Note: This chapter is a bit longer then the previous two. There is no sex involved but there will be in the next chapter. There is fighting, gunshot wounds, and death in this chapter. If you can watch a movie like James Bond or anything else like that then you will have no problem with this.
‘What do you need of me, sir?’ I asked Thompson. I was sitting in a cold and very uncomfortable chair at the very center of a small and barren room with a single dim light right over my head and a black one way mirror on the wall across from me. I really didn’t like this room and I hoped I didn’t have to sit there much longer, my back was starting to tighten up already and I could feel a dull headache brewing at the base of my skull.
‘Right now I don’t need anything from you,’ the large man said from across me. The dim light shined off the bald spot in his salt and pepper hair. ‘Go home and get some rest.’
‘Sir?’ I asked. I had been expecting to jump right into things and get out there to search for Michelle.
‘You’ve got a long day ahead of you tomorrow Corporal and you will need to be well rested to get through it. So go home with your niece and spend some quality time together. It might be your last chance.’
His words stung my heart and suddenly I was regretting the decision I had just made. No, I couldn’t think like that. I had to stay positive. I knew what the agency was all about and I had seen the games they play before so I was certain I could make it through this. I had to make it through this. Evee would be waiting for me on the other side with open arms.
‘I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that this whole operation is classified, including your involvement. So just keep your mouth shut on the subject and you’ll be okay. I expect you here tomorrow at O nine hundred for intake. Is that clear?’
‘Yes, sir,’ I nodded.
Thompson stood and quickly shook my hand in his big sweaty ham fist before turning and leaving the room, the door still wide open. Figuring I was allowed to leave on my own I left the horrible room behind me and walked back out into the bullpen. Agent Smith was standing close by, his beady black eyes boring holes into me like he was trying to kill me just by staring. I ignored him, which wasn’t an easy task, and walked through the maze of cubicles, desks, computer banks, and phone stations until I found Gillian and Evee sitting in more comfortable chairs snacking on a bag of chips each. Evee’s eyes lit up one she saw me but Gillian shot me an angry look and I knew she was starting to put the pieces together. I just hoped she could stop herself from tearing off my head so we could get out of there quickly. The less time my girls spent around these people or what they stood for the better.
I quickly ushered them to the elevators and then down through the lobby until we were standing in the brilliant sunlight on the sidewalk. Evee was pelting me with questions but I ignored them while Gillian told her to ask them later. My car was back in the parking lot at home and I really didn’t feel like walking home so I quickly called a cab and was mildly surprised when the taxi showed up after only a minute.
When we got back into the apartment the heat was sweltering and I quickly went around and opened up every window I could. The summer heat obviously wasn’t done with us even though it was September and I honestly couldn’t wait for winter to come back around and cool everything down. Wait, scratch that. Being out in the field during the winter for training was horrible. Then again I wasn’t sure if I would ever be back out with my battalion for training again. My life had kind of taken a sharp turn in the opposite direction and I really wasn’t sure where I would be this time next year.
‘Do you mind telling me just what the fuck is going on here?’ Gillian asked through gritted teeth and I knew she was really upset right now. She hated swearing and the only time you would ever hear a curse hissing out of her mouth was when she was angry. Fuck was her least favourite word so hearing her hiss it at me now I knew she was on the verge of ripping my limbs off.
Gillian had gotten Evee to go and clean up her room so thankfully she wouldn’t be around, so long as we kept our voices down. ‘I have to go away for a while,’ I answered and that did nothing to improve her mood.
‘Don’t you fucking dare!’
Suddenly Gillian was right in my face, her anger pulsing off her in waves, ‘You owe her nothing!’ she hissed so loudly it actually hurt my ears, ‘Whatever she wants you to do tell her no! She has done nothing but destroy your life and yet you still go running back to her like an idiot!’
‘It’s not like that,’ I said weakly. She may not have hit the nail on the head completely but she hammered the damn thing hard.
‘Don’t give me that crap! I know she was here last night in your room! I came by to pick up my laptop to do my homework and I heard her voice! I really thought you were starting get over her Ty! Then this shit happens!’
I was at a loss for words as she raged and I found myself staring at my feet instead of her face. When she was done her little tirade she growled menacingly and turned to walk away. I grabbed her gently by the arm and held in her place, the sting of tears in my eyes as I struggled to remain composed. When she turned back towards me I could see a few tears hanging off her own eyelashes and she quickly blinked them away.
‘What?’ she demanded and I felt my heart sink.
‘I’m sorry,’ I sighed breathlessly, ‘You’re right I am an idiot but you don’t know the full extent of my ineptness.’
‘What else did you do?’ she breathed, her lips barely moving.
‘It’s… it’s not what you think it is,’ I said lamely.
‘You better tell me what is going on right now or so help me god I will walk out that door and you will never see me again,’ she threatened and for a brief moment I almost told her everything. I just couldn’t though. To do so would be a fate almost worse than death and she would be in danger.
‘I’m really sorry Gillian,’ I said but couldn’t look into her eyes anymore. Her fierce gaze was injecting ice into my veins and the pain was excruciating.
‘You don’t get to say sorry! Not to me! You’re a bastard!’
She turned on her heel and marched off towards the door. No sooner had she opened it I called out at her to wait and quickly closed the distance, putting my hand on the door so she couldn’t get out just yet. I’m sure it was a pretty scary situation for Gillian but I honestly meant her no harm. There was a lot I had to ask of her still.
‘I’m leaving for a while,’ I said gently, ‘I need you to look after Evelyn for me.’
Gillian turned back to me and the hatred in her eyes struck me like a million tiny daggers right to my heart. My hands were sweaty; my heart pounding in my ears, and a lump the size of a continent was currently lodged in my throat. No matter how hard I tried to rein in my emotions I continued to fail and I felt another tear or two sting my eyes.
‘For how long?’ she demanded and I winced at her tone. Not even when I had gone into the military had she been this mad.
‘I don’t know,’ I answered truthfully, ‘it could be a long time.’ I tried to keep the fear out of my voice on the last sentence but it was no use and Gillian picked up on it. For a split second her hard exterior shell softened and her eyes sparkled like she knew exactly what I meant by it. It didn’t last long though.
‘Send her to my place when you leave!’ she spat. She swatted my arm away from the door roughly and left, slamming the door shut behind her. A few seconds later I heard her apartment door shut loudly and it rattled through the length of the wall.
I rubbed my eyes hard and took a deep breath before retreating to my room and closing the door tightly behind me. I had never seen Gillian like that before and I could still feel her hatred washing over me even though she was no longer standing there. I truly wished I could tell her everything, make her understand what I was doing and why I was doing it, but honestly I didn’t even know if it was the right thing anymore. I was working for the agency I loathed trying to track down the woman I had once loved. And here I thought walking into that firefight back in Afghanistan was hell on earth. I had just now won the shit storm sweepstakes.
I couldn’t sit in my room and wallow forever though. I crossed the hall and checked on Evee to see how the cleaning was going, which wasn’t good. Her room looked even messier now than it had the night before. Wanting to spend as much time with her as possible I decided to help out and started to toss clothes into piles of what was dirty and what wasn’t. It took us two hours to get everything done but it was worth it, you could finally see the floor now.
I ordered in pizza for dinner and for the rest of the night we sat on the couch watching as many movies as we possibly could. By the time we both fell asleep on the couch I had probably dished out about a hundred plus dollars on movies. I didn’t care though. Evee was happy and I was content just sitting there with her as she yammered on about all the plot holes she found in the stories.
I didn’t dream that night. When I woke up I was just as tired as I had been the night before. I only had an hour and a half before I was supposed to be at the government building downtown so I gently woke Evee up and asked her to go into her room and pack her school books and some clothes for an extended time away from the apartment.
‘Are we going somewhere?’ she asked me through a yawn.
‘You’re going to be staying with Gillian for a while,’ I answered gently, hoping she would just do as I asked and not cause a scene like the one I had been put through the day before.
‘Where are you going then?’ she pressed.
‘I have to go out into the field for a while,’ I replied, ‘so Gillian is going to look after you when I am away.’
‘When will you be back?’
‘I don’t know sweetie. It might be a while before I see you again.’
Evee didn’t like that answer one bit but thankfully she did as I asked. Me going into the field was nothing new to Evee and usually she enjoyed her time spent with Gillian. I had a feeling that this time things would be different. I was determined to not let anything stop me from coming back to my little Evee though and I hoped it wouldn’t be too long.
With Evelyn all packed up I quickly went and dressed in my combats. I took one last look around the small apartment and then we left. Gillian was only a few doors down from our place and I gently knocked hoping she was awake. I had a key to get in but I didn’t really want to use it. After the way Gillian yelled at me the night before I wouldn’t have put it past her to actually have her locks changed just so I couldn’t get in.
Thankfully she answered the door quickly. She gave Evee a small smile and then stared holes through my face as Evee walked past her and into the apartment. We stood there just staring at each other for a few seconds and I tried to think of something to say, but I had a feeling that nothing I could say would make this any better.
‘I really hope you know what you’re doing,’ she whispered loudly once Evee had gone further into her apartment and was out of earshot.
‘Me too,’ I answered nervously. My hands were fidgeting with the pockets on my pants and I suddenly felt stupid for wearing my uniform in front of her.
‘Evelyn will be here if you get back,’ she said and I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis she put on the word if. I had put her through so much in the last few years and I had promised myself to be a better friend to her, but it looked like I was going to have to break that promise.
Gillian had always been my very best friend and after she got over the initial shock of me going into the military she had become the one person I could count on for anything and everything. She was always by my side. I had betrayed that trust though and I knew nothing could ever fix the hurt I had done to her. I owed her more than she knew and I would do whatever it took to make it up to her.
I’m not sure if I had a death wish or if I had just lost my mind but I found myself stepping closer to Gillian as she sat in the doorway staring me down with malice laced through her eyes. On their own my hands reached up and grabbed the sides of her dark red housecoat, pulling her closer to me. Her eyes opened wide in alarm as we inched closer to one another but she didn’t resist. I could see her body trembling slightly and I almost lost my nerve as I figured she was too scared to tell me to stop. I was too close though, the heat of her skin washing over my body and the smell of her light flowery fragrance crawling through my nostrils and striking me right in the brain.
Our lips met in a tender kiss that sent rockets fuelled with a million different emotions through my nervous system. The fake drunken kiss at the party three months ago was nothing like what I was experiencing now. I laced my arms around her waist and lifted her off her feet until her face was level with where mine was when I was standing straight up. Gillian kissed me back with no hesitation but I could feel her arms being a little tentative as she merely placed them over mine gently.
We both broke the kiss at the same time and the instant her lips were free and I placed her back on the ground she looked away from me, her cheeks turning a bright pink. I wanted to kiss her again but I knew I had pushed my luck to the limit. I took a few steps back out into the hallway and looked at a spot just above her head so I wasn’t forced to look into those beautiful eyes.
‘That’s how our first kiss should have been,’ I said weakly and then turned on my heel and walked down the hall towards the stairs.
Eight years in the military dealing with early timings and stuck on a military clock I arrived at the building downtown at nine in the morning exactly. People dressed in various light and dark coloured suits were filing through the entrance hall, going through the security pat downs and metal detectors that lined every entrance to any hallway on the bottom floor.
With a little nervousness balling up in the pit of my stomach I crossed the hall to the front desk where a young woman with her hair done up in a bun and thick glasses over her eyes was sitting, typing very quickly on a keyboard. ‘May I help you?’ she asked without even looking up from her computer screen.
‘I’m here to see Mr. Thompson,’ I said with as much confidence as I could.
‘Do you have an appointment?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know,’ I answered honestly, ‘I was told to be here today at this time.’
No sooner had the words come out of my mouth the phone began to ring loudly. The woman who was also wearing a Bluetooth earpiece reached up and tapped it once. She held a brief conversation with the person on the other line and then tapped the earpiece once more, turning it off. She looked up at me for the first time and took in what I was wearing before pulling out a clipboard and a plastic bin.
‘Please sign in here,’ she said handing me a ballpoint pen, ‘and place any electronics you might be carrying into the bin. No cellphones or other such devices are allowed on the premises sir.’
I did as she asked, tossing my phone into the empty bin and signing my name and rank on the clipboard. My name was the only one on the entire sheet and I figured that was probably because it was so early, but in the back of my mind I knew it would probably look the same way when they closed.
When I handed the clipboard back to the woman she pressed a grey button on her desk by the computer keyboard. ‘By the way it’s just Thompson,’ she said with a small smile, ‘It’s not his real name.’
‘Thanks. I guess,’ I said as my nerves started to get frayed even more. Why the hell had I gotten myself involved with this agency?
A few seconds later a strong and tall man made his way to the desk. He had the same kind of military haircut I had been getting for eight years and his eyes were hard. He was dressed completely in black, black slacks, a black polo shirt, black hair, black eyes, a black holster, black pistol, and a black flak jacket. The only white he had on him was a long badge that red SECURITY over the bullet proof vest.
‘Security will escort you to where you are supposed to be,’ the woman said offhand like it was something that happened every day. She turned back to her computer and her fingers flashed over the keyboard again filling the area with the soft clacking sound of the keys being hit with precision.
I followed the menacing security guard and was surprised when he walked right through the metal detectors and set them off. The agents running the pat downs and metal detectors simply waved us through and then stepped back up to check everyone else. We stopped outside an elevator and the guard pulled out a ring of keys and inserted a small one into the lock just below the buttons for up and down. The elevator doors quickly opened and we walked inside to the cramped area.
‘Nice setup you guys have here,’ I said trying to make a joke but it fell on deaf ears as the security guard pressed the button for B3 and the doors slid closed. It only took thirty seconds until the doors were opening up again into a long brightly illuminated hallway that stretched way into the distance. Just trying to strain my eyes and see if I could spot the end of the hallway was giving me a sense of vertigo.
I waited for the man to get out of the elevator but he stayed put and held his arm up, extending one finger to point me down the hall. Shaking the fear out of my head I stepped out and took a few steps down the hall when I heard the doors close behind me. I turned and looked back to see that I was now on my own.
‘Just awesome,’ I sighed and turned back around. I had no idea where the hell I was supposed to go and I was beginning to feel that this whole thing had been a huge mistake. A man with a fake name, security guards armed with enough firepower to rob a bank, and a labyrinth of underground tunnels that led to god knows where. I was really starting to miss military drills already.
Steeling my nerves I forced one foot in front of the other until I was walking at a brisk pace down the silent hallways. The walls were painted a bright white but you could still see the rough cement under the coating. They didn’t seem to care what it looked like as long as it served its purpose. Judging by the fact that we were at least three stories underground and the walls were probably a few feet thick I was sure this place could survive an atom bomb going off right above the building.
I passed a dozen doors on either side as I continued on. Each one of them was made of reinforced steel and windowless. They had biometric locks attached to them and I really didn’t want to know what they were guarding. Images of torture rooms and cramped jail cells filled my mind as I kept going. What kind of shit was Michelle involved with?
I looked back to see how far I had come from the elevators and found they were nothing but a mere blemish in the distance as my eyes strained hard to make them out. A split second later the door to my left opened wide and Thompson stepped out scaring the crap out of me. Even with the shit I had been through in the military and my service in Afghanistan I still jumped a foot off the ground by being caught unaware like that.
‘I do love punctuality,’ Thompson said brightly, his pudgy cheeks dancing as his jowls moved over the words.
‘What is this place?’ I asked but he ignored the question and walked back into the room he had just come out of. I followed him in and he motioned for me to close the door behind me, which I did.
I found myself in a bright room with half a dozen large lights hanging high above me on the roof. The room only held two items, a large metal desk with a stack of papers and files on it, and a single metal chair occupied by a young looking woman with long red hair that was pulled into a tight and perfect ponytail. The woman had been looking over a stack of papers right in front of her when I came in but she looked up at me and grimaced like the very sight of me was repulsive.
‘Hello,’ I said moving towards her with my hand held out.
The woman ignored my outstretched hand and greeting and looked towards Thompson, raising a single eyebrow as if asking if he was serious about me. Thompson smiled politely and moved off to the far corner and faced me. The woman looked back towards me and swatted my hand away before pulling out a piece of paper with print all over it.
‘Please state your full name and rank for the records,’ she said in a honey voice that dripped over me.
‘Ty Francis Edmund Anders,’ I stated, ‘Corporal with 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.’
‘How long have you served in the Canadian Military?’ she asked.
‘Eight years, ma’am.’
The woman marked down my answers on the paper she held in her hand and then tossed it off to the side of a large pile. I looked closely at the top folder and saw my name and rank emblazoned on the manila folder with my service picture attached with a metal paperclip. The beautiful woman opened the file and I saw my service record on the face with my honours, citations, and other various information.
‘Impressive,’ she said gently and I felt my ego swell just a bit.
‘Thank you, ma’am.’
‘I meant that you’ve served eight years and this all you have to show for it.’
‘Ouch,’ Thompson chuckled from his corner and I repressed the urge to look at him, ‘Be nice Renee.’
Renee ignored Thompson’s remark and flipped through the pages of my record, taking a few minutes to go over a few things before closing it again and looking me directly in the eyes. What was it with these CSIS people? Why did they all seem to hate me? Renee knew nothing about me yet she looked at me with hatred.
‘Do you know why you are here?’ she asked briskly.
I honestly didn’t know why I was here besides the basics I had been gathered on my own the other night. I was about to tell her that but then Thompson caught my attention from the side of my vision. I looked over at him quickly and noticed he was nodding his head. ‘Yes, ma’am,’ I answered and he smiled at me.
‘Are you here willingly?’
‘Strip out of your uniform,’ she told me and for a minute I thought she was joking but the hard look in her eyes told me she never joked about anything, ‘and hand me your dog tags.’
Feeling a little embarrassed I stripped out of my combats, folded them and then neatly placed them on an empty portion of the desk she was pointing to. Standing in only a pair of boxer briefs and green tank top I pulled my dog tags over my head and then slowly placed them into Renee’s open hand. I had been wearing those things for so long it felt like I was giving my life away to hand them to someone else. Then again that was probably what I was doing.
‘Do I need to sign anything?’ I asked as the chill of the room penetrated my body and I tried not to shiver.
‘This operation is completely off the books,’ Renee answered and she put my dog tags into a plastic baggy and tossed it with the rest of my clothing.
Renee stood and had me follow her out of the small room and back into the dizzying hallway that I was really starting to hate. Thompson remained in his corner of the room and didn’t move a muscle as the door was closed behind us. I was about to ask what he was going to do in there all on his own but I thought better of it. Whatever that spook was going to do was not something I ever wanted to know.
I was led a little ways down the hall and then Renee stopped and opened a heavy steel door, using her thumb print to unlock it. I walked into the room and found myself standing some where I knew very well, a place most people knew very well; a doctors examination room. There was a tall thin table in the middle of the room complete with stirrups and everything. Various medical machines lined the walls, IV stands, a defibrillator, heart monitors, blood pressure machines, and a fully stocked medical supply cart with a frightening display of needles and other horrifying tools. The only thing different from this place and one you would find in a doctor’s office was that there were no diagrams or diplomas hanging off the wall. They were completely bare and it almost felt like they were closing in on me as I stood there.
‘Have fun,’ I heard Renee say dryly and the door closed a moment later. The exact moment the door behind me closed another at the far wall opened and a thin elderly man walked out wearing a nice dress shirt and a stethoscope. I had been so freaked out by the sight of all those needles I hadn’t even noticed the other door until it had opened and closed.
The man walked further into the room and pulled up a stool on wheels to the long doctors table in the middle of the room. He had a small folder in his hand and once he sat down he opened it up and pulled out a pen before looking back to me.
‘I’m Dr. Rashid,’ he said with an ancient voice that belonged in a crypt, not in a doctor’s office, ‘Please have a seat.’
I did as I was asked and jumped up onto the tall table. Dr. Rashid went through the file for a few more minutes and then remembered that I was even there in the room with him. For the next hour or so I was put through a full physical including an eye exam. I hated going through these things but being in the military I was forced to do one every year so it was nothing new to me. I was pretty sure I was in peak physical condition but there’s always that fear in the back of your mind when going through a physical that the doctor will find something horribly wrong with you.
After every test the doctor would write his finding down in the file and I was dying to know what it said. I have to admit that the worst part was having his knobbly old hands on my testicles while I had to turn my head in cough. It felt so wrong. I swallowed those feelings though and was thankful when I was told to pull my underwear back up to my waist. When the bulk of the tests were completed Dr. Rashid led me into the room he had come out of earlier and proceeded to put me through a hearing test.
I knew I didn’t do very well with this one because I had partial hearing loss from the military, but honestly it wasn’t that bad to affect my everyday life. From time to time I would have to ask Evee to speak up or repeat what she had just said but other than that it didn’t bother me. There were a few frequencies I couldn’t hear at all but I hoped this was the norm for the test, like how dogs could hear certain ones humans couldn’t.
Once I finished that test I was expecting to hear about the results right away, but instead the doctor brought me back into the first room and then left through the door back out into the hallway. I sat there by myself for at least a half an hour trying to figure out what was going on. Had I passed the test or not? Did I actually even care if I passed the test?
I was in the middle of reliving the kiss with Gillian in my memory when the door suddenly opened and Renee walked into the room, her high heels clicking against the hard floor with each step. She looked at me and then quickly looked away. Supressing a laugh I pulled my shirt back on and told her I was decent again.
‘So what’s the news?’ I asked as she finally looked back at me.
‘Surprisingly well,’ the young woman sneered, ‘Follow me.’
Renee led me ever further down the long hallway and ushered me into another room that looked remarkably like the interrogation room they had upstairs. A single low light hanging directly above a large metal table flanked on two sides by uncomfortable steel chairs and the walls were painted midnight black and gave no reflection of the light. It was like walking into a black hole with a flashlight.
A man who looked to be in his late forties sat in the chair furthest from me with yet another manila folder open in front of him, peering down through thick horn-rimmed glasses. He wore a thick brown tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows and his face was framed with a neatly trimmed brown beard that gave him a college professor look.
The man introduced himself as Dr. Simpson and said he was a psychologist. I was to undergo a psychological evaluation for field duty. I had been through two of these in my life before, once when I first was inducted into the military and the second time after I had been wounded in Afghanistan to see if I was ready to go back to active duty. Those had been laid back compared to this one though. Dr. Simpson probed my mind like it was a puzzle, touching on my worst fears and horrible nightmares. He learned things about me that no one else ever knew and it made me feel extremely vulnerable, like being laid out on a medical table while doctors poked and prodded me with sharp instruments. He asked me about growing up, what my friends were like, what my relationship with Michelle had been like. He even touched on the subject of taking my niece in and being a parent for her when I was barely an adult myself.
I steered clear of talking about Gillian though as the memory of kissing her so passionately that morning still felt fresh. That was something I didn’t want to share with anyone. That was my private little moment and the more I thought of it the more I regretted taking so long in getting to that point with her. She had always been there hiding in the wings and I never even thought about it.
Thankfully I seemed to pass that test as well and Dr. Simpson left the room to tell Renee and whoever else the results of the evaluation. A few minutes later Renee walked into the room and closed the door behind her before dropping a thick file onto the table and taking the seat opposite me. Without a word she opened the file and pulled out a slip of paper with a photo attached to it, passing it to me.
It was Michelle’s service record with CSIS and the same picture I had been shown the first time I was asked about where she was. I quickly pulled the picture off in disgust and turned it upside down before sliding it back to Renee. Everything looked pretty normal to me on the record, but I had never seen one before so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. It had her height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, education, known associates (which I was surprised to see my name there), date of birth, place of birth, and about a hundred other little things about her.
‘You know Franklin,’ Renee said as more of a statement than an actual question, ‘That’s why you are here now. It’s not because of your service with the military or your meagre education. You are here because you know her better than anyone else.’
‘I highly doubt that,’ I growled but then elaborated, ‘I don’t think she’s the same person I… I-’
‘Loved?’ Renee finished for me and for a split second I could swear her angry look towards me softened up just a bit.
‘Past tense,’ I assured her. She nodded like she understood and then took the record out of my hands, putting it back into the file and then pulling out another. She slowly handed out the paper to me but hesitated a moment like she still didn’t trust me. If anything I should be the one that didn’t trust her.
After a few moments of hesitation she handed me the paper and began to tell me what I had been so desperate to know; why Michelle was being hunted by a government intelligence agency. Michelle had been brought into the agency two and a half years ago after she had finished some college courses and immediately placed on active duty. According to Renee she had been an exemplary agent and quickly rose through the ranks until she was given her own case to work on alone. Apparently that’s when shit went wrong and they lost contact with her when she was out in the field.
Two weeks passed and they heard nothing from her. Another agent was dispatched to ascertain what had happened to the mission and Michelle’s whereabouts but just like Michelle the agent never checked in when he was supposed to. A full investigation had been opened about the mission and what they found labeled Michelle as a traitor and a standing kill order had been placed on her. What that meant was if any agent came across her they had prior orders to kill her on sight.
‘What did she do though?’ I asked because none of this made any sense.
‘The mission she had been tasked with was to infiltrate an international arms ring and gather Intel on members, load outs, and their locations. To make her cover seem legitimate she was given access to a large stash of both Canadian and American firearms to help her look the part of an arms dealer. The weapons were supposed to be tagged for later extraction but something went wrong and they were given to her without it,’ Renee explained and a lump was starting to grow in my throat.
‘She walked off with them didn’t she?’ I asked thinking I had figured it out but Renee shook her head.
‘It’s not as simple as that. Franklin sold off the weapons yes, but that’s not the worst of it. We had no idea the extent of her betrayal until a few months ago when she resurfaced on the grid in London. Two agents who tried to intercept her disappeared and their bodies were recovered a week later after Michelle had already disappeared again. According to sources inside MI6 she stole critical information on various Intelligence Services from their databanks and we believe she intends to auction the Intel off to the highest bidder.’
I leaned back in my chair and took the whole story in. This was a hundred times worse than I had imagined and I was sure now more than ever that I had made a huge mistake putting myself right into the middle of it. At least three agents were dead, their blood on Michelle’s hands, and she had stolen data that could probably cripple a dozen countries if it got into the light of day. I hated these types of agencies but I knew they were a necessary evil.
‘What Intel did she steal?’ I asked.
‘That’s above your clearance,’ Renee answered, ‘We need to know where it is and time is running out. The longer we wait the more chance Michelle has at selling it to someone. I can tell you that if the information was leaked agents across the world from CSIS, CIA, MI6, and a couple others would be in danger.’
‘What do you need me to do?’ I asked.
Renee shuffled the papers back into the file and held it out for me to take, ‘Read this file cover to cover tonight,’ she answered.
‘You’ll be let out into the field with as much information as any of our other agents to track Franklin down. You’ll be given a secure phone and expected to check in every two hours. I’ll be your handler so everything goes through me, travel, lodging, even your meals. If I say no then you go hungry.’
‘Gee,’ I sighed, ‘you can’t be seriously letting me out there on my own can you?’
‘I have a feeling you’ll stand a better chance at finding her than anyone else we have out there right now, considering your long history with the subject. You’re the only person in the last six months to see her and live to tell about it, and you’re the only one who truly knows how she thinks.’
I sighed once again, the action starting to become routine in these last few days. I ran both hands over my face, obscuring my vision for a moment trying to wrap my mind around what I was being asked. ‘So will my pay checks be from CSIS or the military?’ I asked trying to make a joke.
‘Like I said this whole thing is off the books. Technically you’re not actually working for CSIS. You report directly to a shadow organization made up from Intelligence Agencies from G8 countries. We have no official name or title but it’s best to just consider us a revamped Interpol.’
‘That makes me feel better.’
Renee stood up from her chair and headed back towards the door, stopping just before it and looking back at me, ‘Six doors down from this room you will find a room you can stay in for the night with a bed and fridge with food. Tomorrow morning I will come and see you one last time before you leave. Welcome to the team.’
She left me sitting there alone, a feeling I was starting to get used to now after the kind of day I had been having. I was still dressed in only my underwear and the cold air circulating in the room was starting to make me shiver. I thought about getting up and seeing if there were any clothes my size in the room Renee told me about but I felt both physically and emotionally drained. I opened up the folder sitting on the table in front of me and delved into the world of blood and mystery I hated so much.
The next morning came way too early for my liking. I had a migraine starting to brew behind my eyes and thankfully I had found some pain killers sitting on top of the small fridge in my room. Renee had been true to her word and came by to give me one last run through of when I was supposed to check in. I was given a set of new clothes (dress slacks, a dress shirt, a blazer, and a tie), a secure cellphone, and some cash in case I needed it for anything, a standard issue pistol almost exactly like the one I had at home with a shoulder holster to hide under my jacket, and a new passport with a fake name.
I had actually thought that agents with fake names were a myth or urban legend but according to Renee they were a necessity with in this section of the agency. I committed the name James Robson to memory and stuffed the fake passport into the inside pocket of the blazer. After I was told everything in triplicate, a common practice for the government, I was handed the keys to a vehicle that had been requisitioned for me and told I could leave the building.
By the time I got outside into the light drizzle pouring down from the thick clouds above it was already past ten in the morning and I had a thought about Evee sitting in one of her classes not that far away from where I was in the heart of the city. Thinking of here sitting there with twenty other students her age taking notes unlocked a memory in my mind that I couldn’t believe I had forgotten. I could still hear Evee’s voice as she pointed to a picture of Michelle in my old yearbook and saying I had gone to school with her substitute teacher.
Panic gripped my heart and I almost ran back into the building behind me to tell Renee what was going on, but then I remembered I was out here pretty much on my own. How in the world could I have forgotten what Evee had pointed out a few days ago? If I believed Evee, which I did because I had never known her to lie to me, then Michelle had posed as a teacher at her school. I had no idea what it could have been about but in that moment I didn’t care, Evee could have been in danger.
I rushed to the parking lot across the street from the government office and clicked the automatic starter attached to the key ring I had been given. Three rows back and eight cars in I found a mid ‘90s black sedan that looked a little worse for wear. I didn’t exactly expect a car like the spies in the movies got but I had been hoping for something a little newer than this piece of junk. I ignored the fact that this was probably another shot at me by Renee or Agent Smith and hopped into the driver’s seat and sped off down the street towards Evee’s school.
I was driving pretty recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic and even running a few red lights and stop signs in my haste. For a brief second I wondered how much shit I would be in with Renee if I got pulled over and ticketed, or even arrested. It would probably be a stack of paperwork for her to fill out and I had to grin at that. Anything to make her job harder sounded like fun but I had more pressing matters to attend to right now.
I made it to the large brown high school in record time and jumped out of my still running car in the middle of a fire lane as I dashed into the front of the building and into the office. Secretaries were milling around, typing on their computers of filing papers on various students as I burst in. The larger and older woman at the front desk nearly jumped out of her chair when I showed up but she quickly gathered herself and looked at my face.
‘May I help you sir?’ she asked like I was some kind of criminal.
‘My name’s Ty Anders,’ I said totally forgetting I had a cover name now, ‘my niece goes to this school and-’
‘Ah yes, Evelyn Anders,’ the large woman said like she had just remembered something, ‘A Ms. Rogers came and picked her up about ten minutes ago for a doctor’s appointment.’
‘I need to ask you about a substitute English teacher that should have been working here last week,’ I started to say but then the woman’s last statement sunk in, ‘Wait, Evee has a doctor’s appointment?’
This was news to me. Evee had already had her bi-yearly check-ups and as far as I knew there was nothing wrong with her. She hadn’t been sick in almost eight months and I could swear her immune system could fight off the plague no problem. Why would Gillian make an appointment for her?
Without even thinking I left the office and pulled out my phone, dialling the doctor’s office that Evelyn went to. I got through right away and asked what time her appointment was but the receptionist on the other line said they had no record of it and asked if I wanted to make one for the next day. I hung up without saying another word and rushed back to my car as I tried to call Gillian on her cell. When I got no answer I tried to call the landline she had in her apartment but again there was no answer and now my heart was beating a mile a minute as I began to freak out.
Sitting behind the wheel of the car I took a deep breath and tried to calm my mind and body down, struggling to figure out what to do next. Two of the people closest to me were now missing and I had no idea where I should begin looking. Evee was obviously not at school and Gillian didn’t have any classes today. If she wasn’t at home then she could be at work, maybe picking up an extra shift or filling in for someone who couldn’t make it in that day. I would head there and see if I could find her, it was the best lead I had right now.
My heart still racing I left the school property and pointed my car in the direction of the large record store Gillian worked in at the mall. I had trouble finding a parking spot even though it was a Monday and still pretty early in the day so I was forced to park near the very back of the lot. Not even bothering to lock the car, hoping that it didn’t get stolen, I burst into a full out sprint towards the nearest entrance. People who were just getting to the mall or already starting to leave having already done their shopping stopped and watched me like I was some kind of mad man, stepping back away from me as I passed in fear that I might tackle them or something stupid like that.
This was one of the largest malls in all of North America and could take you hours to see everything it had to offer. I had been here enough times to know exactly where I was going so I pushed through the throngs of people until I found the store Gillian worked in, a two floor music store that sold a little bit of every medium. Thankfully Gillian was working on the second floor till when I raced up the escalator and when she saw me charging towards her all sweaty and out of breath she took a step back like she was afraid I was there to hurt her or something.
‘Why did you take Evee out of school? Where is she?’ I demanded through gasps and her frightened look turned to one of bewilderment.
‘What are you talking about Ty? I dropped her off at school and then came straight to work!’
‘The office said you came by to take her to the doctors!’
‘Trust me I didn’t take her to the doctors Ty,’ she said and began to ring someone’s purchases through, never taking her eyes off me as I sucked in oxygen like I had just been held underwater longer than what was normal.
‘No,’ I gasped making Gillian jump and drop a handful of changed she handing to the customer.
‘What?’ she asked.
Before I could even answer the phone next to Gillian rang and she quickly answered it, eyeing me suspiciously. Suddenly her eyes went hard as she said, ‘Evee where are you?’ My heart leapt into my throat and I reached out to snatch the phone way from Gillian but she took a step out of my range. ‘Just stay right there we’re coming to get you!’
Gillian put the receiver down, reached under the counter to grab her bag, and started to walk at a brisk pace towards the exit. I quickly caught up to her and asked her where my Evee was but she didn’t answer until we were already back out in the car and pulling out onto the road.
‘Where am I going?’ I asked her rapidly.
‘Winston Churchill Park,’ she instructed and I pointed us in the right direction, ‘She said she was with her teacher and that she was told to call me and tell me where she was. Do you mind telling me what is going on now Ty?’
I glanced over at her from the corners of my eyes and saw the scared look in her eyes as she looked at me, her mouth ajar slightly and her knuckles white as she clutched her hands tightly in her lap. ‘Evee’s in danger,’ I said sadly, ‘Michelle has her.’
‘Why? I thought you were working with her!’ she scolded but I could hear the quiver of fear in her words. The thought of Evelyn being in any kind of danger was horrifying and just like I had come to be a father for her Gillian had come to be a mother.
I wanted to tell her the truth but we were already pulling up to the large cement slab across the street from City Hall. Dozens of people who worked in offices downtown were sitting at various picnic tables eating their lunches or reading books they had gotten from the library that was on the other side of the block. Without even waiting for Gillian I rushed out of the car and dashed through the square until I heard a squeal of delight coming from the top of a set of stairs leading out of the park.
Quickly turning I saw Evee standing at the top with Michelle right behind her. Michelle’s face held a smile but one of her hands was in the pocket of her tight fitting jacket and I could barely make out the shape of a gun. Evee tried to rush down to me but Michelle caught her around the waist with her free hand and whispered something in her ear that I couldn’t hear.
‘Let her go Michelle!’ I demanded and a couple of people nearby cocked their heads to see what was going on. Instead of answering Michelle held out her hand and motioned for me to come closer. Before I had even taken one step up the stairs Gillian rushed past me, her red hair like a ball of fire, and clutched Evee in her arms and holding her tight. Michelle had let go of the girl but only took a single step back, her hand still firmly around the grip of the pistol hidden in her jacket pocket.
‘What the fuck is going on?’ Gillian growled pushing Evee behind her body. She must have seen the pistol in Michelle’s hand as well because she took a defensive stance between them. I could feel my own pistol like a heavy rock weighing me down and I had to fight the urge to reach for it. One false move could end in disaster.
‘It’s nice to see you too Gill,’ Michelle said with a wink, ‘How’s life?’
A flicker of genuine pain flashed across Michelle’s face at the sudden outburst and she grimaced at Gillian who was standing before her defiantly. I came up and stood next to her, trying to angle my body to protect her just in case shit hit the fan. Once Michelle looked into my face she smiled again and the action gave me the creeps a little. She was acting so sure and certain of the situation that I wondered if she had something up her sleeve.
‘What’s going on Ms. Atkinson?’ Evee asked peeking her head out around Gillian only to be shoved back out of the way again.
‘Gillian get her out of here now please,’ I said but Michelle quickly twitched her hand hidden in her pocket to remind them that she was in control of the situation. More people who had been eating their lunches in the park had suddenly become interested in what was happening at the top of the steps and a few had brought out their cellphones to catch everything on film just in case something really interesting happened.
‘Come on guys,’ Michelle said lightly, ‘we’re all friends here aren’t we?’
‘You and I were never friends you bitch,’ Gillian spat with venom.
‘That’s right, I’m sorry. I forgot the only reason you were around us was because you were secretly in love with my boyfriend,’ Michelle answered and it stunned me to hear an actual caring edge to her words instead of hatred. I could feel Gillian fidget behind me and I had to resist the urge to look back and see what was going on.
‘Michelle,’ I said gently, ‘Look at what’s going on here. This isn’t you.’
Suddenly the cellphone in my pocket rang and the realization that I had forgotten to check in every two hours hit me. I moved my hand towards the pocket on my jacket to grab the phone but then I thought better of it, Michelle might think I am going for a weapon.
‘Let me guess, that’s Renee seeing where you are?’ Michelle asked and I blanched. I was no spy and this situation was making that much very apparent. Sure I had weapons training but it was all geared towards following orders and working with a group of other soldiers to get a task done. Michelle was the real master spy here having been involved with the agency for a few years. I felt like an idiot standing before her.
‘Ty what is going on? Who is Renee?’ Gillian asked but it was Michelle who answered.
‘Ty was sent here to kill me,’ she said but smiled softly, ‘Renee is his handler.’
‘That’s not true!’ Evee said loudly, ‘Why would my uncle want to hurt you?’
‘Gillian get her out of her now!’ I breathed but once again Michelle twitched her hand and Gillian froze behind me.
‘Not just yet guys. I promise you will leave here unharmed if Ty cooperates.’
‘What do you want?’ I demanded.
‘Gillian and Evelyn are free to go if you come with me,’ she said sweetly and instantly I felt Gillian’s arm wrap around mine and dry to drag me away from Michelle.
‘Don’t do it Ty,’ she whispered into my ear. Michelle seemed to hear it because she cocked her head to the side and looked Gillian dead in the eye as the grip around her pistol seemed to tighten.
‘I don’t have much time,’ she said looking back towards me, ‘So what’s it going to be? Are you going to take a ride with me or will I have to bring someone else instead?’
My decision was a pretty simple one; I would never let any type of harm come to Gillian or Evee. If that meant putting myself in a dangerous situation I was perfectly fine with that. I pulled my arm away from Gillian and turned towards her, our faces a few inches apart. I could see the tears in her eyes and I wished it had never come to this. I had already said goodbye once to her today and I hated to put us both through it again, but their safety was more important.
‘Please Ty, come home with us,’ she cried and I pulled her close to me. She buried her head into my jacket and let loose a sob that shattered my heart. Behind her Evee wrapped her small arms around both of us and hid her face in Gillian’s back but I didn’t hear a single strangled sob come out of her mouth.
‘I won’t let her hurt either of you,’ I said softly into her ear and she held me tighter, ‘I am so sorry for everything I have put you through Gillian.’
I could feel the words ‘I love you’ starting to claw their way up my throat but I choked them back as hard as I could. Those had been the words Michelle had said to me right before she dragged me into her web and I refused to use them here knowing it could have the same effect on Gillian. I kissed her gently on her forehead and gave one of Evee’s arms a meaningful squeeze before extricating myself from them both. Before I could get completely untangled Gillian leaned up on her tippy toes and planted a gentle kiss on my lips as her eyes remained closed so I couldn’t see the anguish she was in.
I quickly returned the kiss and then turned back to Michelle who was smiling at us innocently. ‘Your weapon please,’ she asked and I begrudgingly moved closer to her and pulled my weapon out under the cover of my jacket. With a trembling hand I handed it to her and she quickly put it into her empty pocket, her hand never leaving it.
‘I’m sorry too Gillian,’ she said turning back to the short redhead clutching Evelyn for all she was worth, ‘this was the only way though.’
Michelle motioned for me to walk past her and with one look back at my girls I did, Michelle following close behind never taking her eyes off me. I was directed to a small sports car parked on the edge of the park. She told me to get into the passenger seat while she got behind the wheel. I looked back towards the park but noticed that Gillian and Evee had already taken off now that they were safe.
‘You probably won’t believe me,’ Michelle said, ‘but I’m glad you have Gillian in your life.’
‘Just shut the hell up,’ I groaned. I heard Michelle sigh beside me and a moment later a searing pain stabbed me in the neck, digging deep into the muscle. The long needle she had just struck me with released a cold liquid into my blood stream and I instantly started to feel the effects.
As I looked over at Michelle my vision suddenly went blurry and I could feel my heart beat start to slow down in my chest. My entire body relaxed even though my brain was screaming at it to lash out and strike my attacker. The last sight I had before I passed out was of a blurry vision of Michelle looking at me with pain across her features.
I don’t know how long I had been out but when I opened my heavy eye lids we were no longer in the city. The car door on the driver’s side was open and Michelle was no longer sitting behind the wheel. Groaning I surveyed my surroundings and found that we were sitting on the side of an old farm road in the middle of nowhere with the sun setting in the background. The pistol that I had been forced to hand to Michelle sat on the dashboard in front of me and I quickly snatched it up.
My head hurt so badly that there were black spots clouding my vision and it felt like every muscle in my body was on fire. I pushed all the pain away though like I had been taught and let the adrenaline course through my body. I opened the car door and scrambled out into the grass as the cool autumn night air washed over my aching body.
I found Michelle standing about a hundred yards away from the side of the road in a field of grass overlooking an abandoned looking farmhouse. Her back was turned towards me and I seized the opportunity to raise my gun and point it directly at her, using all the strength I had in my body to keep my arms from shaking. Very slowly I started to make my way through the tall green grass towards her, but she must have heard me coming because she titled her head to the side and gave me a half smile.
‘I bet you feel like shit,’ she said loud enough that I could hear her over the distance between us. A soft breeze blew through the field and the grass swayed hypnotically back and forth.
‘You forgot something!’ I said looking towards the gun.
‘Did I?’ she asked but she didn’t seem too surprised because she kept facing away from me, ‘I’m so forgetful sometimes.’
Michelle might be a lot of things now but she had never been a forgetful person. Thinking I was playing right into another one of her traps I quickly ejected the magazine from the pistol and checked to see if the rounds had been removed. They hadn’t though. The gun was loaded with twelve armour piercing rounds that would render any cheap bullet proof vest useless. I put the clip back in and readied the weapon, pulling a round into the chamber and flipping the safety into the off position.
‘What are you playing at?’ I demanded and now she finally turned to face me. That’s when I noticed the gun in her hand held limply at her side, a trickle of blood running over her forearm and dripping down into the grass. ‘You shot yourself?’
‘The round came from your weapon,’ she said matter of factly and I suddenly remembered that the clip for my pistol carried thirteen rounds and not twelve.
‘What the fuck is going on!’
‘It’s time for you to make a decision Ty,’ she said weakly, ‘About what happens next. I used your phone to send a text to Renee that said you had found me so you can expect the cavalry to show up any minute now.’
‘What are you talking about?’ I asked as my head swam, ‘Why would you let them know where you were? Why would you shoot yourself? What the fuck are you up to?’
‘I have to finish what I started,’ she answered simply but it cleared nothing up. ‘You have two choices in front of you right now. You can hear me out and help me stop what is happening or you can take me into custody.’
‘I can kill you also,’ I said through gritted teeth and my finger moved to trigger.
‘Yes you can also do that,’ she smirked, ‘Hell who knows they might even let you go if you did that. I doubt it but you never know.’
‘What are you talking about?’ I screamed and she flinched slightly, her false bravado failing.
‘You’re in a lot deeper than you think Ty,’ she started to explain, ‘Renee, Thompson, or whoever else you have been dealing with doesn’t want any loose ends. Once they have me, dead or alive, you become just another problem and they will take you out of the game.’
‘You’re lying!’ I shot back and stopped walking when I was only ten feet away from her, my gun still pointed at her chest, ‘You’re the murderer not them! I saw the pictures of the men you killed in London! I know what you did!’
‘You’re right, I did kill those men but it was in self-defence. I didn’t want to but they had been sent to kill me!’
‘Because you’re a traitor! You stole files and are trying to sell them on the black market! I know everything Michelle!’
Whatever hope she might have had about being able to turn me quickly died and her eyes dropped to the ground as her hand around the gun twitched. I could see the defeat written in her body language. All the hard thought out and perfectly laid plans she had were crumbling around her and she had no one else anymore. She had lost.
‘Well if you know everything there is to know about it then you might as well kill me now and go back to your niece.’
‘I’m not going to kill you,’ I said in a determined voice. I may have hated her guts in that moment but I was no killer. Sure if someone was shooting at me in a firefight I would shoot back, but this was different. Michelle was already wounded. ‘Toss your gun to my feet!’
For a split second it almost looked like she was going to raise it and fire at me but at the last second it flew out of her hand and landed a few feet beside me, sinking into the long grass and out of sight. I could now hear the sound of a helicopters rotor chopping through the air and getting closer and the squealing sound of cars racing over the roads nearby at high speeds. Michelle had been telling the truth about sending a text to Renee about having found her.
That thought made me even more nervous though. She could have just killed me and ditched my body somewhere it would take weeks to find and then gone off and hidden again. Why was she willing to risk turning herself over to the people who she claimed were trying to kill her? She honestly couldn’t have thought her plan to turn me was going to work so why do this?
‘What’s your endgame?’ I asked softly as the sounds of backup grew closer and closer in the darkness.
‘My endgame?’ she asked, ‘My endgame is to stay alive. The agencies endgame is to leave no survivors and recover their data. I know I no longer have the right but can I ask you a favour?’
‘Wait for me,’ she said with a sly grin and I couldn’t help but shudder. She was definitely up to something and I had a feeling I had just played into her hands exactly the way she had wanted it. I felt like a puppet on strings.
I never shifted my position or let my gun drop and after two minutes of silence the sleek black helicopter crested over the horizon and pinned us down with a bright white spotlight. The light was so bright and powerful I had to shield my face with my free hand to keep my eyes on Michelle and make sure she didn’t use that distraction to try and flee. In the back of my mind I highly doubted that she would try and run but with Michelle you just never knew.
The helicopter hovered high above us and the dark figure of two men sat in the open doors with sniper rifles trained on both of us. I was more than a little surprised when I noticed a red dot from the laser sight hovering over my chest but I figured it must have been just a precaution. But the warning Michelle had given me kept replaying in my mind and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing straight up as my body wanted to start running away.
I didn’t get the chance though.
No sooner had the helicopter showed up on the scene a dozen vehicles with flashing blue lights screamed towards us and came to a screeching halt by Michelle’s car on the side of the road. Men and women dressed in full tactical gear armed to the teeth with shotguns, rifles, and fully automatic assault rifles poured into the night with their weapons trained on us. There was screaming and yelling as orders were given and for a minute I thought they were talking to Michelle, to put her face in the ground or something. A second later though I felt someone smash into my back with a tackle and knock me down to the ground, kicking the gun out of my hand and twisting my arms around my back as a pair of handcuffs cut into my skin a moment later.
I was quickly hauled back onto my feet and I caught a glimpse of Michelle a few feet away being frisked and handcuffed. She looked me right in the eyes and smiled knowingly, almost like she was trying to tell me she had been right. Anger surging through my heart and mind I spat in her direction and was quickly pulled towards the road and stuffed into the back of a long black SUV. The instant the door closed the driver in the front seat stepped on the gas and we shot down the dark road and back towards the city.
I no longer had the energy to demand what was going on and why I was being arrested when I in fact was the one who had caught the woman they were after. So I sat there in silence instead trying to process everything that had happened. I must have been the worst spy in the world. I had only been in this world for less than twenty four hours and already I was being hauled away like a criminal. I should have known better than to get myself involved in this world.
Half an hour later the SUV pulled into an underground parking lot at the government building downtown and the door on my right side flew open. A man dressed in full tactical gear grabbed me by the jacket and pulled me roughly out of the vehicle. I was led towards an elevator and shoved into to it as the man who had me by the jacket took out a key and unlocked access to the lower levels. Once again I found myself down on B3 with its long hallway but most of the lights had been turned out this late at night and shadows reigned supreme.
Five minutes down the hall a door was opened on the left side and the man tossed me in, causing me to trip over my own feet and land hard on the cement flooring. The door slammed shut behind me. I pulled myself to my knees and looked around expecting to find myself back in a similar room to the one I had stayed in the night before. I wasn’t though. The room was small and almost completely empty. There was a rusty looking toilet on the wall nearest to the door and the smell emanating from the bowl was foul, like raw sewage. A small lumpy mattress was lying on the floor near the far wall with no blankets or sheets. I guess they thought I was a suicide risk or something.
In the corner right next to the door I could see a small black box that hummed with electricity. It was a closed circuit camera which I guess meant I had an audience. I did my best to ignore it and started to pace around the room trying to figure out what was going on. I didn’t exactly expect a ticker tape parade for capturing Michelle but a little gratitude would be nice at least. I had no idea what time it was or what had happened to Michelle but a sickening image flickered through my mind as my imagination tried to fill in the gaps. For all I knew they could have executed her right there in that open field and then left her body to rot. At this point I really wouldn’t put it past these people.
Through the thick cement walls and the massive steel door I couldn’t hear anything that was going on outside my cell. I had no idea if everyone in the whole building was trampling around out there or if I was utterly alone. After a few hours of pacing and fretting my question was finally answered as I heard the magnetic lock click open and the door swung in on silent hinges. I had expecting to see Renee coming to tell me I was free to go or to be debriefed.
It wasn’t her though. Dressed in black slacks and a white slightly wrinkled dress shirt walked in Agent Smith with a grim smile on his lips and a scary glint in his eyes. He seemed extremely proud with himself and I desperately wanted to punch that smile right off his face, but provoking him would do no good. But damn was the desire strong.
‘Why am I being held?’ I demanded and his smile grew wider as it threatened to split his entire face wide open. He displayed a set of perfectly placed teeth that sparkled so white it almost looked ridiculous. Those couldn’t his real teeth; they were just to perfect looking to be real.
‘I must say I have been looking forward to this day,’ he grinned and stepped into the room as the door closed and locked behind him. I took a step closer to him but Smith quickly moved his hand to the gun holstered at his side and slipped it out, pointing it to the ground with one hand while holding the other out to stop me from advancing.
‘Whoa there,’ I said and brought my hands up to show him I meant no harm, ‘I just want to see my family and put this all behind me.’
‘Oh don’t worry your niece and girlfriend are being looked after,’ he sneered and the way he said it made my skin crawl.
‘What the fuck have you done to them?’ I demanded loudly as my anger got the better of me.
‘Who me?’ he asked, ‘I didn’t lay a finger on them. Renee was the one sent to deal with the brat and whoever else was with her. I believe it’s her first kill order actually. Should I send her your congratulations?’
‘You son of a bitch!’ I spat and took another step closer causing him to raise his gun and point it directly at my chest. He was only two feet from me now but I sensed if I made another move he wouldn’t hesitate to fill my heart and lungs with hot lead. ‘I swear to god if either of them even so much got scratched I will hunt you down and rip your ugly head from your shoulders!’
I had been expecting his smile to falter at my threat but he only beamed at me more intensely now and his finger moved from the guard to the trigger. ‘That would be a scary prospect if things weren’t so simple. I have to admit I was mildly impressed when you tracked Agent Franklin down and even wounded her. I figured she would have killed you on the spot. But your job is done now and I’m here to tell you your services are no longer required.’
His finger over the trigger tensed and I knew that in a split second I would be dead. I tried to think of something, anything that I could do to get the gun out of his hand but I was still too far away. Smith looked me dead in the eye and I could see the pleasure he was going to get from killing me like this, completely unarmed and at his mercy. If I could just get a little closer I could use my extra weight and physical strength to wrestle the gun from his hand.
With one last wink he tightened his grip on the pistol and moved to squeeze the trigger as his eyes lit up, but at the last second something happened that changed the entire situation. The faint sound of a gun being fired rippled down the hall from my cell and in a moment of either panic or curiosity Smith looked behind him like he was trying to see through the door. The shot hadn’t been part of the plan I guessed but I didn’t worry about it right then. I had just been given a chance, a chance to get things on even footing with this killer.
With Smith’s attention elsewhere I quickly side stepped into him, grabbing the arm holding onto the gun and slinging it over my shoulder. I had intended to use his own body against him and toss him over my shoulder so I could pull his arm into an arm bar and hopefully snap it and put it him out of commission but at the last second Smith realized the danger and planted his feet firmly on the ground and brought his free arm down onto the back of my head. The blow wasn’t that powerful but it was very precise and hit me right on the spine causing most of my muscles to spasm and release the hold I had on him.
The gun was still pointed away from me so I focused on his next attack instead and brought both my hands down to block the knee to my stomach. Another blow to the back of the head struck me a second later and black spots burst across my eyes as I started to feel a little woozy. Smith straightened back up and started to bring the gun back towards me to finish this off now but I was far from just giving up. The second I saw the flash of the gun at the side of my head I grabbed his wrist with both hands and applied a pressure lock I had been taught in the military, pushing his hand towards his wrist until the gun was pointing directly at him.
From here I could have snapped his wrist easily but I saw another option so with the gun pointed right at him I moved my weak hand towards the trigger and with all my might squeezed my finger over his causing the weapon the discharge. With a massive bang that ricocheted off the walls and felt like my whole body was getting punched a bullet screamed out of the barrel and caught Smith in the thigh. He screamed out in agony and released the gun so it fell to our feet.
I could see the dark blood stain on his pants and knew the wound was pretty brutal. If left alone he would bleed out but right now it was nothing more than an annoyance and I had to end this fight now. I slammed my shoulder into his gut while he was momentarily dazed from the pain and pulled the arm I had in my grasp over my body, pulling him onto my shoulders. With a move you would more commonly see in pro wrestling I dropped onto my back and landed on his body with all of my weight, knocking the wind right out of his lungs.
Before Smith could even catch his breath or try to pull me into a headlock I moved off his body and repositioned myself under his shoulder, wrapping my arms around his neck and my legs pinning his arms down by his sides. Without even thinking about what I was doing I applied all the strength I had left in me onto his neck and started to pull it away from his body. I could feel every muscle in his body tensing under the strain and his eyes bulged in their sockets. It only took three seconds for it to be over at that point and when I felt his skull detach from the base of his spine all his struggling stopped. He was dead.
Like all soldiers in the military I had been trained in hand to hand combat but until that moment I had never found myself in need of those skills. I had never taken the life of someone with my own hands but I had often thought about what it would feel like. I had expected to feel guilty or horrible about what I had done but sitting there with my arms still wrapped around Agent Smith’s neck I felt no pity for him. He had been ready to kill me in cold blood so I had absolutely no qualms about killing him in a fair fight. He deserved what he got.
My lungs screaming for oxygen, my arms feeling like dead weight and a massive pounding headache just behind my eyes I gave Smiths neck one more good squeeze and then released him. I got back to my feet and picked up the discarded gun, the feel of the grip digging into my sore hands. Two more faint popping sounds of a gun being fired echoed through the hallway just outside and I knew I was still in grave danger and I was still locked away in my little cell.
I checked around the door looking for some way to open it but when I couldn’t find anything so I figured it could only be opened from the outside. Standing right in front of the door I suddenly heard the magnetic lock slide out of place and I quickly jumped to the side behind the door and beside the toilet. I brought the gun up and readied my nerves for another fight as a slim woman walked into the room, her eyes darting right to the body of Agent Smith lying lifeless on the ground. I instantly recognized the woman as Renee and the remark Smith had said about her being the one sent to kill Evelyn and Gillian struck me.
I lost control of my anger and rushed her, forgetting I even had a gun in my hand as my body slammed into her small frame and tossed her to the ground like a sack of potatoes. She landed hard and the gun she had been carrying was tossed from her hands as it skidded across the cement floor and out of her reach. Without letting her get her bearings I quickly jumped on top of her, pressing my knee to her windpipe and pointing the gun right into her face.
‘WHAT DID YOU DO TO THEM?’ I demanded loudly and her eyes bulged as she saw the predicament she was in.
She tried to say something but I was putting too much pressure on her throat so all she could manage was garbled and strained gibberish. I pushed down with my knee hard and I could feel her wind pipe strain under the pressure before finally letting up a bit so she could talk. She choked on her own spit for a second and tried to reach up to wipe her mouth but I quickly swatted it away with my free hand.
‘TELL ME WHAT YOU DID WITH THEM!’
‘They’re safe!’ she wailed but I didn’t believe her. She was one of them! She was here to kill me just like she had killed the people I loved.
‘I don’t believe you!’ I screamed and put more pressure on her throat again. My finger found the trigger on the pistol and I got ready to squeeze it. I wanted to avenge Evee and Gillian and she was the one who had hurt them. She was going to pay for their murders with her life.
As my finger tensed on the trigger I suddenly felt eyes on me from the open door and I shifted my gaze slightly to find Michelle standing there with an open leg posture and a gun pointed right at my chest. There was blood trickling down from a gash on her hairline and bruises were forming on her cheeks and neck where she had been hit by someone. Her eyes swam with tears though and the hurt look on her face brought me back to my senses.
‘What’s going on here?’ Michelle asked with a small fake smile and raised her eyebrows as she took in what was happening in the small dank cell. My knee was still over Renee’s throat and the finger I had over the trigger of the gun was twitching like it had a mind of its own and wanted to end this horrible person’s life.
‘She killed Evee and Gillian,’ I growled but Michelle’s smile only brightened.
‘Let her go Ty, you’re no killer,’ she said but I quickly nodded towards the dead body just behind me, ‘Alright well he deserved it. I always hated Smith. Renee didn’t kill your niece or Gillian.’
‘Yes she did! Smith said she was sent out to kill them!’
‘Yes she was sent to kill them but she didn’t Ty,’ Michelle explained softly, ‘She saved their lives.’
That didn’t make any sense to me at all. She hated my guts so why in the hell would she go and save my loved ones? She was one of these murderers and she had been given orders to kill them! I tried to wrap my mind around all of this but I just couldn’t make any sense of it all.
‘Let her up Ty and she can explain it all to you,’ Michelle urged and Renee began to furiously nod her head. ‘We don’t have much time Ty; more people are going to come down here to see what has happened.’
I really didn’t want to let her go but I needed answers to everything. I slowly removed my knee from her throat and took a few steps back, never taking the gun off her. I held it tightly in my fist and kept it trained on her chest as Michelle helped Renee up to her feet.
‘Start talking,’ I hissed.
‘They’re alive Corporal,’ she said roughly through a thick throat, ‘I made sure they weren’t being followed and then took them to a safe house where no one could find them. They’re a little shaken up but fine.’
‘Why the hell would you do that?’
‘Michelle asked me to,’ Renee answered and looked towards the bruised blonde, ‘we’re working together to bring this section down.’
‘Ty everything you were told was only a fraction of the truth,’ Michelle stated, ‘Yes I killed some agents but like I said it was in self-defense. Yes I stole vital Intel on the agency but did they ever tell you what it was? Did you ever ask?’
‘What does it matter? That’s a breach of national security Michelle! What the hell were you thinking?’
‘We don’t have time for this Michelle,’ Renee said gently as she rubbed her throat where a massive bruise was starting to form from where I had nearly crushed her windpipe.
‘He needs to know the truth Renee,’ Michelle said quickly and then peeked her head out the open door to check down the hall, ‘The data I stole is a list of all wet work operations done by this joint agency. Who was involved, who was targeted, what the outcome was. Everything you could possibly want to know about an operation. The thing is that a lot of those operations were never approved by any of the governments involved.’
‘They were illegal operations that took the lives of mostly innocent people. Men and women who had no real connection to this world. Some were activists or high ranking officials who are trying to crackdown on the free reign most Intelligence Agencies have. There are hundreds of recorded missions that targeted these types of people Corporal,’ Renee explained.
Michelle nodded slowly and then started to move towards me, holding her hand out to move the gun I was still pointing at both of them aside. I didn’t really want to put it down but the intense glare Michelle was giving me told me I was being told the truth, at least part of the truth anyway.
‘Then why did you let me capture you? Why did you come here? If you had all this evidence why didn’t you release it to the media or something?’
‘The data is encrypted,’ Renee explained and fumbled in the pocket of her jeans to bring out a small black flash drive. ‘We needed to get the program that will unlock it or else it meant nothing. Our original plan was to go into a less fortified office with one of the other countries to get it but Michelle insisted on her plan.’
‘The plan that included me?’ I asked even though I already knew the answer.
‘It was really the only good option we had,’ Michelle said standing only a few inches from me. I wanted to move away but I was engrossed in their story so much I ignored it, ‘Renee was already working at this office for Thompson so all we needed was a way in.’
‘So that’s why you came to see me that night,’ I said slowly as it was starting to make sense.
‘Michelle was certain her plan would work but I had my doubts. I thought she might have pushed you too far that when the time came for you to make your decision you would have just killed her.’
‘You should have seen her surprise when I was walked in here under guard,’ Michelle laughed but I felt that this was no time for jokes. We had been sitting there too long that I was surprised men with assault rifles hadn’t shown up already and killed us where we stood.
‘So what’s next in your little plan?’ I asked.
‘Oh don’t you worry about that. Just try and keep up will you,’ Renee said with a smile and I was a little glad that she was starting to warm up to me now that I hadn’t killed Michelle like she feared.
Renee quickly picked up her pistol from the ground and then her and Michelle walked back out into the hallway and disappeared out of my sight. Not wanting to be left behind and get picked off by some guard I quickly followed them out and broke into a run as we rushed back down towards the hall. We were going in the opposite direction from the elevator back that led to freedom and I was about to ask where they were taking me when a shot rang out behind me.
A section of the cement wall off to my left shattered in a cascade of dust and debris as a bullet smashed into it. Another shot rang out behind me and narrowly missed my head. Without turning around I held my pistol behind me and fired off three shots hoping I was at least close enough to the shooter to make him jump out of the way. Michelle was yelling something from a few yards ahead of me but with my heart beating in my ears I couldn’t make out the words.
A second later Michelle and Renee jumped into an open door on the right side of the hallway and I quickly wheeled around to get in behind them when another shot rang out. For the second time in my life I felt a searing pain shoot through my body as the bullet shot through my lower back and burst out my stomach. I fell just feet short of the door as my legs gave out and the pain pounded through my body. I tried to crawl through the open door but my body wasn’t responding and a sickening thought struck my head; what if my spine had just been shattered?
I was starting to lose consciousness as more shots rang out and someone grabbed me by the wrist. Renee was pulling me into the room while Michelle laid down cover fire. Everything went black and fuzzy after that. I heard screaming and felt pressure on my stomach as someone was trying to stop the bleeding. More shots rang out and a scream of agony ripped through the halls as someone had been shot far away from where I was. I tried to open my eyes wide to see what was going on but they refused to comply.
My whole body was starting to feel cold and I could barely feel my blood pooling in a warm sticky puddle around my body as I lay there on the floor. Michelle was yelling something to Renee but I couldn’t make any sense of her words. The pain was so intense I blacked out a few times and totally lost track of time. I heard the sound of a heavy zipper opening and the sound of liquid being poured on the ground.
The last thing I heard as my life started to ebb away was Michelle’s voice telling me to stay with her, and then everything went black.
My funeral was held ten days later at a military cemetery. The day was bright and warm as the sun stuck around just long enough to shine down on my casket draped in the national flag surrounded by men and women dressed in pristine dress uniforms and white gloves. A cover story had already been implemented and the news stations of the world had taken it and run, making me out to be some hero and protector of freedom.
I was buried with full military honours and a twenty one gun salute as the flag was folded up and handed to the person closest to me that they could find, Hitchens. People from the general public had been allowed to view the procession and even a few major news networks had set up massive cameras with long range viewing ability on the outskirts of the graveyard. Speeches were given saying how great of a man I was, what I had given for my country, and the ones I left behind.
Neither Gillian nor Evelyn were at the funeral and the military had been told that they were mourning their loss in private away from the media’s gaze. Medals were handed to Hitchens for my exemplary service and he had to brush tears out of his eyes as he stood by my coffin, which had been closed the entire time. A fire had broken out during the operation I was working on and my body had been lost in the flames. What was left of me was in that casket.
After I was laid to rest in the cold ground the networks that had been covering the funeral switched to a program that chronicled my life and what had happened that cost the nation a hero. For nearly two weeks my picture had been circulating around the globe in newspapers as information started to come out about what had happened, even though everything that was said was a complete lie.
You’re probably asking yourself how I knew all this considering I had just been buried, which is actually a pretty good question. I know all of this because I was watching my funeral. I survived another gunshot wound with the help of Michelle and Renee.
Michelle’s plan was a stroke of genius once I learned all the details. It was so masterful that it was a bit frightening and I wish I didn’t have to know all the details. Once I had passed out Renee had managed to stop the bleeding enough to move me and they both set to work on implementing the final prong of their plan. I don’t want to go into too much detail but it included dressing up a corpse in my military uniform with dog tags, and setting it on fire so the ME would have a hard time identifying it. Two other bodies had been readied as stand ins for Michelle and Renee so it would look like no one got out of there a live.
As far as we could tell it had worked out but only time would truly tell. Michelle moved me to a secure location where I could recover from my wounds. The first thing I saw when I came to was a crying Evee standing over me, tears streaking down her face as she clutched my hand tightly. Gillian was standing on the other side of the small bed I was on and had her face buried in the covers like she was too afraid to look at me.
It was a tearful return and we stayed in each other’s arms for close to twelve hours before Michelle came in to update me on what was going on. I have to admit watching my own funeral on television is a very creepy thing and I never want to see that sort of event again. I wished I could call Hitchens and tell him I was alright, that I wasn’t dead but right now we just didn’t know what the backlash would be for what happened.
It was late in the evening one night and Michelle was standing over my bed checking my bandages while Evee ate dinner and Gillian had a much needed shower. Michelle was getting ready to head back out into the world and poke around a little to see what was going on. I had on numerous occasions asked her about the data and cipher she now had in her possession but she would always shake her head sadly and change the subject because Evee was nearby.
Now that we were alone I hoped she would finally answer me so I decided to ask her again as she played with the ugly looking stitches Renee had messed up on my stomach. ‘This isn’t over is it?’ I asked and she looked up into my eyes with a determined look.
‘For you it is,’ she answered with a small smile but it did nothing to reassure me. Renee swore that the cabin we were now living in was off the grid being in the middle of the Rockies past the American border but I still felt like someone was watching us.
‘What about you?’ I asked.
‘No it’s a long way from over,’ she answered with a shake of her head. Her golden blonde hair swayed under the motion and for a moment I had a flash back to better days when we were nothing but teenagers with too much time on our hands. ‘The cipher we stole is apparently only one piece of the puzzle. We have access to some files but not all of them.’
‘So you guys are going out to get another cipher,’ I decided.
‘It should be easier than trying to get my hands on this one,’ she said fishing the USB flash drive out of her pocket.
‘How long until I am able to get up and walk around?’ I asked her and her sombre look quickly turned ice cold as she gazed down at me.
‘Out of the question,’ she answered with a hint of anger in her words, ‘I am truly sorry for everything I have done to you Ty but this is not your fight.’
‘They almost killed me,’ I stated but she shook her head and moved closer to me.
‘You are staying here and that is final! Think about Evee, what would she do without you? You’re the only family she has left! Thanks to Renee’s computer skills you all have new ID’s and passports with access to enough cash to start a whole new life far away from all of this!’
‘I can’t just let you go out there on your own!’ I spit back and could start to feel my anger rising under my muscles. I knew everything she said was true but I just couldn’t let her take on these people by herself. She would die.
‘And what about Gillian eh?’ she asked and I felt the wind get taken out of my sails, ‘Are you going to just saddle her with a teenage girl and leave? That’s not you and we both know it. Look Ty what you and I had all those years ago in school was great and very special to me, but we’re both a lot different than we were then. Be with Gillian. She’s been waiting a long time for you to notice her.’
I didn’t know what to say to that. I knew I had feelings for Gillian but until recently they had been pretty innocent. After that kiss when I was about to leave her though I realized they were something much more powerful than that. I opened my mouth to say something but Michelle quickly looked to the open door and my eyes followed her finding Gillian standing in a bath towel with her hair wrapped up in another.
I don’t know how long she had been standing there but from the look in her hurt eyes I guess she had been there long enough. Michelle stood back up and pulled my shirt over the wound so Gillian couldn’t see it; she always excused herself from the room when the dressings had to be cleaned. Seeing her standing there with her eyes locked onto my mine my decision was instantly made for me and I opened my arms up and motioned for her to come to me.
I held her tightly as Michelle whispered a hushed goodbye and left the two of us alone. No words were spoken as we clung to one another. I could barely hear the front door of the cabin open and close as Michelle and Renee left, probably for good. I ignored it though knowing this is where I belonged. A few minutes later Evee came into the room to see where everyone was and jumped up on the bed beside me as she threw her arms over both Gillian and I.
I knew I could never leave my family again, they meant too much to me and as long as we were safe things would be perfect. But life is never perfect and it will try to beat you into submission the second it thought you had more than your fair share.
If you remember the start of my story I said my life was ruined by Michelle and her actions in using me to get what she wanted from the agency. Well we’ve gotten through my funeral and I wish I could tell you that the pain ended there and the three of us lived our lives happily. That would be a lie though. Even tougher times were coming just over the horizon.
For now though we basked in each other’s love and felt like nothing could tear us down. How wrong we were.