From the Inside

Second Coming: Chapter 12

The man plopped down on my couch as soon as he was inside. I dragged my bags after me and shoved them into the hall, making sure to keep myself in view of the man. He kicked off his dirty sneakers and pulled out a laptop from his bag, which he stretched across his lap. I dragged a chair from my kitchen table and sat it across from him while he clicked away at the track-pad. “Do you… have a name?”

“One sec.” He said without missing a beat, not looking away from the screen. His eyes were focused with brow furrowed. Next, he took out his phone and stared into the screen while panning the back about my room. “Good, good, there are no signs of any strange signals or signs of a camera about. We’re okay to talk.”

I peered about the room. “Cameras? I should hope not.”

“What were you saying now?” He butted in, ignoring the query about his nonsense.

I sat up and finally caught his attention. “Your name?”

“Andrew,” He replied curtly. “That’s all you need to know.”

“Okay, Andrew.” I began, hoping to avoid provoking something out of the man. “Let’s see what sort of video you have.”

He held his finger to the air as if to silence me. “Remember what I said, that if I am not reimbursed, I will go public with this footage.  I’m assuming you’re prepared to either pay up or accept the consequences of that?”

“I’ve dealt with the many consequences so far from accepting this position, my friend.” I hummed.

“Then-” Andrew began, twisting the laptop around to face me, “feast your eyes.”

The video began to play. The drone footage began with the camera among a patch of clover somewhere in the grass of the park, assumed near the plaza. As the RC aircraft climbed up shakily, I was able to see the familiar streets and paths of the downtown area. Andrew’s face was still plastered with a self-assured look as the video dragged on, looking at nothing in particular. Then I saw it, the car-filled streets, and crowds of people- those who were there at the rally that morning.

Somewhere in the miniature-looking plaza was Joseph, myself, and the family. The footage went to fuzz for a short moment, and the flash of light glared into the lens. The red brick of the plaza ended up washed out in light, and above it, a wide flying disk, producing the light. Just as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared again, leaving only a parted crowd with the sole figure of the man standing in the center.

Andrew paused the video. “Did you see it?” He said, clicking back through the timeline. The image he paused on revealed the blurry, circular shape.

“I do see, but what is it exactly?” I pondered, leaning in closer to the screen.

“Not the gates of heaven, I can promise you that.” Andrew said smugly, taking the screen back toward himself.

“And so…?” I replied, sitting myself back. “What does that mean, then?”

The Asian man sat back and shut the computer. “Means enough to enough people that your employer might have a hard time convincing people with his nonsense.”

I sighed and looked up at the ceiling. I remembered suddenly the paycheck in my pocket, and pulled it out, double-checking the amount that Joseph had scribed out for me. It was likely several times over what would have kept the drone man quiet, but I couldn’t help but imagine the following few months of twiddling my thumbs that working under The Pastor would have in store for me.

There was a sudden knock at the door. Andrew was immediately at attention. “Who’s here? Did you call someone?”

“Call someone when? Uh… I’m not expecting anyone. It’s probably the landlord, or maintenance guy…”

Andrew shoved his toes into the floor sneakers and stood. “Which way is your back door?”

“I don’t have one,” I stated, preparing myself to look through the peephole.

Andrew hissed under his breath, “Don’t answer that just yet,” as he packed up his backpack. “Any windows big enough?”

“Not with all the crap you’re carrying around.” I concluded, glancing out. There was nobody in view of the peephole, and I cautiously undid the lock. As soon as the door was open a crack, so did intrude the black dress-shoe.

“Jude Jackson, it’s in your best interest to allow us inside.”

Andrew scuffled down the hall as I carefully allowed the door to come open. The pair of secret-service men stepped in, one after the other. One barred my exit, while the other went after Andrew. I stared at the first man as he mumbled into the headset on his collar.

“What the hell is with this apartment, no back door?” Andrew called out from one of the back rooms in a huff. A few moments later, he was being led by the agent back out to the front room. He glared at me and was forced back to his seat on the couch.

My pocket buzzed with an incoming call. The screen read blocked number, and the first agent nodded at me to answer it. “Hello?”

The voice of the lead agent spoke to me. “Jude, interesting situation we have here.”

“Is this… Agent Barth?”

“Put me on speaker, please.”

I complied and indicated so. “Go ahead.”

“Here’s the deal,” He began, addressing the room. “Andrew Wang. You’ll turn over the footage you have and delete any backups.”

“Why should I?” The Asian man huffed, sitting up.

“Or else you’ll be fined with flying your drone in restricted airspace and charged with blackmail. Evading an officer too, it seems.”

“Yes, sir.” Andrew whimpered.

I cleared my throat to reinforce my presence. “Barth, how did you…”

“We rooted and tapped your phone, Mr. Jackson. You shouldn’t leave it sitting about while you head off to the bathroom.”

Andrew huffed and looked at me puzzled. “What do you do in the bathroom if you don’t have your phone?”

I sent a disgusted glare his way. “I use the toilet and leave. Bringing your phone to the bathroom is gross.”

The Asian man clicked his tongue. “To each his own.”

“Gentlemen.” Barth hissed over the phone. “Mr. Wang, one of my associates here will be getting the video file from you and making sure that you don’t have any more copies about. Mr. Jackson, off speaker, please?”

I frowned but did what he said. I trotted back to my bedroom while thinking of what to say next. “Agent… I find this whole situation an invasion of my privacy.”

“It got us something we can use, Mr. Jackson.” Barth declared.

“Something the secret service can use? How exactly?”

“Come now, you should be well aware that we’re not actually with the secret service. And I know you know by now that Mr. Cumming’s campaign partner is not who everyone believes he is.”

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