Maya did her best not to look in the rearview mirror as she pulled into the parking lot, but she could still clearly see the black SUV that was pulling in behind her, four maybe five cars back. Maybe she was just being paranoid, at least she tried to tell herself that. But then again, she didn’t exactly lead a life where she could afford not to notice even the simplest things. A bit of paranoia probably wasn’t a bad thing.
However, today she was not supposed to be working, today she had to act normal, if there was even such a thing for her. Somehow, Miles managed to see something more in her. It was a curiously wonderful sensation to be doing normal things with her normal boyfriend. Besides she was on leave for the next month.
No, she decided, the SUV didn’t mean anything, she was just on edge, too much coffee before she left.
Maya parked her car and double checked that she looked at least somewhat presentable in the mirror before getting out of the car and double checking that she had her pistol tucked into her pants. There wasn’t likely anything that could convince her to leave it behind. Even at a carnival with Miles, she couldn’t leave it in the car.
Miles stood near the entrance gates, one hand shoved deep into a pocket and a phone in his other. Probably was playing some sort of game while he was waiting for her.
“Took you long enough to get here,” he said with a playful smile.
“I am right on time! Not my fault you always show up early.”
He stuffed the phone in his pocket and swept her into a hug. She couldn’t help but smile and laugh. “Well shall we then? I hear they have funnel cakes to die for here.”
Maya took his hand and said, “I’ll follow you!”
The carnival was not unlike any other carnival she had gone to, there were a sprinkling of rides for people to go on, a plethora of different booths that either had something to sell or some game to play, and of course there were the many different food stands, all of which tantalized her with promise of good food just by smell alone.
At one of the game booths Miles won her a stuffed animal for a prize. She almost decided to show him up, but thought better of how he might take losing. The last time she won he didn’t speak to her for a couple of hours because he had to cool off or something.
A couple of hours into the carnival, Miles excused himself to the restrooms. The moment he was out of sight, two men began to move towards her. At first she thought nothing of their approach, she was standing near the restrooms after all.
But as they neared, they didn’t start to turn towards the bathroom entrance and instead continued in a straight line towards her. Maya couldn’t help but wish they would turn around. This wasn’t supposed to be happening right now, of all the places and times for something like this to happen now couldn’t have been any worse.
She glanced momentarily towards the bathroom, checking to see if maybe Miles was on his way out yet but there was no sign of him. What were they doing here anyways? It was stupid to assume that the Agency didn’t keep track of her when she was on leave, but to actually make an attempt to contact her in person like this was considerably more dangerous.
Of course the two men didn’t look like agents, or anything of that sort, at least not to the layman. To her they stood out among the crowd of people. She wondered if perhaps they were the drivers of the black SUV.
“Ma’am. We need to speak to you.” One of them said once they were within speaking distance.
Maya did her best not to frown at them, “What do you want?”
“We understand that you have some relationship with a certain Miles Dangro.”
“What of it?”
“Well ma’am, it has come to the attention of the Agency that Mr. Dangro is an enemy of the state. Given your relationship with Mr. Dangro, the Agency is cutting short your leave and is activating your operation status. You’ll find further orders in your safe box.”
“Orders?” She asked, incredulous.
Both men shrugged as they looked around the carnival, “Rather simple for one of your reputation. Find out what he is doing and kill him.”
“Good day ma’am. Remember you will find everything you need in your safe box.”
And without another word the two men left, leaving her standing alone trying to process what just happened. Not more than a few seconds later Miles hugged her from behind, “Everything alright? You look a little pale.”
“Yeah, fine,” Maya said, “Just great.”
They were anything but great. But that was a little fact that he did not need to know. The brunette smiled thinly, a finger pointing to a nearby ride. She watched the sapphire eyes of her boyfriend follow her fingers and pouted when he chuckled. “You want to ride the rollercoaster?” Maya nodded and linking hands, the two made their way through the crowd to the amusement ride. As Miles was paying for their tickets, Maya sighed, running a hand irritably through her hair. At least the ride matched her mood.
The apartment was a mess, something that wasn’t really new given her occupation. Even on leave, something else always came up making cleaning the last of her priorities. Her keys clattered onto the kitchen table where a golden folio sat, containing her latest assignment. She pulled out a chair, and opened the folder, staring at the top page.
In the upper left corner, a picture of her boyfriend was framed, highlighting his sapphire eyes and short brown hair. Right next to it, was a short bios, saying everything she already knew about him. His name was Miles Dangro, 26 years old and a pisces. Standing at 5’10”, he weighs approximately 160 lbs. His favorite gym was the Smithons gym, owned and run by family members. Her eyes skimmed the lines, noting the few things her boyfriend didn’t mention to her before paling at the information the came after the bios.
Mr. Dangro is suspected of being in league with the Shadows of the Darkened Lands (SDL). This organization was the cause of the disaster of ’01, when the Twin Towers fell. It is still unclear how this group shifted the spotlight from them to terrorists outside the country. However, we have gotten wind that the SDL are planning another attack, with Dangro as their leader.
Maya swallowed thickly, forcing herself to reread the document several times. If Miles was planning anything that was remotely destructive as the incident of ’01, the results would be disastrous. She took the oath to stop any and all potential disasters to the state. But she wasn’t sure if she could do this. She wasn’t sure if she could treat her boyfriend of 3 years as a potential criminal, or worse yet, a kill on sight after interrogation target.
She stared blankly at the bios picture, taking in the details that she had long since memorized. Her cup of coffee remained untouched and she barely moved from the kitchen table. Her mind to focused on deciding between the right thing to do, and the thing her heart wanted her to do.
“Sir,” The brown haired male turned, his eyes meeting those of his subordinate. “It seems the Agency has caught wind of our plans.”
“Is it just what we meant for them to hear?” The subordinate nodded, unable to suppress the shiver that he felt when he met his leader’s feral smirk. “Tell Matthew to begin the next stage of the plan.”
“It will be done sir.”
It was a Saturday and raining. Maya didn’t sleep well that night when she opened her safe box. She got home around 11:00 and spent the following hour reading and rereading Mr. Dangro’s file. Her eyes fluttered up and down the folder’s pages trying to find a misplaced clue to show a misunderstanding. The only thing saying Miles was innocent was her gut, but the more she read, the more her gut began to side with the words on the pages.
She decided she couldn’t sleep after an hour of trying and walked out onto her patio, but the visit was brief, as the rain began to fall. She lived on the third floor. Maya paced around her apartment, tired yet mentally active. She didn’t have many friends and her family lived half way across the country from her. There was an elderly couple who lived across from her: Bernard and Lily. She didn’t talk to them much aside from the occasional greetings when they passed by one another. All she knew about them was they had lived here much longer than she had and their names. She didn’t even know their full name. They were a quiet couple that she liked.
Miles and Francis were here only close friends. Francis lived in a small house about four blocks north of Maya. They used to work together until Francis decided to slow her life down and retire. She was old enough to mother Maya, but always acted as if they could have gone to school together. That’s how Maya saw it.
I haven’t talked to Cissy in a while. Maya thought as she looked at a photo of the two of them at their formerly-neighboring Agency desks. She contemplated calling up and confiding in her old friend, but decided against it on two accounts. First, she doubted if the Agency wanted her talking around, making the situation potentially worse. Second, it was 2:00 in the morning.
Maya walked by her table, finding the safe box securely put away and a mug full of water, ground coffee beans and cream left behind. She rinsed it out and put it away in her cabinet, surely to be used in the coming hours. She dropped her weight onto her bed and stared into her pillow—the part that bulged upward from the weight of her head. She danced her fingers on the bulge as if she was with Miles on a hilltop, quickly deciding to stop, as her arm was too tired to be held up for long. A buzz ran through her arm muscles as she laid it back down. It lulled her to sleep.
Maya dreamed of the hilltop she envisioned before falling asleep. Though, there were no people. Not her. Not Miles. Not the two men. Just the hilltop. She heard a noise in her sleep which she thought was the sound of thunder, off along the bright horizon seen by the hill. She woke to find herself cold from the night, as no blankets comforted her in her slumber. She got off her bed and walked out into her living room when she heard another noise. This time it was a thump that came from the window. She crossed over to her window and peered through the wet, foggy glass. She couldn’t make out much from the water coating.
Probably a bird or something. she thought. Maya found herself uninterested in the noise, yet felt a slight tugging from her stomach to go see what it was. It was probably hunger, but she couldn’t help finding interest in it. She slipped on her sandals and a raincoat and began her flight down the stairs. Cold and shivering, she began to hate herself from following her instinct so much. It hadn’t made anything better, recently. She reached the bottom floor and walked over to under her living room window.
Maybe my instinct’s not so bad after all.
It was a bird.
Clearly dead, she made her way over to under her bedroom window.
Slightly terrified at the sight and slightly amazed that two birds in the course of a few minutes hit her windows. She clambered back up the stairs, back into her apartment, took of her raincoat and sandals, and sat gently on her couch. A blanket hung over the back, so she took it and wrapped herself in. She had seen this happen to birds before, but given the recent events, she couldn’t bring herself to think about anything else. This made Maya slightly content, because for once in the past day, her mind could be hooked on something else. They were blue jays. Known in African American folklore in the south as the Devil’s servant. They were said to disappear on Fridays to fetch sticks from Hell and happily return on Saturdays, free from Hell for another week. The coffee mug remained in the cupboard, untouched.