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The Shadow 1
She moved quickly from shadow to shadow keeping a constant vigilance of her surroundings. The dark, dirty streets and alleys of London were always the perfect hiding place when one didn’t want to be seen and she didn’t want to be seen.
It took longer than she had anticipated, but finally she reached the designated doorway. She knocked twice, paused, and then knocked three times. The door cracked open and a pair of dark eyes looked out.
“I have a message from the Minister,” she whispered.
The door closed and she heard a series of chains sliding out of place. The door opened wide enough for her to slip through. The room she entered was dark and dusty and filled with a variety of odd things.
She barely glanced around before a gentleman appeared in the doorway across the room. He was thin and wiry, but hunched over slightly like he had been examining something too closely for too long.
“Dr. Bering?” she asked tentatively.
“Yes,” he replied. Her skin crawled at the nasal sneer in is tone.
“I have a message from the Minister,” she said. She smoothed the front of her trousers and pulled the hooded cloak more tightly around her.
“I wouldn’t have let you in if you didn’t,” he replied sarcastically. “Well, out with it.”
She swallowed her annoyance at his rudeness. “He said the first dose was successful, send the next one as soon as it is available. He also said the date was set,” she finished.
Dr. Bering turned thoughtfully. “It worked,” he mumbled to himself. A satisfied gleam brightened his eyes and he left the room.
The girl shifted her weight uneasily. She didn’t like this place. Of all the houses she delivered secret messages to, this one didn’t feel right somehow. Something was wrong here.
She heard footsteps in the hall and they were accompanied by the sound of a shuffling and clunk.
“It worked, John. I wasn’t certain, but it worked,” Dr. Bering said quietly.
She was certain he was unaware that she could hear him clearly.
“Did it really?” John replied. His voice was much kinder, gentler.
“They want the second one as soon as possible,” Dr. Bering replied excitedly.
“The second already? But it’s not ready yet. We still have to…,” John began nervously.
“It worked on the rats,” Dr. Bering urged.
Her skin crawled at the mention of rats. That was the one thing she hated about her job, moving in places that were infested with rats.
“I don’t know,” John said.
“I have an idea,” Dr. Bering said.
She didn’t like his tone. She heard them shuffle away. She didn’t wish to wait any longer, but her instructions were to wait for a reply and then return to the Minister’s house. Then and only then would she be paid.
She took pride in the fact that she was one of the few, trusted, underground couriers in London. If anyone wanted a message delivered without anyone else knowing about it they called for her. She smiled smugly. That was the other thing she was proud of, the fact that no one knew where she lived or that by day she was something completely different.
The footsteps returned and this time Dr. Bering entered the room with another man. The second was short and chunky with glasses.
“Do you have a reply,” she asked a little snippily. She was tired of this place.
“Yes, here it is,” John replied holding out a piece of paper.
She stepped back tucking her hands behind her back.
“What’s wrong,” Dr. Bering demanded.
“I never take written messages, only verbal.” She thought they knew her rules, but apparently they did not. “There is a reason why they call me the Shadow, gentlemen,” she explained. “No one sees my face and the messages pass with no way to trace them. If you cannot tell me your message then I will return to the Minister with no reply.”
John looked at Dr. Bering with a sigh. “Tell the Minister that the second dose will be ready in two days, but he will need to wait for my summons.”
“Thank you,” she turned to leave making sure her hood was firmly in place.
“One more thing, Madam Shadow,” Dr. Bering began.
She half turned back.
“We need you to come here in two days at this hour to take the summons to the Minister,” he finished.
“And will you be paying my fee or will the Minister?” she asked snidely.
“The Minister of course,” Dr. Bering replied haughtily.
“If he does not agree I will not return,” she replied. She turned again to leave.
“Would you like a drink before you go?” John asked kindly. “It must be thirsty work roving through the streets of London at night.”
She wasn’t sure she trusted the men, but she watched as he poured a small glass of wine from a decanter. The wine has been in the room with her since her arrival. The men hadn’t added anything to the cup so she decided it was safe. She accepted the wine, but smelled it carefully to make sure it wasn’t poisoned or tainted. It smelled normal. She took a sip. It was a good year, ’64 she figured. She waited for a moment, but nothing happened so she finished the glass.
John took it back with a kind expression. “Thank you, Lady,” he said kindly.
“Thank you for the refreshment,” she replied.
The men nodded and allowed her to leave. She slipped into the darkness and disappeared as quietly as she had arrived.