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(Catch up, here)

I never thought I’d have to call Gene. He was always sort of an outcast of the organization. A slimy necessity. “When’s he supposed to call?” Junebug asks. I hate seein’ her this worried, but it’s time she grew up. See the world for what it really is. “Oh, I dunno. Not too long, I suspect,” I say. She doesn’t seem happy with my response. “We have an advantage over the organization.” She sits up a little straighter. “We do?” “‘Course we do. This here’s our territory. I was sent here as their liaison back in the day so they could stay at home in Ireland. They haven’t had much experience here, so this here’s our territory.” “We know it better than they do,” Barrett says. He’s been awful quiet this whole time. Thinkin’ about everythin’. “Make sure we’re on the offense.” “Correct,” I say. I turn to Junebug. “This place, it’s like a giant forest to them. Strange and foreign. It can be a little unnerving. Especially in a situation like this.” “And we’re the forest natives that know all the ins and outs of the forest?” “We’re the Great White sharks swimming among the trees, looking for things to eat.” I ignore her confused look, but am pleased when the ends of her mouth turn up into a faint smile. She’s starting to relax a little. “So how’s this Gene guy connected to the organization?” “He’s the one who cleans up messes,” Ruthy says, bringing in a fresh pot of tea. “But, if he works for the organization, isn’t it dangerous to go to him for help?” Barrett asks. “The organization has a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when it comes to using Gene. It was originally put in place so employees could clean up mistakes without getting the higher-ups involved. It sort of added to the morale of the job.” Junebug give a cynical laugh. “I know, morbid idea. But they didn’t predict the loophole of people like yours truly using his services.” “But you’re inactive,” Junebug says. “You can’t use him. “I’ve never been retired,” I say. “Not officially, anyway.” I wink at her. I’ve always admired her strength. “It’s been a couple of hours. Shouldn’t we be doing something more than just sitting here, waiting? I mean, it’s like we’re sitting ducks with a big target painted on each of our backs.” “June—” There’s a buzzin’ that comes from Barrett’s pocket. He reaches in and pulls out his phone, looks down. “Restricted,” he says. I nod once and step forward to take the phone. He taps a button on the face of the phone and hands it to me. “Hello, Gene,” I say. “Good to hear your voice again, Abel,” he says.

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