Even though I felt sure it was wrong, I conjectured, “Wade passed on and we can all go home?”
“We can’t go home ‘til the damage is repaired,” Aidan pointed out.
“You’re right! Looks like we’re getting a hotel! Ooh, this would be a good excuse for a weekend trip!” My eyes sparkled at the concept of retreating somewhere relaxing after this strenuous ordeal!
Agent Hearne gingerly articulated, “Well, I’m glad you like traveling…”
Discerning a huge catch to his statement, I babbled, “I never used to enjoy going anywhere outside of Anaknock, I was always too afraid, but after meeting Aidan, I’ve learned to love it! Long journeys used to make me scared, but I realized I’m in control of the journey, so I got over my anxiety! I no longer mind becoming a bit lost ‘cause I know I can always come home again if things go wrong! Our house is rock solid! … Or it was! But still, once it’s fixed, we-.”
“Shannon, you can’t go back to your apartment for a long time!” Sandra blurted out. “It’s not safe!”
“It shouldn’t take the magian construction crew long to rebuild it!” I reasoned. “You could have Fays do it, it’d be a nice gesture, but we-!”
Chief Mazarine interrupted me, “You can’t return to your domicile as long as Wade remains at large! And don’t make a joke about his weight!” I had opened my mouth to do just that, but upon receiving that directive, I zipped my lips! Normally, I would never disparage someone for their appearance, but I sensed some truly ominous news in the works, so I got really nervous! Also, he did try to kill me, so of course I was a little salty about him!
Aidan queried, “So, we gotta stay in a secure location while we handle the case?”
“You two can’t working the case!” Agent Hearne revealed to us. That was disappointing enough, but we could have gotten over it if he hadn’t added, “You can’t even stay in the city!”
“What?” Aidan and I reacted incredulously. It sounded so outlandish to me that I was quite certain that I hadn’t gleaned that tidbit properly!
Agent Hearne broke it down for us, “Wade obtained a police officer’s cellphone, so he has access to our information system. That’s how he found your address! This means every second you spend in this… Yes?”
Aidan had raised his hand like a schoolboy, and once Agent Hearne acknowledged him, he asked, “How did he manage to steal something from an officer from his prison cell?”
“He wasn’t in a prison cell,” Sandra answered. “Well, he was ‘til they did a health screener and saw that his heart was failing. Officer Pálido got put in charge of escorting him to the hospital unit for tests, and apparently, she fell in love…”
“What?” Aidan and I cried out in unison again.
Chief Mazarine assured us, “Don’t worry, she’s been fired! No one wants someone with judgment like that on the force!”
I puzzled, “Who would fall in love with someone so physically and personally vile?”
“Didn’t your mother marry him?” Agent Hearne probed.
“Yeah, but that relationship was more about dependance than romance!” I contended.
Agent Hearne went on, “Anyways… Today, as she cuffed him to the bed, he began stroking her back seductively…” Aidan and I gagged at the picture he painted, so he let us know, “Calm down! They didn’t go that far! If Wade did have any intention of doing sexual activities, he couldn’t have done much because his heart is weak and couldn’t get enough blood flow to his-.”
I cut him off, “Look, I’ve been through a lot tonight, and it sounds like I’m about to go through some more- don’t add the torture of that image haunting my dreams to the pile!”
“So, he used this, I’m assuming, desperate officer’s credentials to bypass security measures and escape?” Aidan surmised.
“Yes,” Sandra confirmed. “You wouldn’t think that dying man would be so dangerous, but within five minutes of him gaining freedom, he incinerated a building and nearly murdered ten people! It’s so bizarre! He has months to live, but he wants to make sure you go down first?”
I reckoned, “Maybe he still believes he’ll turn into a Fay! I wonder if he’ll try and destroy the world again! Like if he can’t live in it, no one can? Seriously, I doubt he broke out of prison simply to kill us! It’d be a pretty short-lived goal!”
Chief Mazarine put in “The Ploutonion is monitored internationally now, so if he did go for it again, he wouldn’t get very far.” His logic was sound, but somehow, I doubted that these measures would have stopped him if that was what he really wanted to do!
“A-hem!” Agent Hearne made a bid for our attention.
“Is your throat dry? We could get you some water,” Sandra offered.
Agent Hearne politely declined, “I’m not thirsty! Actually, I am, but we don’t have time to spare for that! And we don’t have time to analyze the case either! As long as these two are in Anaknock, everyone around them is in danger!” Chief Mazarine subtly distanced himself from us when he mentioned that, but Agent Hearne ignored that gesture as he handed Aidan and me a wallet. “Our labs have issued you new identities. We have to keep you hidden until Wade has been caught! Or he dies, whatever comes first.”
My face fell, and I lost all of the color from skin as the reality of the situation sunk in! Everything in my life was about to drastically change! “So, we might be gone for months? For months, I’ll be away from my home and my friends? For months, I’ll have to leave the job I’ve waited a lifetime to get? For months, I’ll have to go by Sophia Swetinbedde? Really?”
“I like it!” Aidan snickered at the naughty allusion attached to this moniker until he opened his wallet and saw his identity. “Oh, I’m a Swetinbedde too? Kennedy Swetinbedde, no thanks! Can’t I go by something classier like Kennedy Jagger or Kennedy Hendrix?”
“Babe, those rockstars are bad-ass, but they’re not…” Prior to me completing that sentence, I made an astute observation. “Wait, you gave us the same last name?”
Agent Hearne explained, “It makes more sense for a married couple to get a house big enough to accommodate their relatives.”
Aidan’s eyes grew wide. “Hold on, we gotta get married? I definitely want to someday, but not today! I mean, we can’t even have a true ceremony ‘cause Wade might off our entire guest list…”
“You don’t have to tie the knot, but if you do want to, I am qualified to wed people…” Agent Hearne apprised.
“The FBI isn’t given that power!” Chief Mazarine objected.
Agent Hearne clarified, “That’s correct. My colleagues can’t do it, but I myself can since I got certified in order to perform at my buddy’s wedding.” He glimpsed our terrified expressions and concluded, “Okay, so you’re not on board with that proposal. Well, you still have to pretend to be a married couple ‘til this situation is resolved. We have some clothes ready to go, and you’ll have some food stocked when you arrive at your destination.” He viewed the tension we felt multiplying, so he tacked on to that, “I understand we made a lot of decisions about your life, and that’s probably pretty overwhelming…” Aidan and I nodded vigorously. “We’re willing to consider your wishes on where you’d like to go next. You can go anywhere, the only stipulation is it can’t be close to here or anywhere where your family or close friends live.” We remained apprehensive, so he added, “Your downstairs neighbors are set to do a nice holiday in Europe. This adventure could wind up being really romantic for you! Well, as romantic as it can get with your mom, sister, nieces, nephews, and cousin tagging along…”
Aidan inquired, “Cousin? Neither of us had any cousins at our house recently, so who… No! You can’t have Minna living with us! I have a restraining order against her!”
“Really? Shit! … Well, we can put a spell on her so that she can’t go within ten feet of you!” Agent Hearne strove to appease us, but we groaned at what a disaster this expedition threatened to become! He slid a couple of pieces of paper towards us as well as some pencils, and he instructed, “Get your thoughts off of the stressful aspects of everything by envisioning where you wanna go! Write down your top five choices, and i’ll send you all somewhere great! Oh, your family has their choices done already!” A group of documents suddenly appeared on the table in front of him, and we stared at them with appall. Clearly, neither Aidan nor I relished participating in this odyssey, and it shocked me that they were willing to partake so quickly! They didn’t even seem to take a moment to carefully consider the matter! It alarmed me how easily they were willing to leave their entire lives behind! I had no inkling to do the same! I strongly preferred to plant my roots further and defend my homestead against that monster! Was I alone in that? “…Unless you would rather rely on your family to make this decision…”
“No!” Aidan and I responded simultaneously.
We grabbed our sheets, and Aidan began jotting something down immediately! I ached to see what he wrote, but somehow, I got the impression that Agent Hearne wouldn’t allow that to transpire. He didn’t express any rules, but he had the demeanor of a strict teacher administering an important test, so I refrained from conferring with my boyfriend about this subject! I mulled over where I would have been willing to go, and I came up blank! It would have been different if we were picking a vacation spot, but I couldn’t envision myself settling anywhere that didn’t have my loved ones close by! Plus, I had been hoping to informally investigate whatever Wade was up to. I knew he possessed an unyielding yen for vengeance against, well, mainly me since I prevented him from wiping out humanity, but did he really lose the desire to do the goal that landed him in lockup in the first place? Whatever he was up to, he would be keeping it a secret from Sandra, Chief Mazarine, or anyone else they assigned to the case! He would be lying low from the authorities… except for me! I was positive he would resurface wherever I ended up to complete at least one of his missions, so I stood the biggest chance of thwarting his efforts! I had to go where he stood the greatest chance of locating me! With that on my brain, I scrawled a few ideas down…
Agent Hearne took a minute to pore over our picks, and I could no longer tell whose document was whose! I kept my fingers crossed he would opt for a suggestion of mine, and my anticipation climbed higher the longer he took! Finally, he appeared to have settled on something! “Alright, Aidan! Hawaii it is!”
My jaw dropped! Hawaii? That was the furthest possible state from Maryland! I’m guessing, I never calculated the math on that geography! I gave him an incredulous stare, and he seemed equally baffled. When he espied my betrayed glare, he defended himself, “Babe, I put that down as a joke! My top pick was ‘Whatever Shannon wants.’ Show her! Please!”
“He’s right, he did put that!” Agent Hearne confirmed as he laid down Aidan’s paperwork.
“See!” Aidan indicated to the beginning of his sheet, and I recognized he was, indeed, telling the truth! He penciled down his preference to do as I desired first, and Hawaii had been number two! Number three was Tahiti, four was the Bahamas, and five was Cancun, Mexico! Aidan justified his actions, “I put down the rest to be funny! I didn’t seriously believe they would send us to any of them!”
I bickered, “Why not? The Anhulsyns are vacationing in Europe!”
Aidan countered, “But they’re from Europe!”
“They weren’t allowed to go near their family!” The reference to family brought up another issue I had with this plan. “Why can’t we all go separately? Send Laraleigh and the kids to Hawaii! Then Aidan and I can do one of my choices!”
“And Minna! Send her to the other side of the country too!” Aidan beseeched him.
Agent Hearne told us, “Virginia is within walking distance of Anaknock! West Virginia and Pennsylvania are short drives from here, Delaware is still too close, and Aidan has an uncle in Ohio.”
Aidan quarreled, “He lives in a trailer! He could just park his home somewhere else for a bit!”
“No, we’re not displacing anymore individuals,” Agent Hearne declined his proposition. “It was enough of a pain in the ass scrambling to file the reports needed to get you all new identities in a hurry! That’s why you’re stuck with Minna! At least for a while; I’ll work on moving her, but I can’t guarantee how long that’d take since it’s not considered an emergency.” Aidan and I grew very crestfallen at the finalization of this agenda, and Agent Hearne squirmed in guilt as he requested, “Please hand over your cellphones and wands.” I nearly fainted after he uttered that, and to prevent an outburst, he quickly went into further detail, “Wade has access to your GPS, and you can’t reveal that you’re with law enforcement by using police issued wands! Once this is over, you’ll get them back, but until he’s apprehended, we’ve issued you new ones.”
“We can’t even communicate with our loved ones?” A lump rose up in my throat. I spent years developing a social life, and suddenly, I had to throw it all away! And I couldn’t even check in with my family going forward! It was so surreal that I had to pinch myself to ensure that I wasn’t in the middle of a horrible nightmare! “Ow! This is all real!”
Agent Hearne apologized, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through! Your family will get my info, and I’ll keep them updated on your case. You have my number too, so if you have any questions, feel free to reach out! It’s listed as IRS in case anyone gets their hands on your device. No one will be tempted to call that contact!”
I gazed at the outdated phones and puny wands he passed out to us, and my stomach tied itself in knots! I dreamt of becoming a cop since I was a little kid, and it my dream career got taken from so unceremoniously! It wasn’t fair! I wanted to resist, but I knew that wasn’t an option! I slammed my cell and my wand onto the table and positioned myself to get them out of my sight! If I hadn’t peeled myself away right then, I knew I’d lose my nerve! Sandra threw her arms around my torso and consoled me, “Don’t despair! We’ll arrest Wade and get you back before you know it! And you’re going to freakin’ Hawaii! It’s gorgeous there! I’m sure you’ll have a ball during this stay!” As she said this goodbye, I couldn’t share any of her optimism for this hellish journey!