Bleh. Too damn early. Need some coffee. It's been the same ever since I joined the Special Research Unit. The paychecks are nice, but since we are the first to deal with new subjects, we get to start really early. Like 4 A.M. – or earlier, in case of emergency.
Apart from getting up in the freaking middle of night, it’s a good job. Low stress level, regular working hours, nice colleagues. We even have our own office each. At first it was scary, all quiet, after six years at a cubicle farm. It took me a while to realize I could finally listen to my favourite web radio station – Beethoven FM. No headphones, no cord. Perfect.
I make a detour via the cafeteria. Can hardly open my eyes. The smell of coffee would lead me there blindfolded. Lucky me.
“Hi Betsy”, I say and hand her the coins. “You look more beautiful than ever.”
She giggles. “What would your girlfriend say?” Betsy is at least seventy, very round, very black skin with purple highlights. Her hair is still gleaming black - bottle black, I assume. I like women who care for their looks.
“She is very envious of you. I had to promise her, no more coffee at work. You can keep a secret?” I wink at her, take my cardboard coffee mug and head for the stairs.
A small pile of papers is waiting on my desk. New project, it seems. I start by ignoring them and sip my coffee. Black, hot, strong.
In the beginning it was a bit strange working for a government body. The other people in research are very nice, they helped me a lot. I love the fact that I am the first to know things, even more than I love doing good – protecting the country. I learn important things, secrets. It gives me a feeling of – power, I guess. Although all I do with the information is file reports, fill in forms. Once I know things, they don’t stay secret much longer.
As the caffeine kicks in, I stretch once more and read the file. No debts, no pets. No nasty secrets we could use. Lovely wife, two kids aged eight and fourteen. Two girls. I look at the pictures. Makes my work much easier.
A knock on the door, and Susan’s head appears. “Everything’s prepared, you can start.” She hands me a CD. I guess I know what’s on it. One last glance at the papers. In the hallway I turn around once more, back to my desk and take some notes for my grocery list. Mustn’t forget the eggs. Linda would kill me.
The room is ready as I enter. Green walls – hospital green. Looks like someone very sick puked on them. Can’t stand this room. My project is sitting at a table, thoroughly fixed. One eye is black and swollen. Obviously acquisition didn’t go smoothly this time. I take the glass of water and hold it to my project’s lips, let him drink. Then I put the CD in the player on the other table.
Screams echo off the walls. A young girl’s voice. “No! Don’t do it!” A terrible howl, high-pitched, dies off suddenly.
This gives me the project’s full attention. I take a seat, lean back, obviously relaxed and unbothered. “Your daughters could be next. Now, what do you have to tell me?”