“Fuck! Not again,” Sam curses as she steps out the driver’s side door and squints down the road in the dying sunlight. Highway, grey and flat, extends through farmland and field in either direction, giving her no clue as to where she might be. This has been happening too often lately, she thinks, a wave of frustration and regret washing over her.
Sam shakes her head, pushing away her emotions and trying to clear the fogginess that always comes with artificial amnesia. She glances over at Diesel, grateful that at least they’d been able to keep their names. “Remember a thing?”
Diesel grimaces and rubs at his forehead. “Nope. Not since we left Jersey for the job. What’s the date?”
“No idea. Dead battery.” She holds up the useless phone to show him, then drops it onto the blacktop and crushes it with the heel of her boot. They would’ve destroyed it when she got back to HQ anyway. “You ever get sick of this gig?” She asks Diesel. They’ve talked about the impossibility trying to get out more times than Sam can count, but somehow she can never shake the idea.
Diesel just sighs and gets back in the car, a brand new Bentley painted a sleek, shiny silver. I suppose our job does have a few perks, Sam thinks, admiring the car. They have to keep us happy somehow. Diesel rummages around until he finds an atlas in the glovebox. At random, Sam starts driving left, looking for any sign that might let them know where they are on the map. They drive for a while in silence, but Sam is restless.
“I mean seriously. If we just kept driving, who would know?” They both recognize it’s a moot point. Diesel flips on the radio, the local channel blaring classic rock.
It’s three days later when they wind up back at HQ. Sam barely has time to sleep and shower before they’re briefed on their next job. An obese man with a bushy mustache and a grey suit sits across the desk from them, puffing on a cigar. Sam coughs. She knows he’s probably their boss, but can’t recall ever meeting him before. She scans his desk, looking for any papers that might reveal his name, but is disappointed.
“Samantha.” He sounds tired and exasperated, the kind of voice one might use with an unruly child.
“Sam,” she corrects, automatically.
The fat man sighs. “Sam. Are you paying attention to me? This is an incredibly critical task. It is imperative that it is completed with all the necessary speed, stealth, and exactitude that I have come to expect from you two. Do you understand?”
“Good. Let’s get on with it. We have a rouge human that has gotten in with a bad crowd. So far, we know of a siren, a werewolf, and a sorceress or witch of some kind. We’d been aware of these three for sometime, but they hadn’t given us any trouble. Until now. Since we’ve noticed them associating with the aforementioned human we’ve lost four agents, two of which were sent in to curb the situation last week. While I would hate to lose you both, you’re our best agents, so you might be the only chance we have to do this quietly. Are you willing?”
It isn’t a question. “Yes, sir,” Sam and Diesel say, in unison.
The fat man takes a long drag on his cigar, and then meets Sam’s eyes. “Right. Exterminate all of them, including the human. Save the agents if they’re still alive, and report back. If we don’t hear from you in ten days, we’ll send in the big guns. Understand?”
Two days later they’re in suburbs of Chicago, sitting in the Bentley and staring at a large grey house with a neatly manicured lawn. Neither of them want to be the first to leave the car. Neither of them want to be the first to pull the trigger. It’s Sam who finally gives in, slamming the car door and starting for the house without waiting for Diesel. He jogs to catch up with her. They reach the door together. Sam releases the safety on her gun, then knocks.
A wiry woman with bags under her eyes opens the door. “Hello?”
Diesel flashes his badge and Sam speaks. “We’re US government agents. Let us in and we’ll make this quick.”
The woman opens the door a little farther, and they push their way in. Sam slams the door behind her. “What’s your name?”
“Cora Martin. Agent 66215.”
Sam takes a sharp breath, then tries to conceal her surprise. She’d expected the other agents to be dead. “Right. Then we’re here for you. Get in the silver car across the street and we’ll meet you after the job. If we’re not out in ten minutes, run for it and get back to HQ.”
“No,” Cora answers, utterly calm. “Just stay a few minutes. We’ll explain.”
“Cora? Is everything all right down there?” A voice from the kitchen calls. A moment later, a tattooed man with a disgusting amount of facial hair emerges, carrying a cup of coffee. He gives Sam a toothy smile. The werewolf. She raises her gun, and is about to fire when Cora jumps in her way. Sam freezes, finger hovering on the trigger.
“Wait,” Cora pleads. “Look, I’m alive and free. He hasn’t killed or kidnaped anyone. He hasn’t broken any DSC statutes.” Still Sam keeps her gun trained on them both. What the fuck is going on? This wasn’t in their briefing.
“Kill him Sam, or I will. We have orders,” says Diesel from behind her. Before Sam has a chance to respond, she hears footsteps on the stairs, and glances over to see four, no five, more people hurrying into the room.
Diesel raises his gun. His hands are steady but his voice trembles. Fear? Or indecision? “U.S. Department of Supernatural Control. Which ones of you are human?”
“We won’t tell you,” Cora protests. “Not until you hear us out.” She glances at one of the newcomers, a tall, dark skinned woman with a air of authority about her. The woman steps forward, raising her hands when Diesel snaps his gun to focus on her.
“As DSC agents,” she begins, staring straight into Sam’s eyes. “I’m sure you’ve realized that career change or retirement for that matter, isn’t an option. Even with selective amnesia, we know too much. For supernatural beings, the fear of DSC extermination is ever-present. So there are some of us, an alliance of sorts, that have agreed to live in peace together. With supernatural protection and agent information on DSC, we are relatively safe. We know both of you want to join us. Actually, you already have. I’m Aliyah Jones, Agent 66198. You met me on your last job and we made a plan for you to come here. Unfortunately, you ran across a goblin lair on your last job, so they wiped you. But now you’re here. You’re safe.”
“You’re lying,” Diesel growls. “What proof do we have you’re not lying?”
A blue-haired girl, probably no more than sixteen, steps out from behind Aliyah. “I’m your proof. I can restore your memory.”
“You’re the witch,” Diesel says, without lowering his gun.
“Diesel, stop,” Sam says. “What if it’s true?” Her mind is reeling, turning over the idea in her mind, her instinct raging against all the training she’s received. Either way, they’re also outnumbered. “Fine,” she decides, holstering her gun. Diesel glances at her, still wary, but follows her lead. He always does. The assembled ex-agents and supernatural beings exhale a collective sigh of relief.
“Why don’t you head into the kitchen and get some coffee,” the blue-haired witch suggests. “I have to find the right spell on the internet. It might take a while.”
Twenty minutes later, surrounded by incense and beeswax candles, the witch (they’ve since learned she goes by the name Saphury) paces in circles around them, reading what sounds like Latin from the screen of her iPhone in an increasingly dramatic tone. Sam begins to become skeptical. Is this really how magic works? And how can they be sure the spell did what Saphury said it did? Sam shifts uncomfortably on the couch cushion and stares at a candle.
The flickering orange flame dances and leaps, reminding her suddenly of—yes! That mischievous goblin! One too many family pets eaten from yards had won him a quick and early death. And there was Aliyah, too late to warn him that he was breaking DSC statutes, but just in time to return his body to the goblin colony in the abandoned New York subway tunnel. The one that the DSC allowed to remain—as long as their agents didn’t find out about it. Going with Aliyah then had been their mistake, they should’ve waited, and ditched the burner phone with the GPS chip. At least Aliyah made it out of the car and into the woods when the Sentinel came for their memory.
Sam gasps and opens her eyes. “It’s true!” She exclaims. “What do we do next?” She snatches a quick look at Diesel, and sees her own excitement mirrored in his eyes. It dulls as he considers her question.
“Boss said he’d send in the big guns if we don’t show our faces back at HQ. We’ll have to go back first, give a report, and book it on our next mission. Let’s hope they don’t wipe us.”
“But they will, for sure,” Sam says. “Rogue agent?” She glances at Aliyah. “They can’t have us getting ideas. Maybe we can give ourselves some instructions?”
“We’ll have to move base again too, right Aliyah?” says the werewolf.
“Yes. I was thinking Tampa. There’s weirder shit than witches and werewolves down there.” Nervous laughter. “But we’ll see where we end up. Kira and Mar can shape shift, be birds or something and lead you to wherever we are when we move. Just call us when you’re on your next job and we’ll send them.”
Sam nods. “Right. We should get going now. You’re long dead.”
Two weeks later, and Diesel is navigating, directing Sam to a suspected pixie den in Manhattan. “Hey Sam,” Diesel says, furrowing his brow. “Check this out.” Sam leans over to his seat and looks at the atlas he’s holding. Between the pages is a sheet of notebook paper with a letter addressed to them. As she reads the letter, Sam feels a growing sense of—what is it, exactly? Not happiness, not relief, not even excitement… hope, maybe. If everything in this note is true, and if they can pull it off, she’d never have to kill again. She’d be done taking orders. She’d have her mind back. She’d be free. “So…” Diesel asks.
“So we’ll need a new phone.” Sam makes a sharp right, taking the nearest exit and cruising through lots of strip malls until they reach the nearest Best Buy.
Ten minutes later they’re heading back to the Bentley. As they approach it, a pair of crows alight on the hood of the car, appraising them with beady black eyes. One of them gives a loud squawk, then they both take to the air and begin to fly towards the highway. Sam and Diesel watch the crows disappear, jump into the car, and glance at each other, both of them grinning with anticipation. Sam puts her foot the gas and starts driving south.