Meeting the artist

The car pulls up alongside me seconds after Jazz has spoken, and I briefly wonder how it got there so fast.  Then I realise that I have so many bags in my hands that I've lost track of them and I can't open the car door.

"Give," says Jazz firmly, kneeling slightly and gathering the bags in her arms.  I let go, shaking my hands to try and free them from the labyrinth of tangled handles, and she pulls them away.  The trunk of the car pops open and she dumps the bags in and slams it shut again.  I wince, there are clothes in those bags that are far too expensive to be treated like that; it would make more sense for me to be bundled into the trunk and the clothes sat on the back seat.  I get into the car and Jazz slides in to the seat next to me from the other side.  Her door closes and the car takes off.

"Jazz, what the hell did we just see?"

"Looked like a 4-star general problem to me," she says.  There's a twitch at her lips that tells me she's trying not to laugh.

"Four-star general?"

"Bit bigger than a major problem."  She's good, there's no twitch this time, her face is as still as a sculpture.  Red 5 would like that humour, I think.

"Who was abducted?  Oh, that's a stupid question, you wouldn't know.  Do we know who was doing the abducting?"

"I'm under orders not to answer any of those questions, no matter how stupid."

"Jazz?  What the hell?  WHAT is going on here?"  I'm angry now, who is keeping me in the dark about this?  If this is Joel's idea of desensitisation therapy I'm going to track him down and slap him silly.  Then I'm going to kick him back to normal so he can apologise to me.  Twice!

She pauses before she answers, and then she takes her sunglasses off.  Her eyes are almost black.  "Look, Emma, I'm sorry.  The orders for today were to go shopping and get you some suitable clothes, and then to take you to a meeting."

The car slows for a traffic light, and I suddenly realise that at the front of the queue, a little ahead of us, is the van that stole the man from the street.  I point at it, and stare at Jazz.

"Whose side are you on at all?"

"Yours."

The light changes and the queue moves, and the van turns into a side-road.  We follow.  A little way along it turns, quite slowly, into a driveway and a blue steel gate slides back for it, admitting it onto a long drive.  We follow.  The van turns into an underground garage, but we carry on to the back of the building and the car stops at a small steel door recessed into the building.  I stare at Jazz, and she puts her sunglasses back on.

"Joel's inside."

"Where?"

She tells me, easy directions.  I get out of the car, and this time she stays in there, staring ahead.  So I walk round to her side of the car, open the door and lean in.

"Get my clothes out of the car and bring them with you.  They don't deserve to be all scrunched up in the trunk!"

Then I storm in.

There's a guard point behind the steel door, but they recognise me.  They do a quick frisk and let me go on.  I hurry up a flight of stairs and then wait impatiently for the lift to take me down again, this time to the basement.  Outside the lift doors in the basement is another guard, but he talks to the guards who let me in on his headpiece and I'm let through again.  I stalk down the corridor, and throw open the door at the end.  There's Joel, leaning against the wall, looking surprised to see me.

"What is going on here Joel?"

The End

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