Adrian swept out of the inconspicuous concrete building and into the busy street. No one would ever guess that this building housed a branch of the FBI that the government would never admit existed. A branch that hired trained killers to eliminate threats without gaining the public’s attention. Adrian knew another assassin would be sent to kill Eugene Banks. Maybe they already had. He didn’t know but the fact remained that he had shot someone in his botched attempt. The question was: Who? The thoughts and question swirled around in his head.
A cold wind heralding the coming winter gusted through the city. Adrian shrugged on his black jacket as he headed off down the crowded sidewalk. Within a few minutes, he found himself standing outside of the law firm, just as he had a few hours ago. The building showed no visible signs of what had happened. It was not dark or empty or swarming with police officers. A shiver that had nothing to do with the weather shot down his spine. Adrian glanced over his shoulder. There was no one there but the feeling of being watched still lingered. He went inside.
The lobby was all marble and chrome, meant to look progressive, futuristic, competent. People in business suits milled around carrying suitcases or stacks of paperwork. They probably hadn’t even heard about the attempt on Eugene Banks’ life yet. A middle-aged woman manned the large marble desk at the center of the room. Her graying hair was pinned back and her black business jacket and shirt hung from her skeletal frame in perfectly straight lines. Adrian noticed that everything on her desk was organized and neat.
“Excuse me,” Adrian started, “I need to see Eugene Banks.”
The woman looked up from her paperwork, glaring through her horn-rimmed glasses. She pursed her lips in disapproval as she glanced at the man before her. Clearly, the jeans, t-shirt and messy dark hair were not up to her standards of tidiness.
“He’s not in,” she told him through her nose.
“Would it be possible for me to wait for him in his office? It’s extremely important.”
The woman let out an enormous sigh and said, “Twelfth floor, last office on the right. He should be back soon. And don’t take all day. Mr. Banks is a very busy man.” She carelessly scribbled a visitor’s pass and pushed it across the counter at Adrian.
He jumped into an elevator already occupied by three average looking lawyer-type people in suits. One woman gave him a strange look when he pressed the button for the twelfth floor but said nothing. None of them appeared to be carrying a concealed weapon, Adrian noticed as he inventoried them. The twelfth floor seemed completely deserted. The gray speckled carpets and the soft white walls were the only ones to witness his arrival. The doors to all the offices stood wide open but an eerie silence filled the hall. With a hand on his gun, Adrian cautiously made his way to the last office on the right. The plain wooden door to Eugene Banks’ office was closed. He tried the knob and found it to be unlocked.
In one swift movement, Adrian kicked the door in and leapt into the room, gun drawn, expecting anything. But there was nothing there. No sign of life stirred in the plain little office. Papers were piled neatly on the desk, the computer was turned off, the door behind the desk was closed and undamaged. A pair of filing cabinets stood at attention in the corner but they offered no explanation for what he was seeing.
The room looked as though Eugene Banks really had just gone to lunch. There was no indication that an assassination attempt had taken place in this room only a few hours ago. Adrian jammed his gun in its holster and began to search the room. He wasn’t sure what he would find but there had to be some blood, a bullet casing, anything that proved that he was here earlier today. He looked under the desk, overturned the chairs and checked the other door but the more he searched the more frantic he became as his efforts turned up nothing. In frustration, he kicked Eugene Banks’ desk hard enough to cause a little plant on the corner to fall off. He strode over to the window and glared down on the city below.
“You won’t find anything,” a musical voice chimed behind him. Almost on instinct, he spun around, gun drawn and pointed right at the chest of a girl leaning in the doorway.
“Take an easy. I won’t hurt you,” she said with a smile. Adrian eyed her carefully. She had shoulder length ink black hair and ice blue eyes that seemed to laugh at him. She remained resting on the doorframe, arms crossed over her white blouse. She cast small but athletic figure. She was quite pretty and, under different circumstances, Adrian would have found her attractive but his attention was focused on Eugene Banks. The girl cocked her head to the side, waiting. He didn’t know if he could trust her but she seemed to have some kind of information. He decided to chance it and put his gun away.
“Who are you? How do you know I won’t find anything?” he asked.
“My name is Belle. This situation has already been dealt with by . . . an organization. They removed all the evidence,” she said. He waited for her to offer more information but she didn’t oblige.
“What organization?” he demanded, “Are you FBI?”
She considered the question for a moment before answering. “We do work for the government but we’re not technically FBI. Unfortunately, Mr. Nox, that’s all I can tell you. I’m not allowed to divulge the nature or even the name of this organization.”
“What do you mean you can’t divulge the nature of this organization? What kind of-“
“I’m under a very binding oath, Mr. Nox. I can’t tell you anymore about the people I work for so I suggest you change the topic.” There was a note of authority in her voice that caused him to drop the subject although he would have preferred to pursue it.
“Alright,” he said, “How do you know who I am?”
“I know a lot of things about you. Your name is Adrian Nox. You’re 23 years old. You were born in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, where your parents and two younger sisters still live. You have a scar on your right knee from falling out of a tree when you were ten. You were selected and trained to be an FBI assassin, which you’ve been doing for the past three years. How am I doing so far?”
“But why? Why do you know all this?”
“It’s my job,” she replied tersely.
“The job you can’t talk about?” He asked. She nodded. He began to pace the room, keeping a wary eye on the stranger. “So, if it’s your job to know about me, then that must mean that this organization told you to get this information.”
Belle considered for a moment whether or not she could answer and finally responded with a nod.
“But you can’t tell me why?”
She paused for a moment. “Let me put it this way, we’re recruiting.”
“You’re recruiting me? That’s why you’re here? What, exactly, are you recruiting me for?”
“We’re offering you a job that is similar in nature to the one you currently have,” she said cryptically.
“How does this all tie in with Eugene Banks? Does he work for you too?”
Belle seemed to choose her words carefully. “No. I’m not really allowed to speak about this case. But I can tell you one thing. You are aware, of course, that the real Eugene Banks is recently dead and that you seemed to kill someone in this room.”
“I don’t understand.” The two facts she had asserted were definitely related but not in any way that he could discern.
“Well, then who did you shoot?” She pressed. There was a sense of urgency that brewing in her voice and in her eyes. His frustration mounted as he realized how important this was.
“I don’t know! That’s why I’m here. I thought this place would have some answers. What happened this morning?”
“I can’t tell you that. Listen. The man you shot this morning is still alive and he’s looking for you. Be careful. That’s all I can tell you. In fact, I’ve already told you too much. Take this,” she handed him a slip of paper with a phone number scribbled on it, “If you wish to consider our employment opportunity, call us.”
She turned to leave but he called out to her, “Wait! I still don’t understand. Do you know who he is? The man I shot?”
“No, Adrian,” she said, “I knowwhathe is.”
She disappeared into the hall but when Adrian ran out after her, she had vanished. He checked all of the offices on the floor but she there was no trace of her.