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Pt. VII. Don’t Look An Iron Horse In The Mouth.
Four identical, white, non-descript-to-the-point-of-sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb vans parked in front of the coffee shop while Vincent Harris and Agent 34 were finishing up their coffee break.
“How do we know you’re right?” Harris asked. “Don’t get me wrong. Your idea makes sense and I really dig trains, so I’m in. But what if you’re wrong?” Harris ignored the four assault vans. He assumed they were full of government agents who were used to hanging out with aliens and didn’t seem to care too much for the Constitution.
The white vans shut their engines off, not in unison but almost in unison. It was close enough to make it seem creepy and slightly unnatural.
“I’m not. Watch this.”
Agent 34 stood up and waved right at the vans like they were full of co-workers who liked her and not co-workers that tried to kill her earlier in the day.
“You should come with me so you can see how right I am,” She said while walking towards the door.
Vincent Harris followed, slightly puzzled. He mentally made a few plans as to how he’d kill everyone in the vans if it came to that. He was sure he could do it without making too much of a fuss. There might be some goo puddles and limbs leftover, but he was certain he could make it look like an accident. He was even fairly confident Agent 34 would survive; she’d been pretty good at not dying so far.
Only one of the vans had someone sitting in the driver’s seat. Neither 34 nor Harris thought too much of it. This did change his emergency kill-everyone plan a little bit. Not by much, but enough to make him slightly more annoyed than he already was.
Agent 34 smiled and waved at the one van driver. He smiled and waved back.
“Told you there was nothing to worry about,” Agent 34 stated as much to herself as to Harris. “That’s Agent 59, we graduated from the academy together and worked with some aliens a few years back who were helping us develop semi-sentient vehicles.”
34 walked up to the driver’s side window of 59’s van. Harris stood a few feet back so he could keep an eye on everything. He busied himself by counting potential sniper nests and mentally plotting an escape route for himself if things between 34 and 59 soured.
59 rolled his window down and put a finger to his lips, to intimate that there should be no talking. He passed a note to 34 and rolled his window back up. One of the vans pulled out of its parking spot and drove off. The other two started their engines and followed.
Agent 34 waved and walked away from the van, indicating that Harris should follow. They walked towards the exit of the shopping complex, 34 reading the note as they went. When she finished, she passed it to Harris. It read “Observation only. No need to worry. Who’s the new boy toy? xoxo Agent 59.”
Harris didn’t know whether to hand the note back to Agent 34, put it in his pocket, or toss it on the ground. 34 decided for him by plucking the note from his hand while saying “See, told you I was right.” in a sing-song little kid voice.
“Great. I’m glad being right is so exciting for you, it must not happen very often.” He was going to say more but Agent 34 punched him in the arm first.
“Did it really hurt?” She asked, her voice dripping with false sincerity.
“More than you’ll ever know. What about the train?”
“Yeah, let’s go. We’re about a 20 minute walk from the station.”
25 minutes later they had arrived at the train station. 38 minutes after that they were sitting on a south bound train waiting for it to leave.
“I hope there’s a cafe-car.” Harris said. He was excited. Train rides to him were almost as good as long hot showers.
“I didn’t think you’d be allowed to eat anything that came out of a train cafe car with your weird diet and all.”
“I can’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy admiring the efficient use of space or those goofy cardboard boxes they put the food in so it doesn’t go all over the place when you’re walking around with it. And those crazy little tables? How do they fit so many in there?”
Agent 34 had no opinion of train rides. Or trains. When she wanted to go somewhere she got in the appropriate or most convenient vessel and went there without getting overly excited about interior design or food box engineering.
A conductor finished up announcing obvious bits of information (there was no mention of a cafe car) and the train began to roll out of the station. A pair of conductors made their way down the aisle, checking tickets and answering questions.
Harris had the window seat, to which he fairly won the rights in a best of three rock-paper-scissors tournament. 34 handed their tickets over to the conductor, who looked an awful lot like agent 59. They exchanged looks of recognition, but said nothing. Harris was consumed with looking out the window and didn’t notice.
About three hours later the train pulled into Union Station. The ride had been uneventful and relaxing. They made their way outside and Vincent hailed a cab, which he instructed to take them to the nicest hotel in the historic district.
The cab ride and check in process were about as eventful as the train ride. Agent 34 noticed more than a few Forth Branch watchers along the way, but nothing came of it. Seemed to her that they really were ordered just to observe.
They entered their room and 34 ran to the bathroom while Harris sat down on the bed. There was only the one. He’d asked for two. “She can sleep on the floor,” he thought, “or in the bathtub. Anyway, not my problem.”
So far Harris’ plan was working great. All he had to do now was lie to Agent 34 about what he intended to do and wait for her to fall asleep. He was hoping that the nap she took on the train wouldn’t mess with her bed time.
When Agent 34 came out of the bathroom she found Harris sitting on the bed wearing one shoe. He was holding his other shoe and it looked like he was trying to pull something out of it. Seconds later he produced an USB drive from the depths of the shoe’s sole.
“The old ‘hide some stuff in your shoe trick’ huh? A classic. What is it?” Asked Agent 34.
“Look, I’ll be honest: I was planning on lying to you about what I’m going to do tonight, but I changed my mind.”
“I don’t think we should assume that we’re alone or can’t be heard. So change your mind back and keep it to yourself. Tell me after it’s done.”
“I think it’d be better if you know. I’ll write it down.”
She started making coffee in the tiny coffee pot that every hotel room seems to have while Harris began writing his plan down on that little pad of paper that has a maximum of 8 sheets in it that most hotel rooms seem to have. It’s usually on the dresser or the standard issue table by the window.
This particular hotel had a tiny notebook with six pages of graph paper. The brown, obviously recycled cover bore the words “Thoughts and Ideas” at the top, the hotel’s logo was in the middle, and a space to write your name right below the words “This book belongs to:”
Harris wrote the word “Me” on the line where his name should go and then proceeded with his note to Agent 34. Halfway through the coffee brewing process Harris was done his writing and handed the notebook to Agent 34. There wasn’t much to it, less then 2 pages. When she finished she gestured for a pen and wrote “You’re fucking kidding, right?”
Harris gestured for the pen back and wrote “Nope.”
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