Chapter 16

As the sun peeked over the horizon, Arthur stepped onto the sidewalk, stretched his arms, took a deep breathe and began walking.  He didn’t know which direction he was going, but he knew he needed to move, to clear his head, to think about everything – from the beginning.  

Moving at a steady pace, he passed only the occasional morning runner.  He knew Beatrice was home sleeping, and would prepare for work in her usual manner; the cousins were most likely sleeping and would continue integrating into the town today as dictated by their plan.  “Nothing drastic is scheduled for today,” Arthur thought allowing his mind to wander.  He thought back, first to meeting Beatrice, to his first day undercover, to being introduced to the case, to his first day on the job.  He never suspected it would lead him to his present situation.

Eight years ago, he walked into the Citadel for his first day as a spy.  Spy work is exhausting, but until a spy is put on the first assignment, he spends a surprising amount of time researching cases, offering solutions, contemplating  new angles and approaches to integrate himself into a case.  In fact, most spies at the Citadel spend over half of their careers doing just that.  Arthur was one of the lucky few who found a case perfect for them after only reviewing about thirty.  Two months in, a file crossed his desk vaguely titled, “The Cousins.”  Despite the brevity of the title, the file was huge.  Arthur remembered being stunned by the file, which a small child could have easily used as a booster seat, or a small adult could use as foot stool.  Files this large existed for one of two reasons: the case in question had a rapid accumulation of crimes and inexplicable events, or the case had a long history of unanswered questions connected to it.  “The Cousins” was an example of the later.  

Diving into the content of the file, Arthur discovered over one hundred years worth of crime, destruction, and disappearances all connected to one single family. Terrible things happened, but then, there would be a calm.  These periods varied in length, and no one knew what happened to the family in the interims.  When Arthur received the file, it had been nine months since their last “invasion.”  He looked at all connections to the family, tried to predict their next appearance, and created spreadsheets, maps, diagrams to track everything.  He came up with twenty different ways to integrate himself into the case and go undercover.  The paper work took time, but finally he was invited to meet with the manager of the case and present his findings and ideas.  He was invited to work on the case, where he watched the next invasion from the sidelines, and ultimately, found his true means of entry into the case – Beatrice.

“I was obsessed…” he said.

-M.R. Gavin


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