3 hours. 10800 seconds…10728 seconds…10664 seconds…10527 sec—
“If you keeping pacing, I swear to GOD I’ll kill you!” Medea snarled from the breakfast table, stabbing at her pancakes.
I forced myself to stop. Then to sit down.
“Please don’t,” Medea interrupted, giving me a LOOK. “We all know you suck at small talk. Today’s the big day. Everyone knows what to do. Thomas’s gonna talk down some dude. Shaye and Lucy’re gonna camp out in the woods, and I’m sticking to Donny like glue. If you give the signal, we all know what to do. It’s all good. We got a game plan. No sense in worrying before the first play.” She glared at me. “So shut up and eat!”
I’ll never get used to her. But I got up and grabbed a plate of pancakes.
It was true. Thomas and I had broken the news the night before. Neither of us saw a good reason to keep the plan from our siblings. They needed to know. After all, if Thomas succeeded, we could settle down, maybe work on getting a house. And if he didn’t… “They have the right to know that we’re all fucked,” as he had put it.
Speaking of which… I watched Thomas come down the stairs, his smile somewhat tense. Shaye stumbled in after him, grabbing some breakfast before collapsing at the table.
“Good,” Thomas began, rubbing his hands together. “We’re all here!”
I glanced around. I hadn’t seen Donovan enter, but who else would have actually cooked? Hearing my thoughts, he gave a cheery wave at me. Lucy sat next to him, engrossed in her monologue on camera film. Shaye still looked a little bleary-eyed but awake.
“Alrighty, you all know what to do, right?” Thomas asked. We all nodded. “Okay then. Let’s hop to it!”
Thomas headed for town square. He would meet up with the agent at the cafe. Depending on how that talk went, he’d give me one of two signals. Good or bad…
Donovan ran off towards the edge of town, Medea trailing behind him. She’d grumbled all night, but we all knew who the most physically capable of us was and it wasn’t Thomas. If anyone could keep up with Donovan and keep him out of harm’s way, it was Medea. He’d been told to hide out somewhere inaccessible.
Shaye and Lucy had orders to leave town, camping out if necessary until I gave the signal. Lucy had offered to stay with Donovan, but Thomas and I had agreed that we’d all be better off if we stuck to very small groups. Besides, someone had to keep an eye on Shaye.
As for me, I took the van out of town towards a high outlook. It was the only spot outdoors that could bee seen from anywhere within a five mile radius. It also gave me a good view of the center of town. Everyone looked like ants, but I could distinguish Thomas. It was perfect. I set up my gear. And then the waiting began.
I’m starting to really miss pockets, I grumbled to myself, having again tried to stuff my hands in pants pockets that just weren’t there.
As I walked down the street towards town center, I went over my opening arguments again. First point, lack of funding to the project could mean an overall loss to other projects and result in the Labs losing scientific prestige. Second point, selling the rights to the experiment would provide funding to other areas of the Labs, preventing bankruptcy. Third point— I glanced up.
The agent stood alone by a table outside the cafe. It looked like he’d just arrived, but was already impatient, glancing around. André Lefebvre. One of the younger agents they could have sent, but incredibly skilled. There’d be no fooling about with this guy. All or nothing.
I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders. Game time.
“Ah! Monsieur Thompson! I am pleased to meet you at last!”
Oh, god! My heart leapt into my throat when Thomas greeted the blond man.
“Stay calm,” I reminded myself. “Stay calm.” I took a steadying breath and peered through my binoculars again.
They were talking. Of course, that is the entire point, I chided myself. But that’s all. I scrutinized the plaza. Despite the time, there was hardly anyone around. There was the general store shopkeeper and that funny little merchant and the owner of the cafe. No one else.
I wasn’t entirely convinced. I stared hard at every nook and cranny until my eyes watered and the sun slowly fell. There were no other agents or persons listening in on the conversation.
Not a soul. I pondered that. Maybe this is really it. Maybe…it can all be over…
I crossed my fingers and trained my binoculars back on Thomas.
Practicing had definitely paid off. After I’d laid out my proposition, he’d started firing off questions, but I had a logical answer for everything he threw at me.
And he liked what he heard!
“And that’s how the Labs can further their research without infringing upon patent laws,” I concluded.
Lefebvre made a few notes in a small notebook before smiling at me. “Monsieur Thompson, thank you for your insight into the Landgraab Industries financial plight. I believe what you have proposed is quite sound and will agree with both our organizations.”
“Please, my client is merely a private investor looking to the continued advancement of the sciences,” I lied through my teeth.
“Of course,” and he smiled. “I shall report back to my superior and we shall contact you shortly with the rights to the DNA-OD experiment. I’m afraid, as I mentioned early, all specimen are unobtainable at the moment, but the rights to which will also be given to you in exchange for your client’s financial backing as soon as possible.”
“I believe we are done for today! Again, I thank you for your time and generous contribution!” He grabbed his coat, smiled again and turned away.
Oh, god, was it over?! Did I—
My head jerked up and I stood to attention. “Yes, Monsieur Lefebvre?”
“I trust that this discussion will remain between the two of us? If word of the Industries, shall we say, shaky financial standing, it would not be pleasant for either of us.”
“Not a word, monsieur. My client is a rather private individual. You can rest assured that this meeting travels between the Industries and my client and no farther.” I smiled.
“Thank you, again, Monsieur Thompson. And good day!” And he walked off.
I turned around and marched towards the cafe before collapsing into chair. After a few minutes of just sitting after standing for the last several hours, I ordered a coffee. I smiled and sipped it. I did it!
Chloe would handle the rest. Sure enough, a few minutes later I heard the soft popping of a firecracker.
I watched the agent turn to leave, then turn back to Thomas. I held my breath. Why would he turn back?! His lips moved and he nodded once, but ended up leaving after a few tense minutes. I couldn’t breathe, all of my being focused on the figure of Thomas. He stood still. Then, once the agent was completely out of sight, marched into a storefront.
“The cafe!” I leapt to my feet, then jumped again, just for the sheer joy. “He went to the cafe! We’re safe! It’s over! Fuck! YES!” I just laughed and laughed, barely remembering to light the fuse on my homemade firecracker.
I ran down the hill towards the van, covering my ears and laughing as the slowly darkening sky light up in brilliant red sparkles.
It’s all over!
Woo! That was a doozy! Over 1300 words and 25 images. I don’t think I’ve ever written a chapter that long before!
Next time, we’ll see the Mayfields finish off their time in France!
Thanks for reading! ^_^