It was always difficult to stand and just wait. Having no power over things that have to be done. Finally, I so smoke coming out of the warehouse and then an explosion. I was close enough to feel the heat of the shockwave but not enough to hear anything else than the sound of fire expanding rapidly to others roofs. The night had been lit and now the city presented, once again, the most awful of its faces. Then, I heard rapid steps coming towards me and I pulled my gun instinctively, in case it wasn’t the person I was waiting for. But it was. And she hopped into the boat and I got it going. Soon, the fire was just one of the many parts that gave shape to the landscape of the city at night.
The next day, I woke up with a piercing pain in my back. The most possible reason was some fall or a sudden movement I had already forgotten I had done. I took one of those pills they recommended for these cases and went on to the kitchen. There, I poured some cereal and soy milk into a bowl and turned on the TV. The morning news was on and the anchor was talking about the fire: it had engulfed other three warehouses and was still ongoing. The owners, big companies, feared millions of dollars would be lost because of the fire but I knew that wasn’t really their concern. The reason we had been there was enough for any person to take a grenade and blow up that whole district off the map. So who cared about “millions of dollars”?
The next piece of information was the fact that a new doll was causing seizures on young children. But I wasn’t interested in that, so I changed the channel and finished my breakfast watching a show about food in Southeast Asia. That meant that by the time I had finished my bowl of food, I wasn’t satisfied and I wanted to have some of those delicious dishes of food in front of me. I had always wanted to travel far and do just that, taste the foods and also enjoy the sceneries and tan my skin and swim and walk and sleep on a hammock by the most beautiful ocean ever. The saddest part of this dream was that I could actually afford it but didn’t have the time or even the permission to do something like that. Duty came first.
I showered, put on some casual clothes and then drove to a rundown building downtown. Beneath it were the offices of the organization I worked for. We were a response team that acted faster than any other force in the world because we didn’t asked permission and we avoided laws by strangely abiding to them as there were offices of the organization in every single corner of the world. So we saved people’s asses from being killed or worse and no one really knew anything about it. Of course, the amount of secrecy was very high and only certain kind of people could work like that, lying and withstanding the pressure. But when you got used to it, it was a fine and easy enough job, after you learned how to use your skills.
When I got there I got to the place where we held our talks and discovered that everyone in the office, about thirty-five people, were all looking at the news on a big screen. They were standing there like petrified, horrified faces and even crying a bit. To my surprise, they were actually looking at the news of the dolls that I had ignored back home. There were mothers protesting outside a building and children in hospitals and it was all very confusing. When the video ended, the oldest person in the room stood up and asked them all to calm down before moving on. There were enough seats for everyone but I decided to stay up, leaning against the back wall.
The old woman was our boss and the only one that responded to an even higher voice, which none of us had ever seen or heard. This kind of reunion was done every single morning, in order for the team to know what was the next assignment. As usual, she explained the video. This time, apparently, someone had manipulated dolls in order to use children for their own advantage. The seizures only came after the child had committed something strange like stealing random objects or doing awful things to their pets or even to themselves. The information was even more grim than usual. Some of the people there were crying in silence and it was a relief for them when the boss decided to let them all go to their desks and offices. Only six of us stayed behind. We took seats in the front and listened, as the crystal walls of the room became opaque.
The briefing had begun. The boss showed us a series of videos and images, taken from archives around the globe. It was possible that a man that had escaped a prison in Armenia several years ago, was now collaborating with the company that made the dolls in order to use children as some sort of sleeper agents. The idea, apparently, was that they could be use to retrieve information on very important people without ever being noticed. The children that were now in hospitals had parents in very high ranking positions and it was possible that the process of hypnosis, or whatever the doll did, had gone terribly wrong and now the kids had to pay for the stupidity of the ones seeking to use them.
Peter and John were assigned to one of the families that had their daughter in the hospital. They had to talk to them, pretending to be from a support group, and that way get and idea of what important information they were holding. Maria and Marcus were tasked to track down the man that had fled prison and, finally, Lisa and me ha to go to the company and check out if they were really in alliance with someone or if they had been used for someone else’s purposes. The last thing our boss said was that a doll had been recovered and they were running all kinds of tests in order to understand why al of those children had to be hospitalized.
Lisa and I frequently worked together. She had been the one to put the bomb in the warehouse and had a certain inclination towards violence. She could restrain herself from doing any physical damage but I know she felt a certain amount of pleasure when kicking and breaking and looking at blood. Sometimes, she scared me but I know she was there for good reasons, as was I.
We decided to go to the office building of the doll company first, at night. The idea was to get information on paper or digitally hidden, in order to relate one part of the case to the other. I told Lisa she would be watching my back, as I looked for the files. Entering the building was easy and it seemed we had all the time in the world but someone else was there and he or she didn’t work there either. I told Lisa to hold her punches, and wait for this character to do something. What he did was beyond extreme: he just pulled a little water gun and shot everywhere and we go to the elevator just in time, before he threw a lighter at it and the gasoline ignited.
Our next move, knowing something big had been destroyed, was to visit the mansion of the president of the company. He was also its owner and had inherited it from his father. The mansion was so exaggerated in its details; it was easy to see who really pulled the strings in the relationship. The man’s second wife was a very enhanced woman, in the sense that her many medical procedures were obvious. We hid in the dark for hours before we entered the house. But there was nothing on the studio, his computer or any of the man’s belongings.
The wife, however, was still awake when we attempted to leave. And I say that because she caught us and stopped us using a taser gun. When I woke up, I thought she was just a scared housewife that had found mysterious people in her house, but then I realized she was speaking in some foreign language and she had no signs of terror or even surprise on her modified face.
She got closer to Lisa first, and burnt her with a cigarette she was smoking, right on her face. Then, she walked towards me but it was in that moment the man we had seen in the briefing entered the room: he may have been in an Armenian prison, but now that we saw him groomed, wearing a bathrobe, we realized he was practically a swimsuit model. The woman went to him and kissed and I decided to seize the moment.
I stood up as fast as I could and then attempted to pull out my gun. But it wasn’t there. But my smoke spheres were, so I threw those at them. I helped Lisa and, just in time, Maria and Marcus appeared out of nowhere and gunned down the couple. It was a mess when the smoke cleared.
The owner of the house had been killed in his sleep, probably by the women or maybe both. They planned to escape as they had a lot of baggage in a car outside. But now that they were dead, it wasn’t easy to understand the reason to using the children. It was worst when we were notified one of them had died that night, as we did nothing really useful to help them. Working at the margins was always like this, frustrating, and not rewarding in the least. But that’s my job, I guess.