Sebastian slid out of his secret control room and into his main office. The door to the control room had just swished shut when the intercom on his desk crackled to life, and Janelle’s voice came through.
“Sir, there’s someone here to see you” she said, her timidness translating through the tiny speaker.
Sebastian strode over to his desk in three long legged steps and angrily pushed the button on the intercom. “Janelle, what the hell? You know no one gets into my office, no one should even be in your office! What is happening out there?”
The intercom speaker crackled again and Janelle spoke, this time her voice was tinged with fear “it’s a police officer, Sir”
Sebastian paused, his finger hovering over the intercom button. He felt the familiar wave of hot anger rising in his stomach and flooding into his chest like hot lava, and he knew that it would not serve him in this situation. Anger was effective against his inferiors, the people he paid to do what he told them to do, but with a cop, he would have to employ a different tactic. He took a few deep breaths, closed his eyes, and envisioned a blue wave of cold water rushing over his rising anger, turning to ice as cold met hot. Logically he knew that he already had the Corver City Police Department under his thumb, the police chief was an active user of the Memory Maker. As he talked himself through the indignation, Sebastian felt himself relax and a sense of calm and control returned to him. He smiled, adjusted his tie, plumped his pocket square, and lightly pressed the intercom button.
“Of course, send the officer in, Janelle”
The door to his office opened within a second as if someone had been waiting with their hand on the doorknob. A tall, broad-chested, sandy-haired man with piercing blue eyes strode into the office and directly to Sebastian’s desk without a moment of hesitation that most people would feel when entering someone else’s private space.
Sebastian stuck out his hand, the charming smile still plastered on his face. “What can I do for you, officer?”
“Detective” the man responded, looking briefly at Sebastian’s outstretched hand but not taking it. Sebastian saw that in fact this was a detective standing in front of him, not the uniformed police officers he was used to dealing with.
Sebastian let his hand drop uncomfortably to his side after a few moments, and gathered his composure, feeling annoyed by the audacity of this man to walk into his office and treat him like a common criminal. But once again, his anger and indignation would not serve him here.
“What can I do for you, detective,” Sebastian asked with a smile, not being able to help the slight tinge of sarcasm he had dripped over the last word.
“My name is Chase, and I’m investigating some shoplifting claims that have been leveled against a young man named Liam Landon, they say he stole some milk and other food items” the detective shoved his hands in the pockets of his pants and began to wander around the office, crouching down to look at things on shelves and pulling books off shelves to open them and flip through the pages.
A lot of things were happening in Sebastian’s brain. First, he was relieved because it seemed that this cop was here to discuss something that Sebastian already knew he had nothing to do with. But, this wave of relief was quickly followed by confusion because this Chase fellow seemed to not be intimidated by him at all, he didn’t have the normal aura of respect and deference that everyone else had when meeting him for the first time. If Sebastian hadn’t known better, he would have thought this detective hated him. Sebastian slid into the chair behind his desk, hoping this would be a hint to Chase that he should also take a seat. But Chase either didn’t pick up on the hint, or he didn’t care to.
“I’m a little curious as to how I can help with a shoplifting investigation”, Sebastian leaned back in his chair, and laced his fingers together at the back of his head.
Chase looked up from the book he was rifling through. “You mean to tell me that you don’t know who Liam Landon is?”
“Should I?” Sebastian wished Chase would just get to the point. He had a feeling he was the mouse and the detective was the cat, and this was not a comfortable feeling for him.
“Well, I would think a man like you who takes so much pride in his company would know the names of the people who work for him” Chase snapped the book shut and arched his eyebrows.
Sebastian chuckled. “Detective, Bash Industries employs over three thousand people, and as much as I love and appreciate every single one of them, I can confidently say I do not remember all of their names” He pulled his hands from behind his head and held them out towards Chase. “If that’s a crime, take me away!”
Chase looked tempted to do just that, but instead, he walked over to Sebastian’s desk and sat down in the chair across from him. “Liam claims he was here this past Thursday night, helping you out with some project?”
This was a huge relief for Sebastian.
“Ah, it all makes sense now. You’re here because of the street kids, the ones who we throw some extra money to do some odd jobs around here. I try to help them, get ‘em out of the crime and drugs that have just infiltrated this city, show them that they can have something better, but we can’t expect all of them to stay on the straight and narrow, am I, right detective?”
Sebastian had previously seen Chase’s eyes as icy and cold, but now they were filled with blue fire as he said “Something has infiltrated this city, alright”. Chase stood again, holding a glass ball in his hand that he must have taken from Sebastian’s desk, even though Sebastian had not even seen him move. He began rolling the ball from one hand to the other, never taking his eyes off Sebastian. “When you say odd jobs, do you mean working with your tech?”
Sebastian shrugged his shoulders. “Sure, they sometimes calibrate the machines, they get to see how everything is put together so they can help fix things if they go down. It’s a great learning experience, to be honest”
“They should be thanking you” Chase sneered.
“If you say so” Sebastian laughed and pushed the button on the intercom. “Janelle, can you check and see if a Liam Landon was in the building on Thursday night?”
It took a few minutes, during which Chase glared at Sebastian in silence, rolling the glass ball back and forth between his two hands, but Janelle eventually responded.
“Yes sir, Mr. Landon was here on Thursday. He checked in at 5:45 PM and he left the building just before 10 PM”
Sebastian opened his arms, palms up. “There you have it, he was here. I guess the little rugrat is innocent after all!”
Chase dropped the glass ball on Sebastian’s desk. It made a loud, dull thumping noise and Sebastian jumped, in spite of himself. “Is it common for your volunteers to be suffering from headaches and nightmares and things like that after being inside your machines?”
“It’s not common but yes, it can happen, that’s why we need to calibrate” Sebastian responded. He was a bit embarrassed that he had jumped like a kid watching a horror movie, and his anger was beginning to rise up in him again. “Do you need anything else, officer? If not, I really do need to get back to my very important work, and helping you solve the caper of the stolen milk isn’t on my to-do list”
For the first time since entering the office, Chase smiled. “I think I have everything I need”, and without another word, the detective with his hands shoved in his pockets strolled out of the office. Sebastian stood and pounded both his fists on his desk. He looked down and saw that the glass ball Chase had dropped on his desk was now acting as a paperweight to a business card, Chase’s business card. Sebastian had never even seen him put it there.
The entire interaction had left Sebastian feeling very unsettled, and so he decided to make a call that would ensure this would never happen again. He punched the intercom button and asked Janelle to get the Corver City Police Department on the phone, and then he picked up the glass ball and promptly threw it across the room.