Twelve Minutes, Thirty Two Seconds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Carson, a special agent for a hidden department in the CIA contemplates just what his life has become.

Submitted: July 17, 2014

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Submitted: July 17, 2014

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It was one of those days – one of those days where he could barely function. Just getting out of bed and dressing himself seemed like a great accomplishment. He knew, from there, he needed to finish getting ready so he could head in to work and put in his full day, but he had not gotten any further than sitting quietly on the edge of his bed and watching as the hands of his clock continued to tick away the seconds he was late for work. It was more than seconds though. By this point, it was minutes, and in twelve more minutes and thirty two more seconds, he would be an hour late for work.

Thirty more seconds.

Still, he could not make himself move. A pit had opened in his stomach and threatened to swallow him. The ache that had been in his chest since he first sat down in that councilor’s chair had only grown in severity. Pain had become like a cancer to him. It had started with simple lapses in composure, but had grown into a treacherous and all consuming misery that made his every waking moment physically hurt. He could feel it now, manifesting as creaks in his joints, as a muted pounding in his skull, as a weight in his chest that kept him from breathing.

He didn’t have to look to see the mostly empty bottle retired on the floor beside him, obediently staying where he had dropped it the night before. The pungent stench of rye stung at his nostrils and made his stomach flip, but it did not deter the thought that he would be willing to pick it up and drink again, or to at least finish what had spilled out of the bottle so he could numb out the pain that kept him immobile.

He was ashamed to admit that it would not be the first time he had chosen to drink over his career. But then, he wasn’t all that ashamed at all. He had very little to lose now. Part of him wished he had the conviction, and the state of mind to walk out on his supervisor all that time ago. He desperately wondered if he could have salvaged his image, if not his marriage.

It bothered him that the thought of having some false death told to his family was a better alternative to the divorce that had torn them a part. His children could have believed he had died a hero and held some good faith in him, as opposed to how they hated him for breaking promises and sowing disappointment. But then, that thought bothered him much less than it used to.

How stupid and hopeful he had been, thinking he could juggle Jackson Daley’s demands, and being a caring father and provider. The thought of never seeing his children again was what had kept him from walking when Jackson laid the situation out to him.

You can quit. You can quit any time you would like, he remembered his superior telling him. But if that’s going to be the case, the only way you’ll leave this room is in a body bag, with a bullet in your skull.

For a time, he had tried to argue that the practice was illegal, and immoral. He tried to argue that the gauntlet he had been trapped in was not right, nor was it fair. Jackson had waited, heard him out patiently, and then calmly informed him that he was expendable, and then routinely pulled his fire arm out, and turned off the safety. The man hardly blinked as he leveled the gun. He had been ready to shoot and kill in cold blood.

If Carson had known all of this would be the result of his decision to keep his job, he would have gladly been shot.

Twelve minutes and thirty seconds had become eight minutes and twenty eight seconds.

After his divorce, he had found himself an apartment and he had tried, honestly he had. But when his former wife finally cut all ties, robbing him of even his visitation rights with the children, he had fallen, farther and harder than before.

He had lasted a week before succumbing to the weight of his situation. That was the first time, in Carson’s recollection, that he had ever woken up in a hospital. It was Jackson’s backhand that had roused him, and the man had continued to scream and yell at him in a tirade that had washed right over him.

Get your act together the other man had told him. You have a job to do.

He still had a scar from the liver transplant that saved his life. Initially, he had hated Jackson, and everyone involved, for taking away something that was his right to decide. At that time, he had been told he was too valuable. Now, he had simply come to terms with the fact that in his field, he was currently irreplaceable and so no, the choice to take his own life had not been his after all.

But that didn’t mean he hadn’t tried. Every time, he had failed.

After the first attempt, they had forced him on antidepressants, and by the third, they took the initiative to relocate him. At first, they had settled him in Washington. When he had finally come to grips with himself, he then bought his property in California. For a time, he balanced work with pleasure. He made sure he had a nice yard, complete with luxuries such as a pool, a hot tub, a nice vehicle, a three car garage. The patio and the view had been done just to his liking. For a time it worked.

After he had made his property to his ideal image, he realized just how material it was, how empty it was, and so he had taken to drinking. After a fourth attempt, and a fourth trip to the hospital, they began to monitor him. They had initiated mandatory visits with a psychiatrist. When he had refused to go, the choice was no longer his and so, every week, the government paid for him to sit in a chair and talk about his feelings with a complete and meaningless stranger. Needless to say, Carson didn’t say much.

Around this time, the CIA had lost Jackson, and Carson had become the head of the department. In all honesty, he hadn’t thought the decision wise, but it gave him something to focus on and so Carson began to dedicate his time to his work. Sometimes, that would work too. Other times, he would drink, and he would miss work, but he couldn’t hide from them.

Four minutes, and fifty three seconds.

It had gotten to the point where he really did not have a private life at all. If he was late for an occasion, they would call. If he did not answer, they would track him down. It seemed that everybody knew just what a fragile mess Carson had become. Everybody knew he was barely holding himself together, but he still had enough sense about him to get a job done, and to get it right.

His only saving grace, he supposed, was that nobody knew the why. Even Jackson had been kept from that. In the spare time he had, Carson had methodically erased everything he could that would lead him back to his family. He couldn’t stand the thought of someone pulling his children into this mess of a life he endured every day.

Slowly, as more and more ties were cut, Carson began to experience more and more disconnect with life in general. He began to understand how a man like Jackson could do a job so peculiar. He began to grow defeated with his life situation, and so his day to day tasks became easier, the less he tried to fight them.

There was little that bothered him, and even less that frightened him. He kept a steady hand and a calm demeanor through his trials. Where once, things like vampires had baffled him, and then terrified him, he now stared them down as effectively as an unruly dog. He understood the fearless authority Jackson had displayed, though he supposed part of it could very well be that he did not fear to lose anything else. What was there that anyone could threaten him with, his life? He had already tried that.

Men like Everin, Arias, and Liam constantly plagued him with tempers, criticism, and what they thought was good humour. They taught Carson patience, and taught him how to resist the urge to leave them with faces bloody, or riddled with bullet holes. They taught Carson what resignation meant, and so he could no longer find it in himself to even get upset or offended by their insults. He let them say what they wanted, do what they wanted, so long as it fit the purposes of his job.

It seemed in a few very short years, Carson had stopped caring about a lot of things. Perhaps that was why, no matter how many times he had been warned, he still drank while on antidepressants.

Two minutes and three seconds.

They’d be calling shortly.

Carson sucked in a deep breath, and let it out through his nose. He began mentally ticking away the seconds in concert with the clock. He didn’t know what else to do.

One minute, twelve seconds.

He finally found it in himself to get up on his feet. The ache permeated everything, but he drove himself to continue as he picked up the bottle and set it on his bedside counter, looking fruitlessly at the rye which had been dumped out when the container fell from numbed fingers. It would stain the hardwood flooring, but he supposed it would join the other stains that marked his problem throughout the house. It was something else he would deal with later.

He wasn’t sure where the lid was for the bottle, and so he let it sit unheeded on the bedside table. Part of him did seriously consider just settling back on the bed to finish what hadn’t been spilled, but his stomach threatened to rebel at the thought, and so he ignored it.

Three seconds.

Throughout the house, his multiple phones started ringing. The angry pitches were loud enough to penetrate through the dull emptiness. It seemed to echo through the rooms and halls. With practiced motion, Carson swiped the cordless he kept by his bed, let out a low sigh, and answered on the third ring.

“Carson here,” he responded. He could still vaguely hear the slur in his own tone, but he attributed that to his thick headedness, more than any lingering intoxication.

“Where the hell are you? Your flight to Denver left ten minutes ago, and you weren’t on it!”

He lifted a hand to massage his temple as he breathed out a slow sigh. “What number did you call me on?” he questioned slowly, deciding to let it sink in that the question had, for all its purpose, been a stupid one.

“Shutup, Carson. What do you think you’re doing?”

He smirked bitterly at that. What did he think he was doing? Oh, he thought he’d just sit around and wait for the phone call asking why he wasn’t at work. He figured by now, the answer would be obvious. This wasn’t the first time he had done this, but he slowly began to draw himself to stand up straighter. It was at least, a decent enough kick in the rear that he could focus on pulling himself back together again.

“Book me the next flight,” he told the crisp, masculine voice on the other end of the line. “I’ll be there.”

"Never mind that,” cut in the person on the other end. Carson was pretty sure it was Geoff, one of the coordinators in his department. He was one of the only people who would talk to him so curtly. “We need you in Detroit. I’ve already booked your flight. That pop singer, Alex, or Alexis, or whatever her name is. She’s been admitted to the hospital again.”

Carson’s brows drew together as he tried to place the name, and the circumstances. His brain was still too foggy. “What file is she from?” he questioned tiredly as he moved to his closet so he could pull it open and decide on a suit jacket for the occasion.

“Dominic Wessel’s file, remember? The guy who can do mind stuff, so you’ve told me. We were going to get involved with this one a while back, but then you had to go running after that Corbett kid.”

It took Carson a moment as he tried to piece it together, but he grunted his understanding. “Right, right,” he agreed. “The manager for that pop star.”

There was the sound of keys on a keyboard on the other end of the line. “With Alexis in the hospital, now is probably a good time to see her and talk to her about her manager. Everything’s been lined up. You just need to be there…” there was a pause. The fingers stopped on the keyboard. “You got your shit together to do this?”

"I’m fine,” Carson cut back in. “How long till my flight?”

“Can you do an hour and forty?”

“I’ll be at the airport” Carson finished and without really thinking, disconnected the call so he could toss his cordless carelessly back onto the bed. He was glad he at least had the good sense to pack for Denver before he had succumbed to the bottle, and as he went about the finishing details of his trip, he tried to mentally run over what he recalled of the file.

The bottle on his nightstand went forgotten, like so much else in his house. The rye staining his hardwood floor would just have to continue to stain. Carson was going back to work.


© Copyright 2020 Chenise. All rights reserved.

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