With her first assignment filed on the seat beside her, Morgan Leblanc made her way due west towards Bristol to a club in the city centre. With a mind full of suspicions she arrived at the first break point in the drive across the south and stepped out for some air and food. The sun stood high in the sky though the air was cold and bitter.
It had to be said while she drove through the cities more congested streets she was not filled with much hope having taken a peek at her file. She knew Martian’s first assignment was based on a photograph from an alpine ski resort, a photograph of a specific person who was meant to be working there. Charlottes didn’t have such specific detail to trek but she had the name of a recluse in Cumbria. All Morgan had was a phrase, more a short summary of a portrayal really, – Medium build, blonde, female, green eyes, dancer and also the name of a club. She feared the worse, being stuck in a sweaty, dark dirty club while drunken students spilled drinks over her top quality boots.
Morgan enters Bristol and finds a bar that matches Dr. Kennedy’s description, at the time she enters there are few people scattered around eating food and chatting in simple conversation and incoherent gossip to the passer by. At the bar is a man quickly summing up the funds of the till in his head, with a determine look on his face he mumbles numbers to himself while flicking through notes. With the classic black shirt and trousers and key suspended on a stretching rubber coil, he finally turns and gives her some attention.
“Sorry love, what can I get you?”
“Hi, I’m looking for someone in specific; I was told she works here.”
“Name?” he asks with a calm look about him.
“I’m not sure about a name I’m afraid,”
“Alright,” he leans back on one heel and gives an odd look while his arms are crossed as if assessing who this smartly dressed urban female may be, “description?”
“Long blonde hair, green eyes. A dancer I’ve heard?”
“A dancer?” he asks with an odd look, “We don’t have dancers sorry.”
“No dancers?” she paused to think.
“If you’re looking for a blonde green eyed dancer try coming here at night. This bar closes at eight and becomes a club at ten.”
“How busy does it get?”
“Quite,” he nodded, “Not the best business in Bristol but we get our fair share. Enough to keep us open anyway. What are you looking for?”
“Just a dancer, a female dancer apparently.”
“For anything specific?”
“Just a job,” she shrugged, “I’m here on behalf of someone else you see, he’s been rather vague on the details about this dancer only that she’s blonde and has green eyes and comes to this place.”
“Well your girls in some interesting situation if she’s got a henchmen after her.”
“Henchmen?” Morgan sneered, “I don’t care so much for that term.”
“Sorry love, it’s not my day for words. Do you want anything to drink then?”
With a sly look as she reached into her bag she tilted her head back, “No, thank you.” she turned about and walked for the doors leaving him behind.
“Righto,” he shrugged, turning back to a woman in the kitchen who bore a very similar description.
She stood at mid five foot with curled blonde hair that flowed over her shoulders, her clothing summery and energetic, loose fitting top and a frail scarf slung slack around her neck with flaring jeans covered in buttons she’d stuck on at the flared ends. She stood with a young man of similar age with eyes darkened and sunk deep into his skull though forced open. His gawp look gave a few notices to the sophisticated lady whom turned up with a description of his friend, before he began picking at food left in the kitchen.
“You in trouble again?” asked the supervisor.
“Ha ha ha,” she mocked sarcastically, “your girls in some interesting situation if she’s got a henchmen after her. Smooth move Casanova.”
“Hey,” he cried, lifting up his hands with an innocent look, “Leave it. I was acting as your shield again.”
She smirked and all three turned back to the food chomping away at whatever leftovers there were to scavenge in the kitchen.
“Dr.” Morgan sighed down the phone to who ever answered it.
“Sorry, he’s in his study at the moment.” Pandora answered, “Who is this?”
“Oh hello Morgan how is everything? Are you alright? How’s the weather?” she asked in her usually sunny ways.
“Cold, damp but sunny.” She summarised.
“Rain’s just started over here, so you’ll have the same to return to I’m afraid. What can I do for you pet?”
“I’m having some trouble finding this girl for Dr. Kennedy.” she said, looking over the very vague description given to her target by the good Dr.
“Well, I’ll go and check on him now and see if he can help.”
“Thank you.” she replied, keeping on the phone while Pandora made her way through the house to the study, a long trek up stairways and down corridors through large and small rooms of the complex estate.
“How is everything there?” Morgan asked, making light conversation with her new co-worker as she stood outside and turned back to see both the blonde woman and her friend step out of the bar into the sunlight on the street.
The girl turned back and caught sight of Morgan, their eyes met for a brief moment and quickly, Morgan’s paled brown with her dark olive. “Hold on a moment,” Morgan said down the phone as she approached the two.
The girl’s friend puffed up his jacket and threw his hood over his head as if to act intimidating though Morgan was not the type of woman to fall for these childish games of territoriality. She walked along with a calm cool look and a knowing smile on her face, using the open phone to point to the young lady as she stood on one side she tilted her head back, “Do you work in this place young lady?”
“No,” she shook her head, “Not work in the traditional sense.”
“How so do you mean?” Morgan asked, “Do you visit this place a lot?”
“Lady, what’re you after?” asked her friend, strutting ahead.
“Zack, calm down.” She said, pulling him back.
“Zack?” she asked, eyeing up this young lean man, he was in fact very slim, his expression drained and tired, nothing to fear what so ever, a small dog with a loud bark and thick fur vest, “Why not pull back that hood and let your pale skin se the sun young man? Or are you vamperic?”
“Hey, leave him alone.” She said, standing between the two of them.
He puffed up his jacket and glared at her through the shadows.
“Forgive me, I’m just not one to be intimidated. My name is Morgan Leblanc, I’m here looking for a specific person who fits your description and dances at this bar.”
“Yeah, we heard from the kitchen. Who are you?”
“It’s, an odd story. Nothing I can easily explain. Can I ask what is it you do for a job?”
“Er,” she glanced back to Zack, “I just dance, I teach dancing as well. The supervisor you talked to is a friend of mine, when his boss saw me here once she decided I’d be a good ‘addition’ to the place.”
“Your dancing must be impressive then.”
She shrugged with a smile, “It’s nothing spectacular.”
“Well, we’ll see.”
“Who were you sent by?”
“A man called Dr. Kennedy.” she explained, “He is a rich polymath.”
“A rich old man?” asked Zack, “Yeah, Leanna this sounds a bit weird.”
“Leanna?” Morgan held out her hand, “Nice to meet you.”
With an unnerved look, Leanna held out her hand and took Morgan’s to shake.
“Have you got a place I might be able to talk to you in more private circumstances?”
“No way, I’m not leaving you with her to talk her into becoming an erotic dancer for your perverted old sugar daddy.”
Morgan naturally flared up to this comment but before her wondrous arsenal of French insults broke loose Leanna swiftly intervened, “I’m sorry, Miss Leblanc, I’ve got a job at the moment. Thank you for the offer but I’m really enjoying it right now and its right next to my university so it’s perfect.”
“University you say?” Morgan asked, “What do you study?”
“Art and creative writing.”
“Have you ever heard of an author called Charlotte Bryce?”
Leanna paused to think, “Can’t say I have, sorry.”
With a nod Morgan feigned a smile, “I thought I could use her to tempt you.”
“You have access to a published author?”
“Well,” she turned to Zack.
“Leanna…” he worried, seeing a glint appear in her eyes.
“I have this idea, I really want to pitch it but no one seems interested unless its all written down.”
“If you’re an aspiring writer shouldn’t you have written something?”
“She’s not a writer,” Zack intervened.
“Zack, smoke something!” she cried pushing him aside.
“But you have my -!” before he finished his sentence she threw a ravaged box of cigarettes in his direction, he leapt and caught them then veered off to give them some privacy, though Morgan noticed his menacing looks to her while he bent over to light the fag.
“Sorry about him, he is a bit – over protective some times.”
Morgan shrugged her brow, “I can offer you two things if you are willing to change your mind?”
A cold breeze blew down the streets and Zack dropped his cigarette on the floor suddenly. He fell to the ground to fetch it before it hit a puddle and caught a glimpse of his flash silver watch, an easy to spot imitation of better designs.
“Leanna!” he cried, “Lecture!”
“Lecture?” she asked.
“We still have those!” he cried, becoming panicked, “I don’t need any more agro from my tutor, get your ass in gear girl!”
“I’m sorry,” Leanna turned back, “Listen,” she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small note book with a miniature pencil and scribbled down an address, “I have a studio flat with three friends, if you show up there in an hour we can talk alright?”
“Alright,” Morgan sighed, “You’d better be there though. I am not as kindly as my employer.”
“Thanks,” Leanna smiled widely, as she seemed so full of hope and energy though Morgan new she was under the belief that she worked for a literacy agents or a publisher who could help her ideas, well perhaps Dr. Kennedy could do that in all honesty she had little idea of what this enigmatic man was truly like, never the less for the amount of money he was offering and the chance to get sneak previews of her most loved authors work she had no intention of quitting just yet, not yet at least.
Leanna sprinted across the road as the traffic lights turned from amber to green and caught Zack by the arm, “You blow her off?” he asked.
“Don’t say that,” said Leanna, “She seemed nice.”
“Yeah nice, she was like an ice queen.”
“She sounded French.” thought Leanna, off topic.
“We’re clubbing tonight right?”
“Apparently so,” she agreed.
“Think she’ll follow us there?”
“I doubt it.” She replied.
“Arh, so you did give her the slip.” He smiled.
“No, I told here where the flat is. I’ll meet her-“
“Leanna!” he groaned, “What do you think your doing girl? She could kill you or sumit’.”
“Kill me?” she laughed, “You know what I’m like Zack, tough as nails me.”
“Yeah, none the less, don’t mean her sugar daddy isn’t going to come after you.” he shuddered, “Something’s not right about that.”
“Maybe she’s from one of the publishers.” said Leanna.
“Like the last one was form one of the galleries? Till he tried to get in your pants.”
“Zack,” she growled with low tones.
“Alright, alright.” He sighed, “You know what I’ve just realised.”
“We’re going to a lecture without our pens and stuff.”
The two paused in the street and looked back towards the club, “You know, this might be why we’re failing.”
“No, it’s the low marks,” he said, quickly going to light another cigarette.
She turned back and snatched it from him and threw it and the packet in a bin at the side, “I’m not giving up on you just yet boy.”
He groaned and rolled his eyes, “No smokes, no weed, no E’s. If you try for alcohol next I may hang myself.”
“It’s all for you,” she smiled reaching for his hand.
He gave her a stern look and lifted his hand away, she used those olive eyes sweetly and broke his playful façade, “I know.” he groaned, caving in, “I know.”
The apartment was in line with a long street of houses tucked away in the suburbs of Bristol. By the time Leanna and Zack had made it back Leanna’s other two flatmates were leaving and had no word of this strange formal woman. The two settled into the student flats, kept relatively neat by other standards. Zack made himself at home on the chairs and curled up for a nap while Leanna disappeared into the small kitchen for a moment and at that instant the door bell rang. The piercing sound forcing Zack into a tight ball but summoning Leanna to run to the door only to find her flatmate return for a moment to fetch something she’d left on the sofa, now in Zack’s hand.
As she went to leave again she bumped into Morgan standing at the gates to the home, “Hey, can I help?” asked the cheery looking flat mate.
“I’m looking for Leanna?” Morgan asked.
“Lee!” she screamed, “Someone’s here for you!” she turned back, “Go right in, we’ve just tidied up.”
Morgan stepped aside as she skipped past and joined her friend walking down the street. She stepped through the threshold and caught Leanna rushing from the kitchen again in more a frantic dash.
“Sorry,” she cried, “I’m glad you found the place.”
“Your directions were clear,” she said.
“Come on in, make yourself at home.” She said, leading Morgan into the small living room. As she walked through she noted the small blacked out room filled with stacks of canvas’, old furniture and bikes all piled up along with sport equipment. On the door was a cork board fitted with important numbers, dates for bills, inspections, reminders and all sorts.
“So this is your home?” she asked, instantly comparing it to both her own humble apartment and Dr. Kennedy’s estate.
“Student flat,” she said, skipping over spilt laundry, “You know what they’re like. Though this one is relatively clean.”
Zack pulled back his hood and looked up at Morgan, then she got a clear face of the number of piercings across his face and a tattoo that stretched along his wrist, “Finally decided to come to the light?” she asked.
“Yeah. I don’t like what I see so now I’m going back into the dark.” he mumbled, receding back into his coat and turning the television on.
Leanna returned with a sandwich and stared at the television, turned onto some wonderful daytime programming. She turned back to Morgan, “Shall we talk in another room?”
“That’s probably easier,” she said, glancing to the vagabond friend of Leanna.
She showed Morgan upstairs and sat her sandwich on the counter in front of Zack. A rookie error as it soon found itself being drawn into the darkness of his hood. Leanna led Morgan upstairs towards the spare room that had been turned into a study for the three women of the house. Just before they made it to the room they passed Leanna’s room, she pushed the door open and Morgan caught a glimpse of her walls, covered from tip to toe in paper that ran onto the floors and splashed with paint and some of the most amazing colours.
“Oh good,” she thought, “My laptop must be in the study already.”
“Can I just ask,” Morgan said, while Leanna moved aside, “What is that?”
Leanna turned to the wall, “Oh, well. You know, nothing stops a creative spirit.”
“So it seems,” she said, “Is it just on this wall.”
“Well,” Leanna thought, “sure.” Just in case this was a surprise inspection of their homes quality Leanna had no intention of showing this stranger the layout of the room and the wall completely covered in paint strikes and marks, some aggressive and lively, others half strength and dreary as if a reflection of her moods at the time.
“It’s very nice,” Morgan thought, turning away and following Leanna to the study room.
With a small cabinet filled with files and papers with a few books spilt over the place. Beanbags covered the floor, one bust wide open with beans spilt across a shaggy throw and a blocked up fireplace against the wall with a collage of all the poor quality red photo’s they’d printed off by accident cut and glued together as flames. In the window was a large glass tank with three hermit crabs scuttling about in painted shells. Leanna fell onto the beanbags, more beans flew out across the room to her surprise and she slid onto the floor.
Morgan took a seat at one of the desks and Leanna pulled her laptop close, “So, what job were you offering?”
“It’s a little, peculiar.” said Morgan, “I don’t have as much detail to give as my employer does.”
“Well, what kind of job is it? Retail, food, waitressing?”
“What would any of those three have to do with Charlotte Bryce.”
“Again, I have no idea who she is, as far as I know she owns a chain of restaurants.”
“Fair point I suppose.” Morgan thought, “Dr. Kennedy, the man whose sent me after you. He has a peculiar interest in the working of the world. I am led to believe you can help him in understanding it.”
“…” her expression drifted for a moment, “I’m an art student.”
“You paint to inspire correct?” Morgan asked.
“I suppose.” She thought, “Well, I paint to express; if you want to make it so obtuse.”
“Fair,” Morgan thought, “The only thing I can think that would give you a greater idea of what he’d want from you is if you met him yourself.”
“Where is he? In an office?”
“An estate in Northampton.”
“Northampton?” Leanna asked, “An estate?”
“A large home, it is an impressive place I have to say.”
“You know, I’m starting to think I should have listened to Zack.”
“Trust me.” Said Morgan, “No harm will come for following this chance.”
She paused to think things through, “I can also offer you one of these.” She pulled out one of the lime green cards.
“Oh, pretty. What is it? A credit card?”
“Sort of, it is linked to the … companies, treasury.” Not the best of actors, it didn’t take much for Leanna to snare on to a few suspicious mannerisms Morgan let slip.
“I’m not sure of the limit but it’s a fair amount. How much time of university do you have left here?”
“Another year.” She said, “I was going to take a gap year out to pay for the last year.” She thought, taking the card and looking at was pure and simple a lime green card with a magnetic strip along the back and gold microchip much like a bank card. There was faint writing across it for the private banking agency and the company, informally noted as ‘AO40’ in pale green, barely visible.
“Well I can guarantee the money in these cards will pay for your last year at university.”
“But while I’m working in Northampton?” she said.
“I don’t know him well enough to give you my full opinion, but I think Dr. Kennedy is wise enough to let you continue your work here. He’ll only call on you if he needs you and even then I’m sure you can arrange it around your own life.”
“Really?” she asked, biting her lip “This sounds pretty good.”
Morgan smiled, her plans of temptation were working, the greatest trick in her sly book. Well there’s nothing wrong with using certain tools to get things done correctly, right?
“As I said, I can’t tell you exactly what you’d be doing for us but if you come with me I’ll take you to the man himself and you can talk things through.”
“On one condition,” she said, “I want Zack to come with me.”
“Your friend?” she asked, seeming a little set back, “Of course. I understand you’ll want someone there with you.”
“Right,” she nodded, then groaned, “Wait, no.”
“Arh,” she tapped the card against her head and stressed over this option, a possible reworking of a so far set life, “Listen, I’ll be at the club tonight working again. Is there any possible way you might be able to pop in tonight? It’ll give me some time to think it through.”
Morgan sighed as she stood up and held out her hand to take the green card, “I suppose so, if I can find a place to stay.”
“Brilliant,” said Leanna, “I’m sorry. I know what you’re offering it’s just a case of rethinking my life.”
Morgan smiled and nodded, “I can’t disagree, I was in the exact same place as you were. I’m still a little – doubtful myself. But I’m being paid a fortune for finding you alone, and Dr. Kennedy seems like a respectable man, as far as I can tell so far.”
“Really?” Leanna thought, staring at the computer screen instantly picking up a calendar filled with bills, gas, water, electric, grocery shopping schedules, university fees and tariffs, as much as she hated it, she need the money badly.
“I’m still, ‘trialling’ this job myself.”
“And what do you think so far?”
“You’ve been my first assignment.”
“Hope it wasn’t too stressful then.” she chuckled breaking a smile on Morgan’s face, she simply nodded and turned to leave, “I’ll do my best to meet you tonight. Don’t expect me to be easy to find, I’m not one for loud, noisy smelly areas.”
“Alrighty,” Leanna chased her to the front door, “I promise I’ll have decided by then, again I’m really sorry for this.”
“Don’t worry.” Said Morgan; seeming more annoyed by Leanna’s apologetic manner, though she blamed it on the hope and energy in the young woman it was yet to be crushed like Morgan’s.
“Hey,” Leanna cried just as Morgan was walking away, “Are you a talent agency or something?”
Morgan stopped in her tracks with a perplexed look on her face, her eyes widened and she turned back with a look of inspiration, “We might be.” She said, “Good thinking young lady.” She turned back musing this potential title for the Army of 40, despite Dr. Kennedy’s numerous attempts it was obviously still not clear exactly what the Army of 40 do.
“Alright,” thought Leanna, a little taken back by how distant Morgan seemed in her final moments.
“I think she was high.” Zack muttered over her shoulder.
Leanna nodded slowly, “Me too oddly enough,”
“And now she knows where you live; time to change the locks again Lea.”
“I’ll call the locksmith,” she sighed, slowly closing the door with a more than confused look on her face.
While Morgan struggled to find a place to stay in the town Leanna came to terms with the decision at hand. On the one side it stood to offer potentially very good money and very good hours, in contrast not even the spokeswoman sent knew what the company or business labelled AO40 actually did. Were they at all trustable? Having managed to pull a few strings and find a hostel in town, using the flash lime green card to rent out a whole dormitory to herself so she’d not be disturbed by drunkards when she returned, Morgan donned her best clothes a couth club ensemble she believed she deserved on the lime green card after trekking all this way and struggling so much to convince this young woman to simply visit the estate.
Under a blank canvas of midnight darkness the streets lit up bright and flash in contrast to natures plans. The street was filled out with a few student groups and locals making their way from club to club on their night out while Morgan seemed to walk alone with her fingers clutching her purse at all times, even though she wasn’t inside the club as of yet. Feeling anxious even a few meters away when she saw a small queue begin to build up things only became worse when a knot built in her stomach as she had to stand in the queue and wait for admission into a dark room, the open windows of which were now pulsing with numerous colours. On entry she her fears were not so badly met, at this time of night there were only a handful of groups filling in the corners of the main room with a door opened at the back with a few heading down stairs to lower levels. There was no sign of Leanna, or her friend Zack, though the barmen had returned to serve drinks once again and gave her a long uncomforting look when he clocked her familiar sly looks. She turned away and looked around again, no Leanna, no waving overly apologetic young blonde women making themselves obvious to all around them, as Morgan picture she’d act in this sort of place. She turned to the barmen and ordered a simple drink, nothing too flash nor alcoholic, the sooner she could leave the better she would feel.
“Have you seen Leanna anywhere?” she asked him slyly.
“So you know her name now?” he wondered, “She’s downstairs warming up.”
“Warming up for what I wonder?”
He shrugged his brow and left her be to serve new customers, Morgan turned to the door ‘out of the saucepan and into the fire’ was the first phrase to come to mind as she stared into the cave where louder noise erupted and even smoke emitted like a dragons den.
A group of people settled together in the downstairs dance room, sitting at a table beside the DJ booth. Each to their own, every member of this group appeared to be from a different musical culture, dressed to match whatever they liked. Leanna and one other seemed to be the only ones settled in every day clothing, as soon as Morgan appeared she swallowed her final thoughts and approached her quickly with a firm look about her.
“Have you come to your decision?” she asked, “I’d rather not spend too much time here.”
“I’d like to meet your employer.” She agreed, “So long as Zack can come, as we discussed earlier.”
“Alright,” she agreed, “Do you have a paper and pen?”
Leanna stole for a moment the DJ’s clip board of requested songs and handed it to Morgan who jotted down the address of the estate and gave her the clip board back. She took another quick swill of her drink then set it on the table, “I’ll see you there then.” she said, leaving Leanna.
“You’re not staying the night?”
“This really is not my type of place.” She said, just as the music settled for a moment and blared out again with a new thrashing song.
“Oh, okay.” Leanna waved her off, though seemed a little disheartened.
“You said yes didn’t you?” Zack asked.
“Did you get an address?”
“Yes,” she showed him the scrap after ripping it off the list.
“Well,” he sighed, “Looks like we’ve got something to do tomorrow then.”
Morgan walked down the street feeling her heart rate ease the further she got from the club and closer to her car. She was so primed and ready she had her hand in her bag fingering the right keys and stroking the teeth of the blade ready to leave. Her phone shivered beside her hand and startled her; quickly she pulled it out and answered to Dr. Kennedy.
“Ms. Leblanc? Have you found the young lady?”
“Her name is Leanna,” Morgan explained, “She works in the club apparently.”
“What did she say?”
“She said she would, I gave her the address and I’m on my way back now.”
“Is there a way you might be able to get her here tomorrow?”
“Well, she didn’t say a date. Why?”
“I think I’ve just figured out where we need to take her.”
“Alright, where’s that?”
“Sicily?” she cried, “sir, I’ve had a hard time convincing her neither of us are insane. Now you want me to rush her along so we can take her to Sicily?”
“Do you think you can do it?”
“I.” she threw her free hand into the air and turned back on her heel to the club, the queue now twice its length and growing, “Is it this important?”
“I’d ideally like to get moving tomorrow. If you can get her here then I’ll give you a bonus if that helps.”
“A bonus?” she sighed, “Well I’ll see what I can do for you.”
“By the way Morgan, is there anything peculiar about her?”
“Peculiar how?” she asked.
“Anything specific, a characteristic or anything about her that stands out the most?”
“Nothing I’ve noticed.” She thought, “She’s overly apologetic though, but I think that might be because she’s worried about offending me with the offers we’ve given.”
“Alright, well as I said do your best to bring her back A.S.A.P and we can get a move on then.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Half an hour in a long queue with the smells of drunkards and fatty foods carried by the winds that also brought in a few light showers, Morgan naturally neared the end of her tether before she’d even reached the bouncers who let her in without trouble though made some foolish smart quip about her standing in the rain alone. With no delay she divided the crowds and slipped through any passes made by parting social circuits whom moved with some sort of natural rhythm in respects to their drinks and the bar. She ran down the stairs and caught a few men standing back with their drinks all captivated staring blankly ahead, then again this didn’t stand out as anything too peculiar in a place like this were any look given was by an expression distorted and numbed.
Morgan slid between two women at the bottom steps who were also watching, though with more envious looks, she then caught what they were watching. Leanna on the dance floor with her friends had parted way during her favourite songs, her dancing so perfect and unhindered it felt unreal. Morgan stood back for a moment and appraised her movements, slick and graceful, each move in perfect synchronies, right for the moment of the song. She looked so fluid, the way she moved and span and weaved like the twists of a river. It felt for one brief moment as Morgan broke the trance and started towards her that time itself was flexing in her favour.
Zack stopped Morgan as she went in closer and saw Leanna moving with her eyes closed in some sort of trance mode with earphones held tightly in place under her ribbons of hair. One of her friends turned from the bar as she span in a tight twirl, he held out one drink towards one of their friends. Morgan felt time almost literally begin to slow with the music once more, Leanna stopped suddenly and kicked the bottle form his hand, it flew through the air and she caught it again, before placing it on the table and the song came to an end.
“Thanks Lee,” he clapped, watching the drink foam up quickly.
“Leanna?” Morgan asked.
“Hi again,” she said, becoming suddenly flushed while she seemed perfectly fine while dancing, “Everything alright?” she quickly picked up her drink of water and sipped on it while pulling the earplugs away.
“You’re a very smooth dancer,” she commented, “How long did it take you to learn?”
She shrugged, “I’ve always been like it, always very sleek apparently.”
“Sleek?” she asked.
“Yeah, since I was little I’ve always danced like this.”
“Well, it’s very impressive.”
“Any reason you came back? I thought you said you didn’t like this place?”
“Yes, I just needed to ask whether or not it would be possible for you and your friend to return with me to the estate as fast as possible?”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“My employer is a busy man so it would seem. He just wants to meet you before he jets off around the world.”
“Right,” she thought, glancing back to her friends.
“You know, I’m still a little dubious about all of this.”
“I don’t blame you,” Morgan sighed, “Listen; I hate to confuse you so I’ll be blunt. I have no idea what he wants with you; he just targeted you. No specific reason as far as I know.” she sighed, falling back onto the coats piled up on a chair beside the others, who were all titillated by this odd twist to their night.
“So you don’t know what he wants either and you’re working for him?” Leanna asked, “You’ve no idea what he does either?”
She nodded slowly, “I just need this job right now, much like you need this job as well for your university funds.”
“So, like you said earlier. If we go to this ‘interview’ tomorrow I can ask him all the questions I need to directly.”
Morgan nodded, “I think I may want to ask a few more of my own as well.”
“And I have your word nothing will happen?”
“I promise you ms…?”
“Parish,” she explained, “My surnames Parish.”
“Leanna Parish, I am in the same boat as you are, we’ll go ask these questions together if you like? Either way I know what he’s offered so far, it is difficult to deny.”
“Money?” she asked.
“I think its more than money,” she said with a thoughtful look, “I just don’t quite know what.”
“Think he’s just an insane old man?” Zack asked, Leanna tilted her head and looked to Morgan for an opinion.
She took a deep breath, “No, I think he is a truthful and honest man. Just a little too slack when it comes to detail. I suppose either he doesn’t know or he just likes surprises.”
“That fills me with reassurance.” muttered Leanna.
“So will you come back earlier?”
“How about tomorrow morning rather than right now. I can sort things out then.”
“Tomorrow morning?” Morgan asked, “Very well. I will be out side your place at 10am, no later.”
“Alright,” Leanna watched her walk off, “Thanks again for this! I really appreciate it.”
“You think you should get some sleep?” asked one of her friends as she drank more water, she turned to the DJ box and gestured a new song, “I need my pay,” she said, swiftly sliding into the dance floor when a new fast paced song arrived.
Morgan turned back to watch her dance before leaving upstairs. Several eyes leered at her from the darkness behind Leanna while she danced fast and energised with spirit and substance in each move. Morgan looked at the eyes that lit bright in the darkness; they whispered something to one another then dissipated into the crowds, fading into the shadows leaving her unnerved.
-I have convinced her to leave tomorrow morning. I will bring her to you then.- Morgan text Dr. Kennedy, assuming he would be asleep by now under Pandora’s set strict regime designed to help keep him well rested and thinking in peak form.
She glanced over her shoulder and watched seven leave the club behind her, their eyes caught the light bright, their clothes were neon coloured with bright tattoos over their bare skin, their hairstyles too were absorb and drew attention from the crowds. They each looked to Morgan, then turned away and went their own direction before she carried on her own way and watched them disappear into the crowds.
The morning after Morgan’s car was settled outside the apartment and Leanna appeared at the front window, the first time the room had seem some light in weeks. She gave a quick wave and skipped through the room, careful not to fall or trip over anything as she made her way to the hall where Zack stood yawning and trying to keep himself awake. The two flatmates stood in their pyjama’s at the bottom of the steps ready to wave her off, “Give us a text if you get stuck.” said one.
“Or if they’re weird, then you might want the police over us.” thought the other.
“I’m loving the support here,” Leanna commented, whisking Zack out through the door while he folded up in his jacket and almost fell asleep while walking.
“God luck!” they both cried at the doorway when Leanna climbed in the front with Morgan and Zack sprawled out across the back seats quickly falling asleep.
“Will he be alright?” Morgan asked, noticing his pale and queasy looks in the mirror.
“He’ll be fine, he’s always like that.” She said, “How long will this take then?”
“About an hour to get there, traffic permitting. Is that alright by you?”
“That’ll be perfect, won’t take long to get back then if all else fails.”
Almost as soon as they started driving, Leanna attacked the radio and found a song she knew, suddenly perking up and taking out a note book and pen to scribble random idea’s down at her leisure while Zack lay fast asleep, rocking back and for on the passengers seats.
“So do you work with anyone else then? Or is just you and this Kennedy guy?” Leanna asked.
“At the moment he’s hired myself and three others, a nurse called Pandora, Charlotte Bryce the writer you can meet and also a man called Martian Rockwell.”
“What does he do?” she asked.
“I have no idea,” she said, tensing to the music, “He seems a nice enough man though, if a little rash.”
“So, where do you come from?”
“London, but to explain my accent I’m from France originally. I keep going back and forth visiting family over there.”
“Fun,” she said, “Must be nice to have family so far away. Free holidays and what not.”
Morgan smiled and nodded, “It is a nice place to recover at. Where are you from then?”
“Sheffield.” She explained, “Not a huge jump but still it’s nice to be away from home.”
A low tone hung sang from Morgan’s purse sitting by Leanna’s feet.
“Always at the wrong time.” She thought, going to reach for it.
Leanna picked p the purse and sat it on Morgan’s lap, when they came to a junction she quickly pulled the phone out and threw the purse to Leanna’s feet again. She groaned on sight of several cars lined up on their way to cut her off and quickly sped out handing the phone to Leanna.
She stumbled for a moment then answered the call, “Hello?” she asked.
“Yeah, hi…” said the unsure voice of a gruff male, “whose this?”
“My names Leanna,” she said, “Are you Martian?”
“Yeah, that’s me.” He said, “Where’s Morgan?”
“She’s driving at the moment–”
“Why is he calling now?” she groaned, “Always at the worse times I get phone calls.”
Leanna shrugged, “Where is he?” Morgan asked.
“She wants to know where you are?”
“Still in the alps.” he said, “Is everything alright?”
“Oh yes, we’re just heading for the estate now.”
“Ask him if he’s found his man.” Morgan cried out.
“She wants to know if –“
“Yeah I found him,” said Martian.
“He found him,” she answered, “What do you want me to say?”
“Ask when they’re coming back?”
“She wants to know when –“
Fiddling with the buttons Leanna managed to turn it onto loud speaker, “It’s a little more complex than that.”
“Why?” Morgan asked, turning down the music to hear him. Leanna looked over her shoulder and noticed Zack becoming restless, she turned the loudspeaker off and held the phone to Morgan’s ear while leaning against the glass watching the world outside go by.
“I was sort of drunk when I met him.” He said, “Where are you two now?”
“We’ve just leaving the city. What do you mean you were drunk?” she asked, while Leanna just eavesdropped to get a better understanding of what was happening.
“Well I met the guy, and his friends. But I was pissed. Sorry Morgan.”
“You will be,” she groaned, “I won’t have this job ruined by you; you know I could make a lot from it.”
“You’ve changed your tone; you were suspicious of this guy the other day.”
“Well that was then this is now.” She explained, “Just bring that guy back alright?”
“Yeah there’s something else I want to ask you.”
“Go on.” She asked.
“Mind hurrying it up? There are some police men following us and I don’t want to get arrested.” said Leanna, looking in the rear view mirror.
“Well, is there such a thing as the French yeti?” he asked.
“Not as far as I know,” she said with a confused overtone, “There’s the Himalayan yeti.”
“Yeah, but no French one?” he asked.
“No,” she said, “I’ve not heard of one anyway. Bare in mind I grew up in England.”
“Good point, you’re a fraud.” Laughed Martian, “Alright well I’m going to see what happened. Take care sexy,” he said, blowing a kiss down the phone and leaving her stuck for words.
“Are you alright?” asked Leanna, looking at Morgan’s face when she put the phone away..
“I hate men,” she groaned.
Within the hour they made it to the Kennedy complex and Zack was refreshed while Leanna decided to hide behind a pair of sunglasses and cool her head with some soothing tunes while Morgan was free to tune to radio into whatever she wanted. Leanna faded far from reality while she curled up in the seat staring out at fields and hillsides dappled with tall twisted oak trees, such a calming place with dappled light breaking through thinning grey clouds. The window was cold and speckled water ran streams down it as the car drove along. She followed a stream as it grew larger with each droplet it touched and left before ending its journey carried away by the winds blowing past the car. Soon enough they came to a stop at the gates where Morgan did down the window and called over the security guard.
“Back so soon?” he laughed approaching the gate.
“Morgan?” he smiled.
“Very good,” she said, “I can’t remember your name I’m afraid.”
“Felix,” he laughed, “Whose with you?”
“Leanna Parish and her friend Zack. I’ll test you on the names in a week.” She said with a sly smile as he returned to open the gates for them.
“A guardhouse?” Zack asked, “What is he, some kind of baron?”
“I have no idea,” sighed Morgan, “He sort of dabbles in the sciences apparently.”
Leanna gave a sharp jolt of the hand as a wave back to the security guard, “I’m sure,” she mumbled.
They drove along the gravel path to the car park in front of the estate where a few students were leaving their cars and heading for the main building.
“Right, come along, I’ll introduce you to him.” said Morgan.
Zack climbed out of the car and stepped into a cold wind that instantly woke him up and chased him under his hood. Morgan looked back at Leanna who stared at the buildings with an anxious look about her.
“Everything alright Ms. Parish?”
“I don’t know,” she thought.
“Just nerves.” She said, turning back to Morgan.
“I understand, do you want me to join you in meeting him? As I said I’ll back you up with your enquiry if you like.”
“It’s alright,” said Leanna, “I’ll be fine.”
“Okay,” Morgan took her purse and waited for Leanna to climb out before locking the car and leading the two towards the estate.
The door opened before they reached and there stood Charlotte and Pandora dressed as is if for the gym. Leanna and Zack stood by in the cold while Morgan greeted them both, “Where are you going?”
“Apparently, that building has a gym.” Said Charlotte, pointing to the third building with glass houses outside, “He said we’re free to use it when we want so we’re going to have a look about, would you like to join?”
“I might do.” Morgan said, “If you don’t mind.”
“The more the merrier,” said Pandora with a jolly laugh, “You can watch how unhealthy we both are, running and huffing on the tread mill after five minutes.”
“Give me three,” said Charlotte, “I told you I’m allergic to physical movement.”
Pandora laughed so boldly both Zack and Leanna seemed intimidated, even Morgan was a little set back until she noticed how casual Charlotte seemed, “I’ll meet you two there then, I’m just introducing Dr. Kennedy to the two I found for him.”
“Two?” Pandora asked, “Hello?”
“Leanna Parish, and Zack…”
“Miles,” he shrugged.
“Right, this is Charlotte Bryce and Pandora Phillepe.”
“Nice to meet you two,” said Charlotte, moving Pandora onwards, “Lets get moving, I’d rather be dyeing in the gym than freezing out here.”
Charlotte watched Pandora job along the road side towards the building, and watched and waited for her to realise no one was jogging beside her, both women broke down into laughter, at least they were getting on very well “Was that the Charlotte you were on about?” Leanna asked.
Morgan nodded, “The writer,”
“She lives here?” Zack asked.
“I don’t think so,” said Morgan, “She does the same as me.”
“You have a gym in these buildings?” Leanna asked, “And you get to use it for free?”
“What else do you have?”
“This place is very big, I’m wondering what it doesn’t have.” Morgan said going to approach the door just as Dr. Kennedy answered.
“I thought I heard your soft spoken voice ms. Leblanc.”
She laughed girlishly and backed away, bowing her head politely, “Dr. Here is Leanna Parish and her friend Zack Miles.”
“Perfect, Leanna, Zack, walk this way. This shouldn’t take too long.”
“My dear, would you mind calling Martian and finding out where he is?”
“Yes sir,” she agreed, pulling out her phone quick to bring up his number.
The door closed as Leanna entered the home holding Zack’s hand tightly, both instantly on edge by the amazing layout of the house, the foyer itself was about the same size as Leanna’s apartment, all so much to take in. Zack naturally was drawn to the scents in the kitchen and also the wide screen cinema sized television.
The phone connected, “Are you on your way back?” she asked instantly.
“I’ve only just met the guy.” he cried, “Soberly.”
She rolled her eyes and huddled together in the cold, “How is everything?”
“Why couldn’t you have done this job?” he wined.
“What’s wrong?” Morgan asked; walking down the drive towards her car noticing something tucked into the wheels.
“This guys a queer; I don’t know what to say.”
“Preferably don’t call him that first of all.” said Morgan, now at disbelief she’d have to teach this Neanderthal the ways of the twenty first century, “What’s wrong Martian?”
“I’m not – I’ve no idea how to handle this?”
“He’s human, talk to him.” She sneered.
“But what do I say?”
She stared to the heavens for strength, she wasn’t the type to cope with these simple social things, she was a trained lawyer in the end, with secretarial experience, “You’re right, I should handle this. You’re obviously socially backward. Put him on the phone.” She continued along, her tones sinking as she decided to steer Martians assignment in the right direction as well.
“Hello?” said the voice of a young man.
“Tomas Jackson?” she asked.
“Yeah, whose this?”
“My names Morgana Leblanc. I apologise for my colleague, he has no brains to speak of.”
Tom laughed, “It’s ok seriously, no harm done.”
“I’m glad you see it like that Mr Jackson. Mind if I talk to you for a moment in private possibly?” Morgan knelt down beside her car and found a small plastic ticket wedged in tight, with some force she managed to pull it out while still on the phone.
“Well. Right ok.” He said, as she noticed a few words engraved on the card beneath mud and dirt from the open road.
“How long is it until you return to Britain Mr. Jackson?” she asked, opening her purse to find a tissue to wipe the mud covering the words.
“Er, a week I think. Then my seasons done, why?”
“What have you got planned after that?” she asked, giving him full attention for one moment, “Out of curiosity.”
“Well, I was going to move flats; why?”
“Looking for a job by any chance?”
“Well, yeah.” He thought, “That too.”
“Hmm, a loafer I assume. Very well, so you know we have an opportunity for you.”
“Really?” he asked.
“The price is negotiable, you’ll be paid depending on the amount of work you do. But you’ll be paid well, health benefits are added of course and you’ll be able to travel all across the world. Sound interesting?”
“Yeah,” he thought, walking into the kitchen, “What kind of job is it?”
Morgan sniggered down the phone, “My dear friend, you’ll be quite impressed I assure you. Please tell Mr. Rockwell that you’ll take the job and he’ll give you our contact details for when you return to Britain.”
“Right,” he thought, “Don’t I need an interview or anything?”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine; provided Mr. Rockwell did find the right person.”
“Ok. Well thanks, Morgan.” He thought.
“Ok, I found him. Happy?” Martian asked.
“Ecstatic,” she said with no actual change in her tone, while she continued to clean the card as best she could with one hand, “Now come home.”
“Home, now?” he asked, “That’s not fair.”
“There’s a new young lady here, that’ll keep you happy right?” she asked, closing the conversation and turning back to the mansion with the card in one hand with the words ‘Neon’s gonna get you’ written on them in bright letters.
“What on earth is this I wonder?” she said to herself, making her way back to the stately home.