Afflictions: Part Thirty Five

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Paul rode in the back of one of the DSR’s cars with Deven. They’d been riding for about 20 minutes, and there’d been a lot of stopping and starting, so he figured traffic was bad. He focused predominantly on keeping his cool. He’d done a lot over this past week or so with everything in his vision set right. It really was amazing what one could accomplish when they didn’t have to constantly relive the vision of a little girl being murdered. Regardless, Paul was at least interested to know what ‘Josh’ had done with the DSR, since he hadn’t been paying a whole lot of attention the last year or so.

The car took a turn, and slowed down considerably, before coming to a complete stop.

“We’re here.” The driver said. His voice was young and happy. He sounded American, but more like he was from the north. Imported talent.

“Thank you.” Deven replied, and Paul nodded in sync. The pair got out of the car and were promptly greeted by a familiar voice.

“Deven and Paul!” Josh said a little too loudly. “Love to see ya!”

“Good to see you too, Josh.” Paul smiled and nodded.

He’d seen Josh a couple of times in miscellaneous visions, but not very often. He was a clean cut ‘tall skinny white guy’ who liked suits, but also liked to be more personal in his interactions. He was generally pretty nice, which was interesting in conjunction with him being the head of an important government agency. Paul had two theories about it. Either he was placed in this job to neuter the agency, or he is secretly cutthroat. Perhaps his outlook was pessimistic, but if you’re always pessimistic, you’re either pleasantly surprised or right.

Paul felt Josh take his arm and begin moving him towards what he presumed was the DSR HQ, and deftly ducked out of his grip, returning to Deven’s side. “I’m good, thanks.”

“Oh, my bad!” Josh replied, his cheerful tone unfazed. “Right this way.”

Josh led them into a cool air conditioned building, which was nice in comparison to the unpleasant heat outside. Inside it was relatively quiet, with a couple of sets of footsteps other than their own echoing through the lobby.

“Welcome to the DSR, how can I help you?” A receptionist greeted them, then quickly corrected herself. “Oh, Mr. Barry, welcome back.” Judging by her accent she was a local hire.

“Please Hannah, Mr. Barry was my father. Call me Josh.” He rapped his fingers on her desk as they walked past. “Keep up the good work!”

Josh returned his attention to Paul and Deven. “So, what do you think of the place? We just got done with the renovations!”

“It looks very fancy…” Deven nodded.

“Ah yes, I really appreciate the taste of the designer. Not too noisy.” Paul nodded. He slightly wished he’d caught himself before mouthing off to the guy he was asking for a favor, but he also definitely enjoyed it.

“Thanks! I worked with the designer, so I’ll definitely pass along the praise. We really want to create a welcoming environment to facilitate collaboration with our partners.” He lowered his voice to a normal talking volume briefly. “That’s what we call the supers that we work with now.”

“Oh is it?” Paul replied, nodding along. “You’re definitely running things different than Daniels. How long have you been official director?”

“About four months!” He replied at his normal volume. “It’s been a wild ride, but I’m hoping we’ll have a much better dynamic this time around. I really want to avoid any of the ‘control issues’ that Agent Daniels had.” He paused for a moment. “Nothing but respect for his work, of course.”

“Oh of course.” Paul nodded.

The three stepped onto an elevator, and Josh pressed some buttons. The elevator beeped a pleasant tone in reply and the door slowly closed.

“Anywho, I gotta say, your request was pretty tough to make happen, but I managed. I really strive to make our relationship with our partners work both ways.”

“Oh of course, I appreciate you making it happen.” Paul nodded, trying to channel the dialect of an ‘entrepreneur’ that wrote a book about ‘synergizing your workplace’. “I was confident that I could rely on you.”

“I appreciate the faith.” Josh replied. “I know there was a lot of work to do to undo the damage to our channels done by Agent Daniels, nothing but respect of course, but I feel like we’re making good progress.” He gave Paul a pat on the shoulder. “I definitely appreciate the intel you were able to pass along about the upcoming January situation, by the way. Really do. Higher-ups were thrilled about it.”

“Oh yeah?” Paul smiled. “I just really believe in making sure that I’m contributing to my associates when I can. I felt like it was very important information to pass along.”

“For sure!” Josh nodded in reply, leading into a few seconds of uncomfortable silence.

The elevator chimed, signaling that they had arrived. They’d been on for a little bit, but the elevator didn’t go that quickly, so Paul figured they were only around 5 floors deep.

Josh led the pair down a snaking concrete hallway. “Yeah, we moved away from housing prisoners here, so we could build partnerships with existing incarceration facilities, but I was able to get this guy here off the books. We still have the facilities for temporary stays and occasions like this.”

The three eventually came to a halt, and Josh began to whisper. “The guards are on break right now, so go on in. We’ll get him out once you’re done.”

“Appreciate it.” Paul nodded.

There was a series of beeps followed by a large metallic clank. Josh slid the door open and stepped to the side.

“Deven…?” A man’s voice asked from inside.

“Jeremiah?” Deven answered, frozen still.

“So this is actually Jeremiah then, Deven?” Paul asked.

“Yeah…” Deven nodded, and stood still for another moment. He suddenly lept forwards towards Jeremiah.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Technical issues overcome. The blurb is short, because you guessed it, I’m tired.

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