A most peculiar thing – Third Chapter
I do not recall how I got in to my bed. I probably crawled my way to it after regaining my senses, if only for a few moments before falling into a dreamless sleep. However it wasn’t the rest as I was hoping for, as I woke up feeling the worst I have ever felt. I could have easily taken 5 contracts the night before and feel multiple better. My muscles were shrieking from the torment they endured, as my bones were feeling as if they were cracked. My hands lunged towards my torso, ripping my blouse open in order to inspect myself. Was the horrid tearing sound I heard not only a figure of my imagination, but the actual sound of my chest being shredded to tiny fragments? To my relief, it wasn’t. Although aching, my chest was whole and unharmed. ‘At least one thing is going my way’, I cynically muttered to myself. I pulled my bits and pieces out of bed, slowly marching towards the living room in order to fix myself a cup of coffee.
It was a mess.
The chair I was sitting in last evening was broken apart, its pieces scattered all over the room in no particular order. The living room rug received its fair share of terror as well, having a hole cut through it just where I was thrusted upon it in my return. The only sign of the book I was reading were a few bits of paper, laying around in no particular fashion. I sighed. It was a good book. I fixed myself a cup of coffee (the kettle luckily wasn’t harmed), and went on to inspect the damage. Something felt amiss, and after a few moments I understood what – all the cuts were clean. The chair’s pieces were separated as if carefully cut through by a craftsmen, leaving no splinter to the eye to see. The rug and paper received the same treatment, with the rug having the hole cut out in a perfect oval and the paper cut so brilliantly it could harm a finger. It was definitely odd, as I anticipated the damage to be much more violent in nature. I had no idea how to continue my investigation, so I decided to clean up the crime scene in the meanwhile, as there was no real reason to keep it preserved. I pushed all of the chair pieces and paper into a small pile next to the fireplace, but about oval-shaped in the rug there was truly nothing to be done, so I decided to get rid of it altogether. It was old anyway, and a tiny bit smelly.
I was just finished with cleaning up the now mostly barren living room when Harley walked in with dark bags beneath his eyes, a common side effect of filling an all-night contract. “I see you re-decorated the place,” he said in a monotone and tired voice, “and also got us some firewood. Too bad we won’t be using it in the upcoming months.” “Quit the jokes,” I responded with a patience-less response of my own, “did you get the pay?” Harley summoned a tired grin and took out a nice pile of bills from his inner coat pocket, neatly tied in a rubber band. “Always focusing on the important stuff, are you Wilson?” he hissed and threw the money on the table. “Never even bothering how it went, or what happened.” “Well they are mostly petty jobs, Harley. Nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle with ease.” I said to him. “Exactly, they are PETTY JOBS.” He angrily noted, “I shouldn’t be doing them anyway.” He marched towards his bedroom with a stiff stance, as if trying to hide the fact he was exhausted. “She threw in a little extra, with me being such a stud.” He noted before closing the door after him, “Use that to buy a new chair, one that won’t make you want to bash it like this one did.” He closed the door before I could think of a witty response. I didn’t take his attitude too harshly. Harley didn’t take well to sleep deprivation, especially when human communication was involved. It was one of his biggest weaknesses as a contractor. Besides, our banter was mostly made up of witty and dirty comments about one another, so it wasn’t something out of the ordinary. It was Harley’s way of establishing dominance, and I went along with it as long as he kept it within respectable boundaries. A contractor with no confidence is not a good one at that.
Harley’s door opened once again, with him strolling out of his room, already stripped down to his whites, with a letter in his hand. He handed it to me. “I nearly forgot,” he said with an apologizing tone, “this was in the mailbox when I came back. It’s from The Arms Bureau.” I opened it with concern. Could it be what I was hoping for? I read the letter and a smile engulfed my face. Finally something was back to ordinary in my life. “Well, my dear Harley,” I said with a smug, “looks like I finally got my license back.”
I was back in business.
“Are you seriously considering this!?” said Jane with a surprised tone. She came over to visit, as she usually does every few days. We didn’t live together, as we were both busy people with a lot on our minds. It was uncommon in our time, and most folk frowned upon it, especially Jane’s parents when they were still alive, but it suited us well. Anyway, I had just informed her that I got my license back and ready to return to my line of work. “You have been out of action for months! People your age don’t simply return to form in a matter of seconds, you may not even return to proper form at all!” I snuck a quick peak down at my belly, slightly ashamed. It had definitely grown a bit the past few months, but not from rigorous training. “I am perfectly aware of my current state, Jane. I have no intention of returning to the intensity before my license was revoked. But I can still do contracts that mostly require mental work, such as investigations!” ‘A good investigation would also take my mind off of my incident.’ I thought to myself. I hadn’t told Jane about it, as I knew she wouldn’t take it well. Unlike Harley, who took it with laughter and assumed I simply had a pint too much, Jane was a more spiritual person. I knew that she would believe me, but would also be mortally frightened and would seek for help in places I didn’t deem helpful. I do not need some sort of Shaman to tell me to drink a cup of cat urine two times a day. I need a logical answer followed by a logical solution, so I decided to keep this secret from Jane, at least for now. Anyone is entitled to have a secret or two, isn’t he? “Well, I won’t tell you what to do, Pat.” She said slightly unhappily, “But you need to start thinking about the day after your last contract, because it is a lot closer than the day after you first one.” I didn’t respond. I knew she was right of course, but deep down inside I was refusing to believe it. ‘My days as a contractor aren’t over, are they?’ I thought to myself. I was sure I still had a lot to offer in my line of work.
Good lord, was I wrong.