Yesterday was a big day for word count and donations, so I’ve got a second chapter for you! If you like what you’ve read so far, consider checking out my crowdfunding campaign for my first novel, Whiteout! Even if you can’t donate, sharing the post helps us a lot and will raise awareness for our fairly new brand. Thanks to everyone who donated already and have a great weekend!
Just a reminder, this is unedited, a rough draft, and CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR WHITEOUT AND DOWNPOUR. You have been warned!
3. The CIA
The CIA are by far one of my least favorite secret organizations to deal with, and that’s mostly due to the fact that they aren’t so secret. The federal government funds them for the sole purpose of being clandestine, and they take the funding and power to heart. There’s no convincing a CIA agent of anything that’s not in their classified dossier. There was also the fact that I had briefly wrecked one of their operations involving a fake sasquatch, but at the moment of our capture, they had other factors on the mind. Namely, they weren’t very happy that James and I had gotten so close to Area 51.
For most of our journey we had black bags over our heads. Pretty standard for government spooks, and after all, we looked pretty suspicious. Two guys, covered in a mysterious black liquid, leaving a trail of bruised up tourists in their wake? I would have taken us in for interrogation too. Plus, there was the lead chupacabra that we still hadn’t located who had likely killed a man. That was going to be a headache for the agency to explain in the morning.
All in all, I was pissed off to have my hands tied behind my back and a bag over my head, but it didn’t feel like the greatest injustice in the world.
“You alright, James?” I had thought one of our captors would hit me for it, but they showed a surprising level of restraint. Score one for the CIA.
“Other than being the captive of an organization run by a corrupt government that I didn’t vote for?” he snipped, muffled by the hood. “Yeah, other than that, I’m f—”
He was cut off as one of the captors hit him.
How many times do I have to tell you to pick your fucking battles, James? I’m not saying he was wrong. The state of our government is an absolute wreck, but there are times when it’s better left unmentioned.
As we walked I was aware of little else other than the fact that the ground tilted downward and none of the elevators we got in were going up. The men responsible for our detainment said nothing, and for the most part did nothing other than march us forward. After a while, the clack of military boots on concrete floors or corrugated steel became monotonous. If I hadn’t been in need of my legs, I might have drifted off to sleep.
Eventually we stopped moving, a quiet but firm voice dismissed our captors, the zip ties around our wrists were cut and the black bags were taken off. I had never been greeted by a nicer site. Laid out on the table before me was a dark and stormy, my favorite cocktail, in a chilled bronze glass. Next to it was a fruity drink that made James’s face go red with embarrassment.
I walked forward and grabbed the drink without ceremony, sipping it delicately, not knowing when the next refill would come. The drink was strong, and James was getting shamed; it was Christmas come early. After a few more sips of the cold liquid, I lifted my eyes from the shiny cup to look at our host.
He was a very plain man, and exactly what I would have expected for top brass at the CIA. Square jaw, clean cut brown hair, dark eyes, and a dark suit to match them. There were a few wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, but they were likely from the secrets he kept, not age.
All I knew in the moment was, I didn’t trust him. The fact that he had given us a drink was a fine courtesy, but it could have been a friendly gesture, or simply used as a tactic to throw off our expectations. Worst case scenario, it was going to serve as our last meal, but the drink was damned fine, so it wouldn’t be all that bad.
“That was quite a ruckus you made out there in the desert,” he began, smoothly. His tone was one of a man that was composed, confident, and holding all the cards.
James had not moved a muscle since being released from his bond. The fruity drink lay untouched on the table, it’s many pieces of fruit slowly sinking into the sea of alcohol that was rapidly growing tepid.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you like your drink?” he asked James, wryly. “We’ve done our research, we know it’s your favorite.”
James said nothing, mouth clenched shut.
“Jesus, lighten up kid,” I said. “The man just gave us a drink, he can’t be that bad.” He absolutely could have been, and was that bad, but James’s sullen silence wasn’t doing us any favors.
“Ah Mr. Ventner, I did expect you’d be the one doing all the talking.”
I bristled at the lack of titles in front of my name, but tried not to show it.
“Do you mind telling me what the hell you think you were doing showing up armed within five-hundred feet of a highly secured military installation?” His tone had quickly shifted from conversational to chastising.
“Would you believe that we were chasing a chupacabra?” I had suspected the CIA was running trials on them for a long time, but never had proof.
“In fact, I would,” he answered serenely, and pushed a button on the table before him. The wall to our right slowly lifted, revealing a glass window. It looked in on a room where the alpha chupacabra was sitting, docilely in a corner. Its massive spines were laid down across its body, showing its submission to the captors.
“What happened to the man?” blurted James.
“Oh, he’s fine.” The man waved his hand casually. “Getting a quick memory wipe after we treat his wounds, but otherwise fine.”
I didn’t believe it for a second, but we weren’t in a position to question.
“You took down six of these in just under five minutes, didn’t you?” The man had returned his attention to James. “And if my sources are to be trusted, you beat one to death with a tourist’s telescope.” He raised his eyebrows. “Quite impressive really, I didn’t know they made them that strong.”
Despite himself, James grinned a little.
“I took down,”
“One Mr. Venter. You took down one with a machete, and if I’m not mistaken, it was the runt of the litter.”
My face flushed with anger, but before I could say anything, James spoke.
“You set this up didn’t you?”
“Oh cool it with your conspiracies, James…”
“Yes, in fact we did,” replied the man, ignoring my intrusion. “You can think of it as sort of an interview. Congratulations, you passed.” He paused, as if waiting for a jubilant response. When none came, he continued on. “Ordinarily we would be selecting you, James, but as I understand it, you work as a team.”
“Wait just a minute,” I started.
“Quiet down, Mr. Ventner. If we didn’t want you too, you wouldn’t be here. Now, as a pair, your reputation precedes you, and as it turns out, there’s a little problem we’re going to need your help with.”
“Whatever it is, we’re not getting involved,” said James. “I’m a free citizen, I know my rights.”
“Would you pipe down for a minute.” A contract with the CIA wasn’t something I ever wanted to have, but entertaining the idea was likely to keep us alive long enough to escape.
“I had thought you might respond that way.” The man did not sound hurt, or affronted, only assured. “That’s why I’ve arranged a place for you to stay while you think it over. The company isn’t great, but they might help change your mind.”
“No need for that.” I had no desire to see what the inside of a CIA cell looked like.
“Oh, but I think there is. You see, you’d be easy to bribe Mr. Venter, but your apprentice…” he let the word hang in the air, “He may not be as easy. No, I think you’ll find our accommodations quite thought provoking.” With a slight flick of the man’s wrist and silent steps behind them, the black bags were back on and they were blind once again.