III. Time Out
Agent 34 turned on her bedroom light and saw Vincent Harris standing against the wall.
“Hello there,” he said.
She answered with two shots from her pistol. Vincent had anticipated this, and moved out of the way allowing the two bullets to slam into the wall, spitting out little clouds of plaster behind them.
She tried again, just once this time. The result was about the same. Right before she was going to pull the trigger for a fourth time Vincent vanished from her field of vision while at the same time she felt a slight breeze behind her. Her shoulder went numb, just for a second, and she dropped her pistol. Vincent Harris caught it and returned to his spot leaning against the wall.
“I don’t like these things, they make you lazy.” Harris said as he was talking apart Agent 34’s pistol and tossing the parts onto her bed.
“How..?”, she said, backing up slowly and raising a hand to her mouth.
He hated this part of the job as much as he hated the other parts. You dodge a couple of bullets and everyone freaks out. “How? How did you do th-th-that….” or “What the hell?!” Never was there a realization on their part that they weren’t living up to their potential and with enough time and effort, just about anyone could dodge a bullet or two.
They usually went into a mild state of shock and stared at him for a while. This only happened when he talked to people instead of killing them. As much as he complained about it, the killing part wasn’t as bad as the talking to people after you freak them out part.
“I was supposed to kill you,” he said, “but I’m not going to. I could have killed you just then, instead of taking your gun. It also could have happened about two hours ago when I first got here.”
A blank stare was Agent 34’s reply. She’d seen an alien before. She knew all about interdimensional portals. Demons were so common they had become boring. In her career as a spy, she’s killed plenty. She’s never, not once, aimed her gun at something, pulled the trigger and have it still be there. There was no precedent for this.
Experience had shown Vincent that there’s no getting through to people who are in a mild state of shock from watching him do what appeared, to them, to be impossible. She would be fine in a few minutes. He decided to wait for her rather than to continue talking and have to repeat everything he said after she pulled herself together.
“Let me know when you’re ready, OK? I hate repeating myself.”
She nodded. That was good. He might be able to get somewhere.
“Would you like a glass of water or something?”
She nodded again, this time in the negative.
“Have you ever been in a car crash?” Vincent asked. He didn’t really wait for an answer before continuing, “Time seems to slow down. A second feels like an hour. You can watch pieces of debris slowly fly past your face. It’s like you could almost reach out and grab them. A person can learn to do that anytime they want, if they really want to. Inducing time dilation is a great way to dodge bullets. It’s pretty easy once you get used to it.”
“Huh?” she said, having pretty much snapped out of it.
“I learned to shift my perception of time in order to make dodging bullets easier. It’s got something to do with the metabolism.”
“You asked”, he reminded her.
While “safe” might be a bad way to describe how she felt at the moment, “in danger” wasn’t a good description either. She didn’t need a name for what she was feeling at the moment, she needed some information about why this weirdo broke into her apartment to kill her but decided to not. Why would someone do that?
“I saw you at the house in Vermont. I blew the house up after killing Alum and taking his briefcase. You pulled up, got out of the car and made a phone call before driving away. This morning I was ordered to kill you. I decided not to because I’m supposed to be on vacation.”
Agent 34 nodded and sat on the edge of her bed, more curious than nervous. She was about to say something when he started talking again.
“Harris, Vincent Harris. I work for the United Sates Government, same as you. I kill people for them. There’s some other stuff too, but it’s mostly killing. I know you work for the Fourth Branch and have a pretty high security clearance with the Department of Agriculture, so I’m guessing that you know about the aliens. I don’t know your real name or anything else about you. I don’t really want to either. I just want my vacation and it’d be nice if you’d be willing to help me out here.”
“So, wait.” She said, having fully regained her composure. “Why were you after Alum? I’d been working that case for six months.”
“I don’t know. I don’t get reasons, just names and locations. That guy was a weirdo and I’m not sure I want to know anything else about him.”
“What was in the case?” She asked.
“I didn’t look.”
“Because you weren’t ordered to?”
“Mostly because I don’t give a crap. You know how many secret briefcases I have to deal with in any given week? They all have secrets in them.”
A phone rang from the other room.
“You should get that, it’s probably for me. I bet it’s work related.”
“You go get it.” She answered.
“So you keep your spare gun in here then?” Harris guessed out loud.
He didn’t wait for an answer, he just went and got the phone. By the time he found it and returned to Agent 34’s bedroom, it had stopped ringing.
“Does your phone get calls from more than one number? Mine doesn’t. I have to carry around two if I want to be able to order a pizza.”
The phone rang again and Vincent answered it. “Hi there. Nope, not dead. I already told you why.” Then he hung up.
Vincent handed the phone back to Agent 34 and turned his attention to re-assembling her pistol.
“Here ya go. You might need this. We should go soon.”
“Why’s that?” She asked.
“Because someone is trying to kill you.”