Three days later, I sat on my bed, phone in one hand, Holly’s business card in the other. I ran my thumb over the embossed letters of ‘Carnus Investigations’, wondering if I really had the guts to do this.
It was early in the morning. Mom and Dad were both gone from the house; dad to work, mom to the grocery store. I took a deep breath before pulling up the Phone app, quickly punching in the numbers listed on the card.
My heart rate picked up as I heard the phone dialing. After about six rings, a chipper voice greeted me. “Carnus Investigations, this is Tina, how can I help you?” This place really kept surprising me.
“Uh, yeah… I was looking to talk to Holly?” I said, sounding unsure even to myself.
“May I ask who’s calling?” The voice on the other end said.
“Oh! Sure hun, I’ll patch you right through, I know she’s expecting your call. One sec…” Then there was some terrible elevator type music playing in my ear.
“Hi, Penelope, I’m glad you called,” Holly’s distinct voice said when she picked up. “How are you?”
“Good, thank you,” I said, and we made small talk for a few moments, chatting idly.
“So, have you given thought to what we talked about?” She asked, even though she probably knew that was why I called.
“Yes. If the offer still stands, I’d like to accept.” I turned the business card over and over in my hand.
“I’m so glad to hear it! Could you come in today? I’d like to get you started as soon as possible.” Holly said, and I could hear papers shuffling around in the background, and then some tell tale keystroke sounds of a laptop.
“Absolutely, I can be there in a half hour.”
“Perfect, can you remember the way, or should I send Jonas over through to pick you up?”
“No, I remember.”
“Great! See you soon.”
We hung up and I set my phone down, heart rate slowing. There, I’d done it. I was excited, even though I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.
I paced my room for a few minutes before changing into a dress shirt and some slacks, makeup already done. I threw on some casual flats and grabbed my purse on the way out the door.
I found my way easily, having paid close attention during my ride with Jonas. I felt a little nervous again as I turned onto the dirt road leading to the headquarters. In a way, it was nervous excitement. I already liked Holly, but I’m the type of person that assumes everything can and will go horribly awry.
I parked amongst the black sedans and got out, seeing Jonas emerging from the front door, looking more casual without his ear piece, blazer, or sunglasses. “Hi, Miss Foster. The boss told me you’d be arriving at any time, so I thought I’d come greet you.” He beamed at me and I smiled back.
“Holly wants to see you in her office first.” Jonas explained, holding doors open for me along the way as we made for Holly’s office. He stopped just outside her door. “See you later, Miss Foster.”
“Penelope, please.” I requested and he bowed his head before heading back in the direction we came from. I turned to Holly’s door and knocked.
“Come in,” She called from inside, and it was like a repeat of three days before, except today her pantsuit was a soft, pastel yellow. It suited her, somehow. We shook hands, and I took the same seat I had days before. “Again, I’m so pleased that you’ve come to join us. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to get you set up today, get you familiar with the team, and headquarters. Once you feel a little more at home, we’ll discuss the job itself.” She smiled excitedly, hands clasped on the desk in front of her.
“Sure, that sounds great.” I replied, unsure what else to say. I prefered to stay quiet and observe most of the time. It almost didn’t feel real. It felt like it was all a dream. Before, when I’d ever thought about ‘agents’ and ‘investigations’, I’d pictured a bunch of ruthless hard-asses, dressed in all black, taking business very seriously. Never would I have pictured a quiet farmhouse with a quaint, quiet leader who wore pastel pantsuits. I found myself disbelieving, waiting for Holly to change into a callous bitch.
“Did she,” Jacobs interrupts, “turn out to be a bitch, I mean?”
“No,” I say, a smile tugging at my lips. “Holly is still the nicest, coolest person I know. I still have a hard time believing it. It still feels too good to be true – but it isn’t. It’s real.”
Holly and I chatted for a few minutes while she typed away at her computer, presumably filling out paperwork.
“Now,” She said, standing up from her chair and coming around the desk. “I’ll show you around the headquarters. It’s much larger than it looks from the outside. Many who work here come and go as they please. Some are on the road a lot, some only work from here, and some work from home on occasion. We’re a pretty lenient establishment. I’ll show you the top floor, first.”
I followed her down the hall, through the main room where I had waited that first day. She headed up the staircase, me in tow. At the top, she opened a door, and we stepped inside of a colossal bedroom. It was that, too. It looked like an office, lined with cubicles, but inside each cubicle was a twin sized bed, and a nightstand. There was at least a dozen of these bedroom-cubicles.
“Sometimes, during tough missions, our agents come in here to catch up on sleep. Some stay all the time, using this place to nap when they get the chance. It’s open to everyone, so if you ever need to, just pick a bed.” Holly smiled and then gestured to the two doors at the right of the room. “Those are both bathrooms, the one on the left has a washing machine and dryer, in case anyone ever needs it. Tina washes the sheets and some uniforms often. Again, everything is open to everyone. You need anything, feel free to use it, and if you ever have any questions, ask anyone. They’re all really great here.”
She exited the room, heading back down the stairs, and I stayed behind her, letting her lead the way. Once we were back in the main room, Holly pointed to the door furthest right. “That’s basically a living room -slash- rest area. Our agents use it as a sort of break room. There’s a microwave, book shelves, a table, and places to sit. You’ll be able to check it out later, if you’d like. Down my hall,” She gestures to the middle door, which has her office at the end. “There are just a bunch of file rooms and other offices, nothing of importance.”
Next, she moved toward the left door and opened it up. Inside there was a desk similar to her own, just a little smaller. Behind it was a middle aged woman with dirty blonde hair and a navy blue dress on. She looked up when the door opened, and beamed at Holly. “Hi!” She said heartily, getting up to come around.
She held her hand out to me and I smiled as we shook. “Hi, I’m Penelope Foster.”
“Pleasure to meet you, hun! I’m Tina.”
“Tina is our secretary, and all around house-mother of sorts.” Holly said affectionately, making Tina grin more brightly.
“Absolutely. If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to come to me.” She shook my hand one more time before returning to her desk. Holly walked past said desk, through another door. So many doors, good thing I have a decent sense of direction.
Inside was definitely more along the lines of ‘this is the workplace of secret agents’. The walls were white, and the floor was white tile. There was a table off to the left with a huge computer set up on it, plus something that looked like a scanner. Next to the table was a large freestanding printer-looking type machine. Holly sat down in front of the computer and gestured for me to sit in the chair at the side of the desk.
“So, now I’m going to get you registered into our system. They’re just basic questions, plus some others that are more in depth, plus banking and personal information so we can get you set up on payroll.” Holly explained as she signed in and got set up on the computer.
Forty-five minutes and what felt like five hundred questions later, she had me registered in the Carnus Investigation’s system. I was now an employee of Carnus Investigations, one step closer to becoming an agent. She had me stand up against the wall across from the computer and took my picture like they do at the DMV.
I had to admit that this was all pretty exciting. She printed out my picture on an ID card, along with the Carnus Investigations emblem and my name. She slid it into an official looking wallet, like they have with the FBI, so I could flash my badge like an official if I ever needed to. It made me feel important. I attached the ID to my belt, like I’d seen countless times in movies, then Holly had me place my hand on the little scanner that was sitting on the desk.
It scanned my hand a couple times, then she had me do the same with my left. “Now your hands and fingers are in our system, so you can open any doors with scanners.” She shut the computer down before standing up. “Let’s try it now.” She smiled and walked to the strange looking door at the end of the room. There was a little fingerprint scanner on the wall next to it, so I placed my thumb on it. I saw a little green line scan back and forth, then the door slid open, revealing a brightly lit elevator. “Perfect.” Holly stepped inside and I followed.
“Now,” She said, smiling eagerly as she pushed the down button on the elevator wall. “let’s go meet the team.”
Read the next part!: Let Me Explain: Part Five