Fanmaw

The agent relieved his tie a bit and knocked. Five seconds later, the door to the little office opened, revealing a white man in a white medical coat and squarish glasses.

“Hello, Doctor Campos.”

“Hello, Agent… Hill. How may I help you?”

“Let me sit first, this is going to be long.” – The agent showed him the slim, but the considerable amount of papers inside of the file. The doctor nodded, and let him in.

“Tea, Coffee?”

“Water. Too much coffee lately.” – The agent was nervous, lips pressed.

“Surely.”

He poured the water from a little table at a corner of the room as the agent sat and opened the file, shuffled some papers. Campos put the glass cup of ten sides and water at the table, sat, and, with the elbows on the table, fingers entwined, spoke with the tone of a concerned coworker.

“What is the issue, Sir Hill?”

“The issue are artists, Doc, really dangerous artists. A piece of art in particular.”

“Ah, I heard of it before. The ‘Are We Cool Yet?’ movement. So, what was it? Deaths? Annoyance? Something lime green with purple stripes?”

“Disappearances. Accounted vanishings. Some civilians, some of ours. Many of ours, actually.”

“Hm. That’s worrying, but normal, really. Wasn’t the thing, whatever it is, terminated? It’s standard protocol, after all.”

“Supposedly, yes, but there were obstacles. For example. Do you know an ‘Agent Edwards’?”

Hill finally picked the cup by its borders and sipped.

The doctor paused, picking up his white patterned mug for the first time since he opened that door, took a good gulp of his lady gray tea. He looked up, his eyelids spurred. He held the air in. The name drew a blank. He forced his mind a bit more. Then let out his breath.

“No. Not really. Who is he?”

“He the guy you talked about the very same work of ‘art’. Two days ago.”

“Wait.”

His pulse skipped a beat. His surprise and vocalization of the same gave him enough time to look for his memories of two days ago. Surely he must have met someone named Edwards. His entwined fingers clenched. Campos searched his memories, his eyes now tense. He still didn’t know.

“Pardon?”

“Before yesterday, an agent by the name of Seamus Edwards entered this very room. He talked about this file I hold in my hand.”

He closed the file with part of the forms removed and slid it across the table to the vision of the doctor. It read, in black font:

NIHIL PIECE
SECURITY CLEARANCE LEVEL 3

Agent Hill held a paper at eye-level, and told him, unease in his voice:

“A particular piece of art by some Artist named Willow Whisper. It is at an exhibition at Oak Street. The street, thank god, is not a very frequented place. And fortunately, we were able to close it. But we weren’t able to secure, contain, and much less terminate the anomalous object.”
He put the paper on the table, revealing the image of a building, with several lines of typing beside it.

“Is that where the exhibition is taking place?”

“Where it took place. Yes.”

“ ’Took’, Sir Hill?”

“It ended a week ago. That was the only thing that wasn’t cleaned up by the operatives.”

Campos was surprised again, and his mind trailed off. He would have known a guy for such a short time ago. Rarely people came by his office. To actually request his assistance on the subject he had any specialty in. That was out of the ordinary. However, a moment after the words “cleaned up” were uttered. The doctor relaxed, he knew why he didn’t know.

“So I suppose this was already solved.”

Now it was the agent who cocked his head back, confused at the rather secure statement of the doctor.

“What? No. It wasn’t. What are you talking about?”

“This was solved, and, as is common for such problematic events, they gave me amnesiacs, wait, amnestics to forget it.”

Hill’s expression changed from surprised confusion to relaxed, if smiling understanding. He mockingly suggested, hand scratching the stubble at the chin:

“Sure. That makes sense. If only they did gave you those. Records show nobody issued them. For anyone responsible the cleaning of this piece, actually. You were part of the logistics of it. And you don’t remember Edwards.”

The droopy eyes of the doctor widened a bit.

“And, if you don’t remember Edwards, I think you don’t remember Dotson, either.”

His eyes stared open.

“Okay, wait. Dotson? There is another person I was supposed to remember?”

“Yes, this is the agent that from…”

He searched for the spread papers on the table and picked one with the photo of another man. His finger trailed to a date.

“…four days ago. Same thing as Edwards.”

Campos supported his mouth with his hand, apprehensively watching the photo, trying to remember this ‘Dotson’ fellow. After some time, he noticed that indeed, the man evoked the same response as Edwards. No recalling, not a word, a tone of voice, not a smell, not an object, and even his face was all around a new addition to the doctor’s mind. He didn’t remember a single memory that the image could, or should, muster. All was a blank. Nothing. Campos felt anxious, and blurted:

“Hill. I'm going to be frank here. I’m disturbed by this. And as much as I would like to keep slowly acclimating myself to whatever… danger this thing holds, it’s clear I am supposed to know this, and I don’t. Whatever usefulness I had, if I had any on the containing of this object, has clearly turned out to be useless, twice, and right about now. I probably shouldn’t even be the person you are even addressing this query about. Actually, if reading those papers about protocol served me right, you should have terminated this ‘Nihil Piece’, regardless of the civilian or staff lost, because of the last, what, two times you tried that, it didn’t work, and I don’t remember it not working. Actually, because of the lost, that would make it even more necessary to finish it, using whatever measure you could, if you weren’t able to detain, move or contain it. Leveling the whole building, if necessary! Why are you even talking to me, if the supposed participation I had in this whole alleged mission was, by all accounts, useless? ”

The agent looked at the doctor. His eyes showed that he expected what Campos exclaimed. He picked up the papers, put them in order, straightened them with two hits at the desk. He slid the papers in the file, and let them rest on a side of the table. All these actions were done to give the doctor time to breathe a bit, give him some time.

“Told you this was going to be long.”

He drank the rest of his water.

“You are, by all accounts, correct, doctor. But there are two factors here that make that statement of yours, not be, in fact, totally correct. The first is that your expertise. I mean direct expertise, is essential to solving this problem.”

“Agent Hill, I have a doctorate in Philosophy and not Arts, what, with due respect, are you on about.”

“I am on about exactly the fact that you have a doctorate in Philosophy, and it is needed.”

Campos’s face contorted in what could only be described as a mixture of surprise, fear, and disgust, cautiously dosed to amount to the iteration of a single, flat, word.

What.

“And the second one, and most important. Is that the disappeared people can still be secured, alive and sound. If you would, Doctor Campos, come with me.”

Hill stood up, file tucked beneath the arm. Hand extended to him.

“We need to brief you on how to get them back.”