Oubliette: “Temporary”

Note: This is part of an experimental creative writing exercise
The next part in the series can be found here.
The series starts here.

Owen woke to the banging of a truck next to the building. He could tell by the lighting it was not morning. He continued to lie in his bed staring at the ceiling. After a while, he realized that it was unusually quiet in the building. It was not a total quiet; he could hear someone vacuuming next door and there was what might be the faint aroma of bacon that caused his stomach to churn. It finally dawned on him, “Of course… It’s Tuesday everybody is at work or school.”

He sat up on the side of the bed and suddenly he was hit with what felt like a ton of bricks crashing down on his head. As he held his head between his hands, he tried to think back on how much did he drank last night. He knew it was a lot and that he had not drunk that much since his days at the Academy. Thinking back to those days, he recalled that some aspirin and a bottle of water would make any hangover a temporary inconvenience.

Owen stood up and clumsily made his way into the bathroom. He grabbed the sides of the white porcelain sink. He stood there looking at himself in the mirror. He did not recognize this person staring back at him. He wondered what happened to that man who used to look back at him. That guy was an ambitious hard-working man who did things by the book. That guy would have never destroyed evidence or even conducted an unauthorized investigation. Hell, that guy even had a full head of hair.

This new person that Owen was looking at now was someone who he did not care to know. Owen looked at this new guy with disdain. He was a clean-shaven bald-headed man in his mid-thirties whose career has stalled. This guy was a parasite who has not done a decent day’s work in over a year. Owen was surprised that he had not started voting for the other party yet. This guy’s life was falling apart and spinning just like his head.

He opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a white bottle and walked into the living room. On a cheap folding table, a messy stack of papers stood. There were other stacks that were carelessly placed on some of the chairs sitting next to the table. With the exception of a television sitting in the pass through, these were the only furnishing in the room. Owen preferred to keep a spartan lifestyle because he never knew when he would have to pack up and move. He always considered living in an apartment as something temporary.

After staring at the stacks, Owen took the remote control that was sitting next to the television and turned it on. It immediately started speaking and the image of a woman talk show host appeared. She was interviewing some guy named Stefan Rotatiga. Owen did not seem to mind as he was just needing the noise.

“Mr. Rotatiga, how does the president-elect plan to build all of these sequestration sites throughout the country? The polls have shown scant support and several members of his party have said on record that they oppose it.”

Owen sat down and started shuffling through the papers yet again. He has lost count of the number of times that he has gone through these receipts and expense reports. He believed that the answers could be found in them. He quickly realized that he needed more information. This is when he found out that his files in the office were missing.

“Ms. Miller, the president-elect has full confidence that he will get his sites built. As we found out, the polls are not always right and we believe that the nay-sayers in Congress will come around.”

What Owen did not understand was how could the backups have disappeared as well. There were protocols and safeguards in place to keep this happening. Assistant Director Stone assured him that his files would be found as they were needed for the disciplinary investigation.

“How can he justify sequestering all of those advanced humans? Most of them are harmless and their abilities are no more than cute parlor tricks.”

Unfortunately, without those files, Owen’s personal investigation had come to a halt. He was no closer to understanding what happened than he was a year ago.

“Harmless, Ms. Miller? Are you forgetting about Zachary Grey? How many people did he kill again? The truth is that these unhumans are a threat to national security and are a menace to society. In all due respect, if the media would bother reporting crimes perpetrated by unhumans, you would understand.”

Owen’s hope that he could fill this hole in his mind and put this whole episode behind him had long been shattered. Owen thought a lot about just giving up but something was needed to keep him going during his recovery.

“What about the Constitution? There is no evidence that it would even be legal”

The question of how and why constantly taunted Owen. He could not just accept that for some reason he was conducting an investigation behind the backs of his superiors. That was something that Owen has always prided himself on; he always followed procedure and protocol. That was another reason why the disappearance of his files was troubling.

“The president-elect has the power to defend this country as he sees necessary. That is in the Constitution. If there is a threat to this country, he is authorized to act. As for any Constitutional challenges, that was settled long ago with the Korematsu case.”

Another thing that kept popping up in his mind was the possibility that someone else might be behind the disappearance of his files. If true, Owen knew it had to have been someone on the inside and had access to the servers. If only Owen knew who it could be and, of course, the answer should be in those damned files.

“The point is Ms. Miller, Ronald Bouffon was elected on a message of protecting this country from harm and he fully intends to keep that promise as you will see starting this Friday.”

With a sudden move, Owen stood up flipping the table and scattering the papers across the floor. As he stood there with his hands in tight fists looking over the mess that he just created, he took several deep breaths. After a moment, he went back into his bedroom, changed into his running clothes, and stormed out of the apartment.

When he was younger, Owen was on his school’s cross-country team. He was offered a cross-country scholarship but he opted to accept an ROTC commission. Of course, when he was serving in Iraq he got to run a lot; most of the times it was not for enjoyment. When he joined the CIA, it seemed like there wasn’t time to run. It wasn’t until the “incident” was he able to run again regularly after his broken leg healed. He has been running a lot lately. It was the only thing that gave him a reprieve from the disaster that his life has become.

His route took in front of a catholic church that was next to a large park. He used to attend mass there every week when he moved to DC. For reasons that he could not even explain to himself, he stopped going there and joined a Methodist church. After the incident, he stopped attending that church altogether.

Normally, Owen would just continue running. Today, was different. He felt like something higher wanted him to stop. As he stood there staring at the massive structure, he thought to himself that it has been too long. Plus, he could really use someone to talk with.

He walked into the church and found a place to sit and began to pray. He prayed for guidance and wisdom. He did not ask for answers but for clues to find the truth. He continued to pray until one of the confessionals became available. He stood up and started heading towards them. As he was walking, he noticed a priest walking towards him. Owen recognized him as Father Morales.

Father Morales extended his hand towards Owen, “Owen, it is great to see you. It has been a long time.”

“Yes, Father. It has been a very long time. How have things been going with you?”

“I could not be any happier. Do you want to talk? I have some time and I can take your confession in my office if you like.”

Owen thought for a little bit. “Yes, I would like that very much.”

As Owen scanned the hundreds of books in his office, Father Morales, who was sitting on his heavy dark wooden desk, asked, “So what can I help you with?”

“My life has taken an unexpected turn over a year ago and I am lost.”

“I think I saw that in the news. You were found in a warehouse close to death. They said that you were beaten and left for dead.”

“That was me. The attack left me missing all of my memories of the months before that day. My body has healed but I still have this hole in my mind that I cannot fill.”

“And your faith? Knowing you as I did, I was very surprised when you left the church.”

“My faith is fine… at least that is what I think. I have stopped going to church. I was going to a Methodist.”

Owen continued. “I don’t blame God for any of this but I can use some help.”

“What do you need?”

“I need to know… what happened on that day… why was I in that warehouse… how did I end up leading those agents and civilians to their death.”

“That is asking a lot Owen. I am sure God will lead you to where you need to be but that will take time. You need to remember that what happens is part of God’s purpose. While you said that you don’t blame God, have you considered that maybe God does not feel you are ready to know all of that yet?”

“I have considered that. Do you think that I am being tested?”

“In the sense that God is watching you working to overcome this trial? Yes. God did not cause this to happen; that was the work of man.”

The priest continued, “You need to have faith; faith in God and yourself. You will overcome these setbacks knowing you as I do. All of these trials are temporary as you will see.”

When Owen returned to his apartment after his confession, he spotted a business card stuck in the door jamb. Owen took it and looked at it. It was from Agent Jones. On it, she wrote her phone number and “Remember, even a storm will come to an end.” He stood there for a moment trying to remember if he was supposed to call her or meet her. He remembered most the night but he could not be sure.

He opened the door and placed the keys on the pass through. He looked at the mess he left and sighed. He walked over to the table and sat it upright. As knelt, he started stacking papers back on the table. After a while, he stopped. He twisted his body and reached for a nearby box. He took the papers from the table and started stacking them in it.

As he was finishing the cleaning of the room, his cell phone rang. He pulled it out his pocket. “Hello?”

“Agent Holt, Assistant Director Stone would like to speak with you tomorrow about your new assignment. Would 2:00 work for you?”


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