Chapter 5: Ulterior Motives
I couldn’t believe my luck. After slushing my way through mud and acid rain, I finally make it out of the work shower to find I forgot to put my clothes in the wash before I cleaned myself up.
The Five Reds headquarters had great hygiene facilities for keeping their employees clean. However, I apparently wasn’t very good at organising.
The clock on the wall said 11am, so I was already going to be late for the daily meeting. I rub my hair dry and then chuck back on my grimy white blouse and black slacks which have mud all over the ends. I feel sticky with the acid rain which is still in the material and makes my skin itchy.
I just leave my muddy black shoes in a locker, I don’t bother to wear them up to the meeting room. I’d just go bare foot.
I eventually make it up to level five, but the meeting room is so packed with people this time round that I’m stuck in the doorway between Captain James the Brains and his second best man, Kyle the Child. He could teleport anywhere at will, yet when he spoke it’s like he was 3-year-olds. He wasn’t always like that, it was after the first trialled vaccine had adverse affects on his brain. At least that’s what the rumours speculated.
I ironically think while standing there, as Kyle starts poking my rib cage through my blouse, that Dale’s offer of a job sounded more appealing than –
“Where is she?” Prof. Hedgy complains from his usual spot near the front of the table. Even from here I could hear his sweaty stomach peeling it’s way off the table as he huffed about someone not being present.
“She’s here, doc,” James grabs the back of my pants and lifts me high into the air, making me suck in a breath as the acid rain soaked pants rub up between my ass cheeks. Of course everyone was looking for me. The Captain walks through crowds of people and drops me off beside Prof. Hedgy himself.
Did I ever mention he was called Prof. Hedgy because he had a hedge of green plants growing out of his head? Yeah, well, he did, and it was gross.
“Where the hell have you been, Miss. O’Brien?” Prof. Hedgy pretends to sound extremely concerned as he addresses me while everyone else disgustingly eyes my dirty work clothes.
“Just trying to clean up,” I laugh nervously and hop from foot to foot, trying to secretly get rid of the sudden intense itch up my butt that I couldn’t scratch with everyone watching.
I glare at James and all I can see is him smirking in the corner like he knows what’s wrong with me.
“That’s not good enough, Alyssa,” Prof. Hedgy raises his green bushy eyebrows at me, “We need an update as soon as possible on your current assignment.”
“Which I was given yesterday,” I nod and make a damn good point about how it was only a day later and I was given 7 days to complete the mission, “Um, I – I don’t really–”
“I need compliant workers, Miss. O’Brien,” Prof. Hedgy warns me, “Please, update us on anything you have that may be of use to us. There are more people here at this meeting for a reason, Alyssa. Stockpiles of data were erased from the system last night… it’s alright, it’s okay, we’re okay. We had it all backed up. So we haven’t lost anything. However, it was a huge attack and it nearly wiped us clean. We only have one way to back up our whole system and that is with more fortified knowledge. We need that golden ring with the emerald, darling.”
I try as hard as I can to smile back at my own boss and his condescending asshole attitude.
I could submit or I could fight back.
I decide to try and turn the tables.
“I will gladly explain something useful,” I speak clearly and loudly for all to hear, “I went to the Black Lair Clubhouse last night, actually. I became somewhat close to the Lord of the Underworld. I have an alternative suggestion to the original objective you handed to me. Instead of retrieving the ring, I have found a way to get closer to Dale. I believe I can land a job with him. I saw from afar the security that protects Dale. Retrieving something on his person that is so important to him is literally impossible. That is why the last three females sent on this mission were killed, Professor –”
“I asked for useful information, Miss. O’Brien, not a last minute attempt to change your objective,” Prof. Hedgy smiles ‘sympathetically’ without blinking, “May I remind you, you signed a contract and you’re liable to complete the mission or face incarceration,” How many damn times was he going to use that line on me? “We truly have faith in you, darling. You’re incredible. Your hair and nails and your skill at lying is an off the charts incredible. You are made for this objective. Do not give up hope,” Prof. Hedgy pauses and I feel like gaping. His mention of me lying was a hint that he didn’t believe that I got close to Dale last night. To make matters worse, he then shakes his head as if disappointed by the information I had put out there. He then looks over my shoulder to a certain Mr. Popular hiding in the corner, “Moving on, now… boys and girls, men and women, I need to bring attention to our current Five Red heroes… Captain James has an announcement to make and I’d like you all to listen carefully, give it up, for Captain James…” Prof. Hedgy sounds so smug as he stands back and James the Brains barges past me to stand in front of the table.
Everyone claps and I try not to reach forward and give the Captain a huge wedgey of his own as he takes the stage.
All eyes are on James.
I carefully back out of the crowd, my fists clenched. Everyone avoids my hair like it’s going to give them herpes and I come to rest in the corner that James was just occupying.
“I don’t want anyone to fall over with this surprise, but, it’s my birthday tonight and I wanted to invite everyone who is here to my place tonight to celebrate,” James has a hand on his heart as he says this. I see a few women eyeing the veins popping out of his hand, which they no doubt found very attractive.
“Are you serious, James?” one of the younger employees asks him, her girl crush eyes devouring his soul and pleading for his attention.
“I wouldn’t make this announcement as a joke, it’s time we all celebrate and have some fun for all our hard work. This party won’t be just for my birthday but to celebrate Prof. Hedgy and his amazing leadership and encouragement of the team…”
By this stage I’ve scaled the walls and snuck out of the room.
I’m literally fuming.
I storm my way out of the office and the Red Headquarters after retrieving my muddy shoes.
I find myself outside in more light acid rain, but it’s too late to stop now. I was too angry to go back inside that bloody building with those infuriating employees I worked with.
How was my idea completely shitty to the Professor? If I worked for Dale then I could get any information I wanted. Why did the Professor sound like he didn’t give a crap nor believe I had gotten close to Dale?
I find a park bench near more rats and piles of rubbish. I take a seat, completely worn out. I scratch my butt and I glare at my too long, almost opaque silver nails after they inevitably tear a whole in the back of my pants. My bloody nails… I tried filing them down occasionally with a diamond file, but that took me hours and usually ended with a broken file. Luckily for me, my nails grew ridiculously slow. My hair had a similar growth rate, and it was only just past my shoulders – it had never been any longer.
Argh, my life was shit and I thought it would have gotten better with a full-time job. I’m so annoyed about my bloody mission, my wrecked work clothes, my shitty high-class employees – that I seriously consider Dale’s offer.
I mean, he had a job for me.
But then I bring up all the consequences of that decision. I couldn’t work full time for Dale and tell the government that. They would know because Dale’s place of work wouldn’t be registered as a liable job. I needed a liable job to stay under a roof. My only refuge was GB 26. I had nowhere else to go. If I worked for the Five Reds at least I would be allowed to stay in my home. It may be a little blue box with a crappy window and no private bathroom – but it was still home.
I sigh and get to my feet and walk home from there, my mind now set with what reality had thrown me.
I had to retrieve the ring, I had no other choice.
So, I would accept Dale’s job. At least just for this week with an ulterior motive.
I had 6 more days to complete the mission. If I could get closer to Dale through the card he had given me, then at least I had a shot at getting the ring without the risk the other spies had taken.
They had all tried to infiltrate and steal. They didn’t try to befriend, betray and steal.
That was a whole different story.
I just hoped if I managed to steal the ring, that my job promoted me to a higher position than that of James the Brains.
“You want to be famous, Alyssa?” I whisper to myself as I trudge my way up to my apartment, thinking about where I stashed the card Dale had gifted me with.
Hell yeah, I wanted to be famous. Then I could afford a nicer place to live.
I finally set my mind straight.
No pain, no gain.
No matter what and no matter the consequences, I had to retrieve that golden ring with the green emerald.