In Case I'm Gone Tomorrow
rating: +11+x

As I walked to the entrance of the small, suburban home, I took a look at the neighborhood. It seemed average, aside from the unusual quietness. As if they knew what I was here for.

I took a deep breath, and knocked on the front door. My knuckles rasped against the cold wood.

The door swung open, and a tiny woman stood in front of me, "Ms. Lida?" I asked.

"Mrs. Lida," she corrected. "How can I help you?"

"Um, that's actually what I'm here about," I replied. A confused expression spread across her face. "Could I come inside? I think it'd be best if this was handled in private."

She pointed at the manila folder in my hand, and began to open her mouth.

"I work for the company, if that's what you're wondering."

"Oh," she sighed. "Come in, in that case."

I sat myself down in the chair, and motioned for her to sit on the couch in front of me.

"Is Vince okay?" she worriedly questioned. "Last time someone came, it was because he was in the hospital." She sat nervously, shifting her weight every few seconds.

"About that. Ma'am… your husband passed in the line of duty, three days ago."

She stared back at me, her eyes wide, her mouth agape. She brought her hand up, clutching her chest.

"No- no… he told me he wasn't doing anything dangerous anymore. He told me he was done with that," she attempted to inform me.

I looked at her apologetically, "I'm sorry, Ms. Lida. He died saving the lives of others."

"Oh god," she uttered, her voice cracking. She brought her glare down to the floor, and crossed her arms, embracing herself.

"Vince was a great man. He helped out a lot of people, and- let's just say he's definitely done some good things."

A few tears rolled down the side of her nose, and she sniffled, attempting to compose herself, "Tha- thank you," she told me. "Did you- did- were you friends with him?" The woman struggled to speak, her voice still breaking.

"I was. I served with him in several missions. He, uh, saved my life at least a few times."

She nodded, and looked up at me. The tears slowed, but her voice continued to break as she asked, "Can I at least… know how he passed?"

I shook my head, "I'm sorry, but no. All I can tell you is that he… sacrificed his life to save a lot of others."

The tears started flowing again, much heavier than before, dripping off her face and onto her shirt, "He died doing what he always said he would."

I looked down for a moment to compose myself, before straightening my glasses and opening the folder, "If you wouldn't mind, he had a note for me to give to you after his passing. He requesting I read it aloud, if that's alright with you."

She nodded again, and I began reading.

I'm writing this in case I'm gone tomorrow.

I know you don't know a lot about what I do for work. But you know its dangerous. And important. I sacrificed my life for the greater good- but that doesn't matter.

What does matter, is that you and Erica will be taken care of. The man you're talking to works for the Foundation (the people I work for). He's there to deliver some of my things, talk to you about what happened. If it isn't all covered in red tape and black ink, anyway. And he'll give you the insurance policy. It's a lot of money, and it'll mean you and Erica will be taken care of for the rest of your lives.

Tell Erica I'm sorry I won't be there to watch her grow up, or see her learn to drive, or be there to threaten her first boyfriend. And tell her I love her. But, I'm also sorry to you. Sorry I won't be there to grow old with you, or care for you. I'm sorry you'll have to find someone else to be with you, instead of your "dream" man, as you said. I wish I had more time with you.

I'm sorry for so many things. Maybe I should've quit this job when I met you. But its too important to be left without people filling it.

Just know I'm never far away, and I'll always look out for you. Wherever I am. And when the sun finally burns out at the end of days, I'll be here, waiting for you.

I love you, honey.

Like a waterfall from her eyes, tears began freely falling. A wet spot appeared on the carpet in front of her.

"I apologize there isn't much I can do for you. This is never an easy thing, but if it helps, I have the things he mentioned in the note." I slid a few papers out of the folder, and passed them to her.

"This is the insurance policy he spoke about. Its worth… quite a bit of money," I said, assuredly. "You can take a moment to read it, if you'd like."

She shifted her gaze from the papers to me, "What about his stuff? It said you'd have some of it." She seemingly tried to fight back her tears, but was failing.

"Yes, its in the back of my car," I asserted, pointing to the door behind me. "If you'd like, we could go gather the boxes?"

"I'd like that very much… there aren't many of his things around here anymore. He was never home too often," she told me, her voice full of misery.

I began standing up, and she followed suite, "That's unfortunately part of the job, usually… God knows I need to go home soon."

She appeared to gather herself, attempting to stop the tears that continued to flow, before saying, "I get it… I know his- all of your jobs are important. He always told me, 'If something weird, and important happens, it was probably us.'"

As she finished speaking, we stepped out into the cool fall air and began bringing in the four boxes. They were filled mostly with random items- clothing, tools, travel nick-nacks from dozens of different places, and other assorted objects. Each time she brought one inside, she rustled through it with a hopeful look, and each time she finished with a disappointed look.

"I believe I covered everything, so if you don't have any questions for me, I'll leave you. Again, I'm sorry for your loss. Vince really was a great man," I announced as I set the last box down.

She sighed, "I don't have any… but thank you, for everything." A final tear fell down her face.

"You're welcome. I'm sorry I can't do much to comfort or help you, besides give you his stuff and the insurance policy. Our line of work is unfortunately pretty secretive."

"I understand," she said bitterly.

"Oh, and if you are confused or need anything, feel free to call me. Losing someone is especially difficult when they work for the Foundation." I reached into my pocket, and pulled out a business card for 'Secure Communication Products'.

"Thank you." I nodded, and exited the house.

The neighborhood seemed to be just as hushed before. The only noise aside from the rustling of the winds and leaves was my car engine, and the dial tone of my phone.

"What's up, Ed?" the man on the other end asked.

"She thinks you're dead, Vince."

He sighed back to me, "So… there we go. No going back now, we've started the fucked up deeds for this whole shit show."

"Yeah. Definitely one of the more fucked up things I've done in the Foundation. But uh, how'd it go with Octavia?" I asked, attempting to maintain my composure.

"I'll be honest with you, bud, not good. I don't think she's in a good place right now," he responded. I became quiet for a moment, a tear rolling down my face.

"Fuck… that really just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about this whole situation. But like the director said, this whole thing is big, a lot bigger than us and our families. Tau-10 is gonna be bigger than all of us."

"Damn, yeah, I guess." He paused for a moment and sniffled, as if crying. "You ever think we should've left this whole thing behind us?"

"Like you said in the note, someone has to do it. Even if it means leaving it all behind."

"It just hurts… to leave everything behind, ya know?" he said, before staying silent for several seconds. He sniffled again, before following up with, "But this whole mission, operation, whatever- it'll sure as hell be important enough by the time we're done."

"I know what you mean. The Foundation is… somewhere you don't leave without some kind of pain."

"Yeah… thanks, Ed. For doing this, and sticking with me. I'll see you back at the site."

"Its our job. See you at the site, Vince."

It sounded as if tears dripped onto the phone, and I could hear the faint sound of crying in the background.


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