(written 11/19/2010 - total words 45,269)
Cal knocked on the front door to Oscar’s house. Angel waited nervously behind him. As the supposed agent of corruption of Cal and Oscar, she was hesitant to come, but Cal convinced her that it would be okay.
Oscar’s mom’s car was in the driveway. She wasn’t normally home this early.
Footsteps leading up to the door, and Oscar’s mom opened the door. She smiled when she saw Cal, though there was a sadness in her eyes. Her expression remained polite when she looked at Angel, but something in her eyes turned cold.
“Hi, Mrs. Marinez,” Cal said.
“Hi Cal,” she said.
Cal stepped to the side and motioned Angel to come up next to him.
“This is Angel,” he said, holding her hand.
He could see Mr. Martinez’s looking at Angel, checking her out, comparing her with the images the agents had put in her mind.
“Angel?” she asked. Her tone was friendly, but there was a tension in it that had an edge of threat in it. “That’s a unique name. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
There was a stress on the ‘finally’.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Mrs. Martinez,” Angel said. Cal could hear her discomfort in her voice.
“Is Oscar here?” Cal asked.
“Yes,” Mrs. Martinez said. “He got home this morning. I think he’s awake now.”
She stood aside to let Cal and Angel in. She didn’t take her eyes off of Angel.
“Got home?” Cal asked.
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Marinez replied. “I didn’t call you did I?”
She closed the door and put her hand to her forehead.
“I’m sorry, Cal,” she said. “It’s been a long night. Oscar got into an accident last night on the way home from work.”
She paused, and Cal realized he needed to react appropriately, but he couldn’t think of what to say.
“Is he okay?” Angel asked. “What happened.”
Mrs. Martinez had a brief sour look, but responded.
“Yes,” she said. “He’s okay now. We were in the ER all night long. Mostly waiting. He got banged up pretty badly. He broke his arm.”
Cal and Angel exchanged a worried glance.
“It seems he was driving a bit too fast and hit a guard rail,” Mrs. Martinez continued.
Angel squeezed Cal’s hand. He could barely keep himself from correcting Mrs. Martinez.
“Is he in his room?” Cal asked.
“Yes,” Mrs. Martinez replied. “I think he’s awake now. Go on up.”
They went down the hallway and up the stairs. He could feel Mrs. Martinez watching their backs.
Cal knocked on Oscar’s door. He heard a muffled answer the sounded like a positive response. Cal opened the door. Oscar was propped up in his bed, a Chemistry textbook ignored in his lap.
Cal winced as he approached the bed. He heard Angel take in a quick breath. Oscar looked bad. His hair was a mess and he had a pale, gray sheen to his skin. His left forearm was in a cast, and the left side of his face was swollen and bruised. A square of gauze was taped to his forehead.
He gave them a weak smile when he saw them.
“Oh my God,” Angel said. “What happened to you?”
“I don’t remember much,” Oscar said. “After I left work, I was driving home. I guess I was going too fast and lost control.”
Oscar looked down at the unopened textbook.
“I totaled my car,” he said.
Cal looked at Angel. She looked as worried as he felt.
“Hold on,” he said to Angel.
Cal went to Oscars door, checked to make sure the hallway was clear, then closed the door and walked back to the bed.
“Oscar,” Cal said. “You didn’t go to work last night.”
“What are you talking about?” Oscar said, shifting to look at Cal. Pain flashed on his face.
“Do you remember talking with Jason?” Cal asked.
“At the comic book store?” Oscar asked.
“You mean when we saw Walsh get taken by the agent?” Oscar asked.
Cal shook his head. He supposed it was good that Oscar remembered Walsh and the agents.
“No, Oscar,” Cal said. “Last night?”
Oscar looked at him, then looked at Angel.
“Last night, we talked with Jason about the agents and the lake,” Cal said. “We came up with a plan.”
Oscar frowned and looked back down at his book.
“I remember talking to Jason about the plan,” Oscar said slowly. “But that wasn’t last night. I worked last night.”
“When did we talk with Jason then?” Cal asked.
“It was,” Oscar’s voice faded out. “I don’t know.”
“Oscar,” Angel said, leaning over the bed. Her voice had a hard edge to it.
“Listen to me,” she said. “You didn’t go to work last night. You met us and we went to talk with Jason. Afterwards we got some burgers, then you were driving us back to my house. We got hit by another car and Cal and I left you with your car.”
Oscar looked at her with alternating looks of disbelief and comprehension.
“That’s not-,” Oscar said, rubbing his forehead with his right hand, carefully avoiding the painful spots.
Oscar dropped his hand.
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“What happened to you?” Cal asked. “You were fine when we left you and the car.”
“I was?” Oscar asked, frowning.
“Yeah,” Angel said. “We all got out of the car and had a conversation. We decided it was best if Cal and I weren’t seen with you since you were supposed to be at work.”
“I don’t know,” Oscar said. “I had some pretty weird dreams, but I was in a lot of pain. The doctor said I my head might be a little fuzzy for a while.”
“What did you dream?” Angel asked.
“I dreamt about us,” Oscar said. “About going to the golf course and seeing that thing in the lake. And what it made us see.”
Oscar took a breath, he was clearly trying to remember something.
“It was weird,” he continued. “It was like I didn’t want to remember these things, but they kept popping up in my head. I kept trying to hold onto them, but the pain was so intense. It was hard to concentrate.”
“For some reason,” Oscar said. “I thought of the agents, and how the one had Angel. My arm hurt so bad. I started thinking one of them had me and was crushing my arm, slowly. And it looked like what you guys said. Really big eyes and teeth, gray skin.”
Cal jumped when Oscar’s door opened.
“Let’s keep his door open, kids,” Mrs. Martinez said coming into the room.
She stood at the foot of Oscar’s bed and looked at him with her arms crossed.
“How are you feeling?” she asked Oscar.
Oscar started to nod, then winced.
“I’m okay, mom,” Oscar said.
“You need your rest,” she said. “I think maybe it’s time for your friends to go.”
They said their goodbyes and Mrs. Martinez escorted them to the front door.
“What did the doctor say?” Cal asked Mrs. Martinez.
“He said Oscar was pretty beat up,” she replied.
“Did he hurt his head?” Angel asked.
“Yeah,” Cal said. “He seemed pretty out of it.”
“He’s had a rough night,” Mrs. Martinez said. “They said his arm was pinned between the car and the guard rail. I guess there’s not a lot of traffic on that road. He’d been stuck like that for at least an hour. That’s a long time to be in so much pain. The doctor said he was lucky to not lose the arm.”
“What about his face?” Angel asked.
“He was in an automobile accident, dear.” Mrs. Martinez said. Cal could hear a harsher tone in her voice when she talked to Angel. “He apparently hit his head on something.”
“But the airbags went off,” Angel said.
Cal squeezed her hand, and Mrs. Martinez gave her a puzzled look.
“In his car,” Angel said. “I mean, it had airbags, right? They’d go off and protect his head.”
“No,” Mrs. Martinez said. “He had an older car. They said that sometimes in the older cars the airbags don’t deploy properly.”
“His head’s okay though?” Cal asked.
“Yeah, his brain is fine,” Mrs. Martinez said. “He’s just shook up. And on some pretty heavy pain medication.”
They said thanks and goodbye and headed out to the scooter.
“Something’s wrong,” Angel said.
Cal shushed her.
“She’s watching,” he said without turning. “Let’s get out of here and then we’ll talk.”
* * *
They sat in the comfy chairs by the front windows of Starbucks.
Cal looked around to make sure nobody was in hearing distance.
“Yeah,” he said to Angel, leaning forward onto the low table between them.
“Something’s definitely wrong,” he said. “Cal didn’t look like that when we left him.”
“And it was a hit and run,” Angel said.
Cal nodded. He looked down at his coffee, disturbed.
“Do you think an agent got him?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Cal said, a chill running down his neck. “I don’t think that was a dream.”
“Poor Oscar,” Angel said.
“I wonder how long it had him for,” he said. “And why would it torture him like that?”
“Information?” Angel asked. “That’s usually what people are after. Unless they just like hurting people.”
“So then they know about our plan?” Cal asked.
He looked up at Angel.
“I think we have to assume they do,” she said.
“It’s just like Jason said,” Cal said.
“How’s that?” Angel asked.
“We’ve upped the ante by killing Agent Parson,” he said. “They’re playing by different rules now.”
“So what do we do?” she asked.
“We can’t let up,” he said. “We have to hit them again. Hard.”