miércoles, 2 de agosto de 2017

The planetarium

   The planetarium was almost empty. The small crowds of the morning had been gone for a while and now only two couples and a sleeping guy were beneath the dome, not really witnessing the lightshow that had been made to teach people about stars, planets and all other astronomical bodies. However, there were two other people in the room. They were there only for a couple of minutes but enough for one of them to look at the massive Milky Way for quite a while.

 His name was non important. His service badge had the number 954. The number was always assigned randomly, with no real meaning. It was just a way for people to know something and, at the same time, not knowing a single truth about the person they were in front of. He would wear his badge everywhere when on duty and, on secret missions like these, he would have it somewhere on him to pull out fast or throw away in an instant, anything to live a bit longer in order to survive, step by step.

 He had arrived too early at the meeting but he had done so because it would have been too obvious if they had met on the street or even in front of the planetarium. And if they had entered at the same exact time, people would have noticed something else going on. So he just got there earlier, his hotel being pretty close to that place, and had witnessed most of the lightshow without a sound interrupting the narration, except maybe the snore of the sleeping guy on a back row.

 The agent sat down and waited. As he did that, he remembered his childhood, when he asked several times for stickers that lighted up in the dark in order to decorate his room. His mother tried to buy him some but she gave up after a couple of outings. Besides, his dad was against it the moment he knew of the kid’s request. The man declined to buy his son anything, especially not when he was doing so poorly at school. 954 had to repeat that grade the following year.

 Stars were just things that had fascinated him for a long time and they were also one of the things he had given up during childhood. When he looked back at those days, he felt that maybe he hadn’t really lived as a kid. His parents had always been so different and he was trapped often in his discussions. It was especially hurtful when they blamed him for things they hadn’t done in life, as he had been born very early in their relationship. He eventually learned that they had married only because of him. One of his grandparents told him, as if it was nothing.

 The exchange went fast. Agent XDE had come a long way for the information and she really didn’t feel like staying more than needed in that dreadful city. It was a very strange thing but she had been born in a city and hated every single urban landscape she had ever seen. This was because the only good memories she had had taken place far from those places, in nature, where animals lived and everything had a really nice feel of freedom and excitement about it. It felt true.

 She had landed her job just as she had come out of college. She was a very brilliant student, who had been fortunate enough to go to a very private and respected high school. She had done so many things to earn people’s respect that it wasn’t a surprise when the government started offering her jobs. Most of those jobs involved working on offices and she hated the idea of being in a closed environment. It was her that proposed them to work as an agent and they gladly complied.

 Her training was done faster than most recruits and she was sent to her first mission at the same age other girls are trying to fit in college and find what their passion in life is. She didn’t want their life and was successful in using everything she had in life in order to progress faster than others and always be ahead, no matter the costs. She had learned to be self-reliant and didn’t care at all about other people. Spies exist to prevent evil to destroy common people but she didn’t care at all.

 The adrenaline of her job was what kept her going; from the moment she stepped in her first mission. She never had an issue when asked if she could separate completely from her family. She even did it before they asked her.  XDE was assigned as her code and it was a series of letters she had chosen for herself and submitted them to her bosses. She didn’t care about receiving a “no” for an answer and that was because she knew people were afraid of her. She liked that.

 No one ever knew what her code name meant but that was of little importance in the long run. The most important thing she had to offer was her skills: she was fast, effective, silent and with an excellent eye to predict how a scenario would play out. She would play all the possible outcomes in her head and then try to move everything in order for her to get favored. She was a very good manipulator, which explained how she entered the museum without being seen and then out again, in a few minutes. She was one of the best spies the world had ever seen.

 The transaction was as follows: agent 954 was seating on the front row, very close to the projector. The couples were on the middle rows and the sleeping man on the back row. Agent XDE did not enter through the main door but through the one used by maintenance crew and all other people that worked in the planetarium and in the adjacent museum. She did it silently and had previous knowledge the door was always covered in darkness during one of those lightshows.

 When 954 noticed her, he immediately knew who she was. It wasn’t because she was obvious, but it was something about the way she walked or the way she looked at him from the dark, for only a second. He just knew that what he had to do was stand up and walk towards her side of the dome room. Darkness would help the deal get done faster and so it was. When he was very close to her, already covered by darkness, she grabbed his hand in a grip, almost as he wanted to crush it.

 Instead, she passed him a very small tube with whatever his bosses had told him to collect. The woman didn’t say a word. He just knew he had to pretend that he had decided to leave the show and she just disappeared through the same door she had used when entering. The woman almost flew away of the scene like a cat or some kind of incredibly silent creature. In a matter of minutes, she was already grabbing her only suitcase and hopping into a car for the airport.

 Meanwhile, he walked slowly through the planetarium’s exposition halls, watching the beautiful dioramas of how Humanity would colonize Mars and other celestial bodies in the Solar System. He just knew running away wasn’t the best way to do what he had to do. He had to play it cool. So he walked slowly towards the cafeteria and then bought some coffee there. He had in a table by a garden and then left walking as if nothing had happened, towards his hotel.

 The show ended inside the planetarium. The couples left after realizing the lights were on. They didn’t say a word, just walked to the exit in silence, as if they knew they had desecrated a place that was not meant for horny younger people.

 But the sleeping man remained there for a little more. After all, he hadn’t really been sleeping at all. He had just seen a very interesting exchange happened and he was well aware that many people would pay a lot of money for the information that was now in his power.

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