New York City, USA
The moment Megan opened the door to her apartment, she knew her night wasn’t going to be a usual one. Not that she had usual nights to begin with, to be honest.
A psychologist by profession, Megan was no stranger to the unusual. From dawn to dusk, in her little ground floor corner office, Months Counseling, her clients always included a range from awkward college students, to stay-at-home parents, to overworked office goers, even sometimes to the high and mighty but still radically depressed elites of the city. They all brought with them their own batch of weirdness factor to dump on her lap and leave there when their session was complete; and truth be told, she didn’t mind it one bit.
Thing is, Megan had discovered from her childhood that she had an uncanny ability to read people. Whenever she met a person, even before they opened their mouth to speak a word to her, she would realize that she was somehow able to place what the person was feeling, and sometimes even thinking, with just a glance; and she was rarely ever wrong.
To channel that gift the only way she knew she would be able to actually help people with it, she became a psychologist; and while she had to admit that it didn’t always pay well, it still always gave her a sense of achievement whenever her clients walked out of her office feeling better than they came.
The money wasn’t that bad either, it had to be said, at least not for a thirty-year old woman living alone in a one-bedroom apartment in New York.
Unfortunately, the somewhat downside to Megan’s work was that it usually followed her home after hours. She could be home, sitting down in her favourite reading chair at the corner of the living room, her blonde hair tied in a topknot like she liked it whenever she was in her comfort space, a good book in one hand and wine in the other while a cool classical music played on the stereo; and her mind would suddenly go back to the session of the day.
That woman that didn’t look as happy as she’d hoped, that student that still had that angst hanging all over him when he left, that man that said he now knew what to do but there was still an iota of uncertainty in his eyes. She would wonder if they were okay at that moment, and she would continue to do so all through the night till the sun rose on the next morning.
But despite as unusual as those nights were, Megan felt tonight was going to be far more unusual. She switched on the light.
“Good evening, Miss Months?”
Megan screamed. Searching frantically for the pepper spray she always kept in her purse for emergency, she looked up and came to a stunned stop.
A man was in her apartment. Green eyes behind a pair of glasses, dark hair greying at the sides, and a clean-shaven face belonging to someone at fifty. He was dressed in a black suit, sitting in the corner of the living room in her favourite chair with a book opened in one hand even though it was obvious he wouldn’t have been able to read a single word of it in the darkness.
“Who are you?” she asked, fear and surprise making her voice come out in bated breaths. “How did you get into my apartment?”
“How I got in is of little importance in this encounter, Miss Months,” he replied, Megan realizing then that he had a British accent that was almost academic to the ears.
He stood to return the book in his hand to the shelf, making sure that it was appropriately placed before he let go. “My name is Arthur Dean,” he said, not turning back as he began to peruse through her collection. “I’m the Principal Officer in charge of the United Nation’s Covert Affairs Department for Threat Assessment and Response.”
“I’ve never heard of the United Nations having any department like that.” Megan shot him a suspicious look.
“That’s what covert means, Miss Months,” he returned, smiling a little even as he still didn't turn to face her.
Megan finally gave the man in front of her a long deserving stare.
The vibe she got from him was a dark one, but the usual everyday type one would get from a street villain or their likes. Whoever Arthur Dean was, he wasn’t a danger in itself, and certainly not to her at that very moment.
But he is a man who can be dangerous, she reminded herself.
From the way he carried himself, Megan deduced he was someone who was used to wielding authority and have people listen to him. In summary, a man of power, and of the shadows too.
“What do you want, Mr. Dean?” she finally asked. “I mean, last I checked, my apartment wasn’t listed on the UN’s "must go to" places.”
“I have a job for you.” He turned as he removed an envelope from the inner jacket of his suit and handed it to Megan.
But she declined it. “I’m sorry, Mr. Dean, but I already have a job,” she replied, “and I have no intentions of leaving it to go “covert.””
Arthur smiled. Somehow, he found what Megan said to him very funny. “How’s your stepfather, Miss Months?” he suddenly asked.
Now, this is danger, Megan recognised immediately. Arthur Dean was in his dangerous form. “Why do you want to know?” she returned, very cautious now.
“Have you spoken to the old man of recent?” he asked again. “Have the both of you spoken about the truth of that night?”
Megan didn’t know when her heart tripled in pace and she began to sweat. It was the middle of November and she was sweating. That was how much that line of questioning terrified her.
“That was a long time ago,” she said to Arthur. “It was an accident.”
“I don’t think your mother and brother will agree, Miss Months,” he returned, smiling. “Or do you?”
“I was a child!” Her eyes were glistened with tears.
“Then tell the old man,” Arthur dared her. “Go back home, Megan. Drop the false pretenses and tell your stepfather everything about that night. Let’s see what he does.”
Megan dropped her bag, removed her jacket, and draped it on the hanger like she had thought to do before she opened the door to her apartment and her unexpected visitor that was Arthur Dean. Then, she walked over to him with the last fire of determination in her eyes. “Tell me what you want me to do,” she said.
Arthur smiled again. He had won and he knew it. He dropped the envelope into her hands and said, “The details are in there. Make sure to read it after I’m gone.”
And with that, he draped his suit properly over his body, buttoned it, adjusted his glasses, then his cufflinks; and then he left without saying another word to Megan.
The moment the door closed behind Arthur, Megan sighed and kicked herself mentally for her ability at sensing things. She had felt that her night wasn’t going to be usual; and just like always, she wasn’t wrong.