Copyright © 2013 by James Hampton

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved.


Chapter One

Mable Griggs found it quaint—to say the least—that, in matters of discipline, an actual paper letter would have to be inserted into an actual cardboard folder. It struck her as a practice better suited to the middle years of the twentieth century, rather than those of the twenty-first. But she was a nineteen-year-old filing clerk who understood that it wasn’t her business to question the way things were done around here; her business was to make sure they got done. And Mable knew she was darned lucky to be employed by the Agency in the first place: even monotonous entry-level positions like the one she held were much-coveted by jobseekers. Good pay, generous healthcare coverage, a superb retirement plan, reasonable hours, and substantial prospect for career advancement…the list of positives about working for the Agency went on and on. So the last thing Mable Griggs wanted to do, especially just three days into her new job, was rock the boat.

Now: the Agency prized confidentiality, and the trainee class to which Mable belonged had been informed, in no uncertain terms, that unauthorized distribution of Agency information by any employee would result in immediate termination, and possibly imprisonment. Spouses, parents, siblings, friends—no one was to know what was in the documents Mable and her peers handled on a daily basis. The tall, brown-haired, big-boned young woman supposed she had it easier than most, when it came to keeping secrets. She was not married, so there was no husband for them to worry about her blabbing to; her parents were hundreds of miles away, back in the small rural community in which was born and raised, and her three sisters and two brothers were scattered across the country, which meant she saw her family only sporadically; and she’d not lived here long enough to make any friends. But each night that Mable went home to her small, dark, empty apartment, she found herself wishing that she didn’t have it so easy; how she would prefer to be surrounded by people, and have to fight hard to keep her mouth shut, than be here, alone, in a strange city.

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