Chasing Black Unicorns
"We don't expect it to be a quick mission."
I was surrounded by grey. The Agency liked to have our interviews in all grey cubicle square rooms that challenged our awareness of space and time. I’d been questioned in these rooms before. This would be, I hoped, another routine check in. I don’t think Del would be so stupid as to alert the Agency just yet. We were scheduled to meet on Titan later today.
“Good day, Dayo,” my Agency team leader said. She had a soothing voice that would sooth most souls, but she was as callous as her voice was caressing. Too bad I would never meet her. It was the Agency’s way of keeping checks and balances. If you minimize contact, you minimize human error or the rush to passion that can undermine a mission. This warm voice had been my supervisor for years. She was the friendliest, non friend I’d ever known. Her name is Bethany.
“Good day,” I said. “You’re not coming in today?” I joked. I could hear the smile in Bethany’s voice.
“No,” she chimed. “I’m just using my voice activation for now….as always. How is the investigation going?”
“Not so well,” I said. “We haven’t found any gateways.”
“We don’t expect it to be a quick mission,” she said. “Are you getting along with Del?” Her question was a gracious way of saying that our split was imminent. But I could tell from the light inflection in her voice that the two hadn’t spoken yet.
“We’re peachy,” I said. “You know, Del.”
“That, I do,” she responded.
“Bethany,” I said.
“Yes,” she said.
“Why exactly are we looking for these places? I mean, the rumors have been circling for ages.”
“You’re right, Dayo,” she said. “I’m surprised you didn’t ask the question earlier. And my apologies for not being more upfront with you. We just have reason to believe that there’s been a shift in the universe that may have ushered new access to these portals. We know the portals are real. We’ve known for some time. We’re hoping that these new leads will help us.”
“And then what?” I asked. “What happens when we find them?”
“Just find them, Del. Leave the details to us.”
Bethany was uncharacteristically secretive on this detail. That’s never a good sign. I made a few slight motions of annoyance. I sighed, I cut my eyes, I tensed up in the shoulders. Let her think I feel frustrated. She needed a shift in physicality to feel I was being honest.
“You seem frustrated,” she said. It worked. “Is it because I’m not answering your question?”
“I’m not frustrated. I just hope to get some good news to you soon.”
“You will,” she said. “Your patience is an asset for us. So stay that way. By the way, is your band working properly?” she asked, referring to our contact band, a thin silver plastic ring that wrapped around my wrist.”
“I believe so,” I said, speaking slowly enough to prevent my heart from racing. Anybody motion not in line with my words would alarm Bethany’s system.
“Well, it’s nothing major, but every now and then we get a glitch in your tracking system. It lasts a few seconds and then you’re back on track,” she said. “We’ve noted the locations and at least two of them are on our portal watch list,” she said. “I would like you to reinvestigate them. Both were bars. Perhaps you could hang around longer, ask more questions.”
“Set up residence,” I joked.
“Maybe so,” Bethany said. “And do some energy test,” she said. “We want to know what frequencies are radiating and monitor any changes,” she said.
“Got it,” I said.
“And report everything,” Bethany said. “I hear there’s a woman, very elegant, who stops by on occasion. No one seems to know where she’s from. Pirates speak of her, but she’s not in your reports.”
“I’ll be sure to describe every woman I see,” I said.
“You know what I mean,” Bethany said. “You and Del are attractive. I’m sure she’ll find you, if she hasn’t already.”
“I’ve heard the stories,” I said.
“When you find her, bring her here,” Bethany said. I wanted to swallow hard, but I knew better. My stoic demeanor was a default protector.
“Are you sure she exists?” I asked.
“Yes,” Bethany said. “That will be all.” Bethany’s voice vanished as quickly as it sound-walled me. I nodded, stood abruptly and walked out the room.
I didn’t have much time.