THE TIP OFF by Dana C. Kabel

Fisher was slumped down in his unmarked car across the street from the bank. He used a white handkerchief to polish his badge and his gun, working it over the smooth metal surfaces over and over again to pass the time.

He had a tip from one of the street scabs he routinely shook information out of, on the two murderous robbers that were wanted across three states. They had cut a bloody path from bank to bank, brazenly looting in the light of day and killing everyone they came in contact with.

The images of the masked criminals had been broadcast all over television through grainy black and white surveillance videos. They burst through bank doors shooting their way through anything that moved, before cleaning out the registers and vaults.

So far, the body count was in the hundreds. They killed as easily as they breathed and walked.

Fisher was a little scared. He shouldn't have been scouting the tip alone. His ass was already on the line for a bullet that ricocheted during a shoot-out and wounded an innocent bystander a couple of months earlier.

His informant was anonymous scum…unregistered. Nobody else knew about the tip. The plan was to collar the killers and then tell his captain that he just happened to be passing the bank when he spotted suspicious activity.

A bust like that would wipe his slate clean and give him hero status in the department. There might even be a medal.

The car approached. It was the blue Pontiac that had been described to him. Two hooded figures rode in the back. Their wheelman slowed the car slowed to a crawl.

Fisher clipped his shield to his shirt pocket and slid the safety off his gun. His heart was pounding against his chest.

The men in the back of the Pontiac pulled black ski masks over their heads. They opened their doors.

Fisher slid out of his car. Adrenaline rushed through his veins. He felt like he was floating. He steadied his arm on the open car door and drew a bead on one of the killers.

“Freeze!” Fisher’s voice echoed off the street. He thought it sounded godlike.

The killer on the street side of the getaway car started to raise his rifle. Fisher squeezed off a deadly round. The killer’s head snapped back and he dropped to the ground, jerking. A fountain of blood sprayed out of the hole in his skull.

The other masked gunman crouched behind the Pontiac to take cover, but just as he did so the wheelman stomped down on the gas pedal and pealed away. The crouching killer stumbled back on his ass and tried to take aim.

But Fisher was already set to take him out and fired his gun once more. The masked man jerked back and dropped his gun. He brought his hands up to cover the hole in his neck before two more slugs entered his chest and then his head.

The criminal’s hands dropped to his sides and he died sitting up, looking much like a discarded rag doll.

Fisher came out from behind his car door and crossed the street to the two dead men with his gun still trained in their direction.

“CUT!” yelled the director.

Fisher froze in his tracks.

The director smiled and everyone surrounding the set let out a collective sigh of relief. They had been shooting the scene over and over all week, and it was the first time the director didn’t scream at them to do it again.

“Convince me!” he had shouted. “Somebody fucking convince me this is real!”

The crew had changed the lighting, the set, the getaway car…but nothing satisfied the director until they replaced the cop and the wheelman.

The camera man and the boom operator slapped hands.

“About fucking time,” the camera man said in a low tone. “I told you it was the fucking actors.”

“Too bad you couldn’t have told his majesty that,” the boom guy said.

“Nobody tells him anything. He has to figure it out on his own. Fucking nut job.”

“Holy shit!” Someone shouted.

The director was standing over the two actors who played the murderous bank robbers. They hadn’t moved since the end of the scene.

Two set hands kneeled on the ground next to them in what should have been fake blood.

“They’re really dead! They’re really fucking dead!” One set hand yelled.

The director took a couple of steps away from the bodies.

“Call 911,” the other set hand said.

“Joel!” the director shouted. “Where’s my fucking prop man?”

“This can’t be. It can’t be. I loaded those blanks myself. I prepped all of those guns…” Joel stopped.

Everyone was staring at the new actor who played the cop.

“That…that’s not the gun I gave him for the scene. His prop was a Smith & Wesson, not a Glock.”

Fisher was a little confused about all of the lights and cameras and people suddenly around him. If they were news hounds, they were awful quick to get to the scene. It was almost as if they were there all along, and he just hadn’t noticed them until now.

Well, it was all the sooner the captain…and the whole world would find out what he had done.

Nobody was going to cry for those dead bastards in the street. They got what they deserved.

The news people were whispering now and looking at him strangely. Fisher did not like it at all.

“You’re going to have to disperse,” he commanded. “Step away from my crime scene!”

One of the set hands stood up and bolted away.

“Fuck this!” The other hand said, and followed his buddy.

Fisher covered the others that were frozen in their tracks, staring at the end of his gun. He knew that there were eleven bullets left in his clip, and fifteen more in the spare clip in his pocket. He had plenty of firepower left to take care of this crowd if it came down to that.

Dana Kabel's fiction has appeared in The Flash Fiction Offensive, Muzzleflash, Powder Burn Flash, Yellow Mama, and Out Of The Gutter.