It was midday, however the sun was yet to cast a single ray of light from beyond the grey clouds above. The dreary, sullen overhang of the weather matched in perfect unison with both men’s dark mood. The impending encounter with the difficult Mrs. Collimore was a storm just waiting to surface, whichever way they looked at it. Defensiveness seemed intertwined within her overall character so there was no “safe” approach to the situation at hand. Her version of events would most likely be skewed. It was just a matter of to what degree and with how much added “salt”. Accountability to Wallace in some shape or form appeared inevitable at the end of this day. But their justifications for the unexpected visitation were feasible, at the very least. From Drucker's point of view, anyway.
The Corrola crept up to the high-curbed sidewalk as the unremarkable welfare complex emerged to their left. A patterned mesh of squared windows etched the face of the towering building block where she resided.
“Not exactly the grand vistas of a multi-millionaire’s luxury lifestyle. Wouldn’t you agree?” Drucker smirked. ”Something’s definitely not sitting right here.”
Doug unbuckled the seat belt, adjusting his bulging trouser line at the same time. A ritual only too familiar to his partner. ”Well, we gotta do what we gotta do. Let’s just get it over and done with. No sense in putting it off any longer. I just hope things don’t get too rough for us up there. I mean, if our last meeting was anything to go by.”
“Remember, we’re cops doing our duty. So don’t read into it too much.” said Drucker. ”Even though a certain dark part of my inner soul can’t wait to hear what she has to say.” He leaned in closer to Doug who was now looking like a sea sick sailor about to puke his guts out. ”This here is the easy part. Tonight is what we gotta worry about. Up until now, everything’s been done officially above board with us and this case. That all changes the minute we meet with Rob. So don’t sweat over this woman too hard. It’s just a routine check and with very good reasons to back it up. OK?”
Doug swivelled his head around to look at him. ”I’m guess I'm alright. It’s just the nerves are starting to kick in, you know? God only knows what kind of trouble were gonna be in tonight. We got the confrontation with Mrs. Collimore now and the possibility of coming face or face with those murderous synthetics later on. I hate to admit it. But I’m scared, Druck.”
He placed a hand upon Doug’s broad, curved shoulder. “Everything’s gonna be fine, my friend. We’re going in with the right equipment this time. There’s no way those three crazy machines are getting out of this in one piece, if they try anything. Trust me on this. We got the bull firmly by the horns. Just you wait and see.” The affable smile emanating from Drucker caused Doug to reciprocate. The uneasy feelings between the two of them filtered away through the tense atmosphere.
A short gust of wind tugged at their overcoats as the two men stepped out of the vehicle and marched toward the entrance to the large, rectangular tower. Graffiti images splayed the sides of adjacent buildings with an assortment of vulgar profanities embossed upon it in bold, coloured lettering. The main door leading into the building was no better, with flaking paintwork around the skirting and small round chip marks dotting the frosted glass centre. A heavy smell of urine pervaded the air as they made their way up the narrow flight of steps. A group of noisy youths past them by in the corridor, bawling with laughter at a joke one of them had cracked earlier. The group eyeballed Doug for what seemed all of several seconds before a tall, gangly adolescent member muttered something under his breath and they all moved on.
”Nice neighbourhood.” said Doug, grinning.
After reaching the sixth floor, Drucker pointed at a sign hanging overhead. ”Apartment 609, up that way”. A new vile, unidentifiable stench dissipated around them as they walked alongside a line of identical doorways. Each one displaying a small metal number attached just above the letterbox. To their other side, a sea of murky concrete structures rose up from the ground. All appearing to be built using the same specification of template as the rest.
”607… 608… There you go. 609.” mumbled Doug. He raised a hand and knocked hard upon the stained, brown door. Several seconds went by but no answer. He tried again, only this time a little harder.
”Goddamnit, just wait a minute, will you?” was heard from within an invisble space beyond the doorway. They both looked at each other turning the corners of their lip. A muffled shambling could be heard, growing louder with every passing moment. Finally, a jangle of keys and the lock slid open.