Sifting through the formal documents he halted as his eyes gazed on his mark.
The paper was titled simply: SEC-REAL, filled not with lawyer humbo-jumbo, instead it listed figures and locations that actually had no significance to him, other than the unbelievable sum of thirty grand he was to receive for the copy of it.
Finally. He thought to himself. I found what they want.
Six weeks ago, he was on his way home from another unsuccessful day of job hunting.
There were no jobs available, at least none for him. No one cared to hire someone who wasn't in a unit, no matter how much experience they had. They were too scared of all the diseases he was more likely to have due to his understandable, though unacceptable, living situation.
He was on his way back downtown, when this woman approached him and offered him a lift. She knew his name, totally catching him off guard. She wasn't from his parts. Her fine clothes were the dead giveaway. That a woman so polished even smiled at him, nonetheless approached him to offer a ride, had stunned him immensely. She told him she had wonderful news to give him and asked him if he had time to meet someone. He did of course. That was the first time he was brought to here. It was a tightly guarded fortress. They had check in at two security gates and also a guard man at the front entrance. They didn't tell him anything at that initial visit. He was served food and light chat. The whole incident was a dream to him. The woman of the house said goodbye with the words. "I'll be in touch with you again very soon."
He told the woman in the travel clothes to drop him off by one of the public bathrooms.
After having been in such lavish surroundings, the filth of the unisex bathrooms was still not enough to bring him out of the surrealism of the moment.
He carried out his motions robotically as he washed himself up at one of the tiny sinks.
He was still dazed and baffled, as he excited the bathroom, yet certainly uplifted by the whole encounter.
He hardly took notice of the two men following him.
It was a good block or so before they sped up, closing the distance between them when he finally became aware of them.
Now, he wasn't one to get easily frightened, but these two men were in new, fancy suits and that was more rare than poodles with rhinestone collars in this part of the city. He had no idea what they could have wanted with him.
His heart pumped faster with each paranoid image. His long legs began a frantic type of gallop.
"Hey you there!"
The short pudgy one called out after him.
Because the voice didn't seem to be threatening, and instead seemed urgent, he stopped to face them cautiously.
In a slow mechanical sort of walk, they came to him. Each of them took turns to glance over their shoulders, to the left and to the right. When they reached him the slimmer of the two, obviously well fed men, began to speak to him in hushed tones.
"Do you want to make some money?"
They were mobsters, was his instant opinion and they want some big, poor, black guy to kill off some unlucky soul.
He was at once angry.
"What do you want?" He flared back.
The two weren't the least stunned at his hostility. They held their composure, took out some kind of ID, and waved it in front of his face.
"We are from the Office of Research and Development and we have a matter to discuss with you."
The thinner man, his eyes trimmed with wire rimmed spectacles, swept his long finger around to elaborate the meaning to his now threatening words. "This matter could either benefit all of us or create an unneeded distress in your life."
He glanced around the woman's library for a copy, or fax, machine or even a scanner. There was a computer, nevertheless no scanner was in sight. Anxiously, he began copying the figures by hand onto a piece of paper.
He paused each time as his count reached seven Mississippi.
He was slightly reluctant, yet his rate did not slow. The idea of his sweet wife urged him on. He wanted to give her everything she wanted and he wasn't even able to provide what she needed. His fingers mechanically flowed as his head again drifted.
The first day he met her she was standing with this crew of fly girls in a club he often went to.
Beautiful, was the first word that entered his mind, then the words maybe stuck-up. He had to try anyway, so he walked by giving her a subtle smile. She instantly threw back this fantastic wide grin. He melted, and walked up to her. They introduced themselves while they yelled over the pounding music.
He can always remember the exact details of the outfit she wore that night. It was a tight vinyl tank dress, light green, with flecks of metallic lavender causing it to change from green to blue with every fold or ray of light.
She had to sell the dress. The pawnshop owner gave her one-dollar for it, claiming he had no market for that type of dress and it was terribly outdated.
He never wanted her to sell that dress.
He folded up the copy, placed it in his shoe and returned the pen back into the top drawer.
Steps began to echo in the hallway and he scurried to place the original sheet back into the case, reset the clamp and relocked the case. He managed to do this and returned it to its hiding place. His fingers fumbled with the panel as the steps grew dangerously close.
He forcefully jammed the panel into place and closed the drawer shut. He barely had enough time to walk a few steps, stand and pretend interest in the garden outside the window.
His heartbeat loudly thumped in his ear.
"I hope you weren't bored." Her cheerful voice rang.
"I can't believe how beautiful your garden is. Most unit's I have ever been familiar with are still not able to sustain life like this." He calmly commented. He glanced up to see plant lights attached under the ledge above the window.
While walking to glimpse out the window, she regretfully replied. "I wish they didn't have to be under a unit to survive."
After peering at her flowers, she put on a more cheerful face.
She excitedly informed him. "I have things all set up and ready for you to be introduced to the program."
It's not too late. He considered to himself, I could eat the copy.
Their words invaded his head.
"She will be persuasive. You will want to believe her. It's all a plan to be rid of your kind."
He couldn't take the chance.
His instincts weren't enough to console him, their words repeated over and over in his head.
"Don't be a fool, cause you'll end up dead. Remember you're on a mission for us. You're going to have to hold on to your mind. Don't let her convince you."