THE FUGITIVE by Herschel Cozine

Phillip had never adapted to the twentieth century; the recent invention of the telephone, the rise of horseless carriages that clattered up and down the cobblestone streets of England. More recently, some Americans had invented a flying machine. One day these things could be used for transporting goods and people around the world. His head reeled as he considered these so-called “miracles”.

None of these were threats to his existence. The real threat was the discovery of fingerprinting as a form of crime detection. As he understood it, fingerprints could be left by the owner on surfaces such as walls, tables, and even other people. The authorities could “read” these prints and trace them back to the person who put them there. He was not at all clear about how this could be. This much he knew for certain: he was in trouble. Big trouble.

He had committed what he thought was the perfect crime. He had slipped away from a party just long enough to kill his wife. When he returned he made certain he was seen by the many partygoers who would swear he was there the entire evening.

This new fingerprint technology changed all that. The police were sure to arrest him and take his fingerprints.

He had no idea where he would go. He had no friends he could rely on. No family. And, since two days ago, no wife. His widowhood was a result of a knife in her chest. And, he was certain, the knife contained his fingerprints. In the heat of the moment he had completely forgotten about this new technology. How could he have been so careless?

His thoughts were interrupted by a pounding on his door. He carefully pulled aside the curtain and peered out.

The police!

He bolted to the back door, threw it open, and ran outside. A second policeman was coming up the walk. Philip brushed past him and ran down the hill toward the docks, with the policeman close behind.

There were several ships in port. Philip ran for the nearest one, scrambling down the ledge, temporarily hidden from the view of the policeman. He inched his way along the ledge.

The dock was littered with boxes and crates that were being loaded onto one of the ships. He picked one up, hefted it to his shoulder, and headed for the ship. The other stevedores, intent on their work, paid no attention to him.

Once inside, he set the box down and looked around. Several stevedores were stacking boxes and  crates. He straightened a row of boxes, all the while keeping an eye on the others. One by one they left until he was alone.

He found a dark spot in the far corner of the hold and arranged the boxes to form a small hiding space. He would be safe here. He would wait for an hour or so, for the police to leave.

Suddenly the giant door of the hold slammed shut, leaving him trapped inside. He ran over to it and pounded on the door. No one answered. He was trapped!

A stowaway! He had no passport, no identification. If he were to be going to another country he would need papers. Well, he had managed to get on board by pretending to be a dockworker. Perhaps he could do the same wherever he was going.

Reading the print on one of the crates, he laughed out loud.

RMS Titanic.

He was going to America!

Herschel Cozine has published extensively in the children’s field. His stories and poems have appeared in many of the national children’s magazines. His mystery stories have appeared in print magazines AHMMEQMMGreat Mystery and Suspense and Woman’s World. Wolfmont Press has used his work for several of the Toys for Tots Christmas anthologies, as well as The Killer Wore Cranberry anthologies published by Untreed Reads. Other of his stories  appear in Orchard Press Mysteries, Page Of Stories, Mysterical E and others. His story, The Phone Call, was the winner of the 2017 Derringer Award.

Copyright © 2019 Herschel Cozine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.