Word count: 1,061
Authors note: "Jiyu" means "Earth's Milk" - which is referenced in the early Korean creation-mythology, or cosmology. Wikipedia has more information. I used this to provide a little substance and importance to the pharmacological industry referenced herein and it's intentions: Creation, and destruction.
Christian shrugged his navy blue workshirt over his broad shoulders and became perturbed when his large, calloused fingers fumbled with the tiny buttons. He wore his shoulder holster, preferring it to the hip holster that most security companies provided. He supposed he could compromise and switch them if his new "boss" had an issue with a shoulder holster. He stuffed the service pistol inside of it.
He grabbed his wallet, cap, and keys and swapped out his photo identification. Brian Adams, he mused inwardly, rolling his eyes. How ridiculous.
It was 8:30 in the morning when he left the condo he was sharing with his new commander. He wondered how the next few months of his life were going to be. Even the first morning had started off strangely, not to mention the night before when they'd met.
It was just supposed to be the two of them? He kicked his Jeep into reverse and pulled out of the parking lot. He couldn't believe his only backup was on cold storage.
What good did that do them if they were trapped? This was why he hated government jobs, he reminded himself. Nothing but carefully worded lies and smoke and mirrors. He supposed, in the end, it hardly mattered. He worked best alone, anyway, and more than two men just got too complicated. Too many individual minds going in too many different directions.
He pulled off the highway and took Ludwig Ave until he found the parking garage for Jiyu Pharmaceutical Industries, his new security detailing job. He clipped his security tag to his shirt and adjusted his hat in the mirror. He locked the Jeep, and made his way to the front of the building.
The structure stood over twenty stories tall, which was rather short by the standards set by most buildings in New York, but it was monstrously wide. Easily more than four football fields wide, the stout monstrosity housed over twenty-five individual lab sections.
One of the guards at the door scanned his security tag, using the thin stretching rope to make it reach from Christian's shirt to the small handheld device in his hand. He buzzed him in without a word, and Christian walked up to the front desk, where a tall woman stood, her hair pinned back from her wide face.
"Mister Adams, your shift doesn't start for another twenty minutes," she said, and he wasn't sure if she were scolding him or praising him.
He could tell immediately that this rotund woman was going to frustrate his day-to-day life. He smiled at her, attempting to bring a little light into his eyes to soften the harsh emptiness there. "My apologies, ma'am, I thought I would get here a little bit early, in case you needed anything further from me," he said, his tone as light and easy as he could make it.
"Mister Hullings will see you," she said, ignoring him, "take the elevator up to the top floor. That's his office." She scowled at him, he thought, her little bird-eyes narrowing at him from across her desk. "Straighten your cap, Mister Adams. We run a tight ship here at Jiyu."
He offered her another smile, attempting to show humility in this one, and adjusted his hat in front of her. "Yes, ma'am," he said, adding, "much obliged."
Inside the elevator, Christian pressed the button for level 23, seemingly the top floor, and waited in silence as the metal box traveled upward. He held his hands clasped behind his back, his eyes tilted upward at the digital screen reading the floor numbers, slowly ticking them away. When the doors slid open, the large office stretched out before him. Maroon carpets, the glossy oak walls, the floor-to-ceiling windows. A couple dozen meters ahead sat a stately mahogany desk, wide and thick, topped with gaudy golden lamps and paper weights. Behind the desk sat a man in his fifties, his salt and pepper hair combed back, his reading glasses on and the morning paper spread out before him. Mister Hullings, Christian presumed.
He took two steps out of the elevator before stopping, wondering what the protocol was for approaching the man's desk. He cleared his throat to announce his presence and said, "Morning Mister Hullings, my name is Brian Adams." He had to choke back a near chuckle before he could continue. "I was told you wished to see me."
"Yes," said Hullings from behind his paper, "come right in."
Christian did as he was told, moving to stand in front of the desk, his hand still clasped behind him.
"You're early, Brian. Most people aren't early for work, these days. Laziness," he scoffed, "how disgusting."
"Yessir," Christian replied, "most people would sleep their lives away, given the chance."
The corner of the newspaper curled inward, revealing half of Hullings' taught, pale face. He studied Christian in silence for a moment, seeming to do it longer simply because Christian didn't fidget beneath the scrutiny. "I quite like you, Brian," he said suddenly, setting the entire paper down on his desk and removing his glasses. "Tell me, Brian, what time to you get up in the morning?"
"Five a.m., sir."
"Was your father in the military, or did you join?"
"Both, sir. My father was a Chief Warrant Officer, he sent me to the military academy when I was of age, and I enlisted when I graduated." He wondered where Hullings was going with the questions. He hadn't taken a seat, and Hullings hadn't offered him one.
"When was the first time you felt like a man, Brian?"
Without a moment of hesitation, he answered, "When I gave the eulogy at my father's funeral, sir."
Still standing, he kept his gaze on the man. Studying, observing, filing the information away. The scissors on the edge of the desk were left handed scissors, there was a faint pattern in the deep orange of Hullings' tie. The paper was open to the World Market section.
"Brian, I want you to go to the monitoring room and inform Culborrow that he can have hallway duty. I want you on my personal squad."
He wasn't sure what compelled the man to promote him without even seeing him work, but Christian recognized an opportunity when he was presented with one. He leaned down slightly, not quite bowing but showing respectful gratitude. "Yessir, thank you, sir."