Two Months Prior
Dr. Gold sat on the hotel bed, turning over a black metal dagger in his hands. His thumb ran across the red metal edge, splitting the skin.
“What are you thinking about, Doc?”
She stood at the end of the bed, suit crisp and black, the face hauntingly true to the original. His could never get his mind around her innate makeup skills. He certainly hadn’t taught her how to contour.
“You make a fine brunette, but you’ll never nail the voice,” he told her.
Emma shrugged as she adjusted the holster and buttoned the top button of her jacket. “Target will still be on the square at noon?”
He nodded, sucking on his thumb. “And make sure you’re seen.”
Eric didn’t scream. Instead, he wilted to the floor in a whimpering heap as the gatherers stared him down. S.M. was almost impressed. The gatherers were not, the ocean in their glossy eyes darkening with the threat of storms. Their faces above their upper lips were perfect, almost angelic. What they had, or rather, lacked below was what made them terrifying.
A shadow fell over the tinted window as someone knocked on the door. Putting on the dark shades, S.M. held a finger to her lips to hush the gatherers and opened the door just enough to peer out.
“I just wanted to check in to see if you needed anything, Dr. Gold.” It was Beatrice. She had let S.M. into Eric’s office after she had introduced herself as Dr. Gold. She had also told her how adorable she looked and complimented the picture of her cats, which may or may not have helped.
“No. We’re fine. Thank you,” she murmured.
“Help,” Eric whined.
Beatrice frowned and rose on her toes in an attempt to look over her shoulder. S.M. could feel the gatherers pressing in.
“Is he always like this?” she thumbed over her shoulder.
Beatrice relaxed. “He’s an idiot,” she whispered.
“You wouldn’t by any chance have a way to remedy that?”
Beatrice laughed. “I guess I could put on a pot of coffee in the break room.”
“You’re too sweet.”
She lit up as S.M. slipped back into the room and closed the door.
A crunching sound sent chills through her but she found a gatherer crushing the screen of a smartphone.
“Hey! That’s expensive!” Eric was sitting up. He cowered when the gatherer hissed at him.
She didn’t blame him. Even she couldn’t look at them when their shrouds were off.
“You told her you were Dr. Gold?” he asked.
He muttered under his breath but squirmed when the gatherers crept closer.
“Now about Emma.”
He squeezed his eyes shut. “Ok, ok! Gold wasn’t supposed to be in until this afternoon but I can say he came in early.” One of the gatherers touched his face and tears sprang from his eyes.. “I’ll take you to her but there is no way I’ll be able to get them in!”
The gatherers groaned as they pulled on their shrouds and hoods
Eric parked the van and tried to compose himself. “You’re a hostage,” he reminded himself. “You had to hijack the vehicle to stay alive.”
“You mean I hijacked the van because we wouldn’t all fit in your toy car,” S.M. corrected.
“It’s an electric car,” he mumbled.
She rolled her eyes and got out. He followed. The sliding door opened and he held in his scream but the things grabbed her instead. Before he could contemplate running, they tossed her back out and closed the door.
“What the hell?” he said as she patted herself down.
“Go,” she said brusquely. She didn’t understand why they had disarmed her until they had to pass through a metal detector in the front lobby of the juvenile detention center.
“I’d just like to inform you that you are now totally screwed,” Eric said.
“I can still kill you with my bare hands,” she told him.
Eric strolled up to the front office, pulled out his wallet, and handed his ID to the receptionist with a smarmy smirk that make her want to rip his head off.
“Mr. Shaw has been waiting for you, Mr. Thompson,” the receptionist said.
“Oh, shit,” Eric fumbled, as a middle-aged man in a tan suit crossed the lobby.
“You forget about our appointment?” the man asked. “You’re not doing your client any favors by not letting me question her. Who’s this?”
“Dr. Gold, sir,” S.M. held out her hand.
The man waved it away. “Blake Shaw. Emma your kid?”
“Would you believe me if I said she was adopted?”
Eric cleared his throat. “You gonna sign in, Dr. Gold.” He waved his pass in her face and she snatched it out of his hand.
“You’re too kind,” she sneered.
Eric opened his mouth but Blake jutted in. “You gonna cry, kid? Stop wasting time and let’s go.” S.M. followed him as he made his a way to a guarded door, flashed his pass and was allowed through.
“Wait! She has my. . . .” Eric trailed off. In the corner of the empty lobby, somehow blending in with the dirty-white walls and puke green chairs, sat one of the gatherers. Despite it looking out of place in its stained cloak, it sat casually with one leg cross over a knee, watching him through an opening in the shroud. S.M. slipped pass the guard with Eric’s pass and left him behind.
“Hello, miss. I have a 1 pm appointment with Mr. Thompson.”
Beatrice pulled up Eric’s calendar on her screen and frowned. “Name?”
The frown deepened. “ID, please.”
“I’m old enough, I swear,” he teased as he passed her his driver’s license. “Is there a problem?”
Beatrice chewed on her lower lip. “Mr. Thompson left this morning with a Dr. Gold.”
“Oh?” it was his turn to frown. “And this Dr. Gold was?”
“Tall, dark voice, handsome,” she cleared her throat. “She said Eric had moved up the appointment. I’ll try to get a hold of him.”
“Oh, no, no, no. that won’t be necessary. I know exactly what’s going on,” Dr. Gold left the office, only making it halfway down the stairs before his phone was out and to his ear. “She’s here.”
A/N: One more part to go. When I set out to write this short story, I thought it would be, you know, short or at least shorter. Thank you for hanging in there if you’ve made it this far.
Part 5: The Depths of Memory