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She sat in her office, looking over the paperwork that had just been delivered.

“I don’t believe this,” she muttered. Heaving a sigh, she reached for the intercom button. “Carlos, can you come in for a moment, please?”

Her door opened a mere few seconds later, and Carlos saluted sharply from the doorway. She waved him in.

“Carlos, can you explain this for me, please?”

He approached the desk and leaned over to look at the plans on her desk.

“Well, these would be the vats of acid, madam, and this is the walkway.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Yes, I thought as much. Tell me, why do we need a walkway above vats of acid?”

He blinked. “Well, it’s on the plans, madam.”

“Why is it on the plans?”

“It’s the way these things are designed, madam. Tradition.”

She sighed. “I want the walkways moved. If the vats of acid are absolutely necessary to the production, I want them covered. I want tradition ignored, and health and safety rules followed, do you understand?”

He looked down at her. “Yes, madam. Oh, the new uniform designs arrived, madam.”

He pulled a rolled up sheet of paper from under his arm, and handed it to her.

“Oh good grief,” she said, taking a brief glance at the sheet. “I told you, if there are face masks they must be transparent. And why black? Let’s have some colour in there. Something nice and bright.”

He opened his mouth to reply and she held up a hand. “And do not say a word to me about tradition, Carlos.”

He shut his mouth for a moment before speaking again.

“Madam, in light of your… feelings on tradition. An intruder has been located at the perimeter, and Alpha Squad are intercepting him at this moment. I believe it’s that secret agent again. Do I presume that you do not want him brought to your inner sanctum?”

She looked up at him. “That would be tradition, wouldn’t it? Bring the secret agent right into the heart of my base of operations.”

“Yes madam.”

“Oh sweet mother of mercy. No. It would be incredibly foolish to bring a secret agent right into the room where my safe is located, where my computer is, where he might conceivably have any chance of accessing any information on my plans. Why would I do that? Do you think I am a fool?”

“Ah, no madam. Right. So… we take him straight to the, ah, Interrogation Room?”

She rolled her eyes. “Why do I bother? Carlos, you know that I am not the kind to relish putting a man to a slow and ridiculous death, especially not in one of your ‘traditional’ contraptions. They always escape from those things, haven’t you noticed?”

“But madam, don’t you want to-”

“No, I don’t want to go over there and monologue at him! How many times to I have to tell you! Just shoot the damned secret agent and be done with it!”

Carlos saluted again and moved towards the door.

“Oh and Carlos?”

He stopped and looked back at her.

“Multiple times, Carlos. Head and chest. Make sure he’s not coming back this time.”

With a sigh, she turned to her computer. She was going to have to send another memo out about the List.

© Kari Fay