"Truth or Dare" is the fourth installment of "The Jane Doe Chronicles," a mystery series following Jane Doe as she struggles to escape from the Company, an assassin training school--where she was the top student--and as she attempts to piece together the story of her past, dodging a few bullets and making some unlikely friends along the way.
The morning after the fiasco with John, I woke up to sunlight leaking from behind the curtains I had closed before bed. Birds could be heard chirping away happily and sounds of happy lives came from the hallway. What a day to commit a crime.
I rubbed the grit and grim from my eyes and ran my fingers through my hair. My eyes surveyed the room out of habit, checking every inch for a possible attacker the was hiding from view. Satisfied, I slowly got out of bed and was beginning to make my way to the bathroom when I heard a knock at my door. I looked at the clock. Seven thirty glowed red so I knew it probably wasn’t housekeeping.
Picking up one of the guns from where I left them by the window, I inched my way across the room. The person knocked on the door again. I leaned forward and looked through the peephole…only to see a mess of brown hair and a smirk.
I sighed in relief only to freeze up again after I remembered my reaction to his advances last night. In the light of day, the threatening and kneeing him was pretty harsh.
Hiding the gun behind me, I opened the door to face John Smith holding a tray of food.
“Breakfast?” he asked, making his way past me and into the room to set the tray on the bed. My eyes followed him curiously as if he had just sprouted three heads.
He turned to see me still standing by the door with my hand behind my back.
“Not having second thoughts about this mission are you?”
I shook my head, breaking the trance I had been in.
“No, I’m just….why are you so chipper? After last night…”
“You thought I would be mad?” I nodded. “Janie, you are not the first Company Cutie to cross my path and you girls are all work and no play.”
“But you’re Ghost. Company agents shouldn't be interacting with you.”
“Yeah, but you’re black mailing me with information. It’s completely different.” He smirked at that.
I grabbed a plain pancake off of one of the plates and began to get ready for the day while I ate it. Black t-shirt, black skinny jeans, black boots and black leather gloves were pulled from the small closet. With my hair and some fake piercings, I would look like a goth girl during the day. No one would suspect me.
“Are you ready?” I heard behind me, muffled by the food that was still in his mouth.
I answer by looking at him over my shoulder with a raised brow before going to the bathroom with my clothes to get changed.
I walked through the sun soaked streets of downtown Tampa, headphones securely lodged in my ears and the music blasting as Smith asked. This way, I wouldn’t risk knowing why Grand Oil wanted Artemis Industries done. It wasn’t my job to know.
It was around two in the afternoon and summer rain clouds were beginning to collect in the sky over head. My eyes wandered over the tall skyscrapers and the distant towers of a local university. I approached one building in particular with a sign outside listing the different organizations it housed. In the bottom right corner was Artemis Industries. I smiled to myself before getting lost in the crowd entering the lobby.
High ceilings towered over me with cylinder light features hanging down. Everything was metal and glass. People in buttoned up business suits pushed past me as if I were just an invisible object getting in their way of business meetings and overly priced coffee. In the corner of my eye I saw two overweight security guards weaving their way through the crowd toward me. A smirk appeared on my lips making me feel a little like Smith.
“Can I help you, officers?” I ask, turning my body toward them and taking out one of my headphones as they approached.
“Miss, are you lost or something?”
“Actually, I am. See, I came here with a tour group from my college to take a tour of Artemis Industries, but I got confused in the mess of people coming in. Do you mind pointing me in the right direction?”
The two of them looked quizzically at each other before confirming that there was actually a college tour today. Lucky for me, I knew there was.
“Eckerd College,” I answer confidently, raising a fake ID to the guards. The little teal and white card had my picture on it, but the name Marie Baron took the place of Jane Doe. They called it in again and nodded in affirmation when he thought I was telling the truth.
“Top floor. Can’t miss it. Just keep heading straight until you reach the elevators.”
I gave them a two finger solute and strutted my way back through the crowd.
Making it to the elevator, I put my headphone back in and started to jam out a little to the rock music banging in my ears. Some of the people looked at me a little strange, but that was alright. It wasn’t as anything more than as an annoying kid.
The other passengers trickled through the other floors until it was only me. A ding resounded around me and the doors open to reveal a tastefully decorated lobby. Before anyone could get a good glance at me, I rushed out of the elevator and over to a group of college aged kids near the front desk. I hid myself in the back and remained quiet as the professor babbled on. The group then started to move and I took a deep breath.
I was in.
I trailed behind lazily, close enough to look like I was a one of the students, but far enough that the class didn’t take notice of me. My observations of the room didn’t look like anyone took note of me. Workers sat in their cubicles here and did as they normally would: flirt with co-workers, tap away on their laptops and argue with customers over the phone. One woman in particular looked as if she were about to pull her hair out as she talked quickly to whoever was on the other end.
Going through the layout of the office in my head, I figured out where the best place to hide was until the building closed at five, since it was Friday. To my left, I found a small janitor’s closest that shouldn’t be used until Monday morning when the cleaning crew would be back. I double checked to make sure that no one was watching me and, seeing my chance, ran over the closest and locked myself in.
I immediately sat on the floor, pulled on the gloves I had tucked into my back pocket, and began the process of gathering the needed supplies from my pockets and around the room to create what I needed. I wanted to be quick so they would be done before closing and I could use the rest of the time to go over the plan in my head.
Explosives. Quite a few explosives.
I got to work.
By the time my watch was buzzing five-thirty, well past the end of the work day, I had twenty homemade bombs to scatter around. They were already ready to be positioned in their locations around the floor. All I would have to do is set them up and then detonate them when together. It wouldn’t be a big enough blast to the whole building, but it would be able to destroy all research on the floor.
I pressed my ear against the wooden door and strained to hear any sign of movement. When I felt it was safe, I slowly opened it a crack to peek at the area. An unobservant secretary stood in the lobby area, reaching over the top to flip the light switch that was hidden behind the desk. The floor went dark, followed by the sound of heels clicking on wood floors and the opening and closing of the elevator doors.
I collected the bombs in a small trash bag from the closet and entered the main work area. I began the process of setting up the bombs.
One in the middle of the office, one in the lobby and another at the divide between the desks and the labs. Two for each of the five labs. One for each of the seven main offices including the CEO.
After arranging the first three, I continued on into the laboratories filled with unknown plants that hung from the ceiling in bleached white planters. Beakers and test tubes were set up for experiments all over the counter tops. I set up two explosives closer to those tests in progress.
Each lab was relatively the same. Plants were everywhere in these sterile environments. However, I started to notice the appearance of engines in several of the different labs. The nagging question of what these two things would be doing together streamed through my head, but I pushed it back. It wasn’t my job to know what they were there for. I was only here to destroy it.
I left the labs behind me and turned my attention to the offices in the back of the floor. These bombs would detonate first. A chain reaction from the back of the floor to the front would go off at the push of the small detonator that I had programed into the bomb that would be placed in the CEO office.
I carefully placed the explosives in the center of each desk, one by one until I finally found myself in the final office belonging to the CEO of the company.
I pushed the door to reveal a sparse, but classy office with comfortable couches and a dark wood desk. Modern art decorated the crème colored walls and I studied them as I walked farther into the room. I pulled the bomb out of the bag in my arms and laid it on the cluttered desk top.
I was about to turn away to leave when a few words on a page caught my eye. Mr. George O’Connell, CEO of Grand Oil Industries.
I knew that I shouldn’t, but, I couldn’t help sitting in the high backed office chair and reading what the page had to say.
Mr. George O’Connell, CEO of Grand Oil Industries,
I am not sure how you discovered the information dealing with our experiments on alternative fuel, but I can assure you that your petty threats will not keep us from announcing our discoveries in the next few days.
This is a breakthrough that cannot be ignored. The dependence on oil promoted by major companies like Grand Oil is something that our planet can no long afford. The discovery of the Artemis Vine will allow a new, fast growing, and never ending supply of energy to be an environmentally friendly alternative to the public.
We will go through with this project. This is our final decision.
Mary Lewis, CEO of Artemis Industries
I leaned back in my chair trying to comprehend what I had just read. This was why I had to sabotage Artemis Industries? A new product that would replace oil? But that was….extraordinary. If that could happen, it would change the world.
Was that what I signed up for? For destroying things with so much potential? I looked down at the bomb and thought through what would happen if I did this. O’Connell would keep on making money. The world will continue to be dependent on oil and be polluted. The truth of what could be would be lost.
I reached out my hand and rubbed my hand over the explosive as if it were a temperamental puppy. My eyes went between the paper and the bomb, wondering what to choose. Without me thinking, the decision was made for me.
As I leaned forward to look at the document better, my hand accidently pressed down on the bomb and triggered the countdown on the digital watch.
My eyes went wide, pausing for a few seconds, and then I was rushing out of the room. I ran from the offices and through the labs of the revolutionary plants, the countdown ticking down in my head.
Five. I was in the offices, my eyes focused on the stairwell door in the lobby.
Two. I opened the door to the stairs.
The floor was quiet for a moment and then the sound of roaring fire erupted quickly through the room as bombs triggered. I barely got to start my way down the stairs when the flames escaped into the small area and followed me down the concrete steps. I felt the heat burn at the skin of my back as they clung to the fabric of my shirt, but I kept running until the sound had faded into the floors above me.
I fell to the ground and rolled, trying to put out the fire. Shooting pain from my back brought tears to my eyes. As I laid there in the stairwell, staring up at the wrapping stairs, I noticed that the letter to O’Connell was still in my hands and was untouched by the fire. I thought of how I had to meet with the tyrant that had sent me on this mission.
I felt like a puppet or a pawn. I was disappointed in myself and I knew the scars that would be left behind from the flames would be a reminder of the what I did. Most of all, I knew that I would have a word with Mr. George O’Connell.
And I hoped that he would be alone when I did.