Slowly, I pulled into the driveway of the house labeled 2269 in silver letters. The sound of waves crashing on the shore reached me the moment I was out of the car. A salty breeze blew my red and yellow cape every which way. I gathered all of my courage, then strutted up to the front door. With one last deep breath, I knocked three times.
A young woman opened the door. Her piercing blue eyes widened as they scanned my outfit.
“Uh, hi. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Are you Avenlee Hursch?” There was no time to waste.
“Yes. Who are-” Before she could finish, I grabbed her by the arm. I wrapped a blindfold over her eyes, slapped handcuffs on her wrists, and we were gone.
Fifteen minutes late, I parked the car next door to an apartment complex. I left Avenlee after locking the car doors and headed to the apartments.
I repeated the same process I went through with Avenlee, picking up a middle-aged man. From what I knew, his name was Graham and he was a chef.
Two down, two to go.
Another house, but this time was different. Kavya put up a fight. The moment I tried to take her out of the house, she trashed and threw a quick right hook.
“You broke my nose!” I screeched. She threw cuss words, tried to loosen my grip, but I pinned her arms behind her.
“Leave me alone; let me go!” Kavya yelled. Without another word, I put the cuffs and blindfold on her.
Maybe she is a good fit, I thought as I shoved Kavya into the car.
Hoping the next candidate was easy like Avenlee and Graham, I jogged to the door. After her talk of escaping in the car, I didn’t want Kavya to have the time to. I pounded on the door, but it didn’t open. I rang the doorbell, knocked again, and finally, a groggy man revealed himself. He was in a bathrobe and had heavy bags under his eyes. His actions were sluggish.
“I’m guessing you’re a writer. Let’s go.”
Still half-asleep, the man made no move to stop me as I went through the motions and sat him in the passenger’s seat. He was asleep before we left the property.
A tiny handle stuck out of the ground, almost unnoticeable. After checking no one was watching, I pulled on it, and a hatch opened to steps.
“These are steps. Might want to hang onto each other going down,” I advised. Avenlee reached out and put a hand on my shoulder. I began the descent down, our footsteps echoing on the metal.
“Close the door!” I said. It clanged shut.
“Where are we going?” Graham questioned.
“This feeling would be great to describe in a book,” the writer, Devan, said. I rolled my eyes.
“If you don’t tell me where I’m at, someone’s gonna die!” Kavya was one brave soul, but I knew it was fake. Avenlee gasped at the threat but didn’t say a word. I refused to reply to any of them.
We were now walking down a metal hallway. The organization couldn’t afford something to hit ground level and crack the walls, that being the reason for all of the metal.
“Why are we walking so far? I can’t see! I’m starving, too.” Graham continued to complain.
“Shut UP!” I snapped. All four of the captives stayed quiet. I stopped in front of a mustard yellow door and had the number 67 at the top.
“When we enter this room, I will take your handcuffs off, but don’t be getting any ideas. Once I’m out of the room, you can take your blindfolds off. Anyone who does otherwise will be executed,” I explained. It was an empty threat, but it sure did the trick.
I pulled my ID card out of my checkered jeans and swiped it on the scanner next to the door, which automatically opened. Determinedly, I marched the group into the room. Using a key stored in the pocket of my pants, I unlocked each person’s cuffs, then led them to their seats.
“Enjoy.” I left the room, then lifted my watch to my mouth. “Potential recruits are in the dining room. Reporting to your office now.
“Wonderful,” a voice snickered back. I smirked, jogging down long, twisting hallways. I passed hundreds of different colored doors. These were all the rooms of my organization’s members.
To my relief, I finally reached the forest green door. Two beefy guards stood in my way. I raised an eyebrow. Both men quivered.
“So sorry, miss. We forgot your-” the bodyguard on the left started. My eyes narrowed.
“You forgot my importance? Do that again and I’ll show you how important I am,” I scolded.
“Of course, ma’am. We’re so sorry,” the other idiot said. I nodded, satisfied. They stepped aside and the door swung open. Rock music blared from an electric guitar played by an older man.
“Richard! You should be watching the cameras! I’m surrounded by idiots.” I watched as he continued to spin around in his chair behind the desk while he played his guitar.
“They’re going to find a way to ESCAPE!” I screamed. Reluctantly, Richard stopped strumming strings and looked at me.
“I’m not stupid, Athena. I know Kavya could leave if she wanted to. But, you see, these glasses I’m wearing have a built-in screen connected to the cameras.” Richard rolled his eyes at me, then waved me away. Furious, I walked to the room next door.
Computer screens lined the walls. As most of the rooms’ occupants didn’t allow cameras, a lot of the screens showed the hallways.
“Which room?” the tech guy, Adam, asked from the corner.
“Dining,” I replied. He nodded, tapped a few buttons on the wall, and every screen switched to show the dining room at every angle. The four people I took sat at the table. They stared at each other, seeming to be in a silent argument.
“Kavya’s looks the most savage, she should try it first. Unless she’s a chicken, of course,” Graham sneered.
“I am not a chicken. I’ll do it.” After a hesitant moment, Kavya picked up a fry that sat in front of her. She lifted it to her mouth, and with a glance around the yellow room, took a bite.
“I’m not dead. Eat.”
Still a bit worried, the other three ate a few fries and a bite of their burger. I smiled, glad that they trusted each other.
“I got a message from Richard. He says you should go down there now,” Adam stated.
“Tell him not yet. It’s not time.”
“Just tell him no for Pete’s sake!” I exclaimed. People were so scared of Richard for some reason.
Turning back to the screens, I sighed. The men and women weren’t talking to each other. Just great.
Minutes passed. The bland noise of plates and glasses clinking on the oak table was excruciating.
“Tell Richard I’m going in,” I said, already out the door. As quickly as possible, I maneuvered my way back to the mustard yellow door, immediately going inside. All eyes were on me.
“My name is Athena Mondue. I am a part of the P.T.S. organization. The four of you are potentially going to be new members. Enjoy your dinner.” Then I left.
Waiting for me in the screen room was Richard; he watched the many screens intently. I came up next to him to see three mouths moving almost fearfully. Avenlee stayed quiet, but she still seemed interested in the conversation.
“What kind of name is Athena?” Kavya asked.
“I don’t like her! She broke my nose earlier!” I shouted, turning to Richard.
“She’s feisty like you. She’s in. Adam?” Richard beckoned him from his corner.
“Tell Marshall to get Kavya to join and to tell her what she has to do to become a member. Thanks.” Richard waved Adam away.
“What do you think P.T.S. stands for?” It was Devan. I turned back to the screens.
“Why didn’t she tell us more? And this food is atrocious,” Graham whined. It was so annoying.
“He’s out,” Richard and I said in unison. I heard Adam tapping buttons right away.
Shortly after, we watched two bodyguards walk into the dining room. One of them grabbed kavya, the other snatched Graham. The two were lugged out of the room, half-eaten plates left on the table. Avenlee gasped and Devan’s eyes widened. They both jumped when the door slammed shut. That was P.T.S.: quick, but leaving with a bang.
“The ‘s’ in P.T.S. probably stands for society since Athena said it was an organization,” Avenlee whispered. It was surprising to hear her talk, considering she hadn’t said a word since I collected her.
“You know, you’re right! And the ‘p’ could stand for professional!” Devan exclaimed.
How were they cracking this?! I thought.
“But what would the ‘t’ be?” Avenlee furrowed her eyebrows in deep thought while she nibbled on a fry.
“Athene seemed sneaky, and those guys were strong enough to crack skulls during a getaway. Maybe that has something to do with it,” Avenlee said. She smiled, knowing she was getting close to the name of my organization.
“Man, this would be a great plot for a book!” Devan took a celebratory bite of his burger.
“I like his energy, good for when we have a big project. But he’ll expose us in his writing. He can’t be recruited.” I looked at Richard, hoping he was on the same page.
“You’re right. He and the complainer will have to be… you know. The girls will become members.” Slowly, a smile came to Richard’s face; he was proud of me. I didn’t say anything, but I grinned ear-to-ear.
Six of us stood in the middle of a forest. Avenlee and Kavya each held a pistol. Devan and Graham were across from them, styling blindfolds yet again.
“Avenlee and Kavya, repeat after me. I will dedicate my life to P.T.S.” Richard stated.
“I will dedicate my life to P.T.S.” Kavya and Avenlee repeated.
“And I will do whatever is asked of me, no matter the cost,” Richard continued. The women copied him.
“Great! Complete your first assignment, ladies,” I ordered. Confidently, two guns were raised.
Graham and Devan dropped.
“Welcome to the Professional Theft Society.”