[Edge1.1.23] You Won A New House – Dave Bailey

[Edge1.1.23] You Won A New House

Art thought about asking her about Tony’s daughter but decided it would be better not to mention it.

“So, why do those rumors spook you?” Art asked.

“Well, it’s not that. But what happened before. So, what started was that part of their experimentation got loose. Sounds like they were doing some rather creepy things. Some of those things got loose one night. No one knows if it was intentional or not. But they said this building was full of creepy people like you’d see in a zombie or vampire movie.”

“What? Like they had fangs and bit people?” Art asked.

“I don’t know,” Joanna said. “Everybody that was working that night disappeared.”

Art scoffed. “Seriously? That sounds like something from some Hollywood conspiracy movie.”

Joanna shrugged as finished drying the last of the pans and put the towel away.

“Maybe you’re right,” she said with a laugh. “But one of the girls that works with us in the kitchen was on duty that night. I haven’t seen her since.”

“You think Tony killed her?” he asked incredulously.

“Maybe the creepy things dragged her off in some dark corner,” she said.

Art shook his head and then looked at her waiting for her to laugh. But she was serious.

“I’d quit if I could. It scares me sometimes to work here. But the money is too good, and I need something to take care of my daughter.”

“I’m sure you can get another job somewhere else or start your own burger joint,” he said.

Joanna laughed and splashed some water at him.

“It’s not that bad of a job, and they pay me triple what I could make anywhere else. Even if I went into competition with McDonald’s I’d have to work longer hours and be away from my kid.”

“Zombie burgers!” Art shouted. He made a monster face and claws like he was attacking her.

“Oh, stop it, Art!” she laughed.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! What do we have going on in here?” Tony said from the doorway.

Joanna screamed, and Art spun around toward the door.

“Oh, hey Tony! I’m just teasing Joanna about her giant monster burgers.” Art said nervously.

“Good. Aren’t they?” Tony asked as he reached for a fry.

“Sure are.” Art replied. “Finger-lickin’ good.”

“Good. Glad to hear it. Did you sleep well?”

“I did. Slept great,” he answered.

“Good. You looked exhausted.” Tony said.

“Yeah, but I feel much better now.” Art replied.

“Well, don’t stay up too late. We have a long day tomorrow. So, make sure to get some sleep.”

Joanna finished putting all her dishes back on the cart. She pulled a few things out of the fridge to take with her.

“I’m going to run along. I think I’ve pretty much wrapped everything up here. Would either of you like anything else?” she asked politely.

Both of the men shook their heads.

“No, thank you, Joanna. Run along and have a nice night.” Tony said gruffly

“Good night, Joanna.” Art said as she pushed her cart out the door.

Tony walked into the living room and tossed himself onto the couch with a loud sigh. He loosened his tie and kicked off his shoes.

“Do you live here?” Art asked. “Is this your house. I can stay in a hotel or something. I don’t want to impose.”

Tony chuckled and waved him off. “No, no. Of course not. I couldn’t stand being cramped up in this underground hole.”

Art looked around. Cramped up isn’t the word he would have used to describe how he felt here. It was at least three times bigger than his home. It felt very spacious and comfortable. He wondered what Tony’s home must look like if he thought this made him feel cramped.

After a few moments, Tony opened his eyes and looked at Art.

“Be careful, Art. I have a lot of enemies. Once people find out that you are working with me, they’re going to do everything they can to trip us up. It’s going to be dangerous for you out there in the real world. I know you are going to want to go out and I can’t keep you locked up in here forever.”

“Why’s that?” Art asked. “There seems to be so much mystery around here and this Sector Seven thing.”

Art realized he shouldn’t have said that and froze up. Tony chuckled and waved him off.

“So, they’ve already told you about it. Huh? Well, at least I know the company water cooler works. I told you about my daughter and Alpha Four’s brother. That’s where the research was going on.”

“And the zombie vampire things that escaped?” Art had to ask.

“That is rumor, Art. I actually started it.” Tony said. “I told you that we have a war going on in here. You saw how Alpha Four reacted. I couldn’t actually tell people that we had rogue employees running around shooting each other up. So, we told them it was some experiment in sector seven that got loose. It was a very good way to keep people from sniffing around down there. But there is really nothing to hide. You’re welcome to go down there anytime.”

“And Carla’s brother?” he asked.

“Carla?” Tony mused. “Who is Carla?”

“The girl that was cleaning in here tonight.” Art replied.

“What are you talking about? There’s no one scheduled to clean in here tonight.” Tony said and stood up. “Hey, Delta Two! Who cleaned in here tonight?”

Bill walked into the room and shrugged. “One of the cleaning girls came down and said she was supposed to touch things up. I assumed it was something you had requested.”

“No, I didn’t. That’s mighty strange,” he said. “Have security go back and look at the tape to see who it was. I want to know what’s going on. You probably won’t find her, but if you do, bring her to me.”

“Sure thing, boss,” Bill said.

“Bill is Delta Two. Huh?” Art asked.

Tony chuckled. “Don’t ask. It started a long time ago. It’s a security thing. I’d much rather call them by name. But they think it feels more professional. It’s not like this job is that dangerous or anything. So, I suppose most of the time they’re just standing around making up cool names for themselves.”

Art nodded pensively as he reviewed his conversation with Carla and wondered what was going on. Was she there to spy on him. Would she have killed him if he hadn’t woken up?

Tony noticed the worried look on his face. “Don’t worry, she won’t get in here again,” he said. “I’ll have Bill notify security not to let anyone near you that hasn’t been personally authorized by you or me.”

Art felt relieved and thanked Tony.

“Look, don’t mention it kid. I’m doing this for myself. You are doing me a huge favor. I’m counting on you. Not just me, but the whole world. You have come up with something amazing, and this is the least I can do to show you how much you deserve it.”

Art grinned and blushed. It felt good to have someone compliment him like that. Pedro had never said anything nice about him. In fact, it seemed like his superior had purposefully sought to tear him down at every opportunity. So, this was a nice change. He was going to enjoy it as long as he could.

“So, why don’t we go take a look at your new house?” Tony said.

“Huh?” Art replied. “What are you talking about?”

Tony grinned. “After you fell asleep, I had my real estate agent show me what was available on the market. I went ahead and picked something out for you.”

They walked out the door and down the hall. When they got to the parking lot, Tony tossed him a set of keys. Press the unlock button and see which one is yours. Art looked at him in shock. There were only three cars in the lot.

The first was a matte black BMW right in the center of the other two. He could tell right away by the symbol on the front. It must have been a newer model because he didn’t recognize it just by looking at it. And that was because he was an avid car fan that read all the top auto magazines each month.

The second was a tungsten silver Aston Martin to the right. He recognized it as a Vantage with custom wheels. He whistled when he realized it was a convertible. The third one was a red Ferrari with tinted windows and a black top to the left. Art gently ran his hand along the side of it.

“Hey, what are you waiting for? We don’t got all night.” Tony snapped.

Art grinned and pressed the button. The lights to the BMW flickered as it beeped. Tony and Bill hopped in as Art admired the car.

“Stop, drooling and let’s hit the road, son.” Tony shouted in mock disgust.

Art climbed in carefully and started the car. He looked over at the Ferrari once more. Tony looked back at Bill and handed him a twenty dollar bill.

“Told you so,” Bill said as he shoved the money into his pocket.

“What’s that all about?” Art asked.

“We gave you the keys to this car because the Ferrari and Aston only seat two people. I wanted Bill along for protection. So, we bet twenty dollars on which car you’d really want to drive.”

“Bill put his money on the Ferrari,” Art finished. “He has good taste.”

Tony and Bill both chuckled.

“The Ferrari is a nice car, but once you drive the Aston, you’ll never look back at it again.” Bill said. “I just figured you hadn’t had the privilege to drive one yet to know how sweet it really is.”

“Don’t worry, son. You can drive them all, all you want, tomorrow.” Tony said. “I’m giving those three cars to you.”

Dave Bailey

Dave Bailey started writing short stories when he lived in Brazil to help his students learn English. Now, he lives in Florida again where he continues to write fun and inspiring sci-fi and fantasy fiction stories. You can read his weekly short stories here on his blog. Make sure to join his advanced reading crew so you know when new stories become available >>> https://davebailey.me/go/crew