The Nick of Time series is an ongoing serial by sci-fi author Matthew Wellert. Enjoy!

One of our characters is being interviewed by a clandestine agency. They have her alone in an operating theatre-in-the-round style hall, such as teaching hospitals have. As she speaks, each sentence scrolls by in the native tongue of each attendee.

“Your internal security is atrocious! A 28-year old Polish male with blue eyes is listening in at Juliet-tack-154-Sierra Quebec-9. Take care of that before I finish or I will.”

She lifts a finger and the paper seal breaks and the first page opens. She begins reading the non-disclosure aloud. After two sentences she says

“Blah, blah blah, blah blah!”

A scratched record noise is followed by the sound of glass breaking.

“Every one of you signed a comprehensive non-disclosure when you came on board. As did I at the screening interview. This is an agency event, so we’re bound by what we signed. Replace this with ‘Don’t tell anyone’ and everyone except your feckless director will be happier.

People in the gallery noticeably squirm, as the director is short-tempered and vindictive.

“No one has made a move to secure the feed two buildings away. If you do not resolve it before I finish, I will.”

She makes a signing gesture with her left hand and the pen signs the document. She begins a comic pantomime around the stage, never sitting in the chair provided, or touching anything on the desk, as she knows they are all coated with topically administered drugs.

At the completion of each page, she closes her eyes and an expression of extreme bliss fills her face, resulting in a flash from the page. Soon enough, she has completed the assessment.

“Now everyone raise your right hand.”

The agency director sullenly keeps his hands clenched on the desk.

“Mr. Director, I most respectfully request you raise your right hand for the oath. It will go much better for you if you do.”

In obvious pain, the director massages his temples as he breathes heavily. Notably, no one moves to help him or oppose our heroine.

“Please stand and repeat after me.”

All rise save the director.

“I do solemnly swear or affirm that I shall not disclose, reveal, share, or communicate anything I have witnessed or experienced here, coded or uncoded, by speech, in print, or any other means, so help me God.”

A cacophony of voices recite the oath. No one in the agency has every experienced a candidate turn the tables as this gifted young woman has. Expressions range from awe to intrigue to anger. Within seconds those next to the director notice him slumped at his desk against the railing.

“The director’s reward for his insolence is that he is basically a blank slate. He can walk, talk, dress himself, eat; all the Maslow ‘hygiene functions’ yet he has no idea who he is, who his wife or children are, how to drive, where he lives and so forth. Jacob, you and he go way back, yes?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

Smiling brightly she says, “Please, Ma’am is for my mother. I’m Sally.

“Sally, I’m Texan,” he says, his chest swelling with pride. “Respect is bred into us.”

“After 43 years of marriage,” Sally begins, “Viola will know the trigger word incident, so she’ll be expecting the worst. Have your medical team prepare this cocktail, (chem formulas scroll by), have her administer it TID for six weeks. If he refuses, admit him to your black ops attended care mental facility, up in the Catskills and administer the cocktail intravenously. Without it, he will have a permanent impairment, so the government’s investment in him will be lost, a great waste to the taxpayer, and greater anguish to his family.

“Don’t even think about eliminating the problem, as you so euphemistically put it. Any attempt to harm him and those behind it will go insane, with no recovery—and no harm will come to him. Now just a few housekeeping details. Each flash you saw, deposited 22 karat gold illumination (think Book of Kells). Next Thursday at 10 am GMT, gold will spike, so have the gold ready for sale before then. I need not instruct this crowd in off-book accounting, yes, or yes?”

Chuckles from the senior members of the agency.

“The proceeds are split 40/60 between the Dominicans & Missionaries of Charity here in New York.

“Now everyone close your eyes and clear your mind.”

When they open their eyes, the director is in his skivvies, sans shoes, five are in orange prison jumpsuits and Agnes is in her native Albanian dress.

“Someone take him to your gym, get his workout gear and have him dress in that, send the suit to the cleaners because it has salt mines if you know what I mean.” she smirks.

“The five in jumpsuits are your Hussein Caliphate shadow government operatives. Do something unpleasant to them, anything short of torture, permanent impairment or death. These are really nasty rascals. They do not merit your sympathy.


“Yes Ma’am.”

“Are you Texan as well?” she says smiling.

“No Ma’am, but if you wouldn’t mind telling me why I am wearing the courting dress of my homeland?”

“Your official task is to courier the notice of the deposit to the Dominicans and to the Missionaries of Charity. Unofficially…(she smiles) is there a question you wanted to ask someone in particular?

“Yes, Jacob,” after answering, she realizes that she just told of her secret crush. She screams and blushes like a schoolgirl.

Laughter from the entire gallery. Her girlfriends hug her.

“Why is that pray tell?”

“I think Jacob is so cute. Before these life-changing events today, I’ve never had the courage to ask him to lunch.” she giggles.

All assembled laugh and cheer. Agnes’ girlfriends lift her to her feet and gracefully bring her down to Jacob.

“Would you like to go to lunch?” Agnes asks Jacob, giggling.

“It would be my honor.” He gives her a social kiss on the cheek.

Again cheers as our scene closes. Stay tuned for more stories in “The Nick of Time” series.