An angry, worried man drives down the road at twilight. His car goes much too fast according to the speed limit signs, but he pays them no heed.
When he sees his destination, he veers off the road. The building ahead is dimly lit, but that has never bothered this man.
He barely even stops to lock his car when he gets out. He barges into the building and the person at the desk looks up.
“May I help you?”
The man grabs the agent by the shirt collar, hoisting her up to slam her against the wall.
“Tell me where they are. Let me take them home.” The man’s voice cracks on the last word, and it’s just then visible what kind of pain he’s in.
“Sir, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the agent says smoothly, with no reaction to being forcibly pushed up against a wall.
“The children,” he snarls. “Release them. I know they’re here, in your custody.”
She tilts her head. “We don’t keep anybody here.”
“Cut the chase, Ms. Paint.” He whispers the last words, and finally the lady seems affected by the situation.
“How did you know my name?”
“I know the name of every damn fucker here, and I have authority over you all,” he snarls, ripping something from his pocket and dangling it in her face.
“Oh.” She seems bored again. “Give me a second, and I will look up the release forms for you.”
He drops her like she’s garbage, but she doesn’t even brush herself off. She simply walks to the computer and types in a few words.
“Unfortunately, the only ones you currently have the authority to release are your biological kin.”
“What?” He asks sharply.
She nods simply. “The others, you must wait four days.”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“Override that order.”
Ms. Paint shakes her head, staring at the man pityingly. “I can’t, sir.”
“On whose order? Who here has the authority to do that?”
She clicks some keys, before frowning. “Doctor Sebastian Scratch.”
“What?” He pushes her away from the computer to stare at the words. “That’s not the name of anyone authorized to be here!”
“Are you sure, sir? He’s been working here for the past several years. He said he got direct recommendation from Miss Lalonde.”
“Ruth would have mentioned him to me, especially if she gave him the ability to override me.”
She shakes her head. “I’m sorry.”
He sighs. “Fine. Release my family.”
“Absolutely. Come with me.”
Ms. Paint stands and gestures for the man to follow.
The halls are dark, and the yellow lights barely illuminate the path well enough to see. The man puts his hand in his pocket, feeling the handle of his weapon in his pocket. He doesn’t trust this place anymore, especially not if there is someone here who has higher authority than him.
Actually, that’s what bothers him most. He knows Ruth Lalonde would not give anyone higher authority than him without letting him know, and in fact, he’s damn certain the only person who does have higher authority than him is Ruth herself.
The lighting gets steadily brighter as they go down the halls. The man adjusts his glasses, a nervous habit he never could quite get rid of. He just hopes the secretary agent can’t read him well enough to notice.
When the lights are at full brightness, they stop at a door.
“Behind here,” she says simply, and gets the key from her pocket.
Behind them, in the shadows, another man appears, watching.