It always started in the twilight no man’s land of hypnagogic arousal as she was falling asleep, not quite awake but still talking to herself for the umpteenth time about her guilt and talking about it to Micha Haaretz. She would do this audibly without realizing it.
Being whores, Elizabeth or Sally, laying next to her when they heard it, knew to wake Lady Chief up for an hour long erotic interlude. This would release enough endorphins to keep Lady Chief from her recurring nightmares for the rest of the night. But Sally, active and in her thirties, would often fall dead asleep at the beginning of Lady Chief’s whispered ramblings, and Elizabeth, at 75, often was too weary or too painfully creaky in the joints to participate.
They were so this night. IF they got to her in time, they could interrupt Lady Chief’s dream before it developed, but if they heard Micha Haaretz’s voice, in the distance, talking to Lady Chief, it was too late. They were hearing the sounds of Lady Chief’s dream while in the middle of their own. And all they could do then was to follow Lady Chief on her path, trying to find her, reach her, and shake her awake.
The overall dimness cleared and Lady Chief was idly sauntering down Randolph Street, two or three blocks away from GLCIS headquarters, headed for the upper level bureaucrat’s entrance through the first floor of the building next door. Some matter from the past had come up and Lady Chief had been asked to talk with the new Chief of Service and the President’s Chief of Staff.
As she entered the building, she saw the familiar door decorated with the Employees Only notice. Walking through it, she passed the employee break room where the usual scent of burnt coffee, made hours ago and left for dead on the hot plate, greeted her. The room was empty, but nothing could disperse the chronic atmosphere of boredom around the 10 year old tables and orange plastic chairs, the tiny half kitchen, and the 20 year old microwave oven whose door never quite shut without extra encouragement. No matter what the night janitors or the receptionist who made the coffee in the morning did, no vigor of cleaning and tidying could make the place feel anything but slovenly.
In the hall beyond, she passed the vending machines, unlocking an unmarked door next to them into a little cul-de-sac with an elevator that had no call button but was watched by an AI controlled CCTV camera on the ceiling. The elevator door opened and in front of Lady Chief, was a man with a vaguely familiar male face from long ago, a face last seen in a smeary digital photograph in a Records Department electrofile. Who was this?
“It’s nice to see you again Chief. All of us are here and waiting for your arrival.” All of us? Then she remembered and her heart missed a beat. She was standing next to the first agent she had ordered killed in her first week as Chief, the first moment she made the Devil’s Bargain and signed her soul away in blood, this man’s blood. He was very much alive at the moment and this terrified her beyond words.
“Who do you mean, ‘all of us’?” she could barely croak.
“Why, everybody you ordered killed, of course! We’ve none of us yet passed into Legion, we all were very bad hats, really, and we see each other socially in Hell quite frequently. We reminisce about old times spying or killing and savor our memories of the moment of truth when the bullets went through us. And we wait for you to join us there permanently, so we all can have a good laugh together over your journey of infamy. In the end, it will have made us endless demon companions of one another until we, one by one, drop into Legion at last.” Lady Chief’s body began to quake with fear and it took every ounce of personal control within her to make herself stop.
The elevator left off at the ninth floor, the conference spaces, and Lady Chief was led to “the colosseum”, the largest conference room seating as many as thirty-five behind a 180 deg curved table. This table seating was at the level of the room’s floor and it’s chairs were as comfortable and back supporting as rotating chairs could be for meetings that might go on for half a day or, in crisis, half the night. At the moment almost all those chairs were full; full of the 26 men and two women whose death warrants she had signed. A few had the now doubly dead eyes of GLCIS assassins, who were choked on their own bullets after their own folly. She shuffled them all through her memory like a pack of cards. At the far end of the table was Joey, the John and the dupe of amateur whore Bernadette Johnson.
Facing the table was a dais raised a foot higher, a Lilliputian stage with three more of the rotating chairs, two austere tables of chromed steel legs and black Mycarta tops, matching the half circle facing them on the floor. There were two pitchers of water, and three glasses, one in front of each chair. No one occupied them. The usual secretarial staff were setting out more pitchers and more glasses at the absurd thirty person circle.
As she stepped to her chair, a voice whispered in Lady Chief’s ear, Micha Haaretz’s voice, “So little rabbit, you see where all this “remorse” of your evil career has brought you. A seat at this table long before your trip to Hell, for your victims to batter you with their stories in front of both the man who served you and the men you served. You could have enjoyed your remaining time on earth and dealt with your crop of bodies when you finally reached Hell, but you’ve invited them into your dreams and who’s going to kick them out now?”
The new Chief of GLCIS entered, along with the President’s Chief of Staff, and the Prime Minister, and took seats on the stage. The subdued conversation in the audience subsided. The Chief of GLICIS spoke, “After examination of my nameless predecessor’s files, I’ve invited you all, victims of her unbridled career of ruthless extermination, to speak your stories to the men who were kept from knowing the facts of your assassination, or even of your existence. I speak of the President and Prime Minister of our consortium, the people, in the end whom we brief and serve. I have invited the Prime Minister and the President’s Chief of Staff here to listen to your stories, with my predecessor present to hear them as well.
“I’m also here to tell you that, while the dealing of death by assassination was sanctioned by Presidential Executive Order, and was always in force, the withholding of information was not sanctioned. It had no basis in either GLC law or the Executive Order. It was merely a convention established by the First Chief of GLCIS, passed on to his successor, who passed it on to my predecessor, who used that power to remain absolutely nameless during her tenure as Chief, and issue hidden, cold blooded, death warrants without oversight or restraint.
Under these circumstances, and the fact that actual files of your stories must still remain “eyes only” and within the Agency, I cannot share the precise contents with either gentleman here, such as your worknames and legends. In consequence, the President has commanded that this meeting occur. Mr. Prime Minister?”
The Prime Minister spoke, “I’m here to tell you that the dead must speak, to clear the air, so that when we report the new GLCIS policy on killing to the Intelligence Committees of the upper and lower House, they will have this sordid trail of your dead bodies laid out before them in a Secret Brief. From this day forward, the President has revised the Executive Order to explicitly state that ALL killing ordered by the Chief of GLICIS, and not just the killing of foreign nationals on foreign soil, will first be examined and approved by the President.
Beyond that, the President himself and only the President, will examine your case files to determine which of you were legally murdered under the GLC law. The other provisions of the Order remain unchanged. And I, for one, hope to write it all into the law myself. In fact, since the order itself is the only possible basis to give you, the dead, Justice, the Intelligence Committees of both Houses, by unanimous vote, have given sanction for the President to apply that Executive Order in judgement of “Jane Doe”, the former Chief of GLCIS, and to any accessories before or after the fact to her crimes. I yield to the Chief of Staff.”
During these droning, pompous, and self-congratulating speeches, Lady Chief was valiantly trying to hold back her tears when she suddenly felt a gentle but firm hand on her wrist, and there was Sally. She had that grim, feral look on her face so frightening to Lady Chief. Merely looking at Sally stopped her body’s attempt to weep and an intangible bar of cold iron strength took its place. Sally said, in a low, low voice, “We are here for you, Elizabeth and I, as is the feral scar I removed from you; we have power and authority to disperse this kangaroo court!” Out of the corner of her eye, Lady Chief saw Elizabeth. Surrounding her was a very, very faint green glow with turning wisps of brighter white light.
Sally rose. “I DEMAND to be heard!”
The Chief of GLCIS responded, “Who are you and how do you have authority to speak here? You are out of order, Madam! Sit down!”
“Who am I? I’m the woman who bears the primal name of the one you men have called “Jane Doe” with such contempt, unwilling to give her the title due to her without preceding it with an insult. That primal, matriarchal name is Sally Bayer. I claim that name and the right to speak for the woman her mother gave it to.”
Then the new GLCIS Chief, “How do you have the face to claim authority from a name?! How dare you speak forth here in such a tone! I repeat, you are out of order, sit down!”
“That authority comes from more than my name! Much more. I, Sally Bayer, am she who brought forth and trapped the wizened chunk of this woman’s spirit that formed itself from her killing. Would you like to see it?” Before anyone could answer, suddenly she turned into feral Lady Chief wearing the same clothes as Lady Chief sitting next to her. The room was full of very widened eyes and choking gasps.
“My lady me, back in her chair here, must alone atone for her killings. But I am also her. Do you presume to judge me as well as her? Neither of us are the business of you or anyone like you. It will be adjudicated at a higher court and any fatal judgment you might give in THIS world is equally as much murder as her own killings, and you will face your own judgment, in turn, from that higher court.”
At that point Elizabeth stepped forward while a gradually brightening green and white light grew from her body, “And I represent that higher court.” At this Elizabeth’s body vanished into a blinding green and white light sheath, “It is all of YOU who are out of order. Go, and don’t presume to interfere with this court’s business!” The blinding light began to expand to fill the room. When the first of the thugs, professional killers, and traitors was touched by it, his scream turned all the rest into a reckless stampede. As the light contracted back both to human scale and transparent enough to reveal Elizabeth standing next to Sally, the thug burned by it scuttled away, whimpering, and there stood Micha Haaretz on the stage.
Lady Chief came to from her trance of the unexpected blaze of light while looking into the same cold eyes of the killer in Micha that she remembered from so many years ago. Her insides quailed. Micha seemed about to speak. Elizabeth stepped forward, “DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE YOUR HUMAN FORM!!!” And as Micha first scowled and then began to fade into ugly, black netting; into widows weeds suffused with gritty black smoke, Elizabeth stepped forward one more time, with her body vanishing again into the agonizingly bright green and white light. Light touched smoke and then it suddenly blazed into pure ruby red, there were the loud screams of a team of angry horses, and then a CRACK like a piece of steel wrenched into breaking….
Then all there was left was the smell of ozone after a lightning strike, intensely pure, mildly acrid, and a little disorienting. Lady Chief was screaming like a terrified child while Sally held her close. Then we both returned to the bed we shared while I roughly shook the dream off of Lady Chief’s body. Her cry lasted a good 15 minutes of full blown grief, remorse, and terror. In the interval Elizabeth entered, awakened by the commotion. Lady Chief calmed instantly at her touch. I looked on in amazement at her still translucent body in it’s green and white sheath even in the waking world! Then it faded and was only Elizabeth. I clutched her arm in great fear and she was present and solid once again. In this dream we broke the hold of Micha Haaretz on Lady Chief for good.