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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2113284
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #2113284
John and Alia go on vacation. Will John be able to relax or will his paranoia get to him?
Standing on the Washington Mall, I had a clear view of the Corporate Monument, as a virtual reality sun peaked through white fluffy digital clouds. This white marble obelisk stood at 555 feet tall. At least that’s what my goggle’s readout said.

Alia leaned into me. “Isn’t it amazing?

“Yep,” I replied.

“I was there once with Remi when her father signed a treaty with Kabushiki Gaisha. They say all corporate treaties are signed at the base of the Monument.”

“Makes sense. After all the Corporate Monument is supposed to signify the world corporations coming together.” Actually, the monument was really called the Washington Monument in recognition of the United States’ first president George Washington. At least that’s what my dad’s history books said. I really wanted to tell Alia that, but how do I explain I’ve been reading illegal books.

I turned around to look at the massive statue of Faison sitting on a throne. He was the one who ushered in the age of governing corporations. His smiling statue used to be of President Lincoln, who was credited for abolishing slavery in America.

Sad to think that one of the few things all the corporations could agree on was to erase America’s history. I am not a patriot like my father was. It just makes no sense to me why the corporations were trying to erase history? Maybe I am turning into my father.

The head of Faison pixilated and blinked out. It caught me off guard and I ripped the goggles off my face. A section of the 3D wall had blacked out.

Alia slipped her goggles off and shrugged. “Oh well. Let’s go.”

A door off to our left opened and the operator poked his head inside. “I’m sorry about that folks. I’ll get it fixed tonight. You can come back tomorrow for a free tour if you’d like.”

I handed the two pair of goggles to the man and thanked him as we walked out of the cube shaped room. Alia wrapped her arm around mine as we walked down the street. There was a light drizzle falling on us in the nighttime, but we did not care. Couples and kids meandered around us on the pier. All the arcades and stores were lit up.

“I wish I could go somewhere nice without being Remi’s personal assistant,” Alia sighed. “It would be nice to visit some of these places without all the cameras and throngs of fans.”

Remi was a rich reality celebrity. She built her fame off her father’s, Mr. Shadix, status as a CEO. Virtual cameras recorded almost every minute of her life. I have to admit the showers and baths were nice to watch.

“It’d be nice,” I agreed with Alia. Truth be told the idea of going on vacation didn’t appeal to me. Being a broker, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder for threats. I could never relax on a vacation.

“Let’s do it!” exclaimed my girlfriend.

“Really?” I tried to sound excited. I think I failed.

“Come on. It’ll be fun. When was the last time you traveled just for pleasure? I bet it has been longer than for me.”

She had me there. I really couldn’t remember the last time I took a vacation. I took a deep breath, “OK. Let’s do it. Where do you want to go?”

We walked for a few minutes in silence as we tried to think of a destination.

“It has to be somewhere quiet so we can relax.” Alia said.

I agreed. Somewhere that was quiet and had a lack of people would make it easy to watch for any dangers.

“I know!” Alia exclaimed. “Let’s go to Oceanic City. The rooms are really nice. The views are amazing and we could scuba dive with the sea life.”

I’d never been to Oceanic City. The idea of going somewhere new was appealing. “OK. We’ll go.”

~~~~

It took about a month to coordinate our schedules so we could take the time off. Remi Shadix was freaked out. She did not know what to do for a week without her personal assistant. My boss always had one more job for me to do.

I was having second thoughts about this vacation. I was already watching cars that were parked in front of my condo building. I was keeping mental notes on people, trying to remember if I was seeing any of them on a regular basis.

When I told my boss, Mr. Coleman, about this he said it was definitely time I took a vacation. I was getting too paranoid. I was getting so anxious about the vacation that I actually did something I never thought I would do. I confided in Alia. I told her how worried I was about being followed. What surprised me even more was how understanding she was. Alia reassured me that Oceanic City was quiet.

When our vacation time finally came, Alia and I took the hyper-tube to San Francisco instead of the train. She suggested it would be more private than the train and quicker. The hyper-tube depot was near the piers. We did not have far to walk to our ferry, but Alia insisted we take a taxi the couple of blocks so I could relax. I appreciated her efforts, but it really didn’t help. The taxi quickly deposited us at the gangway to the ferry.

The passenger area of the ferry was open seating. We found two seats near the glass hull, so we could have a good view all the way down to Oceanic City. There were two men that I noticed at the hyper-tube depot that were now sitting across from us. The two men were wearing casual dress suits. I could not see any bulges in their suits from weapons. Their tailor must be good.

“Hey,” Alia grabbed my chin rotating my head towards her. “Don’t worry about those guys. They look like everyone else going to Oceanic.”

I glanced around quickly. She was right. There were a lot of suits and dresses on the ferry. All of a sudden I could smell the money wafting from their smooth skin.

The ferry pulled away from the dock and made its way out to the bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Once in the open water of the bay the ferry drifted below the water.

A young blonde man in an old fashioned sailor’s uniform made his way to the front of the seating. He tapped his earpiece and the cabin speakers hummed to life. “Good morning to all of you. I am Ron and I’ll be your guide on our journey to Oceanic City.”

The cabin lights dimmed as I watched schools of fish flutter past the glass hull. I hoped to see a giant squid or a pod of dolphins. Little did I know those kinds of sea life rarely ventured into the bay.

Ron’s voice invaded my thoughts. I reluctantly turned my attention back to him. “Oceanic City was originally created as a scientific bio-dome where they could study the effects of isolation on humans for space travel.

“Our wonderful corporation, AppleGate Union, soon added a marine biology team to start repopulating the ocean with an almost extinct sea life. One of the few good things that came out of that old nasty government was the specimens they kept in captivity, which were used to repopulate the ocean.

“Now we have sustainable fish such as tuna for our dinner tables. There are about a dozen dolphin pods and about a hundred sea lions in or around our coast, thanks to their efforts.”

The giant bases of the Golden Gate Bridge floated past. I could see the reflection of one of those gentlemen that were following us was watching me.

The submersible ferry skirted close to rock outcroppings that stretched up to the shore. As we came around the outcroppings the Oceanic bio-dome came into view. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this beautiful half dome structure protruding from the cliff wall. It was a shining beacon in the dark murky water of the ocean.

“There she is!” announced Ron. “Isn’t she gorgeous? There are thirty-six levels. Most of the levels have been converted into luxury suites for your enjoyment. There is a large promenade at the center and a gorgeous view of the ocean in the dining room. Welcome to Oceanic City.”

The ferry descended under the massive half dome. Once positioned underneath the submersible floated upwards into the underwater city. The glass hull was the first of the ship to breech the water into the large docking bay.

I was amazed by the huge open area. A line of greeters formed just outside the ferry. I understood the physics of why the water wasn’t flooding the docking bay, but to see it in life was something completely different.

In line we made our way to the docking bay. We were greeted by uniformed staff who were placing rings of plastic flowers around each guest’s neck. I looked down at the faux pedals around my neck and then over at Alia.

“This is a tradition of welcoming guests that was practiced by natives on a string of islands in the Pacific that used to belong to the old government,” she explained.

The last couple of staff members in line were scanning the new guests palm chips. They swiped ours with a smile. “Thank you Ms. Alia Dennison. You and your guest will be in suite 404,” with a wave of their hand we were directed through a large cargo hatch. “If you’ll please follow the rest of the guests you will have an opportunity to hear the Oceanic City Administrator’s weekly welcome.”

I caught a glimpse of the two men that had been following us. They were always behind us and they didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves like the rest of the guests. I’m going to have to do something about them.

On the other side of the hatch I was met with another incredible site. It was as bright as the mid-day sun. People were milling about in swimsuits and towels; wearing sunglasses and sipping on drinks.

There was an open lounge and dining area. The biggest attraction was the pool the size of a small lake. At one end there were diving boards while the rest was surrounded by beach like shore.

I looked upwards at the inward sloping wall of balconies. This interior must have been a good twenty stories high as it wrapped around the pool and the lounge area.

“Welcome guests, to Oceanic City. I am your administrator Charles Hugh…”

Someone bumped me and I was forced to take a step forward. I snapped my head around but no one was there. Looking back across the crowd I found the two gentlemen pretending to listen to Mr. Hugh, but were too busy with their own conversation.

I subtly touched my pants pockets then slid my hands to the back of my slacks. Everything was still on my belt and in my pockets. I reached up into my jacket pocket. My pad was still there. Nothing had been taken. Then why was I bumped?

My attention popped back to the administrator for the last of his speech. “…I hope you enjoy your stay with us. Oceanic can be a wonderful intriguing place.”

                                           ~~~~

Once settled, our vacation started on the sand encircling the pool where we spent the entire day. Alia and I stretched out on long chairs with a small table between the two of us. We sipped our fruity drinks with umbrellas. The lighting was man made, but it felt just like the sun warming our skin.

As good as it all felt I still could not relax. I did breathing exercises to loosen my muscles, but before I could finish I would find myself scanning the crowds. I decided that going for a swim would help relax me. I sat up and that’s when I saw the two men sitting in the lounge on the far side of the small lake. They were watching the people at the lake.

“What’s wrong?” asked Alia.

I turned and smiled at her. “Nothing. Let’s go for a swim." I took her by the hand and we waded into the water.

The next day we took a scuba diving class. I was a little familiar with using a rebreather. It was fairly simple technology. A small pack on your back filtered in water and separated the oxygen out of it. The waste was then ejected as bubbles.

After our class we adventured outside of the city to swim with what little sea life was there. With our masks on and comm systems checked, the airlock was filled with seawater. The door opened and we floated out into the unending green darkness.

We slowly made our way up the side of Oceanic City. It was fun to peek in the windows at the guests. As we approached the surface, the water became brighter and easier to see. We also began to see more sea life as we ascended. Schools of fish swam around us. The only ones I could recognize were the tuna. I was amazed at their large size.

A red chunk of meat floated past my visor. I watched it continue to float upwards.

“Hey, John, look below us.” Alia’s voice sounded in my ear.

Looking down at my feet I could see a reddish black cloud spreading out and reaching up to engulf us. More meat chunks floated past me. “Is this chum?”

“I think so.”

Realization struck me and I scanned the waters around and above us. It took a moment but I started to see the sharks swimming in. One of them lunged sideways and took a hunk out of a tuna that got too close.

I grabbed Alia by the hand and made for the closest portal into Oceanic City. Kicking as fast as my feet would go the descent down to the closest portal was still slow going. Something grabbed my foot. I rolled over to see a shark about my size latched onto the fin of my flipper. I heard Alia scream in my ear. With my free leg I slammed my foot into the shark’s snout. The predator jerked sideways tearing the fin clean off. The shark darted away. Alia pulled on my hand. I rolled back over and continued my kicking back to the city’s outer hull.

We descended three more levels to the closet portal we could find. Alia pounded on the hatch, while I switched over my comm to the control room. “Control room we need to get in. There are sharks swarming nearby!”

It took a moment for a response. “This is the control room. We see you on the monitors at airlock thirteen. We are cycling the airlock now.”

“Hurry!” I exclaimed. “We’re about to be meals.”

The hatch began to creep open. Alia yanked on my shoulder. Looking back I saw two sharks speeding towards us. I pushed Alia through the half open hatch and clawed my way in. I punched the close button several times. The door began to slide close. One of the sharks jabbed its head in the doorway then jerked away before being caught in the closing mechanism.

I sat on the bench next to Alia as we both panted. The water slowly drained out of the airlock. Weight returned to our exhausted bodies. We both yanked off our masks as attendants entered the chamber to check on us.

~~~~

After our frolic in the ocean, we returned to our room, where we cleaned up and rested. The attendants apologized repeatedly for what happened. They did not know how the chum got in the water. I suspected the two men were trying to eliminate us.

After our nap, we got ready for dinner. It was a black tie affair. Alia was finishing up in the bathroom as I was putting on my tux coat.

“You know, I haven’t worn a tuxedo since high school,” I called out to Alia. “How did you know my size, let alone afford to get one for me?”

Alia leaned out of the bathroom. “I’ve spent enough time in your apartment. I know what size suit you wear and I didn’t buy the tux.”

“Oh…Who did?”

“Remi. She set this entire trip up for us,” she walked out of the bathroom in a shimmering black dress that dipped in the front just enough to tease. “Even though she freaked out about me being gone for a week, Remi wanted us to have a great time. She paid for your tux and the amenities that we are enjoying while we are here.”

“Oh, wow.” I don’t know what I was more stunned by, the sight of Alia or Remi’s generosity. “I thought this was an all-inclusive vacation.”

Alia slid her hands down my lapels inspecting my outfit. “Nope this is all on Remi’s bill.” She pulled up on the collar of the jacket around my neck to make sure it wasn’t too high or restrictive.

I held out my elbow to her. “Shall we?”

In the dining room we were escorted to our table. It was a small table for two next to the railing that overlooked the dance floor. Drinks and menus were neatly deposited in front of us.

I kept peeking over the top of my menu to watch the crowds of people dancing and then to spy on the onlookers at their tables. That’s when I spotted them again. The two men were entering the dining room. They were seated three tables away from us. It was time to do something about them and I came prepared to confront them.

But, I waited. I enjoyed dinner with Alia. When a song that Alia liked started we would interrupt our dinner for a dance. Dinner was stretched out longer. After our last dance we returned to dessert at our table. I held Alia’s chair while she sat. I was about to sit myself when I noticed the two men were leaving.

I leaned over and kissed Alia. “I’ll be back. I need to use the restroom.”

I jogged leisurely to catch up to the men. They took the stairs up to the suites. I hoped I followed far enough back so as not to be noticed. On their floor they approached a door to one of the suites. Now was my chance.

I quickly walked up behind the first man, whose back was to me. I grabbed the back of his hair and slammed it into the wall. His forehead caved in the wall and he slid to the ground.

The other man turned to see his partner on the floor. Stepping into him I clothes lined his neck slamming his head into the ground. Both men were unconscious. For a couple of professionals they went down really easy.

I pulled out my handheld from off the back of my belt and held it over the first man’s palm. The read out showed the progress through the different databases. It finally pulled up the information in the civilian database. His name was Alan Petrovski. He was an architect, married with no children. The readout showed his spouse was Andrew Petrovski.

It felt like a rock was embedded into my stomach. I looked over at the other man. Stepping around to him I picked up his hand and placed my handheld over his palm. The readout flashed he was Andrew Petrovski. He was a sports commentator for channel 346 and was married to Alan Petrovski.

That’s why I was fixated on these two. I’ve seen Andrew’s articles and interviews. I just did not recognize him. I attacked an innocent married couple.

“Don’t move!” I looked up to see two security guards with their stunners drawn and pointed at me.

I could have gotten out of this situation, but I screwed up. I attacked an innocent couple. I needed to answer for it. The guards spun me around into the wall and cuffed my hands behind my back. Two medical personnel ran down the hallway towards the couple as I was escorted away from the scene.

~~~~

Administrator Hugh entered the office I was being detained in. “We found your girlfriend like you asked and she gave us your credentials,” He dropped the wallet containing my broker badge and identification on the desk. He took my right hand and turned it over to scan my palm chip. The Administrator read through the information on his screen.

Mr. Hugh took a seat and quietly contemplated me. “Tell me, are you working a case here in Oceanic City, Mr. Carrio?” he asked.

“No. I’m here on vacation.”

“Then why did you attack the Petrovskis?”

I sighed and leaned back in my chair. “I thought they had been following me, so I confronted them.”

“You outright attacked them,” Mr. Hugh refuted. “You’re lucky on several accounts. First, they were not injured, just some bad headaches. Second, they couldn’t identify their attacker.”

“I’m glad they’re alright.”

Mr. Hugh stared down at his clasped hands and took a deep breath. “We’ve had many brokers stay with us at Oceanic City, as guests. They’ve never caused any problems. You’re the first to have problems. I read the report about your scuba diving incident. I suppose that would make you leery of people around you.”

He shook his head slowly. “I suppose as a professional courtesy I’ll drop this matter.”

When he said that I felt even guiltier. I screwed up. At the very least I am to be reprimanded. I nodded at the administrator and stood up. I held out my hand to the man. “Thank you.”

Mr. Hugh stood as well and took my hand in his. Surprisingly, he had true concern on his face for me. “You know, I can usually tell who the brokers are when they visit,” he paused to read my reaction. “You’re the ones that can’t relax. You’re always on the watch for something to happen.”

I pulled my hand away from his.

“Mr. Carrio, I know it is difficult to believe, but you are safe here.”

I grabbed up my identification. “Thank you for your understanding.”

In the reception area Alia stood up with her arms crossed over her chest, as I approached. She was definitely not happy with me. I followed her quietly out the door.

Back in our suite Alia broke the silence. She spun on her heels and wrapped her arms around my shoulders. With her head on my chest she stroked the back of my neck. “What’s wrong with you?”

Even though her arms around me seemed loving, her tone was full of frustration. I had no words. No explanation. All I could say was, “I’m sorry.”

“What’s this?” asked Alia as she pulled something from my skin. “Looks like a bandage.”

“Let me see.”

Alia held up the bandage on the tip of her finger. It looked like a small round bandage, except for the circuit lines that danced across it. It must have been when I was bumped into when we first got here. The bump was the distraction from the placement.

“It’s not a bandage. It’s a transmitter.”

“Can it hear what we’re saying?” Alia asked.

“I doubt it. It probably tracks my movements… I’m being followed.”

~~~~

It all made sense now. The feelings of being watched, the bump into me, the chum in the water, and now the tracking device all meant someone was trying to assassinate me. I can handle someone coming after me. It’s part of the job, but Alia is an innocent wrapped up in this. I have to protect her. I have to think logically about this. Alia is my weak point. Whoever the assassin is they can use her against me. I have to get Alia out of danger and then I can deal with the assassin.

The ferry comes and departs twice a day. The next one is not until tomorrow morning. Besides when we get out in the open on the ferry or afterwards there is no telling where an attack could come from. I have to take care of this now.

I dug through the dresser drawer of my clothes and pulled out my VR glasses. Sitting at the small round table in our room I set the glasses in place and connected to the city Wi-Fi. A few waves of my hands and I was connected to my office.

“Broker Carrio. ID 3219. Unsecured Line. Please encrypt and connect me with Mr. Coleman.”

After a few seconds a virtual bust of my supervisor appeared in front of my eyes. “John, you have two more days of vacation. What are you doing, calling me?”

“I believe I’m the target of an assassination.”

“Look, John, as a friend and someone who is talking from experience, I know it is hard to relax when you’re on vacation. It’s drilled into you from the first day of training to be aware of your surroundings.”

I interrupted Coleman. “I have very good reasons to believe that I’m a target.”

With a sigh, he said. “Alright, what?”

I proceeded to tell Mr. Coleman about the chum in the water and the tracking device. When I was done he took a moment to think about the situation.

“I’ll send an escort down to you on the first ferry out.”

“That’ll be tomorrow morning.”

“Can you hold out until then?”

“Yes.”

As an afterthought my supervisor added. “I know you encrypted this communication, but you do realize this is an unsecured line, so someone could trace this call.”

“That’s what I’m betting on.”

Disconnecting from the Net I reviewed the jumbled up situation in my head. Alia was trapped. There was nothing she could do but sit in a corner and watch the violence unfold. I never wanted her to see this part of my life. The next transport out of the city was tomorrow morning. The same time my back up would arrive. I supposed they could protect us on the trip back, but they would not be any good for the coming fight.

The coming fight. I pulled my suitcase out from under the bed and opened it up. I pulled the false back out of it revealing my equipment. I could feel Alia standing over my shoulder. I packed light, because I did not think we would be in any danger. Thank goodness I was paranoid to pack a little. I had two handguns with a hundred rounds for each, six throwing knives, piano wire, and some explosives. The explosives would do more damage than good in a massive pressurized tank underwater, like Oceanic City.

Leaving our suite was out of the question. The assassin would have to come to us and they will. My communication with Mr. Coleman was encrypted, so they did not hear that, but I’m sure they knew I made the contact. They will have to assume that I’m trying to get help as soon as possible. Whoever this assassin was they would have to come to me.

Our bathroom had a nice large bathtub made for two that would protect Alia. I set her up in the tub, with cushions and pillows to make her comfortable. I gave her a couple of my throwing knives and had her lock the door behind me.

The bed was made to look like there was someone sleeping in it. It was an obvious trick, but hopefully our attacker would be paying more attention to the signal from the tracker bandage I left in our bed.

I sat against the wall across from the door. My two handguns were on either side of me on the floor. I mindlessly wrapped and rewrapped the piano wire around my fingers staring at the door. I think Alia fell asleep in the tub.

The night dragged and I struggled to stay awake. I did mental exercises I was taught in my training to become a broker. Morning was coming on and we would have to start getting ready to catch the ferry. It left in about an hour. I started to think they would not attack at the room. Maybe they will target the ferry.

The automatic lock on the door unlatched. The door quietly opened just a few inches. The lights in the hallway were dim so as not to throw any light into our room. A long black barrel crept through the opening. It looked like a silencer. Finally a hand and wrist appeared holding the gun. The barrel aimed at the bed. A small puff of air escaped from the barrel of the handgun. I was surprised by the sound. Even with a silencer a bullet still makes some sound. I glanced over at the bed. Instead of a hole in the sheets there was a needle embedded in the linen. Another needle appeared in the bed, then two more. Poisoned needles. This all made sense. The quietness would not have anybody looking for us and they could quickly board the ferry after assassinating us.

I dashed to the door with the piano wire. I slammed my knee into the door pinning the arm between the door and wall. I wrapped the piano wire around the wrist and pulled tight. Our assassin cried out and dropped the dart gun. Warm red blood sprayed across my face. I cut the artery.

A force slammed the door open sending me tumbling back across the floor. I grabbed up my handguns and rolled over on my back. There was a man standing next to a woman who was holding her hand. The man’s arm started to swing up with a gun in his hand. I reacted and shot several times. The man’s body flinched backwards with each bullet that hit him. The woman ducked down on the outside of the door. The man’s body flopped backwards into the hall.

Jumping up I ran for the door. The woman at the same time took off running. I would not have long before security showed up. I shot one more time hitting her in the back of the leg. The assassin dropped to the ground writhing in pain. I quickly grabbed her by the collar of her leather jacket and dragged her back into our room. I slammed the door shut and locked it.

Kneeling down in front of her I put the hot barrel of my gun on the exit wound in her leg. “I don’t care who you are. I want to know who sent you.”

Her face scrunched up and she grunted against the pain of the pressure I was applying. Through gritted teeth she offered the information. “Walmart….They figured out it was you who killed Brian Walton.”

“Do they know the names of the others that were a part of the Walton’s assassination team?”

“Yes.”

A thudding blasted through the door.

“Help!” cried the assassin.

I clubbed her in the back of the head with my handgun and she dropped to the floor.

The door broke open. I dropped the gun standing up. There were four security officers crowded in the door with stunners trained on me.

I raised my hands. “I’m a broker for the AGU.”

~~~~

The security officers held Alia and me in our room, while the female assassin was given medical attention under guard. They tried to save her partner, but he did not make it.

Administrator Hugh entered the room looking at the two assassins and then over at us. He took a deep breath then whispered to one of the security guards. He looked over at me one more time and walked out of the room.

The security officers moved us to another suite and stood guard outside the door. The fact that I am a broker I think saved us from a holding cell, but this was a prison none the less. All we could do was make ourselves comfortable.

I lost track of time for all the nodding off I did. I know it had been several hours. We had missed the ferry out. It was mid-day when Mr. Coleman, my supervisor, entered the room. He must have come on the morning ferry, with the backup he promised us.

“Hello, Alia,” Coleman moved toward her to shake hands. “John has told me very little about you.”

Alia carefully took his hand and smiled. “It doesn’t surprise me that he hasn’t said much about me.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal,” Coleman told her. He then turned to look at both of us. “We interrogated the assassin you left alive and we scanned her identification. They were both in our database as freelancers that had previous experience as brokers for Walmart Corporation. She told us that the hit came down from Annalyn Walton, Brian Walton’s wife.”

Crossing my arms and closing my eyes I processed the information. Brian Walton was the CEO of Walmart Corporation that we assassinated. “How did they find me? That job was off the books.”

“Nothing’s off the books. It’s all just layers of secrecy.” Coleman told me.

“What about Mara and Dawn? They were with me on that job.”

“We’ve already put them in protective custody.”

I had one last question. “How did Walton get our names? Is there a mole?”

“We think so,” replied Coleman.

“What happens with us?” asked Alia.

Coleman turned to her. “Well, Administrator Hugh understands the situation was not your fault, but still wants you to leave immediately. You’ll both be heading home on the next ferry which leaves in a couple of hours. Also, both of you will go into protective custody, until we can settle this with Walmart Corporation.”

Alia and I both started shouting. Mr. Coleman put his hands up and quietly stood his ground, until we settled down. “Alia, Ms. Shadix has agreed to extend your time off for personal reasons. John, you’ll be working with Mara McBride to find the mole. You’ll just have guards with you when you leave the office and posted at your condo, where Alia will be staying.”

Alia and I felt defeated. We simply shook our heads in agreement. We followed Coleman out of the room to go collect our personal effects.

Staring off into space I said to Alia, “Looks like you can’t take me anywhere.”

Alia interlaced her fingers in mine. “Hey we’re going to spend a lot more time together. That’s what’s important to me.”

~~~~~~

~~~

~

Appox: 5800 words
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