Chapter 3. Jackie’s Break

Jakie hopped briskly down a dimly lit steel corridor, with his paws behind his back. Jackie hopped alongside, struggling to keep up.

“So what’s your mission?” Jackie asked. The echo from her voice boomed.

“It’s classified,” said Jakie.

“But I’m in the CIA now. I have clearance,” she retorted proudly.

“You’re a recruit.”

“They only recruit one in a thousand candidates.”

Jakie stopped and turned toward Jackie.

“You know what it takes to be a full agent? First you have to go through the six month training program. Then you shadow a veteran agent for six months. If you’re still alive, you get to shadow a different veteran agent for another six months. If you make it through that, you’re a rookie agent on mandatory probation for another year. And then, if you’re still willing to have people shooting and throwing knives at you even during your vacation, AND they decide you’re still qualified, then ONLY IF a spot on the agent list opens up do they let you become a full agent!”

Jakie realized he was shaking his first finger in Jackie’s face. The echo from the word “agent” faded away. He put his paws behind his back and started down the corridor again.

“Trust me, it’s pretty much impossible to get to become a full agent,” Jakie added.

“So what’s your next mission?” Jackie asked, again catching up.

“Fluff.” Jakie sighed.

They arrived at the end of the corridor. A shiny elevator with the CIA seal emblazoned across both doors awaited. Jakie jumped up so that his face could meet the level of the retina scanner. Nothing happened. Jakie sighed and jumped again. This time the scanner caught his left eye for the tenth of a second that it needed, and the elevator doors opened.

“Core Operations Level,” Jakie announced as they walked in. A female synthesized voice repeated the command and the elevator started its descent. Jackie looked up, still clutching her book with both paws.

“Hey, did you get an earring?” asked Jackie. She reached upward.

“Fluff,” Jakie muttered as he brushed her paw aside.

“Core Operations Level,” said the synthesized voice as the elevator slowed down. The doors opened and Jakie and Jackie both hopped out.

The entire floor was lit brilliantly with pale fluorescent panels overhead. Jackie noticed the CIA seal again on the floor in front of the elevator as they hopped over it. This floor was different from the previous one. No interns here. Nobody exercising. Just desks with people typing as if starting a term paper the night before it’s due, and a few on phones having serious conversations.

They hopped to the desk at the far end of the room. A twenty-something man sat there, wearing an off-white fitted shirt and patterned tie. He was clean shaven with a crew-cut. On his desk was nothing more than an Apple keyboard and monitor, a desk phone with a gazillion buttons, and a name plate that said “Toby.”

“Howdeeee dooodeeee! Glad to hear you’re not actually retiring! And this must be your little sister! You two look exactly alike!” exclaimed Toby.

“Well, I don’t have pigtails–” said Jakie.

“You’re early,” interrupted Toby. “That’s ok. She’ll see you anyway because this is urgent.”

Jakie turned to Jackie, about to tell her to skedaddle.

“Jackie goes in too,” Toby chimed in. “You didn’t know? Oh well, I guess boss will explain it all.”

“Do I get to go with you on your mission?” Jackie asked Jakie.

“No!” exclaimed Jakie.

“Just go in and see what she says,” Toby advised.

“Fluff.” Jakie pouted.

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