Monitoring: Reggie McIntyre [null]
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Friday, March 14th, 2014
21:30 Coordinated Universal Time
Friday, March 14th, 2014
Reggie returns, slowly, to the waking world with a dull but insistent throbbing pain in his head. His vision is blurry, but he can see that there’s someone in front of him, doing…something. There’s a sort of splashing sound there, too. A moment later, he realizes that he’s on the ground–in the kitchen, this is tile that he’s on. His vision clears up a little, and the scene resolves into the figure of a woman in a white suit, idly pouring milk on the floor. He can’t see very well from this position, but there are a few glasses on the counter that are filled, to varying levels, with more milk, and there’s an empty jug on the floor.
“What are you doing?” he says–or tries to say, because what comes out is muffled and meaningless noise. His mouth has been taped shut. He shifts, slips, and finds that his hands are tied behind his back. The woman looks at him briefly. “Just one moment. I’m almost finished,” but he’s only half-listening.
He thinks he has a concussion. Maybe not a big one, or maybe they’re just not as debilitating as he thought. “Concussion” would explain what’s going on, but how… He pauses to think over his present situation, and it becomes pretty clear after he tries to extrapolate from there. This is his apartment, so he hasn’t been kidnapped, but they hit him or something. He remembers them at the door, come to think of it, but not what happened after that.
Why is she spilling milk everywhere? What the hell is that about? And where’s his dog? Reggie wouldn’t be too surprised to see Oscar turn traitor for some bacon, but there’s food on the floor and still no dog.
Before he can make any progress on solving that puzzle, or figuring out why they’re here (which is probably the bigger issue), the woman drops the milk jug and walks over to him. She sits cross-legged in front of him, sliding her back down the wall as she does so. His worry must be evident on his face, or maybe she’s just making a reasonable guess about what his state of mind, because her first course of action is to reassure him.
“Relax. I am not going to kill you.” She snorts. “I need you to listen to what I say. Do you understand?” She looks at him intently, her gaze slowly transitioning to a glare until finally he nods. “Good,” she says.
The woman doesn’t say anything else after that. She settles into place on the floor, pressing her shoulders against the wall, and closes her eyes in what seems to be contentment. The apartment is mostly filled with silence, punctuated by the occasional noise from another room. Reggie begins to wonder if she’s fallen asleep, when she finally speaks again.
“It’s early,” she begins, eyes still closed, “and there’s no way to tell just yet what the consequences are going to be, but I think that it might be time to panic just a little. We need to be cautious.”
Silence again, as if she’s reluctant to talk, or just choosing her words carefully. Reggie shifts himself, as much as he’s able to move at all, to try to get a better look outside the kitchen. He can’t see the green-dressed man.
“Hannah is missing,” she says quietly. “We don’t know where she is. We were…very sure that she was going to talk with the Randi Foundation. Her power was limited, but it was doubtful that this would be a real impediment to her. If there was some way to lever her power, then of course she would find it, and the Randi Foundation was the best way to do that, but she isn’t around. We checked similar groups that she might have gone to, in case there was some minor factor that had thrown our projections off course. Talking with James Randi in person wasn’t an option, but we broke into his house last week and didn’t find anything. He doesn’t keep a journal, apparently.”
Was that why they had broken into his house? Were they looking for some trace of this ‘Hannah’ woman here? Reggie tries to say something, to explain that he doesn’t even know who they’re talking about, but the duct tape on his mouth prevents him from being comprehensible.
“We shouldn’t expect our projections to hold true indefinitely, of course, but barely anything has happened yet! We’re reasonably certain that Simon has gotten in touch with Austin, and Austin’s family is missing now, so the two of them were probably able to convince his family to hide somewhere. There’s nothing to suggest that Simon found out about Hannah before Austin, though, and she disappeared before Simon got to Louisiana.”
The names mean nothing to Reggie, but he tries to remember them anyway. If he really isn’t going to die, then this might be important to someone, whether these people that the woman is talking about are accomplices of hers, or targets, or… The police could start by looking up this “James Randi” character, whoever that is.
“I can’t say too much about what’s happening outside of the continent, but we haven’t seen anything on the news.” She sighs. “We have no way, as yet, to determine what is happening elsewhere or where this interference is coming from. The projections should have been mostly accurate till the end of this year, though, and it is worrisome that we are currently forced to make our decisions without accurate information. I wish that I knew what Simon had seen when he touched me. That might give us more information, enough to figure out what is going wrong.”
“Are you almost finished?” calls the man in green—Sinjoro Akvo, if that’s who the woman had been referring to earlier. He’s somewhere down the hall, probably in Reggie’s bedroom.
The woman doesn’t call back to him, which Akvo must interpret as an answer in itself because he doesn’t say anything. There is another noise from down the hall, as if something heavy is being moved around, and the woman continues.
“Michael, too, is gone, or rather his body has been left behind. We’ve visited and watched over his body several times at the hospital where it’s being kept. It’s too early to determine if anyone in this country’s political infrastructure has been compromised—we were expecting him to get into the White House, but at this point we don’t know if our projections are in error once again. If Michael isn’t in relative control of this country and preparing it for the transition period, then…” She worries at her lower lip. “Then, ah, how would Sinjoro Akvo put it? Hedge your bets.”
Unless she’s talking to a voice in her head, it’s the first time that the woman has directly referred to Reggie since she assured him that he wouldn’t be killed. He isn’t sure what that means—and her recent comments sound off the wall, so maybe she’s crazy and that’s all there is to it. The people that she’s talking about might still be in some sort of trouble, though.
“We’re going to check on Olivia and Jonathan after we leave here. Maybe, if we continue to watch them, we’ll find out what’s happened with the others—or, if they go off course, we’ll be able to find out what’s been interfering with our projections. So far, they’ve been performing as expected.”
There is another brief period of silence, and then the woman opens her eyes again. She leaves, and there is a murmured conversation in the back of the apartment. There is the sound of footsteps, but it is the man in green who appears. He crouches next to Reggie. In one of his gloves is a brush, wet with red paint.
“I know that this is a confusing time for you, but we need to talk with someone. So, pay attention. Or, well, I will have to kill you and look for someone else, and I really don’t want to do that. I have been making a lot of progress repainting the bedroom.”
The man then proceeds to repeat to Reggie much of what the milk woman had already said, to Reggie’s great confusion.
Are they trying to get me to memorize this? Why? Who are these people?
Akvo gestures with his paintbrush as he speaks, and Reggie catches a whiff of its scent. Thick, metallic, and bitter, it smells nothing like paint.
The question comes into his mind again. Where’s my dog? Where’s Oscar?
Reggie is trying to pay attention to Akvo’s words, but his eyes are drawn again to the brush, and the bits of so-called paint flecked on the man’s otherwise-immaculate gloves. Even the most careful of painters can’t help but get a little messy.
And then, when the man in green brings out a knife, Reggie grunts and thrashes, trying to worm away.
You said you weren’t going to kill me! is what he wants to scream, though really, it was only the woman who said that. In the end, he doesn’t scream anything.