The loud buzzing of the alarm woke Delia just as she was reaching for the door at the bottom of the stairwell. Each night the dream had become more vivid, more detailed and she remembered those details well enough to have written them down.
It was time. Delia dressed and sat at her computer to do a little research. The address and company were real enough; and there was at least one David Warren in the phone book. She took a chance and dialed the company’s number.
“Is David Warren available?”
“One moment please, let me connect you to his office.”
“Thank you.” Delia had learned that it always pays to be polite.
Delia arranged an appointment to see Mr Warren that afternoon. It would allow her some time to poke around the internet for more information on Essence Trading, LLC.
By the time Delia arrived at the office of David Warren, she had read every scrap of information she could find on Essence Trading. They were a multinational corporation that had sprung up two years ago. She had just walked into their corporate headquarters to meet with their VP-Legal.
She came ready for the worst case scenario. In her experience, when things got ugly, they got very ugly very quickly. She had packed a stunner and her credentials. She had filed the case with her supervisor at Federal.
Everyone she met in reception and security appeared to be genuine. Their cluttered thoughts were busy with mundane worries and the usual dredge of trivial information. As she exited the elevator on the eleventh floor, she noticed an eerie quiet to the thoughts of the people she met. The receptionist was almost mechanical in her duties.
Mr Warren’s professional assistant was equally remote as she instructed to Delia to wait in a nearby chair. Delia tried not to fidget with her possessions or to stare into the nearby security camera.
Her wait wasn’t as long as it seemed. David Warren’s greeting was genuinely cordial. His thoughts were easily accessable to her. “How may I help you?” his calm voice inquired.
Delia smiled. “What exactly does your company trade?”
“We trade essences, just like our name says.”
“Essences, as in scents, perfumes, oils?”
“Not exactly. More like spirits, souls, identities. But you already know that.”
Delia sat back in her chair. “There is nothing in your public corporate profile about this. I looked.”
“But you already know, because you have been here before, or rather Delia Long has been here before. In fact, she’s still here.”
“I’ve had dreams, nightmares really, about this place. Show me her contract.”
Mr. Warren pushed the signed papers across his desk, “It’s all legal, with the government’s blessing. Her supervisor, your supervisor, at Federal approved the trade.”
“My head hurts and I’m tired. What are you doing to me?”
“Nothing. But if you don’t trade back now, you’ll end up dead. Rejections are rare, but they do happen.”
Hours later, Delia Long stood outside of a glass tube staring at the alien inside. She wondered how her “guest” was doing now that she was back in her own body. It had been a strange three months away from her job as a Federal Investigator, but she was ready to return to work.
She dialed her supervisor as soon as she was clear of the offices. “I’m back! Did you miss me?” she chirped. “I’m coming in for a debrief.”
Delia never heard the bullet.