by: CJ Fogarty
I suppose I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was in that big room. I mean, cataclysms, wars, genocides, these are all basic scenes in the run of human civilization. Guardians know and accept this better than anyone, and Duke and I ought to be used to it, only, well, there really is no getting used to the sight of mass murder and chaos. Not while you remain human, or, in our case, hope we retain that aspect of existence.
Stepping into the grandmaster’s office, the old wood still varnished. I always remembered thinking that the first grandmaster based in St. Helena, Giancarlo Roselli, christened the new digs by proclaiming, “neither a splinter nor speck of dust shall appear in this office so long as it is occupied by the head of this Order!” I should explain that Giancarlo was both an eccentric and a neat-freak, but idiosyncrasies aside, he led this Order through two world wars and into the Cold War. Brave, determined sonofabitch.
As she takes her seat, she douses her only half-done cigarette in a silver ash tray, a look half of dismay, half of annoyance crossing her complexion.
“Listen, Miri”, I begin, “I,um, would like to apologize for my behavior back there”.
Silent, but listening, she takes another cigarette from her pack, and flips open a lighter which, instead of a flame, zaps a little flash of red light, and it’s lit. Curious little thing.
“I, um, usually don’t get all that excited”, I continue, apologetically, folding my arms, “but, I, well, simply had no idea that something that…terrible…had occurred.”
“I second that opinion”, Rich chimes in, his arms equally folded, “Duke really had no idea what had happened, and, the exact details appear to escape even me. I only knew what I did because of talk and rumors about London. And, Duke tends to shout more than listen.”
That last comment was followed by a sly, but warm smile, and I fully understood that Rich was only correctly guessing one of my many faults.
“He right, you know”, I reply more lightly, gesturing to Rich with my thumb.
Miri exhales from her cigarette, and my eyes are drawn to the smoke as it rises above us, and appears to condense and float directly into the turning ceiling fan above us. I become aware of red blades at the tip of each fin. I wonder what they do?
Miri leans over the desk and replies evenly, “Okay, it appears to two will need a little insight, then. But, before I do that, I need some questions answered first. Understand?”
Rich and I glance at one another, nodding, and then do the same to the grandmaster.
Blowing out again, she requests, “tell me the truth, gentlemen. How old are you? How long have you been apart of the Order of Godseye? And are you operating Guardians or not? Also, why are the myths of the Great Guardians attributed to you two?”
I turn to Rich, my eyes silently saying, “Well, she wants the truth”.
His shrug replies to me, “Well, then tell her?”
I remove my hat, which I hadn’t noticed I’d been wearing the entire time, and rotate the brim in my hands.
“The truth’ll be a little….difficult….to accept, boss. Particularly for someone like you”.
I say this matter-of-factly, as I take one of the two, green-cushioned chairs in from of me, Rich doing the same.
“I fully recognize that all accounts are subject to criticism, verbally or silently, but I also accept that the truth can be hard to swallow even when it’s right in front of you. Therefore, I shall listen intently to what you two have to say, analyze the objectivity of your accounts, and accept whatever I comprehend rationally. That’s fair, right?”
“Right”, Rich and I proclaim.
“Why don’t we start at the beginning then”, she inquires.
Rich and I immediately chuckle at this question, as it requires a few millennia-worth of telling, much of which we can’t remember right off the bat.
“That, would take more time than any of us have”, Rich responds.
“Okay”, Miri replies, as even as before, yet with increasing hints of sarcasm, “clearly you two have such voluminous stories, we should focus on the basics. Let me rephrase that question a tiny bit: who are you, and, what makes you two so invaluable to our Order?”
At first I thought she was being prudish, but then again, it makes sense the way she’s treating us. She and apparently much of the rest of the Order don’t know who we really are anymore. In fact, I’m not quite sure we known who we are sometimes.
“Very well”, I begin, “I’m just gonna come out and say that everything you’ve heard about us is totally and utterly true. We are the Great Guardians and more importantly, we founded this Order in the year 1095 and then reformed it as the modern Order of Godeseye in 1490. Our lifespans stretch for several millennia, and for all that time, we have dedicated ourselves to trying to protect humanity and steer on a course to better itself and become more courageous and intelligent. The Order was founded to further the goal of removing threats from the human experience that are often times above what most of them are able or prepared to deal with, be they elements of nature, darkness and evil, or of human fallibility and corruption.”
“Hm”, is her only respond as she puffs at her cigarette again, only to find that it has burned out. She rather angrily douses it in the ash tray, and I am unsure whether she is distressed at my response or the fact that her cigarettes don’t burn all that long.
Miri’s eyes then float over to Rich, almost as if to expect a different, perhaps clearer response (I had heard their dialogue on the plane after all). She finds no such thing, and both our eyes are fixed on the grandmaster, totally serious, and waiting for a response.
With a little inflection, she responds, “Where is your proof?”
“Well, as far as material, rational evidence goes”, Rich answers, “we have little to none.”
“And how can two human beings survive over a millennia, then?”
“Well”, I continue, “as I explained in the pub, we age a significantly slower rates than normal humans do.”
“Even so”, she fires back, “the mental of such an experience would be far too much for one’s brain to handle. If not dead, you two would surely be rendered insane.”
“Who says we haven’t been”, Rich replies with a shrug.
“Why would you want to live for that long?”
“Who says we do”, I reply, becoming very serious.
“But the fact remains that unless you two have becoming something other than human, you would need some way in order to process all that experience, especially if, let’s just say, the horrors you’ve faced are actually accurate as well.”
“Well, that’s true”, I respond, “which is why, like we’ve said, we go to sleep now and again.”
“And how exactly is this done?”
“We die”, both of us proclaim
“Always in battle….”, Rich says
“And usually at pivotal dates in history…”, I continue
“476, the year the Western Roman Empire fell”, Rich says
“1453, the fall of Constantinople”, I continue
“the turn of the 18th century….”
“…and the 19th century…”
“…and the twentieth and the twenty-first”, Rich concludes.
“We then remain asleep, or, in a period of stasis if you will, for a certain period of time before being woken up again”, I state.
“How do you know when you’ll be, um, dying”, Miri asks, sounding out her words with doubt, “and waking again?”
“We don’t!”, the both of us reply.
“I see”, Miri replies. She pauses for a long moment.
“So”, she continues finally, “you say that the Order was founded to further the progress of humanity, but also to combat evil. Can you two specify what that means?”
At this, I let out an exasperated breath, “Well, um, I mean, it’s sort of hard to explain that.”
“You must understand, Miri”, Rich adds, “such factors are usually common knowledge among Guardians and the leaders of the Order. But, if I may, I will try and explain.”
Then, breathing in, adopting the presence of an orator, a position which makes him feel important,”The human struggle is one not shared solely with the faults of powerful humans nor the burdens of civilization. Neither is this world solely occupied by the flora and fauna that have been recorded and explained by our understanding. There are forces that exist in this world beyond our control and understanding. In most cases, such forces are sources of fear, which is one of the key driving forces in both government policy as well as personal power. It is this fear that we have tried to dispel. The fear of evil, you understand. The fear of standing up to it, the refusal to accept it, and more importantly, the ability to stop believing in it. You see, that is key, Miri, each person’s choice to believe in what they will, that is the most virtuous aspect of human nature, and also, the most destructive.”
Listening intently, yet, I still can tell she’s not quite buying it, I chime in, “You see, Miri, there was a time in the world when natural forces were attributed to spiritual, paranormal causes. Storms and earthquakes shaking cities with the power of angry gods, loved ones mysterious disappearing in the night as victims of vampires and werewolves or zombies, witches, demons, curses, magic and spirits. All of these were once accepted as truths about human life. Even more theses days it seems, this is no longer the case for the majority of people.”
Leaning over the table, the both of us look Miri in each eye, and it seemed as though she were looking equally at both of us.
“You see Miri…”, Rich begins.
“…all what turns into mythology and legend”, I follow
“Was once real and physical…”
“….And existed in this world”
“as beings and forces that inspire fear…”
Before we can speak more, Miri gestures with both her hands to stop us, then, “vampires, werewolves, zombies and magic, are all actually real, is that what you’re saying? And, somehow, you two have spent thousands of years fighting paranormal beings like that, and the Order is your instrument of a massive, centuries-long coverup?”
The incredulity in her voice is apparent. Yet, she is not outright accusatory or even amused, and I guess that means that how serious we sound says much.
“Okay”, she continues, “I asked for the truth out of you two. And I will not be so forthcoming as to automatically assume that what you’re saying is not true. In my position I obviously must be open to a number of….opinions, despite my personal assumptions. Anyway”, she then takes out another cigarette, lights it, then, “what do you boys want to know?”
“Wait”, I interrupt, “so you don’t believe us, is that what I’m hearing?”
“Well, it’s not like that really matters at this point”, Rich responds
“And you can’t really expect me to believe all this”, Miri adds, “I’m sorry, but, it just doesn’t seem provable in any way….that I can think of at least.”
I pause for a moment and think about it.
“She’s right”, I state silently, “and I suppose there’s other thing we’ve gotta sort out now.”
Settled, I respond with, “okay then. Now, will you please explain to us what..cataclysm..occurred in the past fifty years and what it has to do with your assignment, our re-admittance into the Order, and old Johnny boy.”
“Well, that’s a lot of history to tell”, Miri answers with weight, “and I promise you that, if you ask anyone. Not just anyone over thirty, but I mean anyone who isn’t a little kid, they can give you at least one family member they’ve lost.”
“Jesus”, Rich and I whisper. It’s hearing shit like that that sends a chill up my back. But I’ve just gotta realize that I can’t blame myself. Come on, Duke, don’t blame yourself!
“Just, tell us what’s happened, please”, Rich asks.
Miri shifts a little, looking downward and turning a pencil around in her fingers. Despite her cool facade, I think she’s getting uncomfortable. But then, as if this were the one moment of weakness she permits herself, she exhaled, straightened up, and her grey eyes went back to us.
From her wrist, she removed her holowatch, and laid it flat on the desk in front of us. With a few swipes on its touchscreen, a holographic projection was revealed in front of us. Then, as if detecting the projection, the lights in the room immediately darkened.
If not for the normalcy of Miri’s movements, the hologram would be quite remarkable. It projected a flat screen, one that was solid yet opaque, all without the need of a flat surface. This is something that I’d maybe envisioned but never thought about seeing, but then again, over a century earlier, I remember not seeing the telephone coming at all. That slightly surreal feeling that what you never thought could be created is suddenly here before you, is a shocking yet awe-inspiring experience sometimes only found in the smallest of new inventions.
But, I digress. On the screen, the image of the newspaper article we had seen in the last room was shown, the bolded phrase, “The President has Been Shot”, staring blatantly at us.
“This event”, Miri begins, “coincides ever so ironically, with this one.”
A swipe of her holowatch shifts to another article, and if the first one was a statement of turmoil and destruction, this one was of a hopeful peace, that has apparently not lasted. From a newspaper titled the Atlantic Daily and dated March 23, 2061, the picture below depicts several people, world leader apparently, all with joyous smiles on their faces and with hands joined. Four people take up the center, and according to the caption, the aged man in the red turban and long, grey beard is Mahmoud al-Adani, President of the Republic of Iran, joining hands with a middle-aged woman with long grayish-black hair and small yet soft eyes. The caption above says that she is Natasha Borodonov, Leader of the Nationalist Confederation of Russia. To her right, clasping her hand in a move I thought I’d never see in generations, was a pretty black woman in a blue suit introduced as Miranda M. Wilson, President of the United States. Clasping her right hand is the biggest shocker of all, and it makes me turn to Rich just to verify its credibility. With wide eyes, Rich smiles as both of us are struck with a slightly comical familiarity. Smiling next to the President of the United States is a short Asian man, with a recognizable pudgy face and beady eyes but more wrinkles than we remember: Kim Jong-un, Leader of the Federation of North Korea. The heading of the article itself reads:
ROME INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT CONFIRMS THE FINAL DISABLEMENT OF NUKES. THE WORLD ENTERS A NEW ERA OF PEACE
“By God”, I whisper, “so just what happened?”
I turn to Rich for explanation, to which he replies, “as far as there being a massive worldwide conflict, I’ve no other information as to the whys, whos, or hows.”
“I’ll give you boys the short version of it”, Miri says, “it goes like this, the so-called ‘Nuclear Club’ nations banded together in order to finally disarm all of the world’s nuclear weapons. By 2061, with several changes in government in several nations like Iran, Russia, and North Korea, this was finally made possible.”
“And just how, Miri”, Rich replies in disbelief, “did the world’s leaders just decide to do this? It must have taken a monumental change of heart for North Korea, Russia, and the U.S. to do this.”
“Yes”, Miri responded, “it did”, and with another swipe, a Wikipedia article opens up. The picture is a graphic of a red planet with a great mushroom cloud spouting near the top of it. The article reads:
MARS NUCLEAR TRAGEDY OF 2051
“The picture you see isn’t a graphic you two, but rather satellite footage.”, Miri states with greater weight, ”No one knew exactly what would happen if several nuclear bombs were detonated in the upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere, but it was catastrophic overall.”
“Why”, is all I can manage to say.
“You mean you’re asking for some background”, Miri replies evenly, “Well, beginning teen years earlier, the world started entering a period of strain as population rose past eight billion. At the same time, however, we had developed the technology to make space travel more efficient and affordable with solar-powered spacecraft. In what became known as “The Second Space Race”, or, “The Grab for Mars”, the populous and wealthy nations all invested tons of money and technology in colonizing both the moon and Mars. The Red Planet turned out to be a literal gold mine as it was rich in iron, nickel, and rare earth elements used in creating advanced technology. In particular was a high stock of niobium.”
She pauses as though we are supposed to know what that is, which we either don’t know or forgot.
“Niobium is used in making superconductors? Pivotal in making much of the tech we now rely on from plasma rifles to androids?”, she continues with a, ‘why don’t you know this’ inflection.
I simply shrug while Rich postulates, “so, with several nations trying to grab for Mars, natural conflicts arose over land and resources.”
“That’s right, brother”, a loud voice suddenly resonates from behind us, “cuz when everyone has a slice of the pie, they always wanna make it bigger.”
Behind us suddenly appears a big, tall black man with a black, Spartan beard. We are taken aback just a little because he looks so much like John, with the sharp jawline and big hands, only, this man is far bigger, with a more supple face and less of a hunch. Additionally, where John’s hair had remained bare for much of his life, Carson’s hair is quite long, the greying-black strands all bound into a ponytail, uncharacteristic of what I remember as the typical appearance of a black man.
“Oh, my apologies”, the man replies with John’s characteristic Georgian accent but significantly lower-tone and less raspy, “Carson Morris, Director of Guardian Headquarters- St. Helena. And you two must be the Great Guardians.”
We both get up and offer Carson our hands. As he goes to shake mine, his right hand clasps mine like a steel trap with unnatural strength. I am left trying to pump circulation back into my hand after that hella-hard handshake, and I notice that Rich is doing the same.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you boys. John Morris was my father and-, oh, sorry boys. I sometimes don’t realize when I’ve shaken folks’ hands too hard. You see, this arm right here’s cybernetic and, uh, well, the nerves don’t connect too fine sometimes, so I don’t know how hard I’m squeezin’.”
He finishes his sentence with a low, hearty laugh, which, we noticed, was accompanied by a deadset look from Miri.
Looking up to her, Carson apologizes, “Sorry, Miri. Didn’t mean to interrupt you. But, I heard the commotion from the main room, and I just had to meet ‘em. Also, do you think you could send ‘em my way? After you’re done of course.”
Miri, almost tiredly, waves in agreement. Carson thanks her warmly and with that, his presence departs the room.
“So, yeah, that’s Carson”, Miri says, “ I was going to have you meet him anyway. He likes to butt into people’s conversations unannounced.”
“Like John”, Rich and I both proclaim with grins.
With a smile of her own that quickly devolved into her stern face again, Miri continues with a lighter tone, “Anyway, several conflicts broke out and, eventually, nuclear weapons came into play. To be honest, nobody really knows how they got up there, but from what we gathered, they were present on the Moon a few years before, we think, as preventive measures on the part of the United States, Russia, China, and several other nations.”
“And that’s just it”, I exclaim incredulously, “the conflict simply escalates into a nuclear war!”
“He’s right, it seems totally out of sorts.”, Rich adds,” If the Reds couldn’t do it in ‘69, um, 1969, pardon me, and if the Iranians and North Koreans didn’t do it any time afterward, why did it happen on Mars.
“Nobody ever wants to push the button that destroys the world.”, I conclude.
“This is all true”, Miri replies, but then, “this is all true, on Earth. People certainly have less qualms about destroying a planet we aren’t quite so attached to. Plus, there were different motivations. In 1969, simple rivalries over land, power, and the hearts of the third-world were on the line. On Mars in 2052, the motivations were in regard to the most basic human needs: resources and living space. Everyone knew that we were running out of both on Earth, even if the governments always insisted there was plan in the works. Even the leaders knew that our days may be limited, so, like so many times before, we looked toward the stars for answers, and we gambled on Mars.”
She sounds like she’s quoting a lecture she’s heard millions of times over. From what I gather, she’s quoting Jeanne-Claude.
It seems like she knows this as well, and with a suddenly aware expression, she catches herself, “Anyway, to give it plainly, people were motivated because they had little food and living space back on Earth. That kind of desperation combined with the ability to annihilate each other, culminated in the initial death of thousands, and the subsequent deaths of millions. Estimates won’t be complete for probably another decade, however, the latest reports estimated that the death toll….exceeds both world wars combined. I’ll, um, let that sink in.”
Five minutes later, it has sunk in alright, cutting deep into our hearts and minds. Add that to the guilt list. Sonofabitch, if only we’d been there! If only I’d been there!!
“That’s not even the end of the whole thing, right?”, I say finally with noticeable anger.
“And what does this have to do with this Winthrop we heard about?”, Rich asks.
“I’ll get to that”, Miri replies softly, “The Mars Nuclear Tragedy suddenly sent shockwaves around the world, as most families back on Earth had loved ones on Mars. Regimes in many countries changed, policies shifted, attitudes altered. For the first time, I guess everyone truly learned what it meant to have the power to destroy millions in the blink of an eye. Surprisingly, the leader to begin speaking for nuclear disarmament was the last person we expected: Kim Jong-un.”
Since this was the villainous yet somehow laughable Kim Jong-un we were talking about, both Rich and I couldn’t help but noticeably chuckle. Arguing for nuclear disarmament is just crazy and unpredictable enough for him. We remember the time we’d spent in North Korea, captured for illegal search and rescue of course, and had been, “invited”, into the illustrious mansion of then-Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un. The only home in Pyongyang that was lit electrically was littered with, you’ll hesitate to believe it, American sports memorabilia, basketballs, even a giant Harlem Globetrotters poster, right in his bedroom. You’d think some dreamy-eyed American kid lived here, not some mad dictator. But, it is lonely at the top, after all, and if anything makes a person go mad, it’s lack of other people.
Miri’s continued introduction brings me out of my reverie,”Despite North Korean censorship, we later learned that Kim Ju-ae, his successor and daughter, had been killed on Mars.”
Well, that serves to change the mood greatly.
“And you don’t suppose that he’s had some kind of change of heart”, Rich asks with a doubtful air.
“Well”, Miri replies, lighting another cigarette. I wasn’t aware she’d even finished the first one. Those must burn pretty fast, “with no official successor, Kim Jong-un has, purportedly, altered the system of government in North Korea to, what he calls, ‘unitary confederacy’.”
Our response is a uniform furrowing of the brows.
“I know”, she answers, “they’re contradictory terms, but it’s North Korea. What do you expect from North Korea but baby steps, right? To continue, world leaders from the U.S. to the Nationalist Confederation of Russia, Iran, India, China, the U.K., all agreed that a final decision ought to be made in regards to nuclear weapons, before a similar tragedy happens on Earth.”
“But, surely there was opposition to this aim”, I inquire
“Yes”, Miri replies, “there were protests, there was violence, and no country would agree to host the Nuclear Conference because crowd control would be difficult with the entire world watching. That’s, where Cardinal Victor Arnim came in.”
Her screen shifts to a slightly hunched, wrinkled man in crimson cardinal robes. He is balanced on a short, brown staff, his other hand waving to the crowd we couldn’t see. His long white hair was braided into a ponytail, his sharp-cut jawline and nose offset by a pleasant, albeit awkward-looking smile.
“Arnim convinced the Pope to host the Conference in Vatican City, off of any foreign soil and away from the politics and rabble of the United Nations. It worked out as a means of ensuring a peaceful discussion and as a much-needed PR boost for the declining Catholic Church.”
“And, exactly why is the Church in decline”, I ask with a touch of concern.
To this, Miri shrugs, then, matter-of-factly, “why do you think?”
I guess that’s a fair answer, albeit a snobbish one. I hope she’ll get to the point soon, though, cuz all this lecturing is starting to bore the hell outta me.
“So, what is the culmination of all this, exactly, Miri?”, Rich asks, reading my mind apparently.
“Yeah, boss”, I chime in, “cuz so far, these last fifty years seems to be a time of healing. And what does this Winthrop person have to do with us, right here and now?”
A thin smile crosses her lips, “Well now, right to the point then. By 2061, all of the world’s nuclear arms had been confirmed as disarmed. The world was supposed to enter a period of peace and happiness, at least, that’s what it all said online. Then…”
Her holoscreen turns back to the article we’d seen before, and she expands the picture of the stern man with the beady, menacing eyes.
“…Graham Winthrop happened. Without warning, and with little time to prepare for ourselves, several terrorist strikes occurred in major population centers around the world. Additionally, there were over fifty national security breaches in the U.S. alone, and several hundreds in governments across the world. Suddenly, every nation’s secrets, every government’s coverups and secret assassinations, every companies back-room deals, even every citizen’s private information, were all revealed. Cities in the U.S. descended into turmoil, as protests escalated into extremist riots into drone strikes by powerful people in order to protect their privacy. All of it orchestrated by this man.”
“And, who exactly, was this man.”, Rich asks, controlled
Taking a final drag, smashing her cigarette into the ash tray, and lighting another, Miri taps on her holowatch twice, and suddenly a clipped article from the Internet, or Freenet rather, pops up next to the picture. It is titled Graham Winthrop (1999-2065) is considered the most evil person in our century, and possibly in all of history. He was a physician and leader of the Martian-based terrorist group, The Forgotten….
“And”, Rich inquires, gesturing to the screen, “just what was this group, the Forgotten?”
“Well. It was either a group of disgruntled former mercenaries or corporate-backed rebels or rogue hackers or reprogrammed androids or extremists within the Libertarian and National Socialist Parties-“
“Wait, you mean Nazis!? Actually Nazis, in this day and age?”, I exclaim suddenly, “I mean, you’ve gotta be kidding me! Nazis!? That’s fucking ridiculous, they should be a minor political fringe at best, not a policy-making force!”
“The point I’m trying to make here”, Miri continues ignoring me, “is that The Forgotten have been given many origins and nobody really knows who they were nor their inner working. As far as we could tell, all those factions I just listed were possible sources of recruitment, and Winthrop simply masterminded the whole thing. Yet, he himself was a public face, a renowned doctor, health guru and television personality. It all started unraveling with-“
“Nazis!”, I sound out again for a second, “there’s a Nazi Party in the U.S. and it’s attractive to people!?”
Miri’s response surprises me as she angrily smashes another cigarette into her ash tray and then, “Yeah, Duke! What, are the Great Guardians so surprised that there are stupid right-wing extremists still kicking around here!? Oh no, is the world so unsafe when you guys are out wallowing in booze and self-pity. Nothing should surprise you guys at all, should it! Hell, nothing would surprise me if I thought I were a thousand fucking years old!”
Her eyes are wild, and I notice that they’re starting to get a little puffy and red, her breathing quickened and her hands flat on the table as if she’d just smacked both of them down. Her ire eventually ebbs away and she’s back to her old self in no time, just as soon as she lights another cigarette.
Rich and I glance at each other, trying not to be noticed as Miri nervously runs her hands through her short, white hair. My eyes say, “I feel like we ought to say something”. Rich’s eyes responds with, “That’s true, but, perhaps not right now.”
“So how does the story end, Miri”, I finally state, softly.
“Um, right, yes”, she replies, suddenly brought back. A few more swipes on her holowatch brings another article from the Rosen Post dated September 16, 2065.
GRAHAM WINTHROP FOUND DEAD
“A combined effort by several concerned parties in the deteriorating United Nations decide to place their best efforts into an International Intelligence Authority in 2063. Two years of intelligence gathering, with a fair share of anonymous tips from the Order, yields the discovery of The Forgotten’s operations and that Graham Winthrop was behind it all. They order him assassinated in 2065, in his compound on, no surprise, Mars.”
A long pause ensues.
After Miri douses what looks to be her last cigarette, Rich says, “so, that’s it then.”
“You’ve heard our piece…”, I continue
“…and we’ve heard yours. Good, then.”, Rich concludes
Another pause begins, this one a bit more awkward.
“Um, well..well we uh”, Rich stammers.
“Is there anything else you need, boss?”, I assist.
Loosening up in her seat, I think the first time she’s done so, she responds, “not from me, no. But, Carson wished to see you. He’s down the hall is the debriefing room, you go-“
“Down two flights of stairs, and it’s the first door on the left, right?”, Rich ventures. From my memory, that’s what I remember too.
Rich had interrupted Miri, yet, she responded with a wry smile.
Sarcastically soft, she responds, “actually, it’s been moved. You’ll just go right down the hall, then left.”
“Ooo, she got you there, man. Hehehe.”, I chuckle, both for my amusement but more to cut Miri some slack.
“Aye, guess she did.”, Rich replies, defeated but as sympathetic as me, “we’ll see ourselves out then.”
With a curt nod and swift grin, Miri dismisses us from her office.
Closing the door behind me, I suddenly hear, “Dammit! Godammit!”, from behind.
I turn to Rich, and my eyes says, “Guess she didn’t think we could hear her.”
Out loud but softly, Rich responds with a sympathetic nod to the right, “Poor lass.”