Day three of the same story I’ve been pursuing the past couple of days. We’ll call it Ashley’s Story.
The young man looked up, bewildered. He stared at the woman in front of him for a long moment before saying her name. “Ashley Renald?”
She sighed. “Yes.”
They looked each other in the eyes for a long moment. He knew who she was, and she knew he knew. He finally looked at the paperwork and started typing into his computer.
“I’ll still need to see your ID.”
She handed it to him without hesitation.
He took the ID, typed for a moment more when a door close by opened. Seconds later, Ashley noticed a tall, thin man walk into the reception area. He walked with a cane and wore glasses. He came to the recruiter and placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder but nodded to Ashley.
The young man looked up to his boss. “Lester?”
“I have her file in my office, James. Come with me, Ms. Renald.”
She looked the man up and down, then nodded. She stood and he led the way into his office. She noted that there was not a speck of lint on his impossibly black suit. It fit well but she could imagine that it was his favorite suit.
In the office, he indicated a chair for her. He rounded his large desk and sat in the dark red leather chair. She waited for him to speak as she found a comfortable spot in the chair.
“I’ve been waiting for you to apply, if you haven’t noticed.”
“You did send me the application, Mr. Zern.”
“The Valedictorian, and the top sniper, always gets an application. It’s very rare that is the same person.”
Ashley nodded but stayed silent. She didn’t know what to say.
“Tell me why you want to join the Messengers, Ms. Renald.”
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “My family has been a part of the Agency for as long as there has been an Agency.” She looked Mr. Zern in the eye. “It has come to my attention that maybe this isn’t a good thing.”
“It’s possible people are starting to ignore the things they do. It’s possible people with my last name may or may not be breaking rules, and higher ups are ignoring them due to the family’s longevity with the Agency.”
Mr. Zern crossed his arms. “It has come to my attention that this may be the case, as well.”
They stared at each other for a moment across the desk. Mr. Zern nodded and reached into the top desk drawer on his right. He pulled out a hand gun and handed it to Ashley. She took it, checked to see if it was loaded and placed it on the desk in front of her. Mr. Zern clicked the intercom.
“James, come in here please.”
There was a knock on the door, but James didn’t wait for an answer. He came in and closed the door.
“Stand against the far wall.” He stood and nodded to Ashley.
Ashley stood as well.
“Take the gun.”
She frowned but did as told. James placed his back to the wall and waited to see what was going on. He had a small frown on his face but seemed calm. Mr. Zern led Ashley to about ten feet away from James.
Ashley had the gun in her hands, ready to use it, but it was pointed toward the floor. She looked to Mr. Zern. “Why?”
“Are you questioning my orders?”
“Yes. The Messengers don’t kill indiscriminately. If they did, I wouldn’t’ be here. Why do you want me to kill him? What has he done to deserve death?”
Mr. Zern held out his hand for the gun. Ashley clicked the safety on and handed it to him. He nodded to James and the man left.
“The gun is filled with blanks. Do you know how many people just shoot?”
“About 90 percent.”
“How many of the ones that shoot were excepted into the Messengers?”
Ashley nodded. “Does this mean I passed?”
“The initial application process is well underway, Ms. Renald.” He held his hand out to her. “Welcome to the Messengers.”
Ashley smiled and shook his hand.