Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'd disattisfied with this and not sure why



Section Six

            The only seat left was next to a little girl. She was blond with eyes so darkly blue he thought they were black. A second look changed his opinion. They were definitely blue.
            “Whatcha reading?” he asked.
            She displayed the title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
            “I read that when I was about your age,” he said. “Any good?”
            “You mean, do I like it? Yes ... But fairies aren’t like this.” She nodded to the open book.        
            “What are fairies like, then?”
            “Nasty,” she said. She cut off the conversation by slipping off her chair and approaching the receptionist.
           
            He didn’t hear her question, but the receptionist’s answer was clear enough. “About ten more minutes,” she said. The girl nodded and resumed her seat.
            He fished in his inside suit pocket for the memo. “Robert,” it read, “You are tentatively assigned to Section Six, an inter-agency project. Details will be provided when you interview. Final approval is dependent on the interview and training. Best of luck.”

            “Are you here for the interviews?” He laughed at this. It was meant as a joke.”
            “I’m waiting for Mr. Scott.” she said. Her answer ignored humor. It was a statement of fact that did not answer his question. It was a conversation killer.   
            She wiggled in her seat. He was an elementary teacher for eight years before being recruited. He knew that wiggle. A bathroom was in order.
            “What’s your name?” He tried again.
            “Tabitha Darkblood,” she answered.
            “I’m Robert.”
            “Excuse me,” she said.

            She pointed to the restroom door. “I’ll tell him,” the receptionist said.

            Robert noticed things without being obvious. It was a gift, honed by training. Counting the little girl, there were eight people seated in the reception area. One wore a lieutenant commander’s uniform. He was navy. One wore a police uniform, but not from D.C. Robert was uncertain from where. The rest wore suits of varied quality, one of which cost as much as he made in a week. The rest were off the rack. Shoes were shined.

            He closed his eyes, not exactly dozing, but listening to the eternal buzz. A door opened. He listened.
            “Gentlemen,” a voice said. “If you would come this way ...”

Chapter two
            Robert found a seat in the second row. The room resembled a cheaply furnished junior college classroom. Two seats to each narrow table. A white board at the front. A desk. Counters and cabinets against the back wall. Two empty bookshelves.
            “This isn’t Men in Black, is it?” one of them quipped.
            “No, sorry, it isn’t. I’m Brian Scott, section coordinator. Your supervisors have selected you as best for our needs.”
            “So we’re the best of the best?” It was the same clown.
            “No,” Scott said. “Typically, those sent to us are losers. People that don’t fit – that think and behave in ways that mark them as underperformers. You’ve expressed politically or socially incorrect views. You believe improbable conspiracy theories. You don’t tie your shoes. You don’t wear socks.”
            Two of them looked at their feet. One grinned slightly.
            “Can you tell us what Section Six is – does?” This came from the policeman.
            “Briefly ... Section Six is an inter-governmental and inter-agency response team. We respond to unusual situations ...”
            Tabitha interrupted this by swinging the door open and climbing up on a chair, then onto the desk.
            “Glad you could join us,” Mr. Scott said.
            She nodded. “Potty,” she said.
            “So I understand. I was just explaining our mission.” She nodded again, and he continued. “Sometimes we investigate events of national or international importance, though the usual agencies are normally used for that. ... But there are times when, when things happen ... there are events that seem out of the ordinary. Those are our field.”
            Robert scratched his head, rubbed his nose. “This is an x-files kind of operation?”
            “I suppose there’s a vague comparison,” Scott said. “We don’t chase down aliens. But we do pursue the unusual.”
            “Such as ...?” This from the policeman.
            Scott thumbed papers on a clipboard. “Officer Patterson ...?”
            Patterson answered with a nod and a, “yes, that’s right.”
            “On the night of July third last, you responded to a disturbance at an abandoned warehouse on Wellhead Loop. You found a dead cat, a dead transient, and a limping dog. Describe the transient, please.”
            “He was dead; what else is there to say?”
            “Your report says he was ‘chewed.’”
            Patterson nodded.
            “It also says that the bite marks weren’t from the dog.”
            “As my captain pointedly said, I’m no expert.”
            “Tell us what else you saw ...”
            “It’s in my report.”
            “Yes, it is. And this is the kind of thing we investigate.”

            A few seconds of silence followed. The man in the expensive suit shifted in his chair. “My name is Davis. I’m an intelligence analyst. ... I saw a dragon once. It was a mistake to tell anyone that.”
            “I can imagine,” one of them said.

            “There are things out there,” Scott said, his words on the edge of the inaudible. “Things in which it is uncomfortable to believe. ... Let me ask you this ... Do you believe in fairies?”
            Snickers traveled the room. “My gramma did,” one of them said.
            “But do you?”
            A pause, and then, “Yes ... I saw one once.”
            Heads shook, a titter came from someone in the back row.

            “Gentlemen,” Scott said, “let me introduce you to Tabitha Darkblood. You probably noticed her in the lobby.”
            Robert nodded, grinned.          
            “Tabitha is here to illustrate my point. She will also further your training. Not everyone will succeed. Those who do not meet her standard will return to their previous duties without prejudice. ... If you would, Miss Darkblood. ...
            Tabitha stood on the desk, taking a slow turn as if modeling a dress. She favored pink. Her short skirt was pink, her knee socks a darker pink. Her blouse had two slits in the back. She wore black Mary Janes. Her hair was cut long, to the shoulder blades. She smiled. Her eyes reflected the ceiling light.
            And then her wings blossomed.

            “Nice trick,” the back row man said.

1 comment:

An occasional reader said...

Many short stories are just episodes that run out of steam. This has a nice couple of punch lines at the end. Fairies, dragons, ex-school teacher, Wizard of Oz - familiar themes. You should be pleased with it.