Chapter 3 – The Office
Did you miss the first two Chapters? Start Here and Here
Tina balanced her Caramel Macchiato flavored coffee, car keys, and purse as she entered the office. Lawyers sat at desks answering phones and shuffling papers. They formed their own groups as they spoke in multiple conversations. The office was chaotic already and Tina’s team were already huddled around her partner’s desk. Frederick, “Freddy” Johnson saw her come in and nodded.
“Hey,” he said as she sat her things down at her own desk next to his. Tina swiveled in her large office chair and turned the computer on.
“What we got?” she said sipping her cup, her eyes catching a figure in the distance.
Oh no. Tina’s hairs stood up on her neck and arms. That was him again. The same man from the club. She was sure of it.
Freddy waved his hand in her face.
“Earth to Tina. Everything alright?”
“Yea, I’m good.”
“You sure? I can get someone else on the case. If it’s too early…”
“No”, interrupted Tina. “I’ll be fine. What do we have?”
Freddy turned to the pile on his desk. “We got seven people, all reported missing within the last 24hours.”
“And they’re all connected to the Ja’mella case?”
Freddy handed Tina a vanilla envelope, “Yep.”
Tina crossed her legs. Sidney’s face stared back at her, the Journalist from the case. She pulled out another file and Chareese face smiled back at her, Brandon’s girlfriend, one of the men accused of the rape. Nicknamed Tree for his large size, she remembered his public arrest at the Soccer Field. They got off. Was someone out for revenge? She paused, remembering that Chareese was pregnant. She pulled out another file.
“Who is this man? I don’t remember him being involved.”
Freddy walked over to Tina’s side and peered down at the documents. The face of an elderly man stared back at him. His eyes scanned down to his name. Freddy pointed, “Emmanuel Jackson. Sidney Jackson’s father.”
“So, they’re taking relatives too now? This doesn’t make any sense. What’s he got to do with it?”
“Apparently, enough”, said Freddy walking back to his own desk.
Tina took another sip of her coffee and shivered. She was the attorney in that case and had successfully got the two black men acquitted. Could she be next?
“Did anyone see anything?”
“We can check the testimonies of the families, see where everyone was last seen.”
Tina’s body stiffened at the figure in the distance.
“Tina?” Freddy looked behind him. “What’s up?”
Tina snapped out of it. She had to remember no one else could see them.
“Nothing”, she said sitting the folders on the table, “the testimonies sound good. I want a full report on every single person, where they spent their last hours, where they work, everything.”
“You got it” said Freddy picking up the phone. Tina used the opportunity to walk away, loosening the collar around her neck.
“Is the air on?”
Freddy was already on the phone and ignored her question. It was burning up or maybe it was just her. She entered the women’s bathroom, closed and then locked the door behind her.
I’m losing it.
She splashed cold water on her face and pulled the bottle of pills from her purse.
“I wouldn’t say so”, said a voice as she popped open the bottle. The white tablets fell into the sink.
“Shoot”, she said, scrambling to catch them before they all went into the drain. Now she had to convince Erica to give her another prescription. She only caught two.
Her blood raced, hands grew sweaty and the hairs stood up on her neck and arms, her knees wobbling. She couldn’t turn around or look up so she kept her eyes on the drain.
“What do you want from me?”
“I am not one of them. Well, I am but I am here to help.”
They sounded just like men. Not robotic like people thought or in the movies. It still didn’t change anything.
“You don’t help people, you murder them. What do you want from me? Have you not destroyed my life enough?”
“Listen, I know where they are. The people who are missing. I know where they took them. Most of all, I know why. Give me a chance and we can work this together.”
Tina lifted her head to face the man in the mirror standing behind her. He looked human except for his blue crystal eyes reminding her that he was not her friend. He was one of them. And they killed humans. She thought of her nephew Ronnie and tears filled her throat, courage reaching her eyes.
“First off, we are not friends so stop acting like you can just pop in and out of my life. Secondly, I will never work with you.”
“You are acting like I killed Ronnie.”
“It’s your kind ain’t it? Same difference.”
“Listen, the government is trying to cover up the truth. Give me a chance and I’ll explain. We can be partners.”
“What? Why would I work with you? I don’t even know your name.”
“My name is Azbuga, meaning Strength, but you can call me Az.”
Tina shook her head, “Whatever.”
“Everyone has a job. Just like here. Ours is to watch over mankind. So, that’s what we are. Watchers.”
Tina turned around to face him. She thought Az was attractive for an alien, though she didn’t know what he really looked like. The 7ft being was clothed in a Hispanic skin with black hair and thick, black eyelashes. He wore blue jeans and sneakers which made him look normal. His blue jean jacket covered the white t-shirt. Except for his crystal blue eyes, he could be mistaken for a normal, Hispanic looking man. A very tall man. Tina wondered what his true image was. Maybe he’s a fire-breathing dragon.
“Why should I believe you?”
Az dug into his right hand and his skin gave way to his fingers like clay to the hands of a child.
“Eww”, said Tina, watching until he pulled out a coin.
“You can see for yourself”, said Az, extending the coin.
“I’m not touching that.”
“It’s the only way to get in touch with me. Whenever you need me, hold it in your hands and think of my name.”
“I still don’t know how this proves anything”, Tina folded her arms.
Az pointed to the symbol on the coin, “Just like we have jobs, we also have symbols. We’re the watchers so the eye is ours. CBS, the back of the dollar bill, cameras everywhere. All us.”
“So where were you? Huh? Where were ‘The Watchers’ when…” Tina’s voice trailed off as tears filled her throat.
“Not all Watchers are good. Some fell. We were supposed to watch you not…not harm you. Some of my brothers came down and did things with humans that were not right for them to do and now they’re just trying to cover their tracks, make it seem innocent. Still, not all of us are bad, Tina.”
“You didn’t answer my question. Where were you when Ron…”
The coin fell to the floor and Tina froze. She had not checked the bathroom stalls coming in. She picked up the coin and put it into her pocket.
“Amy. Hi. Yes, everything’s fine,” Tina stumbled over her words, her arch enemy staring her in the face. Amy walked over to the sink and turned the water on. Her dred loc’d hair pulled up in a pin. The woman washed her hands, cutting her eyes at Tina.
“Alright”, she said smirking.
Dammit T. Now you know she talks too much. Of all the people to screw up in front of, it had to be Amy. This would be all over the office by tomorrow. Tina looked around the bathroom. There was no sign of him.
“Why is the door locked?” asked Amy unlatching the door.
Shoot. I’m definitely not thinking straight.
Tina shrugged and swallowed the pills in her hand dry as Amy rolled her eyes on the way out the bathroom. Tina washed her hands and straightened her clothing on the way out the door. She stopped when she heard murmurs.
“I’m serious. The girl was in there talking to herself. I told you she wasn’t ready to come back”, said Amy.
“She’s grieving. Give it some time”, said Freddy.
“Well, she can grieve on her own time.”
Tina rolled her eyes and shook her head. It hadn’t even been two minutes and Amy was already talking.
I bet that coffee cold as hell now too. Damn. Today is not my day.