Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Drama · #918943
John is going to his office, but things are not as they first seem.
|A light push at the button and the garage door crawls upward. As daylight creeps in, he turns the ignition key and the engine roars. Rubber licks the already warm asphalt, and now he is just one out of millions. At the first stoplight, he reaches for the stereo and searches radio stations. He soon settles for an old rock song. Hands drumming on the wheel, he sings along with the lyrics.|
Traffic moves slowly, but he is in no hurry. The sun is shining and the music is excellent; there is no reason not to be happy. This is one of the good moments in life, he thinks. The road is lined with palm trees, and their long shadows rest on the tarmac and the passing cars.
After an hour of pleasant driving, he sees the contours of Central Point. Surrounded by low buildings, the structure is visible from miles away. Forty stories of the A Block stick up in the middle and next to it, on each side, the B and the C Blocks support their taller brother. Arriving from the southern side, the sun’s reflection travels downwards on the mirror façade. It is really magnificent how it just dwarfs everything else around it, he thinks as he joins the line at gate 26. He looks around but fails to see any familiar faces in the surrounding cars. He focuses on the back of the head in the black car in front of him. Blond hair falls down on the headrest, and he smiles without knowing it.
“Good morning,” the female security officer says.
“Good morning to you,” he replies and hands her his ID.
She compares his face with those on the ID and the computer screen. A quick look in the empty back seat and he is cleared.
“Have a nice day, sir,” she says and returns his ID.
“You too, sweetheart.”
Man, those little things can really make your day. He drives onto the narrow, elevated driveway and glides the car into the opening in the shiny surface of the A Block. He has to climb a few more stories to find a parking spot, but this is normal. At level 6 he parks the car and walks to the lift. Like the people around him, he needs to go upwards. At level 34 he gets out, and as he approaches room 224, a feeling of coming home emerges.
He enters the room. Four men sitting there immediately get up and greet him with cheering and smiles. He shakes hands with them all and sits down at the table.
“Hey guys, how’s everything going?” he asks.
“Fine John, and you?” Gregory says.
“Fantastic, as always.” He laughs, and the others join in.
“So, how was it yesterday?” Gregory says and they all fall silent.
“Well, I didn’t have much to work with in the first place. No time to check background facts and no time to prepare. God, those guys at the Ministry just don’t know how to do things. Anyway… it was hard but in the end I was able to produce some quality work. They know they couldn’t have done it themselves so… I think they were quite satisfied. Not that they said anything, of course.”
“Don’t be so shy, John,” Derek says, “I’m pretty sure you showed those motherfuckers.”
He chuckles. “Yeah, I guess I kind of did, in a way.” They all look at John and smile.
“Well, we all know they’re a bunch of pussies, don’t we? There’s a reason SD always avoids the ministry and comes to us first,” Gregory says.
“A bunch of pricks with their thumbs up their asses, that’s what they are,” Ivan says.
“Alright, are we finished cocksucking each other now? We’re here to work and I don’t have to tell you we have shitloads to do today.”
The men fall silent and Gregory continues.
“John, I’ve made some changes to your schedule today, but I’m sure you won’t disagree,” he says and smiles. The others smile too.
“We had a new arrival here last night and I want you to take care of it. It’s a special case and the time element is of top priority. Room sixteen.”
“William will take care of number thirteen, which you were planned to do this morning.”
William clears his throat. “Gregory gave me the file yesterday evening and I’ve read it through. Basically, I’ll just take over where you were.”
“Right, that’s fine with me…” John says.
“Anything you want to add…?” Gregory asks.
“No… Nothing I can think of…”
“Good, together with Derek I’ve updated the file for the new arrival. It’s all in there, everything you need to know,” Gregory says.
“Trust me, you’ll like her.”
“Her name is Angelica Miller. She’s fourteen.”
“Lucky bastard,” Derek adds, and they all exchange smiles.
“Fourteen, you said…?” John asks and leans back in his chair.
“Yup.” Silence again.
“Okay, are we ready to get to work? Any questions?”
The men remain silent.
“Let’s get together.”
The men stand up and form a circle in the middle of the room. Hands travel over backs and shoulders and flesh connects with flesh. Arms twist into each other like thick ropes.
“Lord in heaven!” Gregory starts.
“LORD IN HEAVEN!” the rest answers with one voice.
“Bless us this day!”
“BLESS US THIS DAY!”
“Because we are the chosen!”
“BECAUSE WE ARE THE CHOSEN!”
“Because we are the elite!”
“BECAUSE WE ARE THE ELITE!”
“Our faith can move mountains!”
“OUR FAITH CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS!”
“And we’re mean motherfuckers!”
“AND WE’RE MEAN MOTHERFUCKERS!”
They fall silent. No one moves for a few moments. They remain still, connected to each other.
“Alright guys, I love you,” Gregory says in a low voice.
“I love you too…”
“I love you, man…”
They take turns to hug each other. As each man finishes, he looks at Gregory. The seriousness in their eyes, it’s almost as if they are about to cry.
“Okay guys, good luck and I’ll see you back here for lunch.”
The men leave the room one by one until only Gregory and John are left.
“Thanks, man,” John says.
“Don’t mention it.”
They hug once again and John exits. The corridor is brightly lit and the footsteps echo as he proceeds to room sixteen. He walks slowly while reading the file. He is humming, maybe even singing. The last song he was listening to in the car is still playing in his head, although he is not aware of it.
He stops outside the room and puts all the papers back in the file. He knocks on the metal door and waits a moment. A key turns in the lock and it opens. The walls are white and naked, and a wooden table in the middle of the room is bathing in light from the fluorescent tubes hanging above. Next to the wooden table, is a smaller, metal one, covered with the standard equipment. A bathtub stands in the far right corner.
He shows his ID and shakes hands with the two guards. He walks over to the table and sits down. He spreads out papers and pictures over the table like he is laying a puzzle. He smiles a little.
After ten minutes of reading and looking at pictures he gets up and walks over to the little metal table, where he takes out a pair of plastic gloves from a vacuum sealed package and puts them on. He is humming again. That same song.
He crosses the room and crouches down next to the naked girl in the corner. She is shaking and her body is full of bruises. Her hands cover her head, which she squeezes between her pulled-up knees. He can’t see her face, only the long black hair falling down on her shoulders, back, and arms. He strokes her hair with the rubber covered hand.
“Hi Angelica, I’m John.”