Breakdown - Anders
Official Recording - File #---03. Part 2
I have a lot of time on my hands.
And so lucky for you guys, you get the full story. I hope telling the truth will pay off for once.
It doesn’t always make this much sense to do so.
Let’s cut to the chase. I am Stephanie Kane. And I need your help. Urgently. So read. The story will speak for itself.
I entered Roger Stanton’s office after the party. He had shooed away the medical people the instant they had reasonably dressed his wounds. When I stepped in the door, his head jerked up, startled, but he breathed easier when he saw me. “Steph,” he said, relieved.
I glided over to him. “Are you okay? How bad is it?”
“Nothing much,” he grunted, “Those stupid little detectives just decided to… interrogate me.”
“But the guards.”
“Doesn’t matter. They had Kathrine involved.” He scowled while saying her name. When he looked at me, his expression softened. Now he just looked tired.
“Oh,” I said, “I wish that woman would just leave you alone.”
He shrugged. “After what happened tonight? I have bigger problems to worry about.” He ran his fingers through his hair. I stood behind his office chair and laid my hands on his shoulders. He flinched a little from the pain, but a moment later he leaned in to the gesture.
“You want to talk it out?” I asked gently, “You’ve already told me your dealings with all those drug lords. And it’s okay. You can talk to me.”
I waited. He groaned a little as he shifted his position in the chair. I pulled a chair from the wall next to his desk and sat down, placing my hands in his and searching his face. Roger smiled as he looked at the floor, and then back at me.
“Okay, okay,” he stroked my arm, “If it’ll make you stop worrying so much. It has to do with the mercenaries. Some of them weren’t straight with me…” The phone rang, cutting off what he had to say. He grunted his annoyance; he hated getting interrupted.
“Speak,” he rapped into the receiver. I couldn’t make out what the person on the other end had to say, but from his look, I could tell he wasn’t pleased. “What? What do you mean? Speak straight!”
I looked at him apprehensively. He looked angry, but also uncertain. Agitated, he rose from his seat and yelled, “That’s nonsense!”
I stood up and gripped his arm. “What’s wrong?” I whispered.
“Just some good-for-nothing that’s trying to cause trouble,” he said dismissively, “Making ridiculous accusations.”
I caught a snatch of the voice on the other line. Roger just scowled at it, then said, “Stop giving me air and leave me alone. I’ve got better things to do.”
“Can I handle this one?” I asked.
“That look you have… Roger, what did he say?”
I was worried about the occasional side-glances he gave me, like he was unsure of me, or maybe afraid of something. It didn’t sit well with my stomach.
“He’s accusing you of screwing with me,” his serious eyes found mine, questioning but not accusing. I snatched the phone.
“Hey, hey! I don’t believe him, it’s probably just someone trying to get up my skin!”
I ignored him.
“Who are you?” I demanded into the receiver.
“What do you want?” I scowled.
“I think you know, but you won’t give it to me. And so I’m playing my card.”
“Get lost!” I hadn’t used that tone with Roger in the room, and it startled him.
“You already know I can’t do that. Now, if you’d get in a little better humor, maybe you’d just accept that I’ve won.” His voice was full of vile arrogance.
“You don’t have anything. You can’t. There’s nothing to have.”
“Steph?” Roger asked worriedly.
“You know me better than that,” the man on the phone said. I hate it when I can tell a person is smirking just by the tone of voice. I slammed the phone down on the receiver.
Roger, still shocked at my behavior, carefully put both hands on my shoulders. I looked at him, and my eyes must have portrayed some of the fear I felt.
“It’s alright,” he said, “I don’t believe them.”
When I didn’t respond immediately, he drew me closer and whispered as he embraced me, “They can’t take you away from me. I don’t care what they say, they can’t do it.”
The phone rang again. I just stared at it. Roger said, “Don’t worry, I’ll tell them to get lost. And if they don’t, I’ll make them get lost.”
“Speaker phone,” I said.
He complied, and was about to give his warning, but the other voice beat him to talking.
“You want proof, I’ll give it.”
The printer on a shelf across from his desk started spitting out documents on its own accord. Roger stamped over to the printer and snatched the papers up. But I could pick up on his fear. He stared at the papers blankly.
“Steph…” his voice cracked, “Please tell me there’s a way to prove this is a lie.”
I took a look at the papers. It was a trace from the chat overlay on the Deinsport site, tracing “Logical1” to a personal computer. Mine.
“Ready to give up, Stephanie? Or shall I say, my most gracious and lovely Maria Anders?” I wanted to kill Shade so badly.
Yes. I am Maria Anders.
But I still didn’t want Stanton thinking that.
“There has to be a way,” I said, conjuring up some tears, “I… Oh, please tell me you don’t believe them.”
“This tech… It’s the serious stuff. I know forgery, Steph, and I’m just not finding it.”
“That’s it,” I calmed my crying into sniffles, “Their tech. With their stuff, they could alter any document. They could be lying. You said they had good tech, so they could do that, right?”
“True, true.” Roger seemed to be considering all his options.
“You are relentless!” Shade said through the phone, “Roger Stanton, are you so desperate as to have the truth slap you in the face and you still deny it?”
“You’ve got nothing,” I said, “Stop trying to ruin our lives!”
“And why shouldn’t I, Maria? Oh, I could call you by so many names. Should I tell your little boyfriend why you’re really there? Should I elaborate on what a heartless fool you are? Oh, come on, don’t give that look, I know you're giving me one! I can see you through my camera implant, and you’re good. But don’t ever forget that I know your language. Admit it. You know it’s true. You’ve always been cold and closed, but I’ve been on the inside, and I know who you really are. So please, make this easier on yourself and disillusion your new prey. Or should I be the one to narrate our past? I’m sure past romances are something he’d want to know about.”
On the outside, I looked broken and upset and confused, but really, I was infuriated and seething. He just had to waltz back into my life and dismantle everything like he always does. He just had to spew all my past in my face and watch me tick. I would not break out in anger. No one had that power. Nobody. But he’d still hear the full force of my hate.
“You call yourself Shade for a reason,” I said, “The name Lucien never fit you well.”
“Well congratulations! I applaud you.” he laughed loudly clapping on the other end of the line, “That’s the truest thing you’ve said so far! So, Miss Sunshine, or should I say Lady Black? You’re right, ‘Lucien Turnwell’ never fit me. You remember the things we used to say? ‘When dawn meets dusk and black night does fall, the crescent rules and shade seeps through all.’ Yes, Lucien died long ago, that child who wrote such sappy words. But the thing about Shade is that it plays tricks on your eyes to get you to stumble. And you just did.”
Revelation passed over Roger Stanton’s face, and he stared at me blankly.
“You knew who I was,” I could feel him grinning with the cold tones in his voice now, “But Stephanie Kane isn’t involved in that stuff. Oh, no, Stephanie Kane is a normal person. But Stephanie Kane is gone now.”
I froze for a second as I caught Roger’s eyes. He was convinced. I was screwed.
I punched his jaw. After knocking him out, I rushed out the door. I knocked out two bodyguards before they had a chance to react and then snatched their guns.
“Relentless!” Shade mocked me over the loudspeaker system, “You should know by now that you’re not getting out of here.”
I knew it was hopeless. I was going to fight anyway. There was no way I would willingly submit to him. Even though Shade wouldn’t have gone through all that without some foolproof plan. Even though he probably had the building surrounded.
Something caught the corner of my eye. I dodged into a roll, but I felt a prick on my neck anyway. Drugged. I soon lost circulation and fell to the floor. My eyes were getting heavy, but I still managed a snarl when two men picked me up and turned me to see Shade face to face.
“Now I’m in charge,” he picked up my chin so I had to look at him, “And so now we’re playing by my rules.”
They dragged me back to Stanton’s office. Stanton still lay on the floor, head bloody from the impact it had on his desk as he fell. One of Shade’s people, a tall and burly man, sat him up and put something up to his nose, forcing him to regain consciousness.
“Nothing broke too bad, besides the DDS's damage.” he reported, “He should be able to stand.”
The burly man helped Stanton to his feet. He stumbled towards me and said, “Why? We loved each other. We were supposed to be happy.”
“Love doesn’t exist,” I said in a lower voice—my voice, instead of Stephanie’s.
“See? Heartless,” Shade said, “I’ll get her out of your hair.”
Stanton’s eyes had lost all their usual softness with me, replaced with hard, cold anger. He came up to me close, but this was a menacing, seething close. Then he took a step back and punched me in the jaw.
“Get her out of here. All of you, get out of here, now!” he said, voice loud by habit.
Shade snickered and motioned for his men to obey Stanton’s order.
And so they threw me into the back of a truck and carried me off. But I know where they went. Even Shade doesn’t realize how much I actually know about his recent whereabouts. For now, I’m in the abandoned warehouse’s basement on the outskirts of Deinsport.
And that’s why I’m sending you this message. Because they still have me. How did I get this message to you? I’ll leave it at they seriously underestimate me.
I go by many names. Right now my name is Maria Anders. And I need your help. Why should you help me? Because you need me for your team. I may be the only person with the connections on the inside that’s willing to help you figure what in Hell is going on in this horrid city. Since I started on my job, I’ve also been dissuading, or more often shooting, people on your trail. Some of them would have attempted to kill you. And I have other information that would be helpful.
So consider this your opportunity. If you come rescue me from Shade, I’m all in. I’ll help you and your paranormal detective group unravel this mess. If you don’t… If you don’t, I might have no other choice. The dead bodies will multiply.
And one of those dead bodies might be yours.Your call, detectives. Choose well.