Lockdown! - A Short Story



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The two-metre rule, they said. Wash your hands regularly was the advice given. Please take this sanitiser six-pack with you, they offered. You’re on your own as far as beer is concerned. Ha, ha – very funny.


The assignment, should you to accept it Jim, is to watch Mark Ravine.


Make damned sure that he follows isolation protocol, report back every five days. Why five? Why not two? Why not seven? Because it’s that long before COVID-19 symptoms begin to show. Begone. And don’t come back if you have a temperature.


The assignment began innocuously enough. Entry into the establishment was a cinch. Mark lived in a three-storey mansion, built ironically in a Federal styled architecture which was a hoot because the Federal Bureau of Investigation were watching Mark Ravine’s ass twenty-four-seven. Get it? Security was disabled.


Note: Mark Ravine clearly doesn’t believe his own fiction. He lives in la-la land. Good thing the FBI is watching him.


The unsub – oops – this is not the blasted BAU – this is the real FBI, not some fictional half-assed bunch of wannabes that fly around in fictional business jet. The very well-known subject walks around in jersey shorts and a t-shirt. Ugh! Was expecting a cross between George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Okay. Subject washing his hands several times a day, even after he goes to the loo. Tick. Subject has taken an afternoon nap. Opportunity to explore the rest of the house.


Note: Third storey converted into a games den. Very juvenile.


Noise heard. The clickety-clack of a keyboard. Subject is in deep concentration in his office on the second storey. Damn, it’s small. Actually, not too bad. Decent sized cupboard. Oak-finished desktop. Whiteboard with scribbles. Photo taken. Two shiny monitors. Four computers, two of them laptops. Dude’s a nerd like that punk Michael Paterson from his book. Wait. What’s he writing? His big head covers the screen.


Note: Dude’s paranoid about his work. Best guess – plot for the sequel to The Tech.


Opportunity to see where the writer sleeps. Bedroom has a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom. Nice. Avoid looking into the drawers. No idea what horrors lay within. Besides. Orders were orders. Don’t catch anything. Or don’t come back.


Note: Bed neatly maid. Writer’s well trained. Alexa by the bed and in the living room by the TV. Repeat. Dude’s a geek.


Opportunity to explore the kitchen. Hungry. Snack time. The fridge’s an odd mixture of healthy and junky. Candy bars. A cake. Smell it. Chocolate. Salad. Celery sticks. Fruits. Cheese – three kinds and two more grated varieties.


Note: Dude’s confused.


Footsteps heard. Duck into the living room. Quick. Mark walks slowly, opening the fridge, staring into it like he’s wondering who he really is. Fitness freak? Or foodie? Out comes a basket of strawberries. Moments later, after a long swig of mineral water, he disappears into the garage. Is he going for a drive? Doesn’t the bastard realise – only essential travel, moron? Time to take a peek. A rumbling noise is heard. The door is opened to reveal the subject on the treadmill. Definitely fitness freak. A fruitcake. Time to go back and have that snack while the dude’s running with headphones blotting out the outside world.


Note: There’s no car in the garage. Only cupboards, closets, a lawnmower, a vacuum cleaner and of course, the treadmill. Makes perfect sense. Cars are outside in the driveway.


Quick. Let’s look at the sequel. Damn. The computer’s locked. Footsteps heard. Escape. Subject is back at his desk, the computer unlocking as though by magic.


Note. Repeat. The dude’s a geek and a nerd. Repeat. Geek and a nerd. He’s got a blasted smart watch that unlocked the blasted computer.


Note: Remember to sanitise notes, not just your hands.


Hours pass. Subject comes downstairs to have dinner in front of the TV. At last. A sign of normalcy. He’s eating quesadillas. Yum. Watching – of course! A crime procedural. Probably taking notes. No. the subject is not taking notes. It’s a recorded episode from a decade ago.


Note: Seen this one. Temptation to yell the ending avoided. Phew!


It’s almost twelve when the subject goes to bed. Take the guest bedroom. Quietly.


It’s morning already? Way past six and subject is awake, downstairs with a cup of green tea. More treadmill. A walk in the backyard. Phew.


Note: Subject is following protocol, after all. Exercise. Eating frugally. Plenty of fluids. Washes hands regularly. Most of the time spent productively – working. Well rested. Small indulgences. No overstocking of supplies. Tick.


Disappointing is the life of an FBI agent. Mark Ravine doesn’t have the faintest idea what an agent actually does. Did the dude even do any research? Most of the time, the FBI follow innocent civilians around making stupid notes that no one reads, not even the supercilious supervisor giving rotten advice. Supervisory Special Agent my ass.


Five days have gone. Not a change in routine. Time to file a report. Creep towards the front door. Hear footsteps following.


“Have everything you need?” he asks. Whirl around, tightening black trench coat, whipping on a pair of dark sunglasses. Mark has a genial smile on his face. “May I see your notes please?” Notes handed over. Mark reads the notes, lips pursed, features frowning. Then, another beatific smile. “Must have been awfully boring for you. Next time let me know you’re coming. I’ll put a pot of coffee on. And tell Director Wray that I said ‘Hi.’ Have a nice day.” Subject didn’t even ask to see ID or FBI credentials.


Note: Mark Ravine is not as stupid as he – er - appears.


Subject has not been informed that the assignment is not quite over. Quarantine has to be observed for three weeks. After which, as Donald Trump says, it’s business as usual. The world’s back to normal. And the FBI are putting the Quantico up for sale.


The End


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