The Culprit Of The Cookie Caper
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Site-19: Zero Eight Hundred, the Day after The Caper

Site-19 was an absolute shambles in the wake of the cookie caper. Dr. Magnus strode through the halls, flashing his shiny new Level 3 badge at anyone who dared look at him wrong. It had taken far more hard work and even more begging with his superiors to even be put back in the consideration for promotion, let alone attain it.

With a bit more hard work and luck, maybe he’d stop being killed and subjected to horrible soul-shattering agony to come back to life. He had gotten his chance to work with higher level staff, and his research had begun to show promise. Metaphysical reality experts weren’t totally useless, in an organization which routinely dealt with the anomalous, shocker.

His first task as a Level 3 was to find out who had stole a cookie, of all things, from a jar in Site-19. It had been made infinitely clear this was a trial of sorts.

He approached the security checkpoint, and flashed his ID against the scanner. The doors quietly hissed open, and the room inside was as tense as a mexican standoff. Six members of MTF-Epsilon-22 were stationed here full time.

“I’d like a full situation report.” Magnus said. He hoped his voice exuded the confidence he didn’t really have.. He was still getting used to not getting line-jumped in the cafeteria. He snapped his fingers at the task-force member nearest to the actual jar.

“Sir. All we know is that someone took a cookie from—” his face contorted for a moment, and he continued, “the cookie jar. All we know is who it couldn’t be.”

Magnus nodded, and approached the clear cookie jar, containing quite a few cookies, but a very conspicuous absence near the top of the pile. “I see. And there’s no indication of who could actually have done this?”

“Sir, we have a list of who we can confirm didn’t do it.” He handed over a sheet of paper to Magnus, who studied it carefully.

“Wait, I’ve been cleared, and it says….I was ‘on my bullshit’ here?” Magnus raised an eyebrow frowning at the guard.

“Sir, I don’t know who compiled the list, I just—” Magnus waved a hand cutting the agent off.

“Fine fine. I want to interrogate every other person in the Site not on this list. Have them report to the holding area.”

Sixteen hours later, Dr. Magnus returned to the office that he shared with Dr. Kensington, exhausted. He collapsed into the chair in front of his desk. “Fuck me sideways.”

Dr. Kensington looked up from the comic book he was reading, and raised an eyebrow, “What’s wrong, Magbutt? Didn’t find out who stole the stupid cookie?”

Magnus raised his hands at the elbows in a gesture of defeat. His voice was muffled by his face smushed against his desk. “No, not a goddamned thing. No one knows who took the cookie from the jar.” Magnus lifted his head, “I also have no idea why anyone cares so much. It was just a cookie right? It wasn’t even a skip?”

Dr. Kensington threw his comic book on his desk, and sat up properly. “You really don’t read the reports the directors send you, do you? That’s part of being level 3, you know.” Kens shifted some of the papers on his desk, and flung a stapled packet across to Magnus’ desk. “It’s an anomalous item. Everyone that considers eating one is fiercely protective of them. They supposedly improve overall health a bit, but not like 500 does. Just a little nudge, not a panacea.”

Magnus scanned the page, his eyes turning deadly serious for a moment, before putting it down. He reached over for the stale coffee turning rapidly cold on his desk and took a sip with a grimace. “Okay, so we know three things: These cookies make you feel a bit better overall, everyone wants to keep them safe, and someone managed to take one anyway. I’m guessing they must have had a good reason.”

Kens shrugged, and picked up a different comic, flipping to a dog-ear, “I guess. Hey, did you find out what I asked, by the way?”

Magnus nodded wearily, “Yeah, he’s getting out today, he should be ready for visitors in an hour or so. Why didn’t you just ask yourself?”

Kens stood up, and smirked at Magnus, “Because, mag-butts, I had important level 4 things to do. I can’t be assed to do the little things anymore.”

Magnus glared, and gave Kensington the finger, before starting to hammer ineffectually on his keyboard, chipping away at the cookie caper.

Dr. Kensington’s feet echoed down the hallways of the medical wing. It was always oppressively quiet, but at least it’s better than when it wasn’t. Kens had his fair share of bad experiences in this exact wing.

He approached the nurses station, and flashed his ID, “Hi there,” he glanced at his nametag, “Dan. I’m looking for Charles Gears’ room.”

The young nurse at the desk hesitated for a moment, “I’m sorry sir, even Level 4 staff aren’t being permitted to see him. His doctors don’t want anyone to disturb him at this time considering the number of anomalies on-site. Not even level four, I’m sorry Dr. Kensington .”

Kensington nodded, and gently thumbed the near-invisible stud on his ID back, flashing a series of symbols across the front. “Perhaps you’d reconsider?” He said, the memetic emblem of an O5 council member flashing in the young nurse’s eyes. He would allow whatever request was made of him, and forget exactly who the bearer was. Neat trick for staying hidden in plain sight.

“Yes, of course sir, my apologies. Room 177.” He swallowed hard.

“Thanks, Dan. Keep up the good work.” Kens turned with a small smile, the heels of his dress shoes clacking down the hallway towards room 177. As Kens rounded a corner, Dan shook his head for a moment, then went back to the scheduling duties in front of him, none the wiser.

Monitors beeped softly from various rooms, as Kens finally came to room 177. He scanned his ID reader at the door and quietly slipped inside.

WIthin the room was a single bed, containing a man in his mid-fifties, balding, but otherwise healthy. His face was slightly sunken from the recovery process. A vase of flowers was on the windowsill. He looked up from the book in his lap, and considered Dr. Kensington. “Doctor, may I ask to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

Dr. Kensington smiled slightly, and crossed to the flowers, reading the tag. Get well soon, -Agatha. “Pleasure Charles?”

Dr. Gears cocked his head slightly, “A figure of speech. How can I help you doctor?”

Kens crossed the room, and sat on the foot of the bed, “I just wanted to come by and see how you were doing. I know the cancer wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but…”

Dr. Gears nodded, “I am in adequate condition, considering the circumstances. Thank you for taking time out of your day to check in on me, Dr. Kensington. It was very considerate.”

Kens smiled faintly, and stood up, pulling a sandwich baggie out of his pocket. Inside was a single cookie, only a few crumbs missing. “Hey, I know you don’t go much for sweets, but it would mean a lot to me if you would eat this.”

Dr. Gears considered for a moment, and ate the proffered cookie. Dr. Gears was not a man prone to emotions, but a very faint smile crept on to his face. “Thank you Doctor. If you don’t mind, I would like to get back to reading.”

Dr. Kensington nodded, and quietly exited Dr. Gears’ hospital room. He walked down the halls of Site-19 with more energy in his step than in a long time.

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