The smell of brewing coffee swept down the hall and the sound of a whisk stirring in a bowl bounced off the walls as she approached her kitchen. There at her counter stood Mr. Law cracking eggs and chopping vegetables. “Omelet? It’s great brain food.” Mr. Law turned his back as he readied the skillet. “The key to a great omelet is all in the preparation. Of course, a steady hand to flip it is also needed.” Mr. Law continued. “My associate, Mrs. Renbaugher, will accompany you at your kitchen table. The usual for you, Mrs. Renbaugher?”
“H-how did you know where my kitchen was or all my cooking utensils?” Cera questioned from the kitchen table as she eyed her security camera in the corner.
The female officer took a seat as she spoke, “We have access to all domestic and professional blueprints, not that we needed it. Your house was listed on the market three years ago with a full virtual tour. As for the cooking utensils,” Mrs. Renbaugher paused as Mr. Law continued the conversation.
“Your kitchen has been laid out in an efficient manner, true to your personality. You keep your skillets in the cabinet nearest your stove and your mixing bowls near your mixer. It’s really not difficult to figure out how your brain works, Ms. Collins.” He flipped the first omelet effortlessly, the eggs simmered and butter crackled. He walked to her corner cabinet and grabbed a plate, silverware from a nearby drawer, and a coffee cup from above where the coffee brewed. “See what I mean?” Mr. Law poured a fresh cup of coffee for Cera and served her a golden, perfectly cooked omelet.
Cera couldn’t believe what was happening. She sat, staring at her meal before her, completely unaware that the prying eyes of Mr. Law were watching her. “Ah, I see. You needn’t worry. The meal is free from poison or drugs of any sort.” He added cream to her coffee, just the way she does every morning, and placed it in her hands. “Drink up.”
It was with that move that Cera fully understood the purpose of this act. Mr. Law was boldly and non-verbally informing Cera that he had been watching her, that he knew her morning routine, that he knew the intimate details of her home. Her eyes narrowed with intensity as the realization hit her full force: this man wanted to be feared. A spark rose in her chest as she considered all that he must’ve witnessed while investigating her. Anger took root, but it bore no fruit as she turned her eyes to Mrs. Renbaugher.
“Is he always like this then?” she coolly asked Mrs. Renbaugher.
A cheeky grin formed on the lips of Mrs. Renbaugher as she replied, “He’s worse when around women. It’s a complex thing, you understand. Please don’t take his peacocking as a personal attack---” A string of curses from Mr. Law interrupted Mrs. Renbaugher.
“Unfortunately, Mrs. Renbaugher, it seems your omelet is now scrambled eggs. My hand, like your tongue, must’ve slipped.” His frown lines cut deep into his forehead as he unflatteringly plopped her plate of breakfast food in front of her.
“Awww. But what about my coffee?” She mewed at Mr. Law.
“Get it yourself.” He retorted gruffly.
Cera felt less threatened having witnessed the human side of Mrs. Renbaugher and Mr. Law’s professional relationship. Even if he was radiating an intimidating aura, it seemed like he wasn’t able to intimidate everyone and if Mrs. Renbaugher wasn’t hoodwinked by him then why should Cera be?
She savored the final buttery bite of her omelet and placed her fork on her plate as she met the poised stare of Mr. Law from across the table. The morning sunlight danced across the kitchen floor and flickered on the intense face of Mr. Law, who didn’t so much as squint at the sun. His stare was truly unnerving and Cera could feel the hairs on her neck stand up as he began his questioning.
“We are very interested in the images you posted online. You see, aerial phenomena are becoming more commonplace and believing in such things is less,” he paused as he lifted a hand to emphasize, “taboo than it was several decades ago.” Lacing his fingers, he joined his hands together on the table and leaned in. “Images as detailed as yours; however, are less common and more apt to make a hesitant individual believe.” Mr. Law paused for a moment before continuing. “What we need to know is where your photos were taken.”
Cera just wanted to share her latest astrophotography with a small group of fellow night sky enthusiasts, but when her images go viral for exposing alien life she becomes the interest of both her government and the Judger of Worlds. Cera has spent her life hiding under the darkness of night skies and she absolutely does not like having the limelight shining on her. The light exposes too much and with it, she learns that the Galatic "Good Guys" maintain interstellar peace through the destruction of all advanced and aggressive civilizations. Earth will soon be advanced enough to join the rest of the universe, but are they peaceful enough to dodge the "Delete All" button of the Judger of Worlds? Probably not, but Cera might be able to convince the Judge to bend the rules. Well, maybe.