“There was no trace of the girl?” Director Phleer was grilling her head of “sanitation” Norton Bellmore. She thought of it as grilling, but if she were being honest with herself, it was more polite questioning. Mr. Bellmore, as she always addressed him when he wasn’t doing field work, was not a man Elle would cross lightly. He wasn’t physically imposing – maybe five ten or five eleven and fairly skinny with black hair and blue eyes. He was your perfect every man, the sort of person you wouldn’t remember five minutes after he bumped into you in the hallway. No distinctive birth marks, no tattoos, a plain clean cut hair style. Yes, Norton Bellmore had crafted his entire life to suit the work he did and his skill at it ensured he was very rarely spoken harshly to.

“Negative Director. Twenty-five bodies, all male. We checked them against the list before we processed them, all twenty-five were a match. No civilian casualties and no girl.”

Mr. Bellmore’s face was slack and expressionless as he spoke about the twenty five men he’d helped to execute last night, as he spoke his hands rested easily on his crossed leg while he leaned slightly back in his chair. For all the emotion he showed, he may as well have been reciting his grocery list. Everything about Mr. Bellmore unnerved Elle Phleer. She tried to use him as rarely as possible.

“Before you ‘processed’ them?” Elle asked with a confused look on her face. If she’d have grown up anywhere rural where people regularly hunted she would have stopped herself.

“After we execute them, we pull their teeth and eyes out to prevent positive identification, then we snip their fingers off at the first joint with some tin snips so they can’t be finger printed. We use a white phosphorous grenade on each body to ensure a total burn of the corpse, then we place the blast charges and cut some gas lines to complete the narrative about a gas leak. We’ve got men inside the local arson squad, so this should be over and done with very quickly. If it makes it any higher than that, men in key positions can be persuaded easily by your check book and easier by my tin snips.”

Elle felt her stomach doing flip flops and she began to sweat lightly. Hearing Mr. Bellmore talk so casually about butchering human beings made her nauseous and she was starting to think she might actually have to excuse herself to be sick before she could continue her conversation. She was just glad she had calmed down during her years in the position and no longer personally reviewed the evidence of Mr. Bellmore’s work.

Bellmore saw the look on his boss’ face and the corner of his mouth raised slightly at her discomfort.

“You asked…”

“Yes, I did. I think that will be all for now, Mr. Bellmore, thank you. I’ll call you if I have need of your team’s services again.”

“Oh, anytime Elle. It’s my pleasure.” He replied, in the same voice he’d have used if they’d been naked in a hotel room together. She didn’t physically react, but he saw right through her and smiled just a little bit bigger at her hidden discomfort.

Eleanor Phleer sat at the head of the conference table with all eyes on her. The president’s face stared down at her from a television on the wall. His expression and posture were so unmoving he might have been a painting.

General Crayton was there, as were the heads of the other Facilities. He started.

“So, from the beginning, tell us how exactly you lost a Laoton zero Director Phleer?”

“She became responsive on the 12th, verbally interacting with her caretaker -”

“For the record, who is her caretaker, we’ll want to speak with him as well.”

“Doctor Travis Stein, deceased. Subject Daisy was brought into a meeting with the project leads and yourself, sir. She removed her own restraints and threatened to kill the entire security team as well as yourself in opposition to our plan to use her in the war effort. Days later, Doctor Stein began work to establish a baseline measurement of the subject’s capability and control of her powers. He felt he’d reached the limits of the Facility as far as taking a measurement of her power and requested to be allowed to take the subject on an excursion for further testing. His request was approved-”

“And who the fuck approved that?”

“I did.” The frozen face on the wall answered before petrifying once more. No other discussion was had regarding that particular point.

“The request was approved and Doctor Stein left on his excursion Thursday night with a security team comprised of twenty-two of our best men. From what we’ve been able to piece together, the testing got out of hand, it was compromised and I ordered the immediate sanitization of the site. The subject was not recovered, nor seen at the scene.”

“These are all the relevant facts with regards to the subject and her disappearance, correct Director?”

“Correct General.”

“Okay. That will be all for now, you’ll continue as head of Facility 4 for the duration of the investigation. Dismissed, Director.”

Elle Phleer did her best to leave the room without her figurative tail between her legs, but she’d just had an arrogant old man talk to her like she was a moron in front of the president himself. Some situations were obviously harder to save face in than others, but she did her best and walked out with her head high and shoulders back. She’d sort this out, they’d get back on track and that piece of shit would never speak to her like that again. As she left the conference room she pulled her cellphone out and began dialing.

“Mr. Bellmore? I have need of your services again. I need you to find my Flower, please.”

“Yes, the usual. Thank you, Mr. Bellmore. I look forward to hearing from you.”

She felt like she needed a shower after having to be cordial with Bellmore so soon after she’d last spoke to him and gotten a walkthrough of his latest job.

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Author’s Note: As always, your feedback is welcome on all aspects of the narrative and website.



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