I come awake slowly. “Don’t tell them, don’t say anything. Please Smith.” I whisper.
He looks down at me, some emotion flashing in his gray eyes. “Alright Des.”
“Hurry up!” He shouts down the hole.
My eyes close again feeling so very heavy, my energy tapped. That recoil could’ve killed me, it most defiantly has drained me.
My subconscious is still somewhat aware as Smith lifts me up into the hole, another agent grabbing me, dragging me back.
“Be careful!” Smith shouts.
I come fully awake again being dragged out into the setting sun. I tense immediately, disoriented, it seems like a million people are out here. All of them FBI agents, rushing around doing god knows what.
“I’ve got you.” Smith says down to me, funny I feel safe in his arms.
I don’t even know his name, because Smith is most assuredly not it.
He gets me to my feet and wraps a blanket around me. I’m shivering, I don’t feel cold why am I shivering?
He keeps his arm around my shoulders. I cross my arms in front of me and hunch over, hiding my burned hands.
“Get me out of here.” I whisper.
He squeezes me gently.
“He’s still in there… alive.” Smith turns to escorting me through the crowd.
“I thought you killed him.” I whisper.
“No, someone fell back into me. Gave me the electric shock of the century, I didn’t get a clean shot. What the fuck…”
“Not here.” I whisper cutting him off. There’s far too many people around.
“You will tell me what happened in there.” His voice gone hard.
By the time we make our way back to the road, night has fallen. The road is full of flashing lights, enough to almost blind me. Agents, EMTs, police officers, all running around. Smith lets me go quickly. It’s alright that he doesn’t want people to see him being tender.
“Thanks,” I whisper feeling a bit stronger.
The door to the mobile command center swings open.
Special Agent in Charge Dawson steps out. He’s been putting on a few pounds around the middle, white male, snow white hair, balding on top, the better part of sixty. His blue eyes always piercing, judgmental. The man doesn’t miss much. He’s wearing a black suit, standard black tie. He comes stepping out of the FBI command center right in front of us.
“Smith!” Dawson holds out his hand.
“Sir.” Smith takes it.
“Good work out there today.”
“It was Ms. Thompson, she…”
“Yes great job Agent Smith.” I cut Smith off.
I try to convince myself that I’m happy Dawson doesn’t hold out his hand to me, or in any other way acknowledge my existence. No, his rudeness is a good thing, because my hands are hurt, I couldn’t shake his hand even if he wanted me to.
After Dawson stops staring daggers at me he turns back to Smith.
“You ever want to be reassigned, you let me know son. Your talents are being wasted in that… division.”
“They weren’t wasted today.” Smith says sharply. “The spook squad saved him… sir.”
Smith wraps an arm around me and guides me away, my jaw dragging on the ground behind us.
“My god man.” I whisper in awe. “He’s going to blackball you out of the FBI.”
Smith only huffs and keeps moving.
“Let’s get the EMTs to check you out.”
“No… I’m fine, just get me back to the truck…. Please.”
He sighs heavy but he does as I ask. We walk so far back up the road that the night becomes quiet again. The action isn’t this far up, some of the tension leaves my shoulders. I don’t like lots of people. I never have, living in the city is hell for someone like me.
“There’s bandages and Neosporin in my purse.”
“Let’s clean them a bit first.” Smith takes me to the back of the SUV hitting the button for the lift gate. It’s a surplus store in the rear. Everything to survive an apocalypse. Jugs of water, meal kits, weapons, blankets, literally everything.
“Boy scout?” I ask half in awe.
“Always be prepared.”
He cracks open a jug of water. “Hold out your hands.”
I hold them out as he pours the clean water gently on them. I hiss in pain, but it’s a good pain, hurting yet feeling good. The water cooling the fire.
“These are pretty bad.”
“I’ve had worse. I’ll be fine.”
He pulls his own stock of Neosporin and bandages out of a supersized first aid kit. I think the man could do minor surgery with it.
“I’ve got some sweats, they’ll be big on you but better than riding back in wet jeans.”
“Thanks.” I whisper as he finishes wrapping my hands in gauze. He even weaves it between my fingers, like a boxer. It’s the way I like it, wanting to still be able to use my fingers… be useful.
The hospital wraps them like I’m a mummy.
Smith has to help me out of the wet jeans. Promising to keep his eyes closed the entire time, he actually rolls his eyes when I ask him.
Before long I’m cocooned in a blanket and dry clothes and he even lets me get into the front seat. He says it’s so I can get warm faster, but I don’t believe it.
I see the concern in his eyes when he looks at me. How gentle he was bandaging my hands, helping me change. There is more to Agent Smith than meets the eye.
He changes his own clothes… what do you know, a spare black suit wrapped in plastic and ready to go already in the back.
We pull from the madness in the forest and a bit of tension leaves me. I don’t like being around a lot of people, being in the open made it a bit bearable.
Smith gets us out of the park and back onto the highway. He’s blasting the heat but for the life of me I can’t get warm.
“So what’s the scar from?” He asks breaking the silence.
I sigh, “You weren’t supposed to be looking.” He’s talking about the long scar that runs from under my right breast around and curves down to almost the base of my spine.
“I know scar tissue when I feel it.”
He can read about this in my file, he doesn’t need to ask me at all. So what would be the point in not telling him?
“A few months ago we got into a bad scrape with a complete psychopath… He’d been cutting the breasts from women.” Flashes of their bodies play on a reel in mind’s eye.
They were always in dirty motel rooms. Places were you pay buy the hour and leave with a bit of your soul rotted out.
These poor women trapped in a place of such disgust. Their bodies always stretched out on the bed, hands tied to the headboard above them, gagged and bloodied. Their faces frozen in horror, contorted with pain and fear.
“He got you?”
I nod. “Almost… I got away but he cut me pretty bad. I was acting as bait, I let him get too close.” I shiver with the memory it hasn’t been long enough to fade.
“Dawson… he blamed me and Carlson for it. I’m only a consultant, not a field agent. Opened a full investigation over it. He was just waiting for the chance to get rid of SS, to bust Carlson back down to riding a desk…”
“So you quit?”
I sigh leaning back. “Don’t know how many times I’ve solved a crime, or saved an innocent, none of it matters when it comes to Dawson. He hates everything that I am.”
“Bad blood between you two?”
“It’s just the way he is.” I sigh. “Some people just are… no point in trying to figure them out.”
I clutch the blanket to me still trying to get warm.
“Here, we can get something to eat.” Smith puts on his blinker and veers off the highway onto an off ramp.
“I’m not hungry.”
“You’re in shock, you need to eat.”
“I’m fine Agent Smith.” I drawl.
He still pulls us into a twenty-four hour dinner, Betsy’s, serving breakfast around the clock. Obnoxiously bright neon signs telling the entire world so.