excerpt – Alice

Alice stood at the window chewing on her finger nail. She watched the traffic snaking around the buildings below. She could hear the movement behind her but she didn’t turn to watch or help. Alice pulled the black flakes of nail polish off of the nail she was chewing on and flicked hem at the window.

“Alice. Where are the Akon files?” Pete asked. Alice shrugged. She leaned her forehead against the cold glass. Her skin was burning. She was used to it. Alice picked out a red truck and followed it. The truck turned right on Spadina and made its way down passed the eclectic shops and small cafés. Alice lost track of the truck when it turned down a side street.

“Alice, the files?” Pete said again. His voice was strained and edged like crushed glass. Alice sighed and climbed down off the ledge. She walked over to the desk perched in the corner and opened a drawer. Her hand darted in and retrieved a manila folder bulging with paper.

“Here” she said, handing it to Pete as she returned to the window and climbed back onto the ledge. She crouched on her haunches and went back to watching the city breathing below. Her short skirt billowed with the air being blow through the air conditioner below her. Pete looked at the folder and then shoved it into the box he was filling. Others moved purposefully around the room, clearing it of any trace of Alice. She had been doing surveillance for three weeks. Pete was her handler. He had one mission, to keep her alive and get her back to the office to debrief her.

“Stuart, take this to the trucks and get the rest of this stuff down there.” Pete said to the short blond man crouched over the shredder putting the candy bar wrappers that Alice had left in the trash. He looked up at his boss and nodded. He left the shredder and picked up the box in front of Pete and left the room. Pete looked around. His eyes narrowed at the bookcase. The shelves were empty, except for the cheap decorations the boutique hotel used to make it feel ‘homey’. Pete ignored the shelves and bent down to look in the cupboards. Nothing. Not even dust. She had done her job this time, though Pete. He refrained from being impressed. The room was emptied and loaded in twenty minutes, which had to be a record for a three week surveillance mission. Pete looked at Alice crouched on the window sill. She looked like she was an angry emo kid just barely in her teens. He found it strangely refreshing that she was just that. A touch of honesty in a world that was anything but. Alice was twelve. She would be thirteen in November. She wore black all the time and her eyes were like a raccoon’s with black liner. Pete didn’t care. Alice was brilliant and an intuitive. When Alice suddenly shouted, Pete nearly jumped out of his skin.

“It’s them!” she shouted at the window. Alice was pointing through the glass, pounding it with the tip of her finger. Pete rushed to the window and tried to see what she was seeing.

“Who?” Pete asked. It was a stupid question, he knew exactly who ‘them’ was. Alice looked at Pete. Her eyes were wide and frightened.

“Pete they are coming for me.” She said. Pete shook his head. He took Alice by the hand and started to lead her out of the hotel room. He didn’t look at her, trying to control his voice when he spoke.

“I won’t let them take you.” Pete said forcefully. Alice looked up at him.

“Come on.” Pete said. He spoke into his walkie-talkie and gave orders to the team. He hurried Alice to the service elevator. Alice went with him wordlessly. The heavy steel doors scraped as they closed together. Pete looked down at Alice when they were safely inside. Her skin seemed even paler in the fluorescent light; fragile like a porcelain doll.

© Leigh-Anne Fraser-Tyson 2010


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