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Game Plan - Chapter One

by Prospero 

Posted: 04 May 2007
Word Count: 1281
Summary: Chapter One of a crime/thriller novel
Related Works: Game Plan - Chapter Two • 

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

‘He’s in One, Boss.’
Detective Inspector Moody nodded and walked down the corridor towards the Interview Rooms. He walked faster as a smoke alarm started chirping and flung open the door of Interview One just as the alarm was strangled in mid-squawk. ‘Billy’ Kidd was standing on the table the cover of the alarm in one hand and a battery in the other. A uniformed policeman sitting at the desk facing the door, was trying to smoke. His hand was shaking so much he kept missing his mouth.
‘Get Taff to get us three coffees and and an ash tray would you Billy? And look in my desk. Bottom right-hand drawer. Hop down off there and I’ll give you the key’. Moody waited while Kidd climbed awkwardly down from the table. He’d ask about his bad back later. Right now he needed to get what he could before the poor sod on the other side of the table caved in completely.
As the door behind him closed, Moody lifted a cheap plastic chair from the stack in the corner, positioned it in front of the table, and sat down.
‘Can I get a fag?’
The man looked confused for a moment. Christ! thought Moody, he’s going into shock. I hope Billy thinks to to tell Taff to put plenty of sugar in those coffees.
‘I’ll get some in a minute, but I haven’t got any just now.’ Moody knew his only hope was to keep talking. Keep the man in the here and now, keep him away from what ever monster was crawling up the back of his neck and threatening to eat his sanity.
‘I keep trying to give ‘em up , but you know…’ Fuckin' ‘ell, George what are you saying? You almost started talking about the stresses of the job to some bloke who’s just seen his mate murdered. Get a fuckin' grip!
Behind him the Interview Room door opened and an almost full bottle of Johnny Walker ‘Red Label’ appeared over his shoulder.
‘This it, boss?’
‘Yeah. Cheers, Billy.’
‘I got some cups as well. Coffee’s on the way. Here, Dave’.
Stepping round Moody, Kidd put a grubby china mug in front of the uniformed man and twisting the cap off the bottle poured him a generous measure of the whiskey.
It was as though this simple gesture of kindness had thrown a switch, suddenly the man began to talk. Moody leaned over and switched on the tape-recorder.
‘We were out on the M3 just past Farnborough. We’d been playing snooker.’
Moody nodded. He wasn’t about to read the Riot Act right now over a bit of mostly harmless fun. Nicking red cars for speeding and then looking for a black car to ‘pot’ and score seven points. He knew most of the Traffic Division played the game now and then and that is why he drove a white car. Nick him and a ‘player’ would lose all his points for that shift.
‘Terry had got a couple of lads in a Mondeo and we was on the look out for a score when this Beamer went past like his arse was on fire. I called it in but he didn’t have no previous so we were just going slap his wrist as long as he didn’t give us any lip.’
Moody nodded again. The practice of letting offenders off with a caution if they pretended to be sorry and there was no alcohol involved wasn’t endorsed by any means, but it avoided a lot of tedious paper-work and anything that made the job easier…. As the man talked Moody found himself visualising the scene.

The BMW was doing well over the limit when it passed the police car parked on the little purpose-built rise just off the main carriageway. Dave Warren had been filling in the shift log sheet, but he chucked the clipboard into the back of the car and grabbed for his seat belt as Terry Mallet floored the accelerator. It was Beamer on Beamer but the police car was supercharged, and after a couple of miles was gaining on the black car ahead of them.
‘You, jammy bastard, Tel ’. Warren shook his head, pretending disgust. Eight points in less than half-an-hour. One more result tonight and they would win the Shift trophy and free beer after work on Friday.
‘Lights, camera, action.’
Now they were getting close Mallet wanted to see what effect the flashing lights and sirens would have on their quarry. Warren flicked on the ‘Christmas Tree’ and red and blue patterns criss-crossed the bonnet. The recently installed video camera began recording the car ahead flaring and darkening in time with the flashing of the police car’s headlights.

At first the Five series tried to pull away, but when it found the police car could keep pace it began to slow down. Eventually, the brake lights came on and the two cars came to rest in the shadow of an overbridge.
‘What’s the Great Bongo say?’ Mallet leaned across so he could see the small screen of the car’s wireless networked computer. ‘Sod all. Bugger’s gone on the blink again.’
‘No. I got ‘No Previous’ a minute ago, must be a dodgy connection.’ Warren reached around the screen to the rat’s nets of cable’s connecting it to the dashboard.
‘Yeah right. That heap of shit gave us ‘No Previous’ on the Mondeo, and that bugger has had two tickets in the last month. I’m going to have a word, Dave. You coming?’
‘Hang on, Tel, I‘ll be right with you.’
Warren bent his head to try and get a look at the cable that had just come loose. The car shifted as Mallet got out of his seat and Warren cursed. He had almost got the plug back in and now he had lost the connection again. From his cramped position up against the car’s dashboard he could just see Mallet’s wide back-side being flashed by the car’s headlights as he walked to where the other car was parked in the shadows under the bridge.
‘A little more to the left…got you, you bastard.’ Warren muttered to himself as his fingers fumbled out of sight amongst the tangle of cables. Then as the plug slipped into place, there was ping and blood-red letters were displayed on the screen. Warren read the message.
‘Fuckin hell! Terry!
Warren tried to get out of the car and then realised he still had his seat belt on. Up ahead he could see Mallet leaning on the driver’s-side door of the black car his head half inside the window. As he thrashed his way clear of the seat-belt and scrambled out of the car, Warren heard the black car’s engine suddenly start and rev hard. At the same time Mallet leaned further into the driver’s side window. Almost immediately the car started forward dragging Mallet with it and Warren began to run.

The race was lost from the start. But Warren ran it anyway. Mallet was dragged almost a hundred yards before he fell away from the rapidly accelerating car into the middle lane of the motorway. A camper van rammed a Golf into the central reservation barrier as it swerved to avoid Mallet who was rolling over and over in the road. Warren reached Mallet just as the door of the camper van opened and a middle-aged man scrambled down blood running from his broken nose.
‘Help, for God’s sake help. My wife…
Mallet was lying face down and Warren rolled him onto his back. The handle of a screwdriver was sticking out of the socket of his left eye. Somewhere, someone started screaming.

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Comments by other Members

Dreamer at 15:40 on 04 May 2007  Report this post
Chapter One of a crime/thriller novel

Whoa!!!! So you, the master of the quick flash, are starting a novel!

I shall follow it with interest.

Off to print off a copy to have a gander. Will be back later.

Not to whine or anything, but I did notice the bottle of cognac on the mantle is empty. I may have to read this in Jumbo's lounge as his is full.

I'm excited about this. Back to you soon.


Prospero at 16:11 on 04 May 2007  Report this post
Thanks Brian.

I have been twitching about posting this, but if I don't start soon I never will. I sahll ook forward to reading your comments.



Tori Lloyd at 16:35 on 04 May 2007  Report this post
Hi Prosp

Great beginning, and I had never heard of police snooker before so as I like learning something new in a story it sparked my interest straight away.

Not sure if you want typos flagging up at this stage, but on the first line alarm is spelt alam....

Your protagnist asks Billy to get someone called Taff to get the coffees, then later on he hopes that Billy puts plenty of sugar in them, shouldn't that be Taff? Just a thought....

Where George is admonishing himself for worrying about the stresses of the job, you spell Fucking two different ways, since its the same person talking, and presumably he drops his 'g's shouldn't they both be the same spelling, one way or the other? Just thinking about being consistent.

I really liked this, it moves swiftly from an interview situation to action. Certainly made me want to read on, so when you're ready...

Prospero at 14:46 on 06 May 2007  Report this post
Hi Tori

Thank you for reading and commenting so generously.

I have dealt with the points you raised

You will find Chapters Two and Three in my archive. Chapter Two is ultra short, so I have poste dthe two together.

I would really appreciate your thoughts when you have the time.



Dreamer at 15:06 on 06 May 2007  Report this post
Been down the archive. You really should dust down there, but I digress.

Only found 4 stories and none of them were chapter 2 or 3?


Dreamer at 15:09 on 06 May 2007  Report this post
Wow, just went back again and everything is different. The first time, only 4 stories appeared. This time the whole lot was there again. Not sure what happened the first time.

You may want to post the link to it here in case it happens again.



NMott at 21:01 on 06 May 2007  Report this post
A lot packed in for a first chapter.
I liked the fast pace but couldn't visualise the main characters other than the fact they were policemen. If there were any descriptions over and above that, I'm afraid I missed them.
I liked the description of police snooker, the fast pace meant I had to read it twice to grasp the rules.
Good 'slam dunk' with the screwdriver at the end :)

- NaomiM

Murphy at 16:49 on 09 May 2007  Report this post
It was a good pacy start.

I liked the bit about the bad back early on alluding to Kidd being a bit of a malingerer.

seen his mate murdered.
I wondered whether this gives away too much too soon?

There was a switch and a switched close together. The latter could be flicked even though you’ve got flicked later it’s a way down the page.

I’ll need to read the bit after:
Moody found himself visualising the scene.
again as I wasn’t sure how it was quite working. Warren was talking, Moody visualising and then we were back in the car getting what seemed like a transcribed account. It’s probably just me not being up to speed with the technique.

This seemed nice and authentic:
Warren flicked on the ‘Christmas Tree’ and red and blue patterns criss-crossed the bonnet.

Essex’s finest used to play the snooker game, allegedly. Although they swapped the pink and blacks round as pink was a much rarer colour of vehicle. Anyway it’s all hearsay!

Looking forward to some more.

Cornelia at 09:03 on 15 July 2007  Report this post
I enjoyed this very much.

It was a good idea to pitch the reader into the aftermath of the crash and its effect on Warren ( not sure about his name, though). We know right away the story is going to be about cops and their reactions to the job challenge- a kind of NYPD Blue, only set in Essex. The energy of the writing and the detail takes us right there into the interview room.

Later on, the part where the one cop is messing with the wires and sees the criminal's 'previous' flash up, just as his oppo is going towards the other car was well done, and especially dramatic after all the jokey banter about the car-snooker game. It all seems very authentic.

Overall I think there is a problem with unnevenness of style but nothing that can't be ironed out. Since you have an obvious relish for the genre I think you should just carry on and sort it as you go along. They say, don't they, that a writer creates his own readership providing he's convinced himself of what he's doing, and this seems to have that vital aspect of commitment.

I've picked out a few details for comment:

was standing on the table the cover of the alarm in one hand

Needs comma after table, otherwise it reads at first as if he's standing on a tablecloth

A uniformed policeman sitting at the desk facing the door, was trying to smoke

Doesn't need the comma here, unless you have one after 'policeman', but it reads OK without, although I'd omit 'sitting'.

climbed awkwardly down

Reads better as 'climbed down awkwardly'

Christ! thought Moody, he’s going into shock.

I think it's still the convention to use speech marks for direct thought.

and twisting the cap off the bottle poured him a generous measure of the whiskey.

It reads as if the twisting and the pouring are taking place at the same time, but I don't know how you get round this. Maybe the twisting and pouring are so closely linked it just seems that way. I'd have commas after 'and' and 'bottle'

I think it's Irish whiskey that's spelt with an 'e'. Johnnie Walker is Scotch ( and my favourite brand)

The practice of letting offenders off with a caution if they pretended to be sorry and there was no alcohol involved wasn’t endorsed by any means, but it avoided a lot of tedious paper-work and anything that made the job easier….

The explanation struck me as unneccessary, but maybe it's just too long. It could be :

'Avoiding paperwork was fine, so long as no drink was involved'.

At first the Five series tried to pull away,

Shouldn't be 'series Five'? I think in any case the emphasis on the make of cars, as in 'Beamer on Beamer' is a a bit anoracky and distracting. Maybe it's part of the characterisation that's important later, but it reads just like a man thing.

At first the Five series tried to pull away, but when it found the police car could keep pace it began to slow down

I can see how you want the car occupants to remain shadowy, but the car itself seems to takes over, with a mind and feelings of its own. Surely it's the driver does all this(unless it's like one of those movies where the car turns human). 'Driver' is still anonymous.

A camper van rammed a Golf

Pausing only to name the make of car. Do we need to know?

The handle of a screwdriver was sticking out of the socket of his left eye. Somewhere, someone started screaming.

For me, this is too abrupt and graphic for the context and turns into a cartoon smash-up, as if the visual image removes us suddenly from the world of feelings, diluting the impact. We seem suddenly to lose the point of view. I think you could keep it but maybe we need to have some adjectives or some reactions. I'm not sure about the effect you are trying for, though. As I said earlier, the style seems somewhat mixed just now and you may have to choose between hard-boiled cynicism and more focus on the character's feelings and reactions.

I hope this is helpful.


rogernmorris at 11:22 on 19 July 2007  Report this post
Hi Prosp,

I know I’m a bit late coming to this, but I’ve only just joined the group (thanks for having me by the way).

I think this is very powerful and it fulfils the number one requirement of any story – makes me want to read on. I found the opening in the police station a little confusing, but then I think that’s probably the intention. You are trying to convey the confusion and disarray that would follow something like this. And you do it very well I think. The reader has to play catch up a little, but that’s how these things work. It felt very much like the opening of a police drama on TV – I could see it all being played out. Possibly what happens when you are writing material that has a police station setting, is that you tap in to everyone’s images and understanding of what a police station is. For the writer, this means you can afford to be sketchy on descriptive detail, and just get on with the story. However, the danger is that it can feel a little generic. I loved the detail of fixing the smoke alarm (and the police snooker) which feels very authentic. It also establishes the transgressive credentials of your police officers. But I guess what I was also wanting was a bit more unique texture. A bit more of a sense of what this specific police station is like, its age, state of repair, or disrepair – I know you might feel that could get in the way of the story and at this stage you just want to dive in… but I think there are little deft details that you could introduce that could add texture.

Anyhow I did like the way you plunge into the middle of things, leaving the reader reeling with the sheer pace of it. One thing I was less sure of was the transition to the narrative of the actual incident itself –
As the man talked Moody found himself visualising the scene.
You then go into a third person narrative, which is supposed to be Moody visualising the scene, but it just doesn’t seem convincing as such. It’s a great bit of action writing, really compelling – but I just didn’t find the transition that convincing. It’s just a bit too convenient and conveys no real psychological sense of Moody actually visualising the scene. Plus, I find the switch back in time, to an event that had happened before the scene we’ve just witnessed, a little awkward, if I’m honest.

Either you can go to a strict chronological order and write the story as it happens, which is simplest and works best for readers, I think, so therefore you need to start the story with the motorway incident, which would also provide a cracking opening. Then you would go to the police station and have Moody talking to the surviving police officer. Or you need to tease out the details of what happened a bit more realistically. Have Moody piecing it together from the incoherent and shock-fractured gabblings of the guy who’s shaking so much he can’t get a cigarette in his mouth. I wanted to stay in the interview room; your transition took me out of it before I was ready.

Obviously, this is just my personal opinion and I may be talking a load of arse. But that’s how it felt to me. Personally, I would start with the murder on the motorway. That is very compelling and dramatic and shocking and would provide a killer opener.

A minor nit. I wasn’t sure who was saying: ‘Can I get a fag?’ The context of the sentence before, which has Moody as subject, led me to think it would be Moody. But the sense of the story suggests it should be the shaken up copper (Dave). I know it may seem obvious to you, but it was something that threw me a bit and pulled me out of the story as I tried to unravel who was saying what to whom.

Great read though, very exciting and I want to know more!


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