A blog where Stephanie M. Belser test-drives her fictional stories.
Expect the occasional
"stall, spin, crash & burn".

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A New Project

Chapter 1

It was a normal morning. I was sitting at my desk, reading reports and making notes on what I needed to do for follow-ups. Some of the operatives whose reports I was reading are very good at their jobs, but not so good at writing them up. I’m sort of a boss and an editor, I guess. Age and experience had gotten me “promoted” to a desk job. A few on-the-job injuries didn’t hurt.

The receptionist buzzed me and informed me that a walk-in wanted a few minutes of my time. That’s unusual, for dealing with potential clients wasn’t part of my routine.

“Who wants to talk to me,” I asked.

“She says her name is Amy Glesius and that’s what her ID says. The ID checks out,” she said. There is a scanner/reader at the receptionist desk. She would take an ID, run it through, and in seconds, have a readout on the person the ID was linked to.

“Is there a comfy room available?”

“Interview C.” Some of our interview rooms have nice chairs, coffee and crullers. Others don’t.

“Please show her there and tell her that I’ll be out in a few,” I said, clicked off, and sat back in my chair. Amy Glesius. I knew her in college, at least before I dropped out and signed up with Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. A tour with them, then police work, then going private led me, eventually, to where I am today. And before you ask, I did eventually get the sheepskin and a couple of others.

While I can’t say that we had a thing, Amy and I were friends, of a sort. We hung out with many of the same people. She was one of the few whom I didn’t immediately lose track of during my time in the Corps. But after a few years, we did. So I hadn’t heard from her in a very long time.

I closed out what I had on my computer, got out of my chair and went down to the interview room. I opened the door and walked in. Then I stopped. The woman who was standing at the sideboard, getting a cup of coffee looked like Amy, all right. But she wasn’t over thirty, maybe not over twenty-five. I had last seen Amy over three decades ago.

She turned as I came into the room. She smiled and said: “Hi, Becca. It’s been a long time.” She took a step as if to come shake my hand or give me a hug.

I took a step back and held up a hand. “Forgive my rudeness, but who are you?”

“It’s me, Becca. I’m Amy. Amy Glesius.”

I shook my head. “No. Well your name may be Amy Glesius and maybe you’re the daughter or niece or cousin of the Amy I knew, but she would be in her fifties. You ain’t her.”

She sighed. “Let’s sit down and I’ll explain.”

I waived my hand at the table. As she took a seat, I fixed myself a cup of coffee. I looked at the doughnuts, gave in, and took a chocolate cake one. What the hell, if I was going to be fed a line of shit, I might as well have something sweet.

I took a seat on the other side of the table. The big boss insists that, desk jockeys or no, all of us who have permits carry. I had a Smith 9mm on my right hip and I was glad I did. My internal alarms were going off like an Okie tornado siren.

“Let me do one thing,” Amy said, as she put her bag on the table and reached into it. I pulled my gun and held it on my lap. Amy pulled out two boxes, each the size of two packs of cigarettes. She put them on the table, then she picked up one and pushed a button and set it to the left of her and near the centerline of the table. Then she picked up the second one, pushed a button and put it to her right.

“What-“ I stared to say.

“Just wait a sec or two,” she said.

There were little LEDs on the side of each box. They glowed red, first steady, then started blinking. Then they switched to blinking yellow and, in a half a minute or so, they were blinking yellow, then blinking green. A handful of seconds after that, both boxes were showing a steady green indication.

“What are those things,” I asked.

“Scramblers. You have the room wired, but the mics and the cameras won’t pick up anything.”

I had never seen anything like that, and I’ve dealt with some very high-end gear. Hell, we build some of it for the Three Letter Agencies.

“I’m sure our tech guys would love to look at one of these,” I said.

“If they tried to open it, the resulting crater would be about twenty yards wide,” Amy said.

I dropped the subject. “What do you want, Ms. Glesius?” I took a bite out of the doughnut and washed it down with some coffee. It was good coffee. A few of the big chiefs in the company were ex-squids and one thing the Navy was famous for was good coffee.

“Is there anything I can tell you that’ll persuade you that I am who I say I am,” she asked.

I shook my head. “You could have had one hell of a briefing, for all I know. So, what do you want?”

“My company needs a good detective. They want to hire you.”

I shrugged. “I don’t do much in the way of field work these days. And I work for a company. I don’t freelance. You’ll have to ask the front office, and if it’s something that the company might be interested in, they’ll ask me if I want to do it.” I saw her frown, a little, and I added: “I’m past the point where I say ‘yes, boss’ and go where I’m told.”

“You want to at least know what the job is about?”

“No.” I was going to say that I had no reason to believe anything that she might say, but I decided not to go there.

“All right, then,” she said. Amy picked up each of the boxes and pushed the same button on each one. The LED lights went out and she stowed them back in her bag. She slid her chair back to stand up.

I began to slide my chair back and, as I did so, I slid my gun back into its holster. I stood up and went to the door. Amy followed me, I showed her out to the reception area.

“We’ll be in touch. And it was good to see you again, Becca,” she said.

“Until later,” I said.

She nodded and walked out into the lobby.

I turned and saw that the receptionist was looking at me. I rolled my eyes, shook my head slightly and went back to my office.

It takes all kinds.