Alpha, p.3
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       Alpha, p.3

           Daniel Schmidt

  Chapter 3

  Luke took me to a more comfortable room, one with two couches, doughnuts, and a coffee machine. He let me call my boss, who told me in a very matter-of-fact way that Luke was calling the shots now and I was to do whatever he asked of me. Apparently the agency Luke worked for was one that no one was supposed to know about and, as my boss put it, they got whatever and whoever they wanted.

  After the call I helped myself to both a coffee and a doughnut as Luke shifted through a pile of papers. I then slumped down on one of the couches across from him.

  Luke sat straight as a board, one leg crossed over the other. His shoes were immaculately shined, and I noticed a very expensive watch on his wrist. He was so buried in his paperwork I just stared at him for a while, sipping my coffee and nibbling at my doughnut.

  After a few minutes he spoke without looking up from his paperwork. “You don’t look like the type of guy who eats doughnuts.”

  “What does that mean?” I asked.

  “You look like a meat head.”

  “Yeah, I work out, thanks for noticing.”

  Luke looked up with the tense look still on his face.

  I smiled. “I eat when I’m nervous.”

  Luke looked back down at his paperwork, shifted through a few more, and found the one he wanted.

  “So what’s the plan here?” I asked, becoming impatient.

  Luke took a deep breath as he looked up at me.

  “That woman told you she was coming back to tell you more?” he asked.

  “Yes, she said she was coming back. Do you know her story?”

  “All we know is she recruits for the organization.”

  “How would she have found out about me?”

  “I have no idea,” Luke replied.

  I nodded. “So again, what’s the plan?”

  He sighed. “When she comes back, you accept her offer and get in nice and cozy with this group. You feed us as much information as possible and eventually, when we have all the evidence we need, we bring them all in.”

  “How many of them are there?”

  “We believe they operate in two groups or squads, about ten to thirteen men in each squad.”

  “And you have no idea what their motives are?” I asked.

  Luke just shook his head and then looked down at his papers again. He looked over a couple and then looked back up at me.

  “I need to send a quick bio back to my boss. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself,” he said without any emotion.

  “What do you want to know?”

  “Just give me a brief bio of your life.”

  I took a deep breath. “Well, where do I start... I grew up not knowing my parents, joined the Army at seventeen, and in between four overseas deployments, I got a business degree. After the Army I got a white-collar job with a company in Houston. I found out I hated being behind a desk so I applied for the agency. I got lucky and they picked me up. I got even luckier when a bunch of people retired and I got into the undercover program. I ran a few assignments back east and then got transferred out here to work white-collar stuff.”

  “Very interesting,” Luke said flatly as he scribbled notes. “My men said you came out of the graveyard right before meeting that woman. What were you doing there at such an hour?”

  The muscles in my chest tightened, and it felt like my windpipe contracted to half its size. Luke looked up from his paperwork when I didn’t answer right away.

  “It was four-o-clock in the afternoon and what does that have to do with anything?” I finally said.

  “Answer the question,” Luke said slowly.

  “I was visiting a friend.”


  I had the sudden urge to punch Luke in the face. “That’s none of your business.”

  “Who were you visiting?” Luke asked again.

  I leaned forward. “I was visiting a friend.”

  “Why do you feel the need to visit him?”

  I had another urge to punch him, and I found myself squeezing my doughnut so hard it crumbled in my hand and fell to the ground. Luke showed no reaction; he just stared at me.

  He started to ask the question again but I cut him off. “Because I am the reason he is in that graveyard. I did the easy thing, not the right thing, and he was killed, along with three others. What does this have to do with anything? I’m here to infiltrate your terrorist organization, not play twenty questions about my past.” I cursed several times as I scooped up my doughnut and flung it into the trashcan.

  Luke didn’t move a muscle until he looked back down at his paperwork to scribble a few notes. I stood and faced away from him to prevent a violent reaction that I knew was brewing.

  “Why did you want to get into undercover work?” Luke asked.

  I cursed under my breath. “Because sitting behind a desk or writing traffic tickets to soccer moms is boring. I like action, I want to feel alive, I want to live dangerously… and undercover work gives me a little of that. What does this have to do with anything? Why don’t we talk about something important, like the terrorists?”

  “Are you using undercover work to hide from something?” Luke asked.

  My face burned as my fury rose to a dangerous level. Then as quickly as it had come on, it dissipated, replaced by remorse. It felt like a thousand pounds were placed on to my back. My head slumped forward and my arms went limp.

  The room was silent for several moments before I turned to face Luke. “I don’t have the rosiest past, but that doesn’t mean I can’t perform. I’ve done a lot of undercover work, everything from the Russian mob to meth dealers to white-collar criminals. I’ve played them all and I won’t let you down, but I won’t do this psychology crap.”

  Luke clenched his jaw a few times and then stood.

  “When I ask you something you better be prepared to answer. I’m your boss now and I don’t play games. You do as you’re told or you get fried. This isn’t some silly little drug deal or a little bit of tax evasion. These guys are professional terrorists. Lives are riding on this, and I can’t have you clam up just because you’re a little uncomfortable.”

  “You threatening me?” I asked.

  Luke stepped towards me. “You bet I am. You screw this up or don’t do what you’re told and I’ll make sure you’re the one who lands in prison.”


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