Alexander

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III. Well House

Rosalina’s POV:

“How’s your new tooth?” Diego asks.

I ran my tongue across the perfectly structured row of teeth. “Good. I don’t even remember which tooth got knocked out.”

We walked into the lobby, passing by the employees. My heels clank against the floor, not too loud but also not too suspiciously quiet. SAGE8 headquarters is located underground in a typical company. I think it’s a toy company or something.

Diego tugged down his tie, “I can’t believe they’re calling us in again.” He hates wearing a suit and tie, but he can’t exactly walk in an established company with flip flops. We greeted the front desk, scanned our IDs, and entered the elevator.

“Well, you know big corporations enjoy enslaving small-time employees like us,” I said. There are a few other people inside the elevator with us. They’re actual workers of the company.

“Amen to that,” a random guy said. “I had to stay back late because the big man wanted me to finish some last-minute plans. Floor?”

“Forty-five,” I replied.

He presses the button.

“Yeah. Sometimes, I wish I can quit,” Diego said. Don’t we all. “But they won’t let me! They said they’d chop my body if I do!” It sounds like a joke, but it isn’t.

The other employees burst out laughing, “Well, when you’re on the top floor. You’re a valuable asset,” a woman said.

I exhale slowly, “Top floor, but still underpaid.”

Everyone nods in agreement. “Living in the city is tough,” the woman replied.

We began discussing random everyday things, such as a good restaurant nearby or what happened last week. Every SAGE member is relatively familiar with all the employees inside the company. Blend in. Behave normally.

The last person stepped out. “Have a nice day.”

We smile, “You too,” Diego replied.

Once the elevator doors closed, my smile dropped. I punched in the code, and we scanned our iris. With a thumbprint and badge examined, the elevator number changes into a fake one. It says we’re going up, but in reality, we’re heading down. Deep down.

Diego exhales, “Acting normal sucks. I’m so tired.” He leans his body against the wall. “Why should I care about your cat? My dog is obviously better.”

I agree with Diego. Not about the pets, but faking normality. It happens whenever we come across people who want to chit-chat. We have to pretend that we’re ordinary everyday people. Since our headquarter is inside a city underneath a toy company, we often come across familiar faces. Our stories have to stay consistent. Not too much, though. An overly perfect story can lead to trouble.

“I don’t think the man gives a single fuck about your dogs.”

Diego gasps, “Of course you would say that. You animal hater.”

“I don’t hate animals. I’m just not too fond of them.” The elevator door spread open, and we headed down the hallway. The temperature seemingly dropped underground. It’s cold, and I’m wearing a pantsuit plus a button-up shirt. I should’ve brought a jacket.

The guards saluted us as we walked past. Honestly, I think they think we’re some sort of crucial patriotic figure. You know, doing stuff to protect the world. I mean, we kind of do. But, our methods aren’t precisely applauded by society.

We greeted the guards with a head nod. It’s unfortunate how they don’t know what’s behind these doors. After all, it’s classified. I’m not saying I’m better than them because I can go inside. They have limited knowledge, but so do I. Boundaries. I cross them, and it’s off with my head.

We may have different roles in SAGE, but our lives are ultimately valued the same - disposable.

Once we punched in another code, the metal door at the end of the hallway opened. Inside the room, numerous employees were dashing back and forth.

“Agents!” Teresa pushes up her glasses and rushes towards us. Her hands were full of documents, but somehow she managed not to drop a single one. “This way, please.” I don’t understand why the agency believes it’s necessary to escort us whenever we’re here. We know every inch of the place. Well, except for the places we don’t have access to.

“How are you, Teresa?” Diego asks.

Teresa turns red, “Good.” She likes Diego. Too bad he isn’t the type to sleep with co-workers. He thinks it’s too awkward and troublesome to avoid them afterward purposely.

“Do you need help?” I don’t know if Diego does it on purpose or not. He knows Teresa likes him. If he wants her to stop, then he would stop treating her so nicely. Then again, I may be overanalyzing all of this, and he’s only asking out of courtesy. Teresa does have a lot of documents in her hands.

She shook her head, “It’s confidential.”

Now, I need to get my hands on those files. I love confidential information. “Nonsense. We’re all co-workers here,” I said. I grabbed a few stacks of paper. “Come on, help Theresa out.” Diego nods and grabs the other third of the piles.

Teresa flusters, but couldn’t produce coherent sentences. In the beginning, I often wonder how Teresa got into this field. Then, I found out she’s the smart little niece of one of the higher-ups. Long story short, she got in through the backdoor.

We followed Teresa through different locations. Once in a while, she would glance back to ensure we don’t lose or steal anything. What a silly little girl. There are too many cameras here for me to do anything. If I were to steal, I wouldn’t be so stupid to get caught.

“Here we are,” Teresa said. I noticed the room is different from last time. I shouldn’t be surprised. They always move things around while I’m gone. Diego reached for the knob. “Oh, no. This room is for Agent 86. Agent 89, please follow me.” That’s unusual. We’re separated. Generally, if we get called at the same time, we’re going to a mission together.

Teresa gestures for me to give her back the documents. I gave half to her and the other half to Diego.

Teresa smiles, “Thank you for all your help.”

“I’m curious about something,” I said.

“What is it?”

“How come you’re carrying stacks of paper? We’ve been using the black space for a while now.” With the advancement of technology. Of course, the government will follow along. Black space is a secure location, monitored by the millisecond, to hold all of our documents.

“We have, but sometimes, we need to pull out old profiles for research.” She’s giving me such a vague response that it’s irritating me.

It’ll only make me look suspicious if I ask any further. I nod, “Make sense.” I decided to end it there.

“I’ll see you around. This way, Agent 89.” Even the most foolish person here is smarter than average. Teresa probably caught onto my tricks. I wanted to know if she’s willing to spill any information.

When they’re out of sight, I opened the door behind me. Two unknown individuals made their appearance. Now, this is extra unusual. Generally, it’s Harris that gives me my assignment.

“Agent 86,” the man’s voice was cold and distant. “Please, have a seat.”

I settled down on the other end of the long table.

“You find it unusual as to why Agent 28 is not present.” That’s partially the truth. I’m both curious and frankly not giving a single fuck. Whoever gives me the assignment will get the same work ethics from me. Half-ass. But, enough to finish the mission.

I can feel it. The piercing curiosity from the couple in front of me. They’re analyzing my every movement, attempting to read me as they would to a book.

He smiles, “Agent 86. Do you enjoy working for SAGE?”

“I neither enjoy it nor dislike it.” It’s not a lie. I don’t like my job, but I don’t hate it either. I learned that response from the employees above us.

You don’t have to like your job. If you’re good at it and it’s easy for you. Why would you quit?

I hate to admit it.

But I’m good at my job.

The woman hands the man a tablet. He exhaled softly and scrolled through it. “Agent 86 was recruited from Heaven’s Home." He’s reading my profile. “Along with Agent 87, 88, and 89 to establish SAGE8. Heaven’s Home burnt down due to a kitchen fire.”

Listening to my past isn’t a first for me. Sometimes, random people who somehow got my profile would attempt to establish dominance over me.

“The kitchen fire was a cover-up.” Here comes my favorite part.” Heaven’s Home facility members often physically and sexually abuse the orphans sent to their location. Agent 86, 87, 88, and 89 purposely burnt down the orphanage. The facility members were found tied up inside the house. All were burned alive.”

Please, continue reading the rest of my history.

“An autopsy had found that facility members had been tortured for a standard amount of time before the fire engulfed them. Body parts were dismembered, including tongue, penis, ovaries, fingers, and- wow, you and all your little agent friends have quite the history.”

I smile, “Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories.”

“I’m curious,” the man said. “How did you all do this?”

“Continue reading.”

He settles the table down, “I prefer it if you tell me.”

“Is this an order?”

“No.”

“Then, I won’t tell.”

“It’s an order.”

“We were sure in a difficult situation. The government wouldn’t believe a bunch of mentally wounded children. So, we can’t rely on them. We learned that they’re at their weakest when they’re sexually harassing a child half their size. While a person was raping the child of their choice that week, we attacked them.”

“You’re telling me a child attacked an adult?”

“You’re mistaken. Children did. We all did it together. One by one, we took them down. We cut off their tongue and shoved them into the Well House.”

“Ah, yes. The Well House is where you get locked up when you do something unacceptable, correct?”

I nod, “The adults hated going to the Well House because of the rats and cockroaches. So, when a kid gets in trouble, they throw them in there. Not too long, of course. We can’t have a missing child. That means a cut in their funds.”

“So, when the autopsy says the adults were tortured before being murdered in the fire.”

“We took turns, getting into trouble to get sent into the Well House. Then, one of us would throw a weapon down, and well, you know the rest.”

“And how did the adults not know about their missing partners?” He asks too many questions, it’s interesting.

“They were too occupied with pleasure.”

The man cleared his throat and leaned back onto the chair. “I’m curious about one thing.”

“And that is?”

“What happened to the rest of the children?”

“They died in the fire.”

“Why did the four of you live, and the rest died?”

“We need to get out of here! Why are you all standing there?!”

“You four go. We’re going to stay.”

“Why?”

“Because-”

“Because it’s too suspicious for only the children to live while the adults died.”

“Why didn’t you publicize what happened?”

“Because no one would care.”

“You all would be on the news. People would spread awareness of the incident and mistreatment.”

“For how long?”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“For how long would the people care before they stop caring?” Before everything is buried by new news. No matter what happened or how much sympathy we earned, we’re all orphans in the end.

No one loves us.

No one cares about us.

Let’s say; the people decided to donate the money to our cause.

Then, what?

We were children.

We didn’t have access to the money.

And now?

Our faces are plastered all over the news.

How can we live a healthy life after being publicized in such an indecent way?

After gaining sympathy and money we can’t touch, we’re always known as the unfortunate children who got abused.

Then, they’ll forget about us.

But we can never forget what had happened.

“I can see that your outlook on society isn’t good.”

“Your evaluation isn’t incorrect.” With everything, I went through. It would be a surprise if I had some sort of faith in humanity.

“What about now?” He asks. “Why would you work for the government that failed you?”

“Simple. Because society rejected me.”

“Do you trust the government?”

“What does trust have to do with my employment?”

“You don’t think we’re going to send you somewhere and kill you off?”

“Not at the moment. Perhaps, in the future, when I lose value.”

“So, you understand the limitation of your value.” He cupped his hands on top of the table. “Alright, enough tea time. Let’s get to the point as to why you’re here.”

I wished he would get to the point earlier. “And that is?”

“Your next mission. Agent 86, you’ve been assigned to California along with Agent 88.”

Agent 88? Maisley?

The door pops open to reveal a hooded Maisley. With the way she’s dressed, I assume she came here through the back door. Her shoes squeak against the hard tile floor as she makes her way inside.

“Agent 88,” the man greeted her.

Maisley nodded, and finally, after two more steps, she noticed me. A finger lifted in the air and pointed in my direction. “Ah,” she said.

I imitated her.

“Agent 88-” the man intervened in our childish behavior. Maisley settled down on the chair, not too far from me. “Thank you for being on time.” I pick up sarcasm. Maisley is notorious for being late.

“I try my best,” she responded in her usual dulled voice.

The man exhales. I assumed that he would give Maisley the same evaluation as he did with me, but he didn’t. Instead, he said: “You two will be assigned to California.” How mean of him. I wanted to see a show.

“What’s the mission?” Maisley question.

“Agent 88, have you heard of Harrison High School?”

She nodded, “I have.”

I haven’t.

“You will be assigned as a teacher at that educational facility. Your assignment is on the tablet laid out in front of you.” The woman gave each of us a tablet. “A few years ago, SAGE4 was given the assignment to infiltrate Harrison High School due to their unusual activity. Agent 46 was given the assignment.”

I’ve heard of that assignment. Generally, we don’t hear rumors about other branches, but this one was notorious. Agent 46. Some say she betrayed SAGE, while others said she was killed. Many rumors circulate her, but no one knows the truth.

“What do you want me to do there?” Maisley asks.

“We heard you’re one of the best when it comes to dealing with missing information. We want you to find Agent 46 or the reasoning behind her disappearance.”

Maisley scrolled through the tablet, and I did the same. Mine is blank.

“Question,” I said.

“Yes, Agent 86.”

“I don’t see any information in regards to the assignment about Harrison High.”

“You shouldn’t,” he replied. “Your mission isn’t located at Harrison High.”

“Then?”

He exhales lightly, “Agent 86. Have you heard of a man named Alexander Kuznetsov?”

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