“Shut up, Helen, no one gives a shit what you think!” Finnigan whispered in a dramatic tone, shuffling past the random law clerks that milled about in the halls. Helen, freshly insulted but barely surprised, scoffed at his dishevelled appearance as he rammed the key into the door of his office.
“Fuck you, Finn,” she replied, turning away. Finn smiled stupidly and pushed open the door, taking a single step inside before he saw her.
The leather satchel tucked under his arm dropped like a stone.
Scarlett waited patiently for Finn's mouth to close, secretly smug at his shock, and put down the coffee cup she held. Green eyes flicked briefly over his unkempt appearance.
"Well well, look who finally decided to come to work," she smirked, "Had another rough night, did you?"
Finnigan didn’t respond for a moment, his brain attempting to backflip out of his skull in an effort to process the intimidation he felt at her mere presence. He bent slowly to pick up his bag, pushing an ineffectual sentence out, slow and confused.
“But that was locked,” he said, gesturing weakly to the door.
Scarlett stared evenly at the lawyer and arched a brow.
-You need a holiday. Or rehab. Or both-
"Don't have an aneurism Finnigan, I'm not here FOR you, I'm just here to...talk," she paused, then laughed and shook her head, “Come and sit down, for God’s sake…is there no one in this office that can make a good cup of coffee?" she tried to ease his obvious discomfort, though the calm that she offered just tended to make people fidget more.
-I’m not even trying to scare you, seriously-
“S-sorry,” he said, awkwardly shuffling his body towards his desk and chair, “I’m used to people coming here for the express purpose of giving me shit,” he offered with a touch of regret, “Not that it’s unjustified, of course.”
He slumped into a chair by the bookshelf, “And no. No one here makes good coffee. They're all savages who drink brown dirt water.”
Scarlett furrowed her brow in disappointment.
“Well that doesn't make a good start to the day then, does it?”
She got up from the cushy leather chair she occupied and walked to the dark wood crystal cabinet at the far end of the office, unlatching the door and pulling out two square whiskey glasses and the accompanying decanter of amber scotch.
"We’ll just have to make our own drinks then,” she said, removing the ornate crystal stopper and pouring them both a good glass. She walked over and deposited Finn’s drink on a small glass table in front of him, taking a sip from her own as she moved to lean against his modern but messy desk.
"I came to talk to you about your...vacation,” she said flatly, “And I need you to tell me everything.”
Finnigan eyed the drink in her hand before fixing his eyes on his own. He reached across the desk and snatched it up, tipping his glass at Scarlett and letting his mouth curl on one end with a slight smile.
“You might need more than just one,” he told her, swirling the drink for a moment before sculling it and sliding the glass back across the desk through the corpses of balled paper and clips, “What specifically do you want to know? The place I was held? I told the…the other one…that much. What else? Do you wanna know how it felt to have my fingernails ripped out one by one?”
Scarlett fixed him with a look that clearly screamed unimpressed.
"Don't be such a baby, your nails will grow back…they didn't cauterise them as far as I can see so stop fretting. My understanding is they didn't do any permanent damage to you at all, apart from the knee, and I'm sure that can be fixed right up…” Scarlett pushed off from the desk and moved to sit back down in the overstuffed chair, crossing her leather clad legs, “So yes, Finny dear, I need to hear all the gory details, or at least what you can remember…and I'll know if you're lying, so don't make this any more painful than it needs to be."
Finn pursed his lips for a moment as he stared hard into her eyes. She stared back and waited until he relented with a heavy sigh and a bit of muttering.
“I didn’t see anything. I was blind the whole time. They took me from here, at night…knocked me out, I woke up out there. I assume I was there the whole time, I don’t remember being moved. There was one who talked to me. Wouldn’t shut up. British accent. Mean motherfucker. He tortured me. In a bunch of ways. There were others, but no one else spoke. I could just…feel them. Lots of them. An army.”
Finn shifted in his seat, clearly not pleased with the memory.
“I could tell something else was going on. It was as if there was some…operation…happening. Everywhere around me. Hushed whispers, commands, machines doing things. I was like a blind spectator, a distraction to the main event. But what the main event was, I don’t know, Scarlett. I really don’t…” he gazed at her, hoping that was enough and she would go away. And stop drinking his fucking scotch.
"Hmm," Scarlett mused, "An operation? What types of noises did you hear, was it whirring or banging? Were there hydraulic noises? I need details, Finn.”
"Buttons," he mused, thumbing the edge of the chair and looking slightly away, "Buttons and keys. Typing. People tying quickly, but like the kind of typing you do when you don't anyone to hear you typing. I have good hearing. No big machines though. Computers. Beeps. Soft beeping. Close but muffled somehow..." Finn trailed off, his mind recalling the sounds in the dark.
"Right, and British?” Scarlett prodded, “How many times did he speak to you, that one guy, and what did he say?”
Finn stood quickly, strangely annoyed.
“No, no. No. No!” he shouted, stomping to the other side of the room, “I’m not doing this. It’s done and…and I’m done. I’ve done enough to block this shit out already, I’m not dragging it back up,” he looked back at her, “How about you tell me something, Scarlett? You went there, didn’t you? I know you did. You saw it, the place? Hmm? What did you see?”
Scarlett narrowed her eyes at the immediate shift in his behaviour, his reaction sounding a siren in her head. He was hiding behind his outrage very well.
-Fine, I’ll play your game. Your dirty laundry will be aired soon enough-
“Nothing. I saw nothing, and that’s precisely the issue,” she told him, leaning forward, “It was so fucking clean that even I was impressed. Now tell me, Finnigan Chase, what the fuck makes you so special that they took you?”
Finn was silent. Trying to stare down Scarlett was like sneering at a freight train as it hurtled towards you; he wasn’t going to win, and he knew it.
“I don’t know!” he shouted finally, a sliver of pain crackling his voice, “Nothing! Everything! They took…” he stopped himself, digging into his brain to search for the perfect lie and finding nothing, “The British one, he said…he said they ‘own us’. ‘Our lot.’ He said someone could ‘save me’, but not ‘me’…” Finn raised his hands and dropped them, pathetically, “He said a lot of shit that made no sense.”
Scarlett bit straight into the sentence he had Freudianly let slip, standing abruptly and stalking towards him, backing him into his chair. Her knee-high boots clicked on the hardwood floor as she crossed the distance, leaning over him with one hand on either side of the chair as he sat clumsily.
“What. Did. They. Take?" she demanded, making sure there was no chance of him misunderstanding the question.
Finn’s face felt cold, yet the sweat on his brow was obvious.
-Idiot. You fucked up.-
“Something important,” he said truthfully, dropping his eyes and speaking slowly, “Something…with numbers and dates and…I’m not sure what else. I don’t really know what it was. I stole it from my boss. He kept it, from years ago. They took it from me. I had it and then I didn’t. He said that Lyra would…”
Finn stopped, looking up at Scarlett.
She was silent, impatient, waiting with a raised eyebrow.
“He said that Lyra Monére would know what it was for,” Finn spoke softly, “He said that she would pay to get it back. He said she’d probably kill for it.”
Scarlett's blood was boiling as she grabbed him by his rumpled collar, hoisting him out of the chair and shoving him backwards, slamming him into the wall so hard that a picture frame tumbled to the floor.
"…who, pray tell, is your boss?” she smiled darkly, “And remember that if you lie to me and put my family in more danger, the torture you’ve experienced from them will be a fucking holiday compared to what I’ll do to you…" she whispered venomously.
Finn scrambled to make sense of the thoughts in his head. Scarlett’s grip was iron and he didn’t even try to struggle free. Instead he stared at her, collecting himself.
“Arthur Wurtz,” he said quickly, sweating every word, “He runs this firm. His office is upstairs. He's a prick. He’s the guy who made me represent Bae…uhm, Mr Black and you lot. He’s the reason I’m here. The motherfucker hates me, but I doubt even he knew what he had. I don’t know what it was. I don’t think whoever took it knows what it is…”
Scarlett looked at the miserable man in front of her, the sweat beading on his forehead, the messy unkempt hair and the pupils dilated with fear, and curled her lip.
"Listen to me very carefully. You need to replicate everything on this piece of paper, every last smidge of information...your body and your sanity rely on it. You have 24 hours to come up with the goods…” she threatened, “And if you don't succeed, understand that no one will find you this time.”
With that she let him go, turning on her heel and stalking towards the door. She paused with her hand on the bronze knob, turning to stare at him for another moment.
"24 hours, Mr Chase…and don't try to run, it’ll just make you look weaker than you already are.”
Scarlett eyed Finn’s daft and speechless face with a smirk, then slid out of the door, slipping past the dumbfounded office gossips without so much as a glance. She was so angry she could have gutted him where he stood.
-And then what? The information would be lost-
Exiting the building and heading to her car, she mulled over his words.
‘He said that Lyra Monére would know what it was for…he said that she would pay to get it back. He said she’d probably kill for it…’
Unlocking her midnight blue Coba and sliding into the leather driver’s seat, Scarlett pulled out her phone and dialled Lyra’s number. The last thing she wanted to do was speak to ‘her Highness,' but this situation was getting messier by the second.
‘The mobile number you have dialled is currently switched off or unavailable…’
Tossing her phone aside, Scarlett shook her head, her mind wandering back to Finn.
"Fucking idiot,” she whispered to herself, revving the engine and pulling out of the parking lot and onto the highway toward Oakleaf.
She needed more information, and she needed it now.
Written by Matt Hood and Ophelia Black.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.