The job is simple. Every day at 8:34 am I get a phone call. I answer it on the second ring and write down the information given. Under no circumstance must I engage in conversation with the caller.
They never told me why when i got the job, but now I do.
It wasn’t right away. I was a few months into the job. Phone call, I’d write down the information, and then I had to go hand deliver it to a guy in a particular bar at a specific time. It was simple and paid ridiculously well. I didn’t have to do anything else for the rest of the day.
The information didn’t seem like anything important. Sometimes it was a bunch of random number. Once it was an equation, another it was a chemical formula for something. I never thought about it.
But on that fateful day, it was something more. There was a name, and then bizarre instructions including a place and time. For a moment I thought that this was the kind of information you give to an assassin. Lost in thought, I went to hang up, “Thanks.”
The sound of my voice stopped me from putting the phone down. There was a deafening silence. Then the voice on the other end of the phone sighed.
“You shouldn’t have done that Adrian. Now they are going to have to get you. You should run.”
The phone went dead in my hand. I was still staring blankly at the phone, bewildered by my behaviour and the ominous message.
A twig snapped outside. I jumped at the noise. Oh crap, they are here. The voice on the phone was right. They are here to get me. Crap. What am i supposed to do?
I hunched down beside the kitchen table. I looked to the left, down the hall into the living room. There was no one there, but suddenly felt like there were eyes watching. A glance to the right, towards the backdoor, yielded the same result. I couldn’t see anyone, but the feeling of a strange watchful presence was there.
My breathing quickened, almost to a pant. That phone call had changed everything. It had ushered in an overwhelming sense of terror.
Another twig snapped, and my heart jumped.
I tried to think critically for a moment. I knew that my mind was going to take flight if I did’t calm down and rationalize. Why would someone want to come get me? Did that mean that they would kill me? Or was it a part of the firing process? I had broken the rules, I engaged in conversation with the person on the phone.
But what kind of information was I given? The name of a person, a place and time with some confusing instructions. I didn’t know what it all meant. I didn’t know if the person was a man or a woman. Why would someone want to secretly transfer this information from one person to another? And why choose me to be the one that has to do the transferring?
I looked back into the living room from my hiding spot. Still no one, but the weird feeling that I got when I looked that way was gone. Strange, I thought. I turned to look towards the back door.
I saw a gun barrel.
My chest heaved, and all the blood in my body stopped moving.
Kneeling down beside me, in my kitchen was a masked man, his gun positioned between my eyes. My lip began to quiver.
“Adrain, you shouldn’t have engaged with your handler.”
“Hey, look at me when I’m talking to you Adrain. You shouldn’t have engaged your handler in conversation. Now you have to come with me.”
The shock of someone appearing in my house was still so overwhelming that I couldn’t process what the masked man was saying. I looked up at him. He was a tall, blacked out figure. Though he had the light behind him, I could still see his gun.
“Adrain, get up down. You are coming with me. And don’t fight me on this, it has been a long day. I don’t want to have to shoot you.”
A hard gulp and a head nod were all I could muster. I slowly got to my feet. What in the world was going on? I had a simple life not 45 seconds ago. How did things change so suddenly? What was this information I had? What was this company that I was working for? Who was this guy that he had somehow swept into my home without me knowing or hearing him do it?
The masked man pulled my by the forearm out the backdoor of my house, and into a world that I didn’t know or understand. He threw me into the passenger seat of a vibrantly blue sports car.
I was still so overcome with shock that I didn’t fight him. He quickly assumed his place in the driver’s seat. A turn of the key, a quick rev of the engine and we were flying down the back alley into the city.
“Alright, we’re clear,” the masked man said, apparently to no one. We were alone in the car, and I couldn’t fathom why he would say that to me. “I have the package. The Puzzle Master is in hand.”
The Puzzle Master? Was I the Puzzle Master? Shock gave way to confusion. I wasn’t a puzzle master. I couldn’t even finish the kid’s crossword puzzles on the restaurant place mats. Why was this masked man talking to no one and saying that I was the Puzzle Master?
My face must have been conveying everything I was thinking and feeling.
“Yes, you are the Puzzle Master. You, Adrian White, are the single greatest code breaker that the world has ever known.”
“I..I..I’m sorry. How do you know my name?”
“Adrian, I’m your partner. Brody? We work for the FBI. Boy, that Witness Protection Program really stepped up their game with that memory wipe technology, eh?”
The shallow breathing was back. The madness of this information was becoming to much. Somehow I was an FBI agent, and I had gone into Witness Protection, and as part of that they did a memory wipe?
The questions were mounting exponentially. Brody looked over at me in his black outfit. Everything began to turn and blend into a warm blanket of black.
Brody started yelling. I could hear him just as my eyes closed. I couldn’t make sense of his loud commands. All I could think of was how this was supposed to be an easy job. Just me answering the phone. Who knew it would turn into this?