22 March 2013
By Curtis C. Chen
"The coffee was poisoned."
Samantha didn't say it like a question; she said it like she didn't believe me. That just made me angrier.
"You want to talk to the doctor here? The alchemist?" I said, feeling the edges of my phone dig into my fingers. "Jacob is in a fucking coma."
"Why weren't you affected?"
"Mom and Dad," I said. "Remember all those tinctures and potions they made us drink every morning? 'For luck, for protection?' We're immune to plant toxins and the most common thaumaturgic reagents."
"So you know what the poison was."
"We'll know in a few hours."
"Good," Sam said, sounding distracted. "I assume you want to stay there with Jacob. I'll call Lee and ask him to send someone else back to the house."
I wasn't sure what to say, but I had to say something. "What?"
"Is it not Lee? Who's your supervisor these days?"
"What the fuck," I said, "are you talking about?"
Sam sighed. "Who should I call at your office to redeploy agents to the house? Just tell me, Rachel."
"You're not calling anyone," I said. "I'm waiting for the toxicology report, and then I'm getting a warrant and a SWAT team and breaking down that old geezer's front door."
"No, you're not," Sam said, in the tone of voice which asserted her older-sister-ness and which I hated down to my very bones. "The priority here is repatriating those artifacts. Look, don't worry about it. We'll send another team to negotiate—"
"I'm going to say this one time." I spoke slowly and clearly. "My partner is in a coma. Strickland poisoned us both. He is going down. We can seize the goddamn artifacts after he's behind bars."
"No, no, no," Sam said. "Once those jars are in a DC evidence locker, they become part of a criminal investigation, and it'll be hell to get them out of the system. No. We get Strickland to sign the papers as a free citizen; we remove the jars legally and quietly; and we avoid an international incident."
"And then we arrest Strickland for assaulting a federal officer?"
Sam hesitated before answering. "We can talk about that later."
"Don't fucking bullshit me here, Sam."
"Look," she said, "you want the truth? Strickland's going to ask for immunity from prosecution. He knows what he did, and he knows the value of those artifacts. He knows he has leverage.
"And my hands are tied here, Rachel. The Prime Minister of Egypt sat in the Oval Office and looked Marshall right in the eye and—"
"Oh, so it's 'Marshall' now?" I said. "Not 'Mr. President?'"
"So not the point right now, Rachel."
"You know what?" I pictured Sam sitting behind her giant wooden desk, and I focused my hatred. "Call whoever you want. I bet I can beat them back to Strickland's house with a black-and-white. Let's have a little race. Just like old times. Whaddya say, Sammy?"
"Rachel!" Sam said. "Do not—"
I hung up on her and headed out of the hospital.
Photo Credit: Manny Hernandez via Compfight cc