An Axton to Grind

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The man in the trilby passed a small crowd outside an electronics store, catching a glimpse of the news station the televisions were turned to.

"… got reports of a stolen military vehicle on the loose. An unknown individual has stolen a M6…"

Not your usual Wednesday, he gathered from the voice. He would have stayed to watch the news himself, but he was already late and didn't want to waste any more time. Trilby walked across the unusually deserted street and spotted a phone booth in the distance. The blue trimming on the booth stood out from the dour San Diego evening. He quickened his pace to the phone booth, oblivious of the flight jacket-clad person staying at a steady distance behind Trilby.

"Where is it, where is it?" Trilby asked himself. He was flipping through a small, black notebook when he found what he had been looking for. Several tones emanated from the payphone as the man dialed the phone number. 1-619-727-5465. He picked up the receiver and waited for the call to be patched to the other side.

"Hello, this is Sotherby-Charleston & Partners, how may I help you?" responded a male voice.

"Hello. I am inquiring about a Mrs. Amy Martins?"

"Hold on for a second." A click and a whirr was audible on the other side of the line.

"Does the Black Moon howl?" asked the now female voice.

"Only to herald the return of the White Sun." responded Trilby.

"You're late, Sloan. I was just about to leave!"

"Well, I'm here now Ame… err, Kabasic. You want me to report first?"

"Sure. Hit it."

Agent Sloan shuffled a bit at the phonebooth. Jacket was now at the corner of the sidewalk, curiously watching Sloan, who appeared to be intensely talking. Jacket fiddled with the object in her pocket.

"… but it's major. ANDANI's loose and ASP Corp. is starting to get upset. They think it's Kilgore." said Sloan.

"Certainly not. Nothing's happened here, as far as I can tell. It's no bother, anyway. We can just pick up this ANDANI project walking around like a mechanical toy."

"That's what I thought too. But I borrowed the files. I have them with me."

Sloan pulled out a small manila folder from under his coat and started to flip through them. Jacket looked around for a second, before making a beat directly for Sloan.

"This project is more advanced than anyone had let on, Kabasic. This thing eats, breathes, sleeps, shits, and fucks like any other human being. Get this as well. They even made this thing, can you believe it, they made it able to reproduce. It seems like they, hold on," - Sloan turned the folder sideways - ", made it a doppleganger of someone here in San Diego. I've got a name… I can't read it very well but it seems to-"

Sloan let out a loud scream as Jacket twisted the knife into his stomach. The knife was retracted, then plunged again into Sloan's soft flesh. He gasped, before dropping to the ground like a stone. Jacket bent down and grabbed the dirtied files before stepping over the puddle of blood and man on the floor and running off. Sloan could faintly hear the screams of "Hello, hello? David?" coming from the telephone grasped in his hands. He nudged the receiver closer to his mouth.

"Crawley …and Gamble… hurry, please…"

Sloan was already a just a corpse drowning in a pool of blood by the time the phone call had ended.

— ~ —

"Crawley and Gamble Investigative Services." said the man, waving his hand over the glass office door.

"No, too long." the woman replied.

"Alright then, how about this: Crawley and Gamble Investigations."

"No, now that's too commonplace."

"Come on, Stephanie. Commonplace? I'd rather take commonplace than 'Crawley & Gamble, Suite 117.'"

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