Fishbowl 3 - Law & Order

Rosy Neighbourhood Relations

Out in his front garden, Val ignored both the police officer who had handed him the injunction, and his neighbour, who had to be responsible for it.

Eyes flying over the paper, he muttered, “Vandalism? Ridiculous! What am I supposed to do, build a hermetically sealed greenhouse?”

He only realised he’d spoken alound when his neighbour said, “Don’t forget to get a construction permit. And don’t expect me to agree if it casts a shadow on my garden.”

“Maybe you could switch to plants Mrs Friend is not breeding?” the officer suggested.

Val let go a breath that would have turned into a rant. Don’t shoot the messenger. “Thank you. I’ll consider it.” Scanning the document for a due date, he found that it came into effect immediately. Of course.

His rose bushes were doing rather well, for plants cheaply bought at discounters over the years. They ringed the small garden, alternating between yellow, red, and yellow-with-red-edged-petals, most now hip-high and in full bloom thanks to Val’s care.

With a sigh he told the officer, “I’ll cut off the blooms and buds today. That should stop the cross-pollination for now, and leaves me more options than destroying the plants entirely.”

“Thanks for your cooperation.”

Later, Val paused in beheading his own flowers for a look at his neighbours’. Those had fewer blooms, since for breeding new varieties she let them go to seeds rather than removing anything that started wilting. He bowed his head back over his work to hide a smile. Fantasy or not, the thought of poaching for some really fancy rose hip tea cheered him up a little.

Inspired by the prompt "Law and Order, the unnatural forces" by rix-scaedu.

Deliberate Entry

Standing pointedly inside his door, the suspect grinned. “No, you can not come in, warrant or no!”

Jenna took a breath, meaning to answer that. The door slammed shut in her face, so she sighed instead. From his criminal record including activity in an anti-supernaturals group a decade ago, neither his recognising her as a vampire nor his reaction came as a surprise. Still, it was annoying in its pettiness and shortsightedness.

Usually she would be partnered with someone who did not require invitation, but there had been some roster-shuffling tonight, leaving the pair of vampires the option to watch the house to keep him from running and call for reinforcements. To arrest one unarmed little loser with a habit of blogging rants against supernaturals while drunk. Embarrassing.

While she walked back to the squad car, a grin spread across her face. She had foreseen trouble like that, and both brought the right equipment and made sure with the chief that she could use it.

She hefted the sledgehammer and stalked back to the house. Invitations were required to cross a threshold, true. But it had turned out that if you removed the entire wall, the problem disappeared.

Inspired by the prompt "How does a vampire cop serve a warrant, if he has to be invited into a home?" by Royce Day

"Deliberate entry" is the name of an existing SWAT tactic. This is not it. Dynamic entry versus deliberate entry at

Lost in the Library

This takes place after Scatterbrained, but should stand on its own, too, as flash goes.

The girl pausing to look at the old council hall clockwork ticking away in its glass case caught the librarian’s eye—her signal orange cycling helmet was hard to miss. After a few seconds of looking around and flicking the leaves of the green plants around the reading corner, she started prowling the shelves.

It was almost half an hour later when the librarian spotted her again, helmet still clinging to her head. The girl bit her lip and looked around, nervous and confused, so the librarian walked up to her.

“Hello. Can I help you?”

“There are too many things.”

The librarian frowned when she saw that there was a book lying on the sisal carpeting in the corridor the girl had come from.

“What are you looking for?”

The girl turned her head from side to side a few times, face screwing up to a distressed grimace. “I forgot.”

“Now, don’t worry…” The librarian trailed off.

The girl had raised her hands to wipe her eyes, and looked at them in wonder. “LIBRARY” was scrawled in big letters across the back of her left wrist and hand. The child looked at her palms. The left said “Do not forget: Go to the LIBRARY.” The right palm was more puzzling. She twisted her hand around, as if to see if the writing was upside down, but got distracted, ending up looking over her right shoulder towards the shaft of light leading up to the skylight over the stairwell, and holding her right hand loosely in front of her, palm up.

The librarian leaned forward and tried to read the scrawl, but couldn’t decypher it. “Are you all right? Would you like to phone home?”

“I, no? I know the way. Yes, I do.”

Her puzzled frown turned into a wide grin when she glanced at her right hand again. “Oh, ANGEL!”


“Yes, I think my angel is in trouble, it’s why I forget stuff and can’t sit still! Can you help me?”


Written by request of Lyn Thorne-Alder

tagged Contemporary Fantasy

Just On Paper

I couldn’t listen to Jelena planning to push for prosecution for long; it was too painful. “Please just let it lie.”

She skewered me with a look as if I had been the one who’d killed her brother. “Instincts or not, they are still bound by laws. He was murdered, and no-one’s interested!”

“Jelena, I’m sorry, but that’s how it is. Pushing will do no good. You know what’ll happen? They’ll point out he went drinking and stayed out too late. They’ll say he should have been at home that night, or at the very least gone by car, not on foot. They’ll say he must have been pulling tails or picking fights, call him a troublemaker.”

I’d talked myself into a rage, too, and bit my tongue on it, turning away from Jelena’s wide, scared, and still furious eyes.

She said, slowly, “He did not—”

“I know. I know. I’m sorry.” I knew how it hurt, and I didn’t want her to go through the same. “I hate it, too, but that’s how it works. What people who knew him say doesn’t matter to most officers, or attorneys, or judges—or reporters, for that matter. What those that count will say is, a monomorph going out on full moon nights is asking for trouble.” Maybe my words were swaying her, or maybe not. Considering that it was her life… “Just think carefully about what you would be going into before deciding, all right?”

Inspired by the prompt "What about the rights of people who *don't* change in a world were were-_____ people have been the majority for most of recorded history?" by LilFluff

tagged Books Emergent

Crossing Borders

“I’m afraid if it was a copy of The Good Book, chances of getting the matter resolved are close to zero.”

Basil covered his mouth with a hand and gnashed his teeth. The alternative was yelling at a cop, which seemed unwise if you wanted her help. After a calming breath he said, “Look, it was theft, and it was right at the train entrance, so RepRail must have security footage. The on-board security said I should check with the station police, the station police referred me to border guard… Feels like I’m getting further away from a resolution. Who do I have to talk to to get things going before the footage gets deleted?”

The officer did look sympathetic, but that didn’t bring back that brand-new limited edition with illustrations by C. Cidrain. She sighed. “Since the theft was on Republic soil, you’d have to report it to their authorities. But you said you aren’t initiated, and they have exceptions to property law there regarding unbelievers owning items such as holy scripture.”

“Wait, wait, wasn’t that got rid of in the free trade agreement last year?”

“Officially. But I’ve seen some similar cases, and they were all wrapped up in red tape like a mountain mummy until the victim gave up, or until Republic authorities found some technicality or other loophole to throw them out.”

Basil vented some curses. “And the seller never asked about my religion.”

“They like money. Sometimes I wonder if some of them work together with thieves and buy back and resell.

“I’ll give you contact information, and you can try to get it pursued. If you know which number of that collector’s edition you had, maybe that gives you a bit more leverage than usual. I wish you good luck, but don’t get your hopes up too much. Sorry.”

Shortly he stomped off, carrying home a slim leaflet instead of the precious book he’d paid for.

Inspired by the prompts "When the laws become disorder" by Lyn Thorne-Alder, "Law is not order" by Rix Scaedu and "Bloody Cops" by Eliza Gebow

Sponsored by Lyn Thorne-Alder


Not for the first time Arrash wished his clan had arrived in the valley before the Gelloh. If his clan had been holding the high ground, the smaller group would just have joined them; now they all had to negotiate merging the two decimated clans.

Writing common laws up front was certainly wise, but getting the elders of both clans to agree was difficult. Particularly Arrash’s oldest clan father, more than half living in the past instead of the present, caused friction.

“A wife shall obey her husband in all matters,” he suggested.

“I think not.” The Gelloh matriarch gave him a dry look.

“You shall obey and respect your elders, for they draw wisdom from the deep well of their lifetime,” Arrash quoted one of their own commandments solemnly.

The matriarch’s face hardly changed, but Arrash thought there was an amused glint in her wrinkle-framed eyes when she looked at him. The muttering around the room sounded, for once, mostly approving. Maybe they had a second law.

The only one they had agreed on so far was, “You shall not waste water.”

Inspired by the prompts "A new colony/landing place/town/something begins building laws" by Lyn Thorne-Alder and "Desert-born mystics writing their holy book deciding on Ten Commandments" by Herm Baskerville

tagged Gods

War Practises Diplomacy

Death herself met me at her gate. She did not say anything, just crossed her arms and glared. I would have liked to cut the old crone to pieces right then and there, but kept my cool. She makes her own rules in her realm.

“Look, I still don’t think that fighting Law was a bad idea, OK?” Her brainchildren, particularly peace treaties, had ruined a lot of my work.

Death’s eyebrows went up and she tilted her head a little. At least she did not start tapping her foot.

“But, in hindsight, I’m afraid, in a way… killing her turned out, eventually, to be a mistake.” When all humans stopped pretending to humour those pesky international laws, conflicts had become much more interesting. But after things went on for a while like that, there weren’t enough humans left to wage a good war anymore.

Finally Death opened her mouth. “So you’re here to ask me to break the law, on behalf of Law, to bring her back to the world.” I swear to anything you want she was amused.

“Is that a problem?”

“She might refuse, on principle.”

Yes, now that she mentioned it, Law might be stupid like that. I covered my eyes, wondering how long it would take to build up a new civilisation capable of building weapons of mass destruction. Particularly with Law missing. She had been more important than I’d realised, the surge of mutinies had shown.

“But,” Death said, “I might throw her out regardless. Let’s have some tea and discuss terms.”

She was enjoying this too much to be bluffing. And that, folks, is why it’s important being able to mind your manners: sometimes you have to.

Inspired by the prompt "I fought the law and it was a bad idea" by Becky Allen

tagged Science fiction Identity

Identity Theft

When I woke up in what laid claim to the lofty label of “clinic”, I took it slow. The nerves of the used-new body needed a little time and practise to work together well with my old brain. When the pins-and-needles feeling crested, I started wiggling my fingers and toes. Working up from there, I met no problems. At some point my doctor-technician arrived, but she didn’t rush me. I paid her enough.

The new body was a pretty standard model, outwardly human, black hair and almond eyes. Shorter than my old one, I was reminded when sitting up on the edge of the bed left my feet dangling high in the air, but I’d get used to it. I liked the point symmetry of the ID that came with it, the main components swashes over the left temple and right jaw. I rubbed over those lines, even though the skin there did not feel different, which prompted the doc to ask a question.

“Want to test yourself if the re-keying worked?” the doc said.

I shook my head. “I trust you.” Close enough, anyway. And if she wanted to fool me, she could have rigged the test equipment.

“Thanks. We had no problems with the other brain, either. Everything as you requested.” Keyed to my old ID, transplanted to my old body, motor functions disabled.

“Very good.” I would arrange an accident. With just a little more record-cooking, I would be dead.

A completely different man with no family and friends, whose social anxiety had got so bad he had even stopped seeing his shrink, would start over. Background like that is why you pick a mark. The nice ID was just a bonus.

The title was a prompt by Becca Stareyes

tagged Birds

Jewel Thief

“When I was a kid, we could still shoot them,” the cop said.

Mira just gave a noncommittal hum and continued her work.

“Thieving little bastards.”

This case was about a diamond bracelet, but still, it was a generalisation.

“I mean, they’re pests, everybody knows that. No matter how smart they are. Eat songbird chicks.”

The magpie struggled as Mira transferred it from the big trap to a smaller transport box. Neither agreeing nor arguing worked as she’d intended; the cop calmed down and got back to business, adsressing the bird.

“You are being arrested on suspicion of grand theft. A lawyer will be provided to you, given that it’s unlikely you have one.”

Mira chuckled. His half irritated, half worried look she answered with, “Close enough to by the book if you ask me. No complaints.”

“Good. Thanks for your help. I just hope we got the right one this time.”

Inspired by the prompts "A species of animal is ruled legally sapient and subject to protection - and prosecution - under human law" by Herm Baskerville and "The magpie in the tree" by TJK


Kay knew she irritated people with things like drumming her fingers and jittering. She had not been that nervous and distractable last year, but could not go back. Teachers gave up after a few weeks and just lived with her looking out of the window rather than following class whenever she felt like it. Until, that is, she got up in the middle of a test and walked outside to better watch squirrels, leaving behind a sheet covered with doodled flowers rather than answers.

The school called her parents, and her mother gave her a dressing-down. Kay tried to listen, because not doing so would make her mother more angry, but instead kicked her feet and watched the patterns the light made on the floor and walls.

“Oh, Kay, what’s gotten into you?”

The girl only shrugged, “I had to go out.” She was close to tears, not understanding herself.

“Maybe her angel is sick,” came a small voice from the door.

Their mother took a deep breath and tried to calm down. “Honey, angels and demons are just stories. And eavesdropping is not nice.”

Kay’s little sister looked confused. “But Mattis said—”

Your demon gave you ideas, and your angel helped you stick with one. Kay had heard the same; everyone had.

While Mother shooed her to the kids’ room, Kay spun ideas. Maybe she had to find her angel and save it. Or talk to her demon. It was still with her, and might know something. Only she did not know how. Maybe she should go—

“I need to make some phone-calls. We should go see doctor Hames soon.”

Kay nodded. Doctor Hames was all right.

“Go and get started on your homework, honey. I’ll help you when I’m finished.”

Inspired by the prompt "Whim and Chaos" by Deirdre M. Murphy

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