I stretched and yawned. I was bored. I had been sitting around for a week, and I had done everything that could be done. Every puzzle and paint-by-number was finished, I had mended all of my clothes, I had watched every movie I owned twice, and now there was literally nothing to do.
Bruce was snoring contentedly on my lap. He had never been so happy. A walk every now and then, a 24-hour playmate, and naps in between- what more could a dog want?
As I tried to paste my gaze on the TV, where a movie hummed, I patted Bruce’s head. But it was no use. My mind continued to wander.
Finally I made up my mind. “I am so tired of this! C’mon, Bruce. We’re going out.”
Bruce barked worriedly as he scampered at my feet. He was very smart, as most terriers are, and I think he suspected I wasn’t supposed to go out.
I marched into the hall and opened the closet. Pulling my leather coat out, I put it on with some difficulty. Doing stuff with a sling hindering your movements was no picnic. I frowned, but had to let the right side of my coat sag on my shoulder; although I did all I could, it kept slipping off. I was starting to really dislike that sling.
Bruce followed at my feet as I locked the front door behind me and opened the gate. He immediately set off to explore under the maple tree, but he kept checking to make sure I wasn’t going anywhere.
I leaned against my car and contemplated my dog. Bruce was a good dog, and he was different from most terriers. He had never attempted to chase anything, from rabbits and squirrels to bikes and scooters. He preferred to stay near me. It was nice to be loved so much by my faithful friend.
I whistled for Bruce and unlocked the car door. After letting Bruce in the car, I slipped in myself, smiling happily as I ran my hand appreciatively over the sleek door. The spy business paid really well, so I could afford my metallic-blue Mustang. It had tan leather seats, with a bit of leopard-printed suede lining the steering wheel. It was a great little car, and had served me well for several years.
I pulled out of the driveway, and headed to the highway. Liberty’s office was set up in an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Washington D.C. I knew the way well, for I had made this trip often enough both night and day. Bruce seemed to know where we were going, and he sat looking out the window expectantly.
I knew I was going to get scolded by everyone, but I couldn’t stand being cooped up in the house. I could sit through hours of rebuke just to work for 10 minutes. I was that desperate.
Finally I pulled off the highway and maneuvered through the maze of old waterworks buildings, abandoned warehouses, and weed-filled plots. Washington is a great city, but it has its faults: the outskirts were dotted with dangerous areas and abandoned broken-down buildings.
I pulled into an empty space and parked. As I got out of the car, I gazed at the building in wonder. Vines choked the building, half the bricks were crumbling, the sidewalk was almost non-existent, and trash littered the wilted grass that had somehow managed to survive. It was hard to believe that one of the world’s best-known spy agencies called this place home.
I walked through the sliding doors and checked in. The way to get inside was fairly simple, but effective in keeping out unwanted guests. First an electric eye scanned you for unmarked firearms. My .45 automatic had a special bug in it, so I got past that one easily. Next there was an electronic pad which you placed your right hand on, and it checked your palm lines, fingerprints, and hand size. And last, but definitely not least, was the microphone for checking voices. You had to say the password into it, and if you did not use the correct password, or if your voice didn’t check out, the alarm would go off. One time I had given the wrong password, and everyone in the building had come running.
Fortunately, I got in without any trouble and surveyed my surroundings. The building’s hallway was nicely decorated with black carpeting, white walling, and a few Agent of the Year pictures dotted here and there. Of course, the no one could tell who had been chosen as Agent of the Year—all the photos were blurry, all the agents pictured wore sunglasses, and all of the pictures were labeled with aliases for names.
The door on the left led to Leader’s office. It was well furnished, with the hotline to the White House, the main safe, and all of the files on known criminals of the world.
The next door led to the lab. The lab had a special tiling that resisted the strongest acids. Test tubes, chemicals, unfinished gadgets, and other scientific stuff lined the tables and shelves, and a table with the latest finished technology stood closest to the door. Sean Winters and Celia Ball were the heads of the lab, and though they were great scientists, they were not known for their neatness.
The shooting gallery, across from the lab, was pretty much just racks for guns of all sizes and targets full of holes. The gallery was open to everyone, and sometimes Leader scheduled a target practice day. He said a good spy is one that can wing a criminal, not kill him. Leader lives to bring criminals to justice, not just get rid of them.
The Disguise Closet was only called a closet; it was really an ordinary room, placed just beside the lab. Cindy Dean, my very best friend, was in charge of it. Boy, could she cook up some weird costumes. She was by far the most talented agent in that area. Racks were filled with every type of costume known, and more. The only other furniture were two full-length mirrors and Cindy’s desk littered with sketching, scraps of cloth, pens and pencils, new ideas for patterns, and old patterns that just hadn’t gotten thrown away.
The meeting room, directly across from the kitchen, was just like any other business meeting room. The kitchen, the first door on the right, was sometimes the shooting gallery, because it was hard to resist the temptation of having a contest using the big, white mugs for targets.
Directly beside the kitchen was the engineering room, the place where all the weird stuff we agents might need was stored. Collapsing ladders, parachutes, specials cameras, lasers, recording machines, innumerable objects with phones hidden in them . . . they were all there.
I peeked into every room, enjoying the ability the see it all again. No one was around, which struck me as odd. I shrugged and decided they were probably either gathered in the meeting room or in their offices. I choose to go to my office instead of exploring further, and strolled lazily in that direction, Bruce at my heels. The offices for all the different spies at Liberty were upstairs, for there were quite a few of us.
I mounted the stairs, a little out of breath from sitting around so long, and looked around in surprise. There was not a soul in sight. I turned left and went to the room in the southern corner. I shared that office room with Robert. A big surprise awaited just around the corner.