Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by thegirlthatwrites

People who say art is dead clearly have not been exposed to the art of sneaking out of a fourth floor apartment building at 1 AM.

The trick is to make sure the window doesn't close behind you, and that the screen doesn't wobble and make too much noise as its being lowered back into place after returning. Months and months of sneaking out multiple times a week had turned me into somewhat of an expert. A sneaking out artist, if you will.

Pulling the straps of my backpack tighter, I made sure the bag was snug against my back before slipping out my open window. After lining up some coins in very short stacks across my windowsill, I slowly lowered the glass window back down. A couple yardsticks and some duct tape were always my preference for holding up the screen outside. True, taking the duct tape off when I returned could cause quite a bit of noise, but a bit of risk was necessary when slipping out into the night for all kinds of sordid deeds.

That night, the sordid deeds would include paperwork, which was perhaps why my steps down the fire escape were even slower and excruciatingly softer than usual. No one was ever in a rush to do paperwork, especially someone like me who would just leave chicken scratch over the whole page and probably be forced to redo it. Still, it was a necessary evil I was willing to undergo for the sake of my job. It was more a career, actually, one that I was finally getting on track for.

You see, when someone entered a Youth Preparation Unit of the American Intelligence Organization, it was the first of many steps toward become an official member of the Organization. No one under sixteen joined the Unit, of course, and they had to be referred there, which meant the members were normally family members of other Organization employees. Or, they were gifted enough with certain talents to be sought out by some of our best persuaders.

There are twelve Youth Preparation Units throughout the country, and being a member is no easy task. It requires a great deal of secrecy, and a lot of late nights. For a year after joining, members of Units have to undergo training in every area required for a Unit, and only after that can they choose a specialty. Once a specialty is chosen, six months of training under a more senior member is required before someone can try flying solo in that area. From that point until the age of 22, Unit members work in their specialized area, and can only remain in the Unit as long as they continue with education. Then, another year of training at the Organization's academy is required before they can begin working outside the Unit.

When I said no easy task, I wasn't lying.

And at the end of my twelve month yellow brick road of training in every area imaginable, I finally chose my specialty: clandestine field operations. Now, there was a crapload of paperwork that had to be done before I could begin my training. True, my stomach was getting a few butterflies thinking about the possibility of flying solo on missions in six months, but a poker face was necessary as I walked through the streets of D.C. until I arrived at a movie rental store with a dim light flickering only half the name.

Double-checking to make sure I was not followed by anyone, I snuck around the back, opening the door with a key I kept separate from my normal keychain. Once inside, I completely ignored the door leading out into the store and made my way down a flight of stairs that led directly to what looked like a cement door. Placing my hand on the right wall, I felt a small vibration as the area around my hand began to glow and then the wall before me slid open, revealing the Unit base of operations. Normally, it was busy with the tech guy and his trainee and the analyst hogging the computers while me and the four other field operatives went over mission details or trained, and more often than not our mechanic was just sitting in a corner, fiddling with something. He wasn't the most social of the bunch, and I had no idea what he could do with cars, but Jesus Christ, he makes amazing cupcakes for people's birthdays.

Tonight, the only desk occupied was that of Blanche, our supervisor, as she leaned over her endless stack of paperwork. Her salt and pepper hair was slowly slipping out from her bun, but she seemed to take no mind of that or even my entrance. When I coughed loudly, she jumped nearly ten feet out of her chair, which I should definitely have felt worse about laughing at.

"I should seriously just become Batwoman, I'm fantastic at sneaking up on people," I bragged, falling into the chair across from Blanche and letting my backpack slip from my hands onto the floor. "So are we ready to fill out Mount Dead Trees or did the magical paperwork faery come and do it for us already?"

Blanche smiled thinly, a look she seemed to give me a lot, but the way she was shuffling around the items on her desk quickly gave away that she was about to lay down some news I did not want to hear. "Catherine..." she began quietly.

"Oh, s**t, no, you only 'Catherine' me when I screw up, and I know I didn't screw up." I thought back to my burn microwave dinner. "In the last hour."

Another thin smile, accompanied by an almost pitying glance. "Cattie, we just don't have the room here for another field operative. Four is far too many as it is. But you aren't bad enough for us to just cut you loose." To be called 'not bad enough' by Blanche was the closest thing to a compliment myself or any other member of the unit would probably ever get. "If you wish to remain a member of the Youth Preparation Program, we could do something that's very rare, and transfer you."

"Transfer me? Where the hell to? The other DC Unit? Charleston Unit?" I had worked with members of the other units before, and they were good kids, but they also weren't my people. I spent the past twelve months with my Unit. How could I be expected to just go and assimilate to a new team when now more than ever I needed a group I was comfortable with?

"DC Two and Charleston are full, also." There were some more shuffling of papers around Blanche's desk. "There is, however, an opening for a clandestine field operative in your old hometown."

I raised an eyebrow at her, a dry laugh escaping my lips. "You want me to go back to Boston?"

"They have one operative there now. Their team is good, solid...well, I don't know if solid is the best term..." She pursed her lips with the same look of disapproval she gave me when I played with my butterfly knife during unit meetings. "They need another operative. You can do your six months of training under their current operative and then stay there for the remainder of your time in the Unit."

I blinked my eyes a few times as I stared at Blanche, somewhat uncomprehending of the situation before me. Of all the ways I saw this meeting going, the proposal that I pick up everything and go to Boston again hadn't crossed my mind. "So, what do I tell my aunt? 'Hey, Auntie Nora, I know you have everything you could ever want here in D.C., but due to my secret job as a kid spy, we have to pack up our whole lives and move back up to Boston. That cool with you?' Honestly, Blanche-"

"Mrs. O'Hara," she corrected sternly.

"O'Hairy, look - I can't do what you want me to do."

"I understand it might be hard, going back to the city after what happened with your parents."

I narrowed my eyes at her, leaning forward in my chair rather suddenly. "They were my parents. You aren't the one who gets to throw around their death like a psychoanalytical poker chip."

Clearly taken aback, it took Blanche a few moments to proceed. "We can get Nora another job in Boston, one that's even better than what she has now. You still have friends in Boston, and your aunt is technically the owner of your grandmother's house up there. The unit there needs someone."

I slowly relaxed my spine, leaning back into my chair and purposefully slouching down enough to gain a classic glare from Blanche. "Why can't they find someone up there?"

"Their supervisor is...picky."

"What? Like a 'we only take on double-oh-seven's love children' type of picky? I thought that was just you, dearest Blanche."

"He thinks..." She paused, shaking her head a bit. "He thinks that other trial members of the unit haven't had the right 'fit'. Which is absurd, since I've seen some of their test scores. And he insists on bending so many rules."

"Oh, I bet that gets your control-top pantyhose in a twist." Another glare. I was on a roll.

"Anyway, he's removed too many members from his team. He won't have a choice. And frankly, Cattie, if you wish to remain in the Program, you have no choice either. Your aunt will be happy wherever, perhaps she'd be even happier back in her old town, too."

It was true, I knew it was. As long as Nora had a job, or at least just a place to volunteer and put her skills to use, she'd be happy. She loved D.C. now...but it had been nearly seven years. The first few months and years were rough for both of us, but would a move back to Boston be the same? She still had friends there, too, and we would have a place to stay. She already sacrificed enough of her life to take care of me. Straight out of nursing school and she was suddenly the sole guardian of me, a ten year old girl that lost both her parents in one afternoon. I was a nightmare to raise - I could still be a nightmare to raise. And she did it all without ever asking me to give anything up. She would go through hell and back for me, if it meant I could do and be what I wanted. And she would probably do it all with a smile on her face, and bring a basket of store-bought muffins for Satan on the way.

"I hate to push you," Blanche broke into my thoughts, "but I need to know an answer tonight. Will you or will you not take up the offer in Boston?"


© 2015 thegirlthatwrites


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thegirlthatwrites
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Added on June 9, 2015
Last Updated on June 9, 2015
Tags: meeting, sneaking, spies, secret, boston, dc


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thegirlthatwrites
thegirlthatwrites

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I just really like to write, and there's not much else to it. more..

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