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Todd Hewitt straightened up, frowning at the dead body before him. In his three years as an officer, he thought he'd seen enough dead bodies. But it never seemed to get old.
"Bag 'em and tag 'em, boss?" asked Jimmy Spoone. He had been a coroner as long as Todd an officer. They were also good friends when off duty.
He shook his head. "No, we're gonna let the raccoons pick her bones clean."
Jimmy's big eyes widened even more. "Don't get mad at me, boss. I just like sayin' it, is all."
Todd shook his head and sighed, walking slowly to his car. Just to his left was a horde of reporters, shouting questions at him. As if he had all the answers. He shoved his hands into his pockets, frowning to himself.
This was the third death this week, in his jurisdiction at that. So far, no leads have come up. There were so little clues that helped the detectives—even seniors like Todd—understand what exactly was going on. The entire force was more focused on this than on any other crime happening in Old New York City combined. It was almost like an epidemic, except that the majority of the world was growing accustomed to it.
He remembered the news reports not three weeks before that the deaths had been slowing, numbers declining, and that the public could rest at ease. Even then, there had been no leads. All of the deaths had to be jotted down under 'natural causes,' as if there were such a thing anymore.
Todd got into his car and pulled into the street, hoping he didn't hit a reporter….
"Like that would be a bad thing," he smirked to himself.
Driving down the barren streets of Old New York… Todd couldn't help remembering the old films they use to show in schools. School… he hadn't been there in a while. There were only three schools in operation in the northern part of Old New York City, intended for the younger kids, just so that they learned the basics. Then it was on to the tests by nine or sometimes ten… then training in the limited fields currently offered by twelve.
Todd sighed, frowning at the abandoned playgrounds in the park he drove past.
He wished he could have lived in those days… back when people his age weren't living like they were now. Back when being young was a good thing. Todd couldn't help thinking of that old woman they'd found today: the fourteenth and final registered thirty-year-old in the State of New York. The reporters were going to chew that up. He was sure the half a dozen twenty-nine year olds in the state were going to freak once they turned on the TV.
Pulling into the parking lot of the station, Todd noticed most of the seniors' cars were still in the lot. He frowned, knowing that the atmosphere inside the station was going to be depressingly low. Upon entering, he was greeted by Jimmy, who almost appeared indifferent about the world around him. Todd sometimes envied him for it.
"What took you so long, boss? Took the scenic route?" He sipped his coffee, following Todd through to the detective's unit.
"Yes, Jimmy, I did. Pour me some, would you?" Todd went over to his desk and fell into his seat. Not three seconds later did he hear Sophia Stone roll her way over from her desk. "Look, Sophie," he said, hanging his head back over his chair, "I'm not in the mood for office gossip, alright? Turn your volume down for just once in your life."
He heard her scoff. "I don't gossip, Todd. I report. There's a difference."
"If you say so."
"Todd? Coffee, hot and ready."
He straightened up at the sound of Jimmy's voice. "Thanks." Then he downed the steaming Styrofoam cup.
Jimmy and Sophia winced audibly. Todd's throat was scalding.
"Took the death kind of rough, didn't you?" asked Sophia.
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Don't start your therapy crap, alright?" he rasped.
"Eesh, Todd. Don't take it out on us," said Jimmy.
Todd immediately stood, glaring at both of his friends before storming towards the door leading to the stairs. He ran up, unable to stop until he reached the roof. He burst through the doors, only stopping at the ledge.
Gazing out at the remaining skyline, only then did he let the tears fall.
Of all the careers… I picked this one. He gripped the railing, glaring out into the city.
Closing his eyes, he couldn't help picturing the smiling faces of his parents. Their laugh echoed hauntingly in his mind… he could feel their touch, their warmth, their love even through memories. Both thirty. Both dead.
This was happening all over the world… he knew that… yet Todd still felt alone.
That woman… the thirty-year-old, she reminded him so much of his mother. How much longer would this continue? Half the world was already gone. The economy picked back up—was even booming now—but who could celebrate? The old people were dying every day. Five thousand all over the world every three hours was the latest statistic. The new hard fact everyone couldn't forget, couldn't ignore.
In all his seventeen years, never had he felt so old.