T.C.K. Day Tripper

Rachel is asleep in the back of the van. Its really not designed for that sort of thing, but field assets tend to get resourceful very quick. God, how old is she? Twenty four and in this line of work? Its criminal what this economy does to people. She had a future. She says that she wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer but I don’t believe it. At least she was doing something with herself when the agency found her. Me? I was the drummer for the band Doomsaxxon. It wasn’t nearly as cool as it sounds. Just indicative of my very narrow skill set. I can talk a good game about expounding on the finer points of bands nobody has heard of, and I can hurt things really really well. Started out in the army, doing the latter thing in the only place I could do it with structure and control. They say I’m a born killer, but that doesn’t mean I’m a sociopath. Have to figure that’s the only thing that separates me from the hacks. Regardless, I messed up the uniformed gig when I decided to come out of the closet. Maybe not the wisest choice I ever made, but it was the one I had to make. The two-thousands were a different time, and the words “I’m gay” more or less ended my career. So, it was falling back on an encyclopedic knowledge of bands with less than two albums. Shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that it wasn’t really paying the bills. Finally though, Atticus found me. More than anything, it started out as a paycheck to me. Covering the bills. I suppose thats how everyone falls into it, including Rachel. Had no idea the things I was getting myself into. Why do I still do it, though? Don’t know if this is really the audience asking or if I’m putting it to myself. Well… because at the end of the day, its fulfilling. It sounds twisted to say, but it really is. Its thankless and bloody and often terrifying, but the knowledge that at the end of the day you’re doing something worthwhile does wonders for a man’s rest at night. It’ll keep you going even when you’re staring at something that you can’t even try to convince yourself is human and it’ll keep you going even when you have serious doubts about the people you’re working for. Maybe that’s why Rachel is here, too. This is the hardest part of the job; the waiting. Being forced to sit around when you know the hack is out there doing god knows what. Its part of the job description though. We’re searching as wide as we can while keeping our profile, but nobody goes to ground like hacks. Sooner or later though we ‘ll draw the Spider out. I just hope we aren’t too late again.

While I didn’t really “know” about hacks, in a technical sense, until after I joined the agency, I was already… familiar with them. In 1999 I was stationed in Kosovo. Being on the offensive was the easy part. Pointing lasers at things we wanted blown up. Sitting on the place, that was the hard part. It wasn’t that they hated us. It was that they hated each other. I saw the worst in human nature in those months, things that haunt my nightmares and things that would come to haunt my waking hours. Once you decide that a person is less of a being than you are, there’s nothing you can’t justify. No sin you can’t right with yourself. It… defies words, the things that it opens the gates to. Some people like to say it proves we’re no better than animals, but they’re wrong. We’re worse than animals. A human being is capable of almost profound depths of cruelty. Things which can only be described as the most perverse form of art, and perhaps the purest expression of what some people would call “humanity.”

I suppose I should wake her up soon. Its almost time for her shift. Perks of the job include access to the most sophisticated and officially illegal surveillance equipment money can buy. I like to think that toys like these are why we don’t get a dental plan. Its almost worth the trade off, even if I do know more about the sex lives of suburbia than I ever, ever wanted to. This is intelligence though, sifting through the rawest of data. Waiting for the barest glimpse of a glimmer of something suspicious. Something that will tell us where the Spider is holing up. I want to find this guy, but I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to it. Rachel deserves better than this. Something quiet and non-hazardous. Something where she doesn’t have to sift through the worst human matter on a daily basis. We don’t pick the hands we’re dealt though. All that’s left is how you play them…

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