Confusion Under a Building

You and Max stride along the east wall of the building's underground parking garage, scanning the nearly deserted structure for unwelcome surprises.

"Okay Max," you whisper, "I understand the importance of keeping the right and left hands separated. But for the sake of the Higher Directive, which obviously neither of us completely knows, you and I have at least got to get on the same page here."

Max hesitates for a fraction of a second with that familiar furrowed brow. "Laura, you know the confidentiality clause as well as I do."

"It might be the only thing I know for sure," you admit. "But sometimes circumstances require a… breach in protocol."

"Talk like that's liable to get you ejected."

"I trust you, Max."

You reach a locked door on the far wall of the garage and Max wordlessly begins priming an explosive squib for it. That bag of his contains everything. The break in conversation while he works is growing increasingly uncomfortable, though.

"Look," he says finally, "we've been through a lot together. I'm sorry I misled you, you deserve better than that. You've saved my skin more times than I care to count, and today I finally got a chance to return the favor, if only in part. Now my only remaining official mission is simple: get you the hell out of here in one piece."

"And yet you're helping me get back in the building?" you prod.

"You said the iPod was real."

"I've seen it."

"You think you've seen it."

"Apparently that's enough for you."

"The possibility's worth investigating, for your sake, that's all," retorts Max. With a punch of the detonator, the rusty old door flies open. Inside is a maintenance stairwell and a fluorescent lamp, flickering with a doleful, uninviting hum. Max eyes the first steps with apprehension. "Besides, this building's mostly empty, right?"

"Not exactly. As a matter of fact, I bumped into our good friend Hirako Shiguro herself, less than an hour ago."

Max goes white. "H-here?" he stammers.

"On the 25th floor. Doesn't it make sense? If Harris was so important, it only figures he'd be here because of her. Turns out, he found me first. But nobody, least of all him, knew I was coming here."

"Nobody but me."

"Well Max, you are the best."

"So the Shiguro our guys are tracking in Osaka is a decoy?"

"Bingo. And all this time you thought I was the distraction…"

"What a mess."

"I'm having a few words with HQ when we get back. How you doing on ammo?"

"I got plenty."

You motion toward the open door. "After you."

The End

17 comments about this story Feed