be broken.
“Where is it old man!” The voice aggressively asks. Albert looks up at the man pointing a gun at him. He has a scar on his chin.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Albert claims.
The man with the scar pistol whips Albert. He gasps in pain and blood fills his mouth.
“Where’s your partner? I know there was another with you.”
Albert looks up to the man, stillness in his eyes. “I have no partner. You got the wrong cop asshole.”
The man puts the gun to Albert’s forehead. “Last chance. Where. Is. The. Ring!” He yells.
Armin finally stands on his two feet. His gun is missing. He begins to panic.
Albert smiles, his teeth bloody. “Son… Fuck you.”
The man and Albert stare intently at each other for a moment. He pulls the trigger. The gunshot echoes through the city streets. The back of Albert’s skull opens up, blood sprays out and body flinches back.
“NO!!!” Armin yells.
All three men look towards Armin at the same time.
“There’s his partner. Bring him over here.” The man with the scar orders the other two.
They begin walking towards Armin.
“Al…” Armin mutters.
His world suddenly goes quiet. Seeing Albert’s body lay lifeless there fills him with different emotions. First devastation, then a wave of wrath. Armin’s blood on his arms and head suddenly begin to lift off his body. The ring’s gemstone on his right hand is glowing. The two men approach closer to Armin then suddenly stop in their tracks. Their bodies become stiff. The man with the scar notices his subordinates have stopped moving.
“What are you two doing? Get him already!”
They don’t listen. He see’s Armin walking towards them. Fury in his eyes. That’s when the man understands why his men aren’t moving. He sees the ring and it’s glowing tremendously.
“Shit he has the ring.”
The man points his gun towards Armin but his arm suddenly stops halfway up. He can’t move now either.
Armin is closer to the two men that were holding Albert. He can see terror in their eyes. Suddenly they begin to scream in agony. Their arms bend in ways a human arm couldn’t bend. Blood begins to ooze from their nose and eyes. Armin doesn’t know what’s happening to them but he doesn’t care. The only thing on his mind is vengeance. They stop screaming and both drop dead. Armin looks at the two dead men then he looks at the man who killed Albert. He too had fear in his eyes. Armin begins to approach him now.
“P-please don’t kill me.” the man struggles to say, still not able to move his body.
Armin ignores his plead and now stands in front of him.
“You killed a good man! A good cop!” Armin spits.
The man is having trouble talking. “I’m sorry… I was just… I-”
“What?!” Armin yells clenching his fist.
The man screams in pain.
“I was just following orders!” He says.
“Who’s order!” Armin questions.
“My boss! Leader of the blood kings. He wants his ring back.” The man quickly answers.
Armin looks at the ring on his hand. He sees it glowing. That’s when he notices the blood that was on his arms and head were levitating around him. It gave him an uneasy feeling.
“P-please let me go. I’ll take you to him.” The man begs.
Armin looks at Albert’s body. Then directly at the man’s eyes.
“No.” Armin says.
He clenches his fist and the man yells in agony. His arms bend back and his neck twists up. Blood ooze from his eyes, ears and nose. The screaming stops and the man drops to the ground dead.
Armin drops to his knees, petrified and in shock. The ring on his right hand is still glowing. He looks into his friend’s lifeless eyes. He couldn’t save him.
“A- Al-” He struggles to speak.
The blood that was levitating around him stops and drops back down. The ring’s glow begins to fade. Armin feels light headed and drops. Everything goes black.
“Albert G. Brown. Dediciated Cop. Loving Husband and Father. 1975-2019” is what is written on the tombstone. It’s been a week since Albert died and police found Armin to be the only person alive from this incident. Police are still baffled and have no clue what killed the men. The autopsy report claimed their hearts exploded in their chest. When detectives came to question Armin, he told them he couldn’t remember anything, but that wasn’t the truth. Armin remembered everything from the last detail. The man with the scar killing Albert. The agonizing screams from those men. The blood levitating around him. He remembers.
Armin stands in front of Albert grave in a black suit. His left arm is in a cast. He’s filled sorrow. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you Al.” He talks to the grave.
He looks at the ring on his right hand. He still hasn’t been able to get it off. No matter what he did, it wouldn’t budge. He is still clueless on what this ring was or where it came from but he knew it gave him some kind of power to kill those men. A power the Blood Kings wanted. He couldn’t let them have it.
Protect the good people of this world from evil. Learn to think first before reacting, so innocents don’t die. Armin recalls on Albert’s words.
“I promise Al. Promise to protect innocents from evil.” He looks at his ring again. “Evil like these rings.”
Armin takes a moment to remember Albert as not only his mentor and partner, but his friend as well. He looks at the grave once more, then walks away while muttering something under his breath.
“No human being alive should have this kind of power.”
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