You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.
‘Hello Peter, we’ve been expecting you!’
Peter felt quite confused as to what was happening right now. Who are these people? How did they get into my apartment? What are they doing here? He stood there with his keys in one hand and the shoulder strap of his satchel bag in the other. Unsure of what to do, he froze.
‘Uummm… What’s going on? Who are you?’ Peter began planning his exit strategy. They were down the other end of the apartment. Sitting down. If he ran to the door, he could lock it before he closed it which would delay them just a fraction longer… Enough for him to get to the stair well and run…
‘Hi Peter, my name is Agent Morris, but you can call me John. And this is Stella…’
‘Ahh, but you can call me Agent Shaw, thankyou!’.
As an uncomfortable silence filled the air, Peter stood there feeling more and more anxious with every passing second. What is happening right now?
‘So, Peter, can we offer you a cup of tea, or a piece of cake or something?’, John offered, opening his hand towards the pot of tea and cake sitting on the coffee table. ‘You seem a bit confused, why don’t you come and sit down and we can have a chat?’
Small beads of sweat began to form on Peters brow. He felt incredibly uncomfortable and suddenly felt quite hot. He loosened his tie and cleared his throat, ‘No, *cough*, no thankyou, I’m fine just here…’ Peter had seen far too many movies and tv dramas to know that when strangers appear and suddenly offer you something to drink or eat, it’s probably poisoned… And then you end up with a bag on your head, get dragged into a van and wake up in an abandoned warehouse shackled to a table or something either missing an organ, or about to have an organ or a limb removed. The visuals kept swirling around in Peters head making him more and more anxious and scared.
‘Oh for fucks sake Peter, just sit the fuck down!’, snapped Stella. She scowled at Peter. Stella was not the type of person you upset. She was quite intimidating, and no doubt was used to doing things her way.
‘Peter, please. Don’t make Stella get out of her seat…’
Peter slowly began to walk towards the lounge room. Carefully placing his steps as he moved away from the front door. He stopped about halfway and rested his hand on top of a nearby dining chair.
‘Who are you people?’ he queried.
John and Stella exchange glances with each other, and John swivelled in his seat and turned to fully face Peter. ‘We are from The Agency, and we’re here to…’
Peter interrupted, ‘The Agency’ what’s that? What is The Agency?’
‘Well…’ John said, ‘before I was so rudely interrupted, The Agency is an official ‘unofficial’ organisation that handles special cases that the actual ‘official’ organisations don’t want to get their hands dirty with.’
‘I’m sorry, none of that made any sense whatsoever…’
John sighed, ‘Okay, so you know how there are ‘official’ Government agencies such as the FBI, NSA, Homeland Security etc?’
‘…yeah’ Peter slowly responded
‘Well when a high-profile case; something that the Government are aware of, but don’t want to officially get involved in because it could get quite bad, well they call us, ‘The Agency’. We’re a secret government organisation that technically doesn’t exist.’
‘Rrrriiight. So you and your organisation don’t exist. So none of this is real…?! So I’ve gone crazy and this is a dream or something?!’
Without any warning, Stella picked up her fine-China cup full of hot tea, and hurled it across the room, making sure that the cup smashed on the corner of the dining chair his hand was resting on, resulting in Peter getting some small cuts and covered in piping hot tea. Peter began screaming and ran to the bathroom, ‘YOU CRAZY FUCKING BITCH!! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!! WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO THAT FOR? IT FUCKING BURNS YOU CUNT!!’ Peter unbuttoned his shirt and turned on the cold water tap over the bathroom sink, he wriggled out his wet and now tea-stained shirt letting it fall on the tiles next to his feet. Gently he placed his hand under the cold running water, and winced from the sting of the water coming into contact with his cuts and burns. He stood there watching the blood begin to wash away and swirl around in the white porcelain basin and with his free hand, fumbled around for a pair of tweezers.
Over the noise of the running water, he could hear John and Stella quietly arguing with each other, ‘Stel, don’t you think you went a bit too far?’
‘Too far? Did you not see that reaction? That’s not the Peter Cherry that *I* know. It’s not him, it can’t be!’
Peter Cherry?! What the hell? Who’s Peter Cherry?
‘Thats besides the point, Stel. You know you’re not supposed to harm them, it scares them off, we need them to trust us… Not give them third degree burns!’
‘JOHN! Did you not see that?! He just let it fucking happen!!’
‘SHHH! Stella, keep your voice down, he’ll hear you!’
‘Whatever, he’s too busy fucking crying over the sink!’
‘STELLA!! Shut the fuck up!’, John growled. ‘Hey, Peter, you okay buddy? Do you need some help or something? Do you want an ice pack?’
Peter closed and locked the door and leant against it. OH FUCK! OH FUCK! OH FUCK! What the hell am I going to do? Who are these people? Fuck that tea was hot! Peter turned to his reflection in the mirror. Half his face was red from the scalding tea and his entire hand was red not only from he tea, but because it was still bleeding. He wet a face washer with the cold water, and pressed it against the red skin on his face, holding it in place with his shoulder. With his free hand, he grabbed the tweezers and began removing small pieces of china from beneath the skin on his hand. He rinsed all the blood off, and rummaged around underneath the sink for some padding and bandages. He quickly bandaged his hand, and turned his attention to his face. He removed the face washer to reveal bright red skin radiating such an immense heat. He turned on the tap over the bath, knelt down beside the edge and placed his face under the running water. After the initial sting, there was an instant relief.
‘Hey Peter… You okay?’ John called out from the lounge room.
‘Go fuck yourself!’, Peter muttered.
‘Charming!’. Stella was standing behind Peter as he knelt over the bath. Peter jumped back, splashing water everywhere, turning to face Stella, who was towering above him. ‘JESUS! You scared the shit outta me!! How the hell did you get in here?’, Peter queried, wiping the water off his face and out of his eyes.
‘Um, it’s just a bathroom door, not Fort Knox. You don’t need to get so precious about it.’
‘Thanks!’ Stella replied, seemingly taking some sort of pride by that comment, ‘Now, show me your face…’. She stretched out her hand for Peter to grab, but he refused. Instead he grabbed the side of the bath and climbed himself up onto his feet.
‘Look, there’s really no time for you to be such a fucking hero. We’re running out of time, now come here so I can have a closer look.’ Stella grabbed Peters head with both hands and examined the extent of his burn. ‘Shit, that tea must have been really hot, huh!’, Stella said trying her hardest not to smirk. Peter glared at her, fighting the urge to punch her in the mouth for being such a smart arse. She grabbed Peter’s poorly wrapped hand, and he winced in pain. ‘What the hell have you done here? You’d never cut it as a nurse. This is pathetic!’ She yanked off the bandages to reveal Peter’s burnt and cut hand, ‘Alright, I have something that’ll fix this right up. Come with me.’ Still holding Peter’s hand, she led him back out to the lounge room. ‘John, I need that burn cream from your briefcase!’
‘But that’s only for…’
Stella held up her palm, ‘Just… Don’t! Okay! Now, gimme that cream!’ John reached over and opened his briefcase and grabbed a blue tube. He tossed it over to Stella.
By this stage, Peter was feeling considerably humiliated, and extremely confused. He stood there topless and drenched with water. The water had run all down his torso, wetting his pants which looked equally as embarrassing. He caught a glimpse of the tube as Stella opened it. #BC-D14D. Hmmm, interesting! Stella squeezed a small amount of this translucent green goo into her palms, rubbed them together and glanced over at John, ‘John, I’m gonna need you for this.’ John nodded and got up off the couch, walking over and stood behind Peter. ‘Now, Peter, listen to me very carefully, this cream is going to heal your burns, and it’s going to hurt like a motherfucker. I need you to lay down so we can restrain you.’ Stella was quite calm in her tone, and Peter realised she was being serious. He started to feel quite scared of what was about to happen. ‘Sorry, WHAT?!’
‘Don’t question me, just do as I say. Try and relax.’ John suddenly grabbed Peter’s arms and pulled him backwards, directing him towards the floor. Stella straddled Peter’s chest, using her knees to pin his arms down, whilst John straddled his legs down. Stella undid her belt, removing it from her pants, ‘Don’t even say a word, or I’ll snap your neck, got it?!’ Peter nodded silently. Stella placed the belt in his mouth. ‘Okay, now you need to clamp down on this as hard as you can.
Peter was terrified. Stella watched as his pupils fully dilated and clamped his teeth into the leather belt. ‘Don’t try and fight it, you’ll just make it worse’, Stella said in a very calm voice. She applied the green lotion to Peter’s face, and he let out a blood-curdling scream, muffled by belt in his mouth. He tried to thrash around on the floor but both John and Stella were too strong, and held him down. The screaming continued for a couple of minutes, until he passed out from the pain. Stella quickly took this opportunity to apply the goo to his hand as well. Stella realised this was the perfect time to get Peter to a safer place, ‘Right, let’s wrap this up and get out of here. You move him, I’ll clean up. Downstairs in 10. We can’t stay here any longer. They’ll be coming for him!’
‘Roger that!’, acknowledged John, binding Peters legs with rope.
Stella quickly picked up all the broken pieces of china off the carpet and threw them into a garbage bag… Along with the remaining cake, crockery, and teapot. She dragged the bag into the bathroom and began wiping down all the blood off the basin and the bench. She used the towels that we’re hanging up to absorb all the water that had fallen all over the floor, and threw the towels into the garbage bag as well. She tied the bag and grabbed Peter’s satchel bag, and headed into his home office. She packed up his laptop and external drive and rummaged around. His office looking for his agency box. This box contained a string of fake passports, a gun, bullets and a few bundles of cash in various foreign currencies. She knew it was in here somewhere, but she didn’t know where, and time was running out.
‘FOUR MINUTES!!’, John called out from the lounge room. He groaned as he flopped Peter’s unconscious body into a wheelchair, covered him with a blanket, and a wig. He opened a makeup kit and applied some makeup in an attempt to make Peter look like an old man asleep in a wheelchair. John quickly changed into a nursing outfit and stuffed his suit into his briefcase, and stashed it under the seat of the wheelchair.
‘TWO MINUTES, STEL!! Come on, we don’t have time!’
‘I CANT FIND HIS BOX!! ITS GONNA BE HERE SOMEWHERE!!’, shouted Stella, frantically looking through drawers and checking behind paintings. She then began tapping the walls and found a not-so-hollow area in a section of the wall. The wall was shared between the office and the wardrobe of the master bedroom. She ran into the bedroom and headed for the wardrobe. As she frantically flung clothes and hangers aside, she saw a small painting behind the clothes. ‘Bingo!’, she whispered to herself.
‘STEL! WE GOTTA GO!!’ yelled John.
‘JUST A SEC, I’VE FOUND THE BOX!’, Stella yelled excitedly, throwing the painting behind her, revealing a panel in the wall.
‘WE DON’T HAVE TIME! JUST LEAVE IT! WE HAVE TO GO NOW!!
‘JUST GO, I’LL BE RIGHT BEHIND YOU!’ Stella inspected the panel for any trip wires or possible circuitry. There was a high potential for the panel to be rigged with explosives, and as such, was not something that could be rushed. She pulled out a small torch and micro-camera to inspect the space between the panel and the wall. She curved the camera behind the panel in case that was also rigged, but it was all clear. She exhaled a sigh of relief, licked her lips and took a step back. ‘HAAA!’ She yelled as the heel of her boot forced it’s way through the wall. The panel crumbled into pieces, revealing a large cavity behind the plasterboard. As the dust swirled around the small narrow beam of her torch, she noticed that there were a couple of boxes stacked neatly on top of each other.
Unsure of which was his agency box, and noticing they all had elaborate locking mechanisms on them, she grabbed all three in her hands, picked up the garbage bag, and headed out the door and down the corridor to the fire stairs, located next to the lift. As she headed down the stairs, the door slowly closed, but just before it closed she heard the crackle of a walkie-talkie, and a voice saying ‘Eagle Team… Move into position!’Stella froze mid-step on her way between level twenty-three and twenty-two. ‘Eagle Team?! Shit! This is more serious than I thought. I hope the guys got out okay’, she whispered to herself as she peered over the railing and looked down into the stairwell. She continued to race down the stairs, passing floor after floor until a loud bang stopped her in her tracks. She threw her back against the brick walls of the stairwell waiting for any further sounds. She slowly drew her fun from it’s holster and leant forward enough to look up the stairwell. All clear. She the. Moved her gaze down the stairwell, and heard a quiet shuffling of feet making their way up the concrete stairs. As she was in between floors, and they were clearly sever floors below her, she quietly shuffled back up the stairs to the fire door. LEVEL 9 was painted on the door in giant white font, and with as much care as possible and as silently as she could, she slowly pushed the handle of the door down and pulled the door backwards. She waited for any sound of movement or voices, but heard nothing, so quietly peeked around the frame of the door. The coast was clear and she let out a sigh of relief. ‘Right, nine floors to get down, and no way down… Shit!’ Stella knew that she couldn’t take a risk on catching the lift, because if another team was in the lift, she’s dead. She couldn’t take the stairs, because there was a team in there. Stepla contemplated just waiting until they passed, but even that carried a lot of risk. She stepped across the corridor to the door to an apartment and knocked on the door. When nobody answered, she pulled out a couple of metal implements and picked the lock. As she closed the door behind her, she realised that nobody lived there. The entire apartment was empty. She put down the garbage bag and the three boxes and slipped her mobile phone out of her pocket. She activated a ‘ping’ to locate John using GPS. He was still in the vicinity. It was a relief. She quickly sent him a coded message:
Hey darling, sorry, work is busy at the moment. Can’t get away untiL9. Forgot that I had a client meeting – the ones from EAGLEmont.
Within seconds she got a reply
Hey babe, that’s no good. I’m just doing some WINDOW-shopping at the mo. Thought you dropped EAGLEmont as a client? How bout a movie later? South By South West??.
you’re a sweetie. Sounds good to me.
Moments later, the glass of the loungeroom window shattered and a briefcase slid across the floor. Stella knelt down to open the case and a giant smile washed over her face. Stella pulled out a small backpack, and placed the three boxes inside, and flung one of the straps over her shoulder. Underneath the backpack, encased in foam, were a handful of smoke bombs, two grenades, a clip of bullets and a grappling gun. ‘Right, time to make an exit!’
Stella packed up her ammo and headed to the apartment door. She listened intensely for any sounds and slowly pushed down on the handle, peeling the door back. She peeked around the doorframe and leapt across to the fire door. Taking a deep breath she pushed down on the handle and pushed the door ajar just enough to allow her to listen to the sound of the stairwell. Silence. ‘Hmmm, it’s almost too easy’, she whispered. Time to go Stell!’ She unfastened the grappling hook from her belt and fastened it to a handrail on the stairs. Securing the line, she said a small prayer and without any hesitation, leapt over the railing of the ninth-floor stairwell and began to fall.
She pulled the brake at the second floor and just dangled in the air for a moment whilst she listened intently. Nothing. She heard nothing. She slowly lowered herself to the ground floor and as she I clipped herself from the grappling wire, she stared at the fire door to the lobby of the building. Her heart was racing. She had no idea what was going to be behind that door, but she knew to prepare for the worst. She pressed her ear against the door, waiting to hear voices, or movement, but she heard nothing. It was just an eerie silence all around her. She pressed down on the handle and paused. Stella took a deep breath and pushed the door ajar. If there were a team waiting, they’d fire on any movement. She pushed the door open with her foot; her gun in one hand and a smoke bomb in the other. As she waited for a rain of gunfire to hail down upon the door, she was taken aback when nothing happened. As she replaced the pressure of her foot on the door with her hand, she decided to peek her head around the corner to see what was going on. Stella slowly moved her head around the edge of the door, her eyes darting all over the foyer, scanning for threats… And there was nobody there. Stella flung the door open to get a proper view, and there was nobody waiting for her. Just a couple of residents casually walking towards the sliding doors leading out to the street. As much of a relief this was to her, Stella couldn’t deny that deep down she was somewhat disappointed that it was such an anti-climax.
Looks like I’ve got an early-mark! Meet you at the Restaurant?
Sounds great! Just tying up a few things here first. See you soon!
Stella could tell from the blips on the GPS that John had taken Peter to one of the agencies ‘safe houses’, and knew he was going to be okay for now. She headed out of the sliding glass doors into the blinding sunlight. Waiting for a break in the traffic, Stella crossed the road walking into a nearby park. She dumped the garbage bag in a bin and continued walking. Taking a shortcut through a garden, she ended up back on the street, hailing a cab.
‘Hi there, um, heading to West Port Docks, thanks’, Stella told the driver, and then sat back and rested. Her brain was full of constant thoughts How did they know who he was? How did they get their intel? Were they watching him? I wonder how long they were watching him? Maybe he’s a double-agent? Maybe this is just a trap? Maybe he’s chipped and they’re tracking him? What if he leads them to the Restaurant? Oh no, JOHN!! she pulled out her phone and sent John a message.
you may have the wrong dry-cleaning. You need to check for any possible tags!
Whilst Stella waited, she wanted it to not be true; she wanted Peter to be legit, but still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. She walked out of that building without any interference whatsoever. That’s unheard of, unless there’s something else going on. What if EAGLE got up there to find him missing, but then pulled back immediately when they realised they could just activate a tracking chip somewhere in his body? It was possible, and could potentially create a massive problem.
Thanks honey, but all the dry cleaning is ours.
Well, that was a relief!
‘That’ll be $31.70 thanks, miss’, said the cab driver as he pulled up at the Docks. Stella paid the fare, grabbed her belongings and got out of the cab. As she walked towards the ‘Restaurant’, she couldn’t help but feel as though something just wasn’t right. She had the same feeling back at Peter’s apartment tower, and again now. She couldn’t explain what it was, but something just wasn’t sitting right with her. As she got to the door of the safe house, she noticed that the elaborate front door locks had been tampered with. Somebody had broken in.
***TO BE CONTINUED***