The Wake · 01
The Ex-Conference Room

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Margaret and Allison head into the conference room, which is so rarely used that Gustav took it upon himself to transform it into the office lounge. He tore out (literally, with his thuggish, brutal hands) the projection system built into the wall and fashioned a bar out of it, complete with a little black and white monitor for him to watch Australian pornography during his downtime. He punched out the fluorescent lights and replaced them with Chinese paper lanterns. He chainsaw’d the conference table into five little bar tables, installed a few booths, and threw a Persian rug on the floor. A couple months ago he put in a purchase order for a spherical cage in which a nude woman could writhe, but so far it hasn’t been approved.

Margaret turns on the lanterns, lights candles at the tables, puts a record on (something ancient that sounds to Allison like an orchestra tuning up at the bottom of a well), turns off the porn, and pours two tumblers of something called Expert Whiskey. Allison slumps in the far booth, never more tired in her life.

Margaret hands her the drink, sits down, studies her for a moment. “We can do this another time,” she says.

“Let’s get it over with,” Allison says.

“This is for you. This is for us. There needs to be an acknowledgment.” She holds up her glass expectantly.

Allison realizes she’s holding something in her chest and lets out a long, quiet breath. She clinks Margaret’s glass and they both down their drinks in a single swallow.

Three people stride into the room, two men and a woman, each wearing a dark suit. Margaret waves them over, tilts a head toward Allison and says: “This is Allison Hull.”

They look her over. Nobody says anything for a moment. Then the bigger guy says: “Looks just like him.”

“That one’s Hogwild,” Margaret says. “That one’s Voletta Black. And that one’s Capital Sam.”

“You’re the couriers?” Allison asks.

“There’s a fourth,” Margaret says, “but we’re not sure where she is at the moment.”

“Great,” Allison says. “And you’re all dead, too?”

“I was killed in a very spectacular fashion,” Capital Sam says.

“Each one gave up their lives and their names for this job,” Margaret says.

“Oh, they got to pick their names?” Allison asks. “That explains it.”

“Everyone, sit, drink,” Margaret says. “Tell Allison a little bit about your terrible selves.”

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©MMX · Joshua Allen

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