FBI Casefile 4815/1623-42
Server Access 1011011.11
Agent Priya Mehta ID 432PM31
Supervising Division XIII Liaison: name redacted
Note: Anomalous power surge at Clarksburg data campus storage facility resulting in catastrophic hard drive corruption. Data retrieval 61.72% success. Timestamp sequence of records disrupted, unrestored.
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I am six years old. My father lifts me high in the air and turns me so that the world spins around us. Now I have stopped crying. He says in Hindi, “Little One, how did you forget that you’re much stronger than me?” This is a game we’ve always played. We pretend I am the most powerful girl ever born: he topples over when I push him, tumbles forward when I pull on his arm—in my grip his fingers are crushed, and the look on his face makes me laugh.
We are in the parking lot of the Towne Center Mall in Irving, Texas. I tripped and fell on the way from the Kmart to the minivan. My two older brothers, in the vehicle already, smirking at me, pointing, have made me very angry. My father looks at them sternly and they fall silent. Then he says to me, “Don’t pay attention to those idiots. When you’re President of the United States, they’ll both be dishwashers in your uncle’s terrible restaurant.”
Many years later, I am kneeling in the upturned soil of the vegetable garden my parents keep in their backyard. Spring break in my first year at Yale and I came home to help plant turnips. Because there have never been secrets between my father and me, because I have always been as honest with him as he has with me, I started crying the moment he asked me about my boyfriend, who broke up with me a week ago.
I ask my father, “Why, Papa-ji, did you raise me to be like this? I can’t get a date because I think I’m better than everyone else. You’ve made me way too confident.”
My father doesn’t laugh or talk down to me or tell me I am young and I’ll figure things out someday. He wipes his forehead with the back of his hand and leaves behind a streak of dirt.
He says, “You do have a problem, Priya. You are, in fact, better than everyone else. Perfect SAT scores. Scholarship to Yale! You’re meant for special things. That’s why you are the way you are. If the world needs someone to save it, that someone is you.”
I am six years old in the parking lot of the Irving Towne Center Mall. I look down and see that blood from the cut on my knee has dripped down and stained my new white sneakers with spots of bright red, blossoming.
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He made contact. I don’t know why he selected this individual. Of course, I don’t know why he makes any of his decisions.
Madero made contact with a girl named Tess Bellamy. The girl seems insignificant to me. She’s a delivery person for an organic grocery and health food store on Beech Boulevard called The Green Machine. I spoke with the owner, Mona Wrightson, and obtained information regarding possible extraordinary behavior taking place at the Mayfair Bed-and-Breakfast. Then I shared this information with Madero. He and I were sitting in a booth at Crazies, the vegan diner situated on Beech Boulevard right next to The Green Machine.
“What do you think?” I asked him.
I often imagine that Madero is a hole ripped out of the world. Reality, around him, feels ready to shatter—where his edges meet the world there’s an event horizon, beyond which all is lost. He will sit for an eternity like a Tibetan monk. I used to think he simply hadn’t heard me or chose not to; but then he will suddenly respond to my last question.
“Division XIII observed a direct engagement here, in Park Heights.”
“What?” I scowled at him, not that it had any effect. “How long have you known this?”
“It’s why we’re here, Priya.”
“You’re taking orders from Division XIII?”
“No, I’m acting on the intelligence they’ve released to me.”
“In return for what.”
Madero said nothing. More of his silent treatment kung fu to endure. I chose to query him again. “You’re sure that it’s him?”
It was the only time I ever saw Madero betray emotion. An almost imperceptible tightening of the wrinkles that radiate outward from the corners of his eyes.
Whenever he spoke about Gabriel Majeaux.
“Yes,” Madero said. “I’m certain. He’s here.”
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I didn’t expect to fall in love with Isaac. We laughed about it all the time. It was his hair, I said. Like a black lamb’s soft, dark wool, bound in tight...