Yay for fiction! In this short piece, a man has a frightening encounter with a pair of bizarre government agents.
I’ve been trying to write something every night over the last little while. This idea just popped into my head a few nights ago as I lurked around reddit’s nosleep community. I’ll be cross-posting this there with a reddit account in the name of the fictional character, soren_latsky. It feels good to finish something, even something tiny like this.
So, without further here is IAmA MIB AMA, ©2016 Bryce Beattie
Let me tell you why I don’t feel safe at home anymore, and why you shouldn’t, either.
I work as a freelance graphic designer, making mostly book covers for independent authors. Because I work alone, I get often bored and lonely. To help ease the monotony, I’ll often work at coffee shops and other public places.
About two weeks ago, I went to spend a couple of hours around lunchtime at a local food truck park. I love the mixture of warm, savory smells and enjoy the strange mixture of professionals, tourists, and families that always show up.
It was the height of the lunch rush. Despite the gray skies and unseasonably cool temperature, it was still pretty busy. I sat at one of the little wire tables eating a messy Philly steak and cheese sandwich. My laptop was put away in a bag for the moment. After I finished eating I could pull it out and not feel like such a table hog.
All at once I heard a commotion coming from around the pizza truck.
I craned my neck to see what was going on.
A haggard man bounced like a human pinball from the crowd and collided with my table. “Help me.” He gasped for air and flung something at me.
I raised my hands to protect my face.
The object bounced off my chest and fell to the ground.
And just like that, the crazy man sprung back into the crowd, pushing people and calling for help.
I sat frozen in place for a confused few seconds. Eventually, I took a deep breath and realized that I clung to sandwich with my left hand. I sat it down and looked into the crowd, trying to catch sight of the wild man.
When I turned back, I saw two well dressed men walking confidently through the crowd.
They moved fast, but didn’t run. Neither did they even have to push. The crowd just seemed to part in front of them. Both wore suits of black that kind of shimmered like they were made of silk or plastic or something.
They stopped directly in front of me. One of them looked down at my sandwich, then back up at my face. At least, I assume that’s where he was looking. He wore dark glasses. For reasons I cannot put down, he made me feel nervous.
“Did that man speak to you?” He said in the flattest, most mechanical voice I’ve ever heard.
“Uh, he said, ‘Help me.’ and then he took off that way.”
“We may need to ask you more questions.”
I didn’t even get a chance to respond. They pivoted and walked in the direction the man had bolted.
And just like that, they were gone, leaving behind only a whiff of unbearable authority.
I decided to wait around a bit. After all, I had a sandwich to finish and the man said they might need to ask me a few more questions.
About the time I swallowed the last bite, I remembered the wild man throwing something at me. A quick glance at the ground below and I spotted a black thumb drive.
I picked it up and rolled it around in my fingers.
Did he just drop it? Was it an accident? Or did he just want to give it to someone?
I was waiting around anyway, so I pulled out my laptop and plugged in the drive.
Yes, I knew I probably shouldn’t have done that, but I just couldn’t help it.
I instantly felt nervous. What would the men in black do to me if they caught me with the fugitive’s drive in my machine? Could I be arrested? Maybe this was a bad idea.
Yes, it was a bad idea. But I also couldn’t just not know. So I pulled out the flash drive I keep on my keyring and plugged it in, too. I clicked and clicked and told the computer to copy everything.
I nervously tapped the side of my laptop while the files copied. Any moment I was sure one of those agents would drag me from my seat and throw me in prison for theft of evidence or something.
File names blinked by in the process window. Many of them had “Project Kendrick” in there somewhere. Also the words “torture” and “experiment.”
It took like 3 years for all the files to copy. I probably looked like a paranoid groundhog looking around and back down at my screen.
When it finally finished, I tore the drives out and slammed the lid down on my computer. It took at least ten minutes for my heart to stop racing.
Another half hour passed by with trucks packing up and customers heading back to work or home or wherever. No men in black returned.
At last I decided to head home.
A few minutes later, I pulled up at the one-level apartment building where I live. The place looked pretty barren, but that was normal for mid afternoon on a weekday. After all, I think they all work 9 to 5 type jobs. My little car was the only one in the parking lot. I am sure of that.
I unlocked the door, entered and hit the switch. The lights did not respond, and it felt a good deal colder than it usually did.
Something out of place caught my attention from the corner of my eye.
I spun and just about crapped my pants. The two strange agents dressed in black sat on my couch, hands on their knees. Their jackets were open in such a way as to display their holstered firearms.
My stomach dropped through the floor and I started to shake. How had I not noticed them when I first opened the door? How did they get in here? How did they know where I live?
I stood there like an idiot for at least thirty seconds.
My voice shook when I finally got up the courage to speak. “What are you doing in my apartment?”
The agent on the right turned his head slightly in my direction and spoke in monotone. “Hello Soren Latsky. We are investigating an incident that happened earlier today.”
“But in my… house? Don’t you need a-”
The agent on the right turned his head the rest of the way and said, “Investigating.”
In my heart, I knew what he really meant was, “Greetings, I am a Man in Black. Ask me nothing. I will do the asking.”
The agent on the left stared straight ahead again and said, “We have some questions for you.”
“What happened at the food trucks?”
“With the guy, right?”
Silence. It felt like needles in my ears.
“Yeah, I, uh, was eating. And then this guy ran out of the crowd. He bumped into my table and said ‘help me’ and then ran away.”
“Did you help him?” Both agents spoke at once.
The metallic voices sounding together made my head feel fuzzy, like a punch to the back of the head.
“No, I just sat there. A second later, you showed up and then you took off after him.”
The left agent said, “Describe the man.”
“I just remember him looking messy and unshaven.”
The right agent said, “And that was your whole interaction?”
I felt the goosebumps spring up on my arm. “Yeah, I think so.”
Both agents made a “Hmmmm” sound and then their heads began moving side to side like one of those smooth gear sprinklers. It was a far more menacing movement than it had any right to be.
Were they scanning the room? Were they signaling “no,” like they didn’t believe me? I couldn’t tell.
Finally, their slow motion head shaking stopped, with one of them looking just to my right and the other at the wall to my far left.
The one on the right spoke again. “Can you get me a drink of water?”
I went in the kitchen. As soon as I left the front room, it was much easier to breathe. I hadn’t even noticed how tight my chest had been. Just their presence had caused a pit of fear to well up in my gut.
When I returned to the front room, everything was the same, except the drawer of the lamp table had been removed and its contents emptied upon the floor. Even the agent’s heads were pointed in the same directions as they had been.
I looked at the mess on the floor and then back at the men in black suits. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. I don’t know why.
I mean, I’m a man. I know my rights. I’ve been in my fair share of fights. And yet I found no strength to resist.
You may laugh at me now, but you weren’t there. You didn’t hear their sinister robotic voices. You didn’t see their cold demeanor. You didn’t feel their menacing gaze piercing straight through their dark sunglasses.
Well I did, and it shook me to my core.
I sheepishly extended the water to the agent on the right. The one on the left reached out, then snatched it. His head didn’t turn to look at it, mind you. He just grabbed it then dumped it right on the carpet as if to say, “We can do anything. You are powerless.”
Once the glass was empty, he dropped it, as if to punctuate his power over me.
The one on the right spoke again. “And the man gave you nothing?”
“No. I mean- n, no.” I backed away, not bothering to pick up the glass. “I mean, I did find a thumb drive on the ground after…”
Both agent’s heads snapped to face me. The movement was faster than I could even track. Less than a blink of the eye.
Again they spoke together. “What did you do with it?”
Again with the fuzzy mind. “It it it it’s in my pocket.”
“Did you look at its contents?”
“No!” It came out a lot louder than I intended. “Sorry. I was going to do that when I got home.”
In one motion, both agents stood.
“Surrender the evidence.” The agent on the left extended his hand.
I fumbled in my pocket and tried to not even think about my keyring. My hand shook like a rattlesnake as I gave it over.
The other held out his hand, too. “And the laptop in your bag.”
“THE LAPTOP.” His tone didn’t change, but it was loud as if spoken through a bullhorn.
A fresh bolt of fear shot up my spine. Will they know I copied the files? I couldn’t even look at the agents as I unzipped and handed over the computer.
The agent yanked the laptop away with his left hand and slapped me with his right.
The force of it knocked me back against the wall. Adrenaline pumped into my system and shouted at me to run away. Somehow my legs refused to move.
The two walked, almost gliding, to the door. Before leaving, one of them said, “Thank you for the inconvenience.”
And the other, “Let this be the end.”
It sounded like a threat.
The door slammed shut and my lights came back on.
I watched them through the window. They climbed into a shiny black sedan, a car I swear had not been there when I arrived. It made only a minor whirring sound as it pulled away.
And like that, the two most terrifying people I have ever seen were gone.
I stared at the window for a long time. Those agents could do anything they wanted. My home wasn’t safe. Nowhere is safe.
I’ve now spent twelve sleepless nights now just waiting for them to return. To tell me they know I have a copy of those files. To haul me to some abandoned warehouse where they torture me for information I don’t have.
Yesterday I bought a new cheap-o laptop. I don’t plan on doing design work on it. I only plan on looking at my flash drive. If I’m going to lose my freedom, I might as well know why. In fact, I have to know. And maybe I have to tell others.
I’m writing this from a public library. I have packed the essentials and I’ve submitted notice to my landlord. I won’t be sleeping in that apartment ever again. I’ll post this online so my friends and family know what has happened to me. Once that’s done, I’m going to find a quiet, internet-free place and I’m going to tear into those files.
Wish me luck.