Short Story: All in a Day’s Work
April 29, 2017
All in a Day’s Work
By Faith Farnham
To tell you the truth, I can’t remember the last time I was assaulted.
After scratching out the last of the case file, I set the paper aside and ran my hands through my frizzy hair. My secondary job here is most of the legal stuff: paperwork, case files, more paperwork. Everything documented, in order, maybe a meeting before putting it to rest. The FBI is a well-oiled machine, typically, but sometimes the cogs just get a bit too tight for my tastes. That’s just me, though. The cheap pant-suits I have to wear into the office don’t make sitting and waiting any easier.
I heard a creak and spun over to see Travis in the doorway. Not very buff, but he wasn’t any kind of beanpole either. If you had to picture him, I’d say just imagine a relatively all-around, nice kind of guy – you know, brown hair, brown eyes, generally put together. He’s a bit cheerier than me, but having him as a partner has its perks, especially when paperwork is getting to be a bit much.
“Hey Red, the meeting’s starting in five,” he said, leaning in the doorway. Everyone else calls me by my real name, Nadya, but ever since training together the nickname has kind of stuck. Don’t give him too many props for coming up with it; it’s not creative, my hair’s just red. He casually looked around my office, trying to disguise a look of dissatisfaction. It wasn’t very pretty, I could admit; the cream walls were bare, my desk littered with a few greasy fast food wrappers and a half-eaten bag of stale sour patch watermelons.
“Hey, stop judging my pristine work environment,” I scoffed mockingly. He looked down at a Doritos bag on the ground, abandoned after it missed its trajectory to the trash can.
“Is that what you’re calling it these days?” he remarked, looking back at me. “Well, sorry to remove you from your sanctuary, but there are important topics being discussed.”
“Oh, there’s always important meetings, calm yourself,” I sighed, grabbing a handful of candy. “Besides, I need sustenance.” Travis rolled his eyes, then set down a paper cup filled with steamy brown liquid.
“Well look alive Red,” he said. “Go ahead and drink that down. We’re discussing that operation you offered to help with.”
“Thank you, servant,” I jeered through a mouth full of sugar, grabbing the cup and throwing my head back, chugging half the hot liquid before setting it back down. Travis shook his head, fixing his dark blue tie before turning and walking out into the hall.
“You have a problem,” he shouted over his shoulder.
“I can quit when I want,” I retorted, gingerly taking the cup in my hand this time and trying to sip the coffee, before getting frustrated and drinking it down in one like an alcoholic taking a shot.
I won’t relay that meeting to you; it was your average stuff. These traitors were found within our organization, these cases are in progress, and Kirk’s still searching for who keeps stealing his yogurts out of the fridge. I’ll spare you those details and get to the real stuff.
By real stuff, I mean my kidnapping.
So there I was, just sauntering my way down to the nearest drug store to stock up on some more snacks for the office. The day was nice enough; the snow heaps left over from the winter were slowly but surely dissipating, leaving room for grass and weeds to start creeping their way to the surface. Weeds could kill, but today they were a sign of life. I’m not usually that positive, so maybe that’s what jinxed me.
The store was still a few blocks away, but I kept my pace slow and steady. There were a few lone strangers sharing the sidewalk, but it was pretty quiet. Then I just got this feeling – a feeling that linked all the way back to my first few days of work in the field. It was this tingling sense of awareness of my surroundings. It’s minute, like noticing a painting is slightly crooked or a guitar that’s barely out of tune. But something was off, there was no doubt.
I glanced behind me casually and was met with a blurry dark blob in my peripheral vision. I didn’t know how long he’d been there, but better safe than sorry. Reaching into the pocket of my pants, I gripped the cold metal of my tactical pen. What you need to know about these: you can write with them, break glass, and stab someone if it comes down to it. You’re jealous, I know. Simple but effective, I like to keep one on me at all times. The street was barren; come to think of it, I think only two cars passed by in the last ten minutes. I nonchalantly stepped towards the sidewalk, my toes on the edge, looking to either side. Looking back on it, it was like one of those scenes in an old western – everything silent, but holding its breath. I looked each way, still playing it casually, the scuffed black toes of my shoes hanging over the edge of the curb. Since the street was clear, obviously, I put my other hand in my pocket and tried to cross the road.
The key word here is “try”. Want to hear a joke? How did Nadya cross the road: she didn’t.
I realized how deep into the shitpile I’d gotten myself when I took that first step off the curb. The screeching of tires to the right hit me like a tactical pen to the face, its sense of urgency letting me know there was no time to waste. I whirled around on my heel and jolted as if to make a break back for the sidewalk, but I was met with something else: the dark blob, who was actually a pretty tall man who oozed with the confidence and lethal skill set of a military officer, holding the barrel of a pistol to my head. If I had been more relaxed I would have been able to specify the model and such for you, but I had bigger priorities at that moment. I put my hands up as I heard the mystery car behind me screech to a halt, car doors being slammed as the rough pavement was audible under someone’s shoes. There was no immediate way out, at least without risking my brain splattering on the road like fresh roadkill. I didn’t know what they wanted from me, so I couldn’t assume they wanted me alive. Two unknown assailants, who knew of my location, position, and have some form of training…. the best way out would be trying to talk.
“Hey…”, I spoke calmly, but before another syllable could be uttered, I was stabbed in the leg by a syringe by the ‘charming’ man holding me at gunpoint.
“Shit!” I spat in pain, kneeling down and holding my thigh. My eyesight went dark for a second as my leg burned with hot pulsing ache, and thought I had tears in my eyes. But the back of my hand across my face showed me that my bright green eyes were dry, yet I could barely see my hand in front of my face. My vision was reduced to blurred outlines filled with color, like a Microsoft paint from Hell. The world turned blue around me, fluffy drops of white dotting my vision, barely registering I’d fallen onto my back and was staring into the sky. I felt a slight tug at my numb limbs and a sense of being airborne, before blacking out completely.
This seems bad, and trust me, it was. Don’t worry, I’ll get my revenge later. Just keep reading.
“But you said…”
“I said to contain her, you son of a-”
“She is contained!”
“Do you know who this is…?”
I woke up slowly, with what felt like a hangover and what sounded like two toddlers babbling. I kept my head down and my eyes closed and tried to use my other senses to get an idea of what I was dealing with. One of the voices was pretty young but definitely male. God, and annoying too. He was on a rant about something, I wish I could just stick some duct tape over his mouth. Speaking of duct tape, I felt a firm stickiness around my wrists, and around each ankle in contact with the two legs of the chair I was subdued in. Wait, the duct tape was fastened in front? Trust me, this makes it much easier. Since I wasn’t awake for them putting it on me, finding the right angle would be more difficult. But if I could replicate the angle at which it tears, I could break this apart….
“Shut up, you…” a gruffer voice shouted, and the slurs and swears that followed were familiar instantly. I jolted upright, color flaring in my pale cheeks as my eyes snapped open.
“You son of a bitch, Clark,” I growled through my teeth. I was like Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk; I could have torn that tape off for the sheer amount of anger coursing through me. I breathed in the must of the room as I fumed, noticing how it looked more like a large supply closet than a proper room for holding detained persons.
Charles Clark is a bald, short-tempered, baby of a man who always wears suits as if he’s been playing in his daddy’s work clothes. Today the suit was gray, the wrinkles and sags of it accentuated by the single hanging light casting shadows over his form. His I.D. badge was sloppily clipped to his suit jacket. Every muscle in him seemed on edge now, defensive. It cooled the flames of my initial rage, a smile forming at the corners of my lips. I pointed my bound hands at his badge.
“Awwww Clark, remember when you still had hair?” I cooed, the photo displaying him with wispy brown tufts on the sides of his balding dome. The second voice in question belonged to a man in a pink button-down and slacks, trying not to snicker at my comment. Clark hit his arm then regarded me with annoyance.
“Better than the days when I had to deal with you, Brasson,” Clark snorted.
“Come on Charles, you were my supervisor for two years, can’t you at least call me Nadya?” I said sweetly, resting my elbows as best I could on my knees.
“If I liked you at all, you smart ass, then I’d take you up on that. You leaving the CIA was the happiest day of my life,” he retorted pointedly, pacing a few steps to the left. His little servant in pink followed him accordingly.
“I remember a much different picture, actually,” I said, an old bitterness opening up somewhere within me, “and you know what, I’ll lay it out right now. So, there I was, fresh out of school, a hopeful little pre-training lackey for the CIA. For three whole years, I did basic filing, shadowed a few meetings, and if I was lucky I got to get a real CIA agent’s coffee!” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “Then, after miraculously passing the training, I got to spend two years under you, and with no experience, I could tell you didn’t function under the rules of the agency. It can be stifling, I know, but there is such a thing as paperwork! You’re angry … I don’t know why, but you are … however, spending more time in your Lamborghini than reporting and attending the meetings doesn’t make anything better,” I shouted, looking around the room once more. “You didn’t even get clearance to bring me in, did you? This is a fucking broom closet. If-”
“It’s the biggest broom closet we have, actually,” the man in pink said, smiling a brilliantly white smile. From what little light there was I could see he was tan too.
“Ah, my eyes,” I said mockingly, covering my face, “put those pearly whites away, Ken.”
“It’s Kent,” he grumbled under his breath.
“Is this the best Harvard’s got to offer now, Clark? Barbie boy over there would tip off a hostile agent with a smile,” I sighed, as Clark eyed his recruit in silent agreement. The pre-training “agents” are assigned randomly, so Clark just got lucky.
“So, why am I here?” I demanded, swiftly tearing the duct tape with one expert stroke. Kent must have been the one to fasten the duct tape, because a look of pure disappointment settled on his face as I peeled the remaining tape off my wrists. “I was sedated, transported, and detained without authorization, and I’m being kept in a broom closet. This is risky even for you, Clark. So, what do you not want the CIA to know?” I cracked my knuckles, staring into his eyes. Clark wavered, looking down, then slowly met my gaze.
“I had a gun that was still a military-grade prototype. All supervisors were given them. I won’t go into specifics, but somehow the gun was…” he hesitated, took a deep breath, “was misplaced.” I couldn’t keep it together. I threw my head back, laughing hysterically and holding my stomach.
“Well, Clark, it sounds like our work here is done, because I don’t know where you could have left your gun. Try retracing your steps, and just call me next time. It could just be Alzheimer’s at this point in your life,” I said, wiping the tears from my eyes. I reached down and peeled the tape off my ankles, standing up to crack my back. “Now, Charles, I’m going to walk out that door, and here’s why. On paper, this whole ordeal isn’t documented. So, you’re taking me in without presenting proof or cause, which is the equivalent of privately kidnapping a citizen. So, I’ll make you a deal: you either let me go without a fight, and you’ll walk away unscathed. You try and keep me here, I’ll make sure that the organization is up your ass in two seconds.” His eyes widened as he gripped his pudgy knuckles into tiny fists. He knew it wasn’t an empty threat. I clapped my hands in satisfaction. “Don’t worry, I know the way out,” I smirked, striding confidently towards the door. Suddenly I felt his sweaty hand on my arm, holding me tight. He didn’t pull, though; he was a statue, frozen in place. I turned around and saw a glimmer of something in his eyes: terror. His ghastly white complexion made his head look like a shiny egg.
“Brasson, you’re the best agent I ever worked with…please…” he almost gasped, as if the stale air of the closet was threatening to drown him.
“I’m flattered, but I don’t owe you a damned thing,” I said, shaking him off me and wiping his sweat away on my pant leg. “Oh and Ken, give Barbie my regards,” I remarked over my shoulder as I walked through the door and slammed it. Screw it, I thought; let him drown.
Before going home that night, I stopped into my office. The lights were all off, the streetlamps outside casting a dim glow through the shades. The fluorescent lights would have burned my eyes like the light of a thousand fiery suns, so I just settled for the darkness. I sat back in my chair and picked up the secure line. I heard someone cough on the other end.
“Well hello, sir…. oh yes, I made contact with Clark… actually, he made contact with me first… yep, add unsanctioned kidnapping to the reasons for his arrest… yep, on top of the bribes he accepted from his offshore associates… yes, the personal connection with him did work, he wouldn’t forget his top agent… yes, the weapon was intercepted by Tom, codename “Kent”, before he could sell it to his offshore associates, and is currently being transported back to a military base… I have reason from his behavior to expect his offshore friends were threatening him physically to obtain the weapon… I’m glad the CIA and FBI could collaborate on this one too, sir… yes, I’ll keep you posted… have a good night.”
I clicked the phone back into place and looked around my desk. I noticed that where my stale bag of sour patch watermelons had been, a new bag sat in its place, unopened and pristine in its sugary glory. A sticky note was stuck on the front, scrawled on in little neat handwriting that said, ”Heard you didn’t make it to the drug store. Sorry about the kidnapping. Hope this helps. – Travis”. Like I said before, having a partner has its perks. I leaned back and popped a handful of watermelons into my mouth, lounging in my chair and sighing.