By 12:25, Arthur was in his blue Honda Accord and already on the phone.
“It has begun,” was all he said to the other end of the line. After a brief pause he continued, “Review the complex security cameras, have social media experts scour for further leads and information. I am in route.”
Throwing the car into reverse, he drove with extreme dexterity despite his unassuming persona. He flew down the street weaving through cars, turning knobs and dials on the dash. A screen appeared with a rotating image, waiting dissipate and become of use. “Review all known information concerning Beatrice Theodora Lee.” Instantly, the screen burst into action, scattering the rotating logo into hundreds of pictures and characters, as a computerized voice began speaking in a rapid succession of names, dates, associations, and life events.
This continued for the four minutes and fifty six seconds it took Arthur to arrive at his apartment complex. Turning left, he continued the wide swing of the car, slammed the brakes, and parked perfectly in his usual spot; he dismissed the chattering screen, climbed out of the vehicle, knowing it was unlikely he would see it again, and marched to the door of his building. He appeared borderline dangerous to those who saw him; his eyes were focused and unblinking on the door to his building, as he walked blind and deaf to the rest of the world. His neighbor, Ernie, was about to give a cheerful hello, but stopped halfway through uttering the word by the chill of Arthur’s eyes and authoritative steps.
Entering the building, Arthur bypassed his traditional route of the elevator and instead, rapidly mounted the stairs to the third floor. He unlocked the apartment with dexterity, smoothly locked the deadbolt and set a security code without a glance, and reached for a remote with just three buttons.
Across the town, a dozen other men and women were hurriedly heading home, rushing upstairs, locking doors, and anxiously looking back at the text they had received less than five minutes prior,
“It has begun. Prepare to debrief immediately.”
Arthur stood in front of his television looking grim, and steely faced. In a sense, this was what the last three years had been preparing him for; this was the chance he had been waiting for; this was going to make the monotonous days of waiting, observing and researching worth it, but he was surprised by the pangs of heartache, guilt, and worry that kept creeping up on him. He was sent here for an assignment: build a relationship with someone connected to the cousins, use the relationship to learn more about the cousins, expose them; truthfully, he had never considered what it would entail for Beatrice, or that he would actually grow concerned for the well being of someone like her. Regardless of these unexpected feelings, he stared at the screen with the face of a drill sergeant, as the faces of twelve others began to appear.