Chapter III: The Handler
The bell rang, marking the commencement of third period. That was my lunch period. Meanwhile, those two cheaters, involuntarily giving me their answers, were off to another class.
My Handler was there, at the appointed place, here at the appointed time. Below the brim of his hat, he wore black shades. He looked like a pedophile hunting adolescent minors. I looked around, and saw no one. I entered the windowless alley, watching him in the shadows.
"Kipp," he said in greeting.
I saluted, straight-backed, like I'm trained to do.
"Have you inspected them, agent?"
"Partially, sir!" I yelled needlessly. "I believe I have lunch with the remainder now, sir!"
"No chance to encounter her prior to my visit?" he sneered. His skin was as pale as a lab report. His eyebrows were like signatures etched messily above ink pot eyes.
"Do you estimate that they pose a significant threat?"
"They seem to know nothing, sir! Their power seems dismal, sir!"
"Can you get closer to them, agent?"
"Not the boy, sir!"
"Why is that?"
"Because I want to fuck him up the ass, sir!"
He frowned at me, as if he thought I dared humour at a time like this. All I had given him was my conditioned honesty. "And the girls?"
"One thinks I'm a little shit, sir!" I had failed. I knew it. I wished I could read his mind, at least. But it was shielded from me. Handlers have willpower. They really do.
"And the other?"
"The one I share lunch with, sir. Never met her."
"Don't be so careless with her. Get close to her, like you did with the Watcher we had to dismiss. Find out what makes her tick, and tick along with it. Become the girl's new best friend. Do I make myself clear?"
"Y-y-yes," I stuttered, "y-yes, sir!"
"You are dismissed, agent."
He closed his eyes, and I thought he would fade away, into the shadow. Quickly I asked, "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"Right!" he said, smiling broadly for the first time. "I forgot to let you live!"
The skin on my nose wrinkled up into a fearful grimace. He will, won't he? Won't he let me live?
He tossed three white pills from his pocket to the pavement at my feet. Three days, I realized. Three days to make that bitch closer than my fuckin' teddy bear. Then he'll be back. I bent down to pick them up. When I looked up, he was nowhere to be seen. A chill ran down my spine.