Shut the door. Please, have a seat. How’s the air conditioning? I couldn’t even schedule this meeting yesterday because of the AC repairmen, so you better be freezing. In fact, I’ll pretend like you already are. Makes it easier to ignore that you’re shaking.
No, not that chair, please. Sit over in this one. I can have a better look of you.
Know what this is, son? This is a BF-31 cassette recorder. Know what a cassette is? I’m sure you do. You’re a smart cookie. So they’ve told me, anyway.
What I want to do here is, I guess, a little game. I’m going to play you some sounds of things crying. You don’t need to do anything. I’m more interested in your reaction than anything else. In that sense, you'd say it's not much of a game.
But you'd be wrong.
Make no mistake. There are winners and losers here.
Ah, no. Please save the questions until the end. It’ll make things easier.
Here we go. The first sound I’m going to play is of a crying cow. Please pay attention.
Now, obviously, the difficulty with cows is that you can never really tell when they’re really crying. But I can assure you, this is almost definitely a sad cow. I know, because I was there. I took this sound myself. I took all of them, in fact.
The next sound is of a crying man.
“I can’t remember. Oh, God, I can’t remember. Please, tell me. Please. I can’t—I don’t—I can’t recognize myself in the mirror. Who are you people? I—“
The ‘crying’ part is a bit harder to make out, I’ll give you that, but you could definitely hear the snot in his nose, I think. If you ask me, the most disastrous part about hearing people cry is that ‘something’ in their voice. You’ve heard it right. The shake? The little way it cracks right when they’re about to finish a sentence?
Let’s hear that one again.
“Please, tell me. Please.”
Oh, yeah. You’re hearing it.
The next one is of a crying glass of gin.
Didn’t know a glass of gin can cry? Of course it can. Any alcohol can. Fill it with enough tears and the sadness just carries over.
That’s a joke, of course. Alcohol isn’t supposed to cry.
But this glass of gin did. For a long time.
You ever wonder why there’s just a glass of liquid in the freezer down in Sector 3B? Now you know. It’s that very glass. The moment you take it out, I guarantee you, it’ll go right back to crying. So, don’t take it out. Okay?
Don’t drink it, either.
That’s especially important.
Right. Next one is a crying cat.
Now, that one is special. I actually lied to you, earlier. I didn’t take all of these myself. That one was actually recorded by a listening device we’d planted. But I was right there in the van, listening to every last thing. So, you could say I technically did take it myself. Just not with this bad boy.
Would you like to hear what we heard before the cat cried?
Well, either way, here is the sound of a woman crying.
“Phoebe, for the love of God, what are you doing? What is this? I—I can’t move, Phoebe. What did I do? I—I didn’t—I don’t—What are you drawing? What is that? Look, I’m—I’m sorry, okay? I won’t tell a-anyone. Please, just—What—I—Please, I—“
This concludes our little game. What did you make of it? Do you feel like you’ve had a shot at winning?
Because, the thing is, I haven’t. In a while, really. I don’t
like showing up in the middle of Kansas to try and talking with a man
who had been turned into a cow. That doesn’t make me feel like a
winner. I don’t like trying to get through to a man who had had his
entire memory erased. That makes me feel like less than a winner. A
loser, if you will.
And – well – when you head off to a night club in downtown New York to meet the woman whose consciousness had been transferred to a glass of gin? Then I’m not only beaten, I’m beaten while I’m lying on the ground.
The cow. The man. The gin.
And the woman that ties it all together.
I’m going to smoke now. I don’t really care if you mind. We’ve got the AC to filter it out, right?
Her name is Phoebe Reinhart.
It’s not an alias, which makes the fact it took us so long to get here all the more embarrassing.
The cow incident was when we first got wind of her, but there’d been other cases. We just hadn’t connected the dots. Sometimes we’d have the name, but lack the face, and sometimes it was the other way around. Funny, that. Not ha-ha funny, though, since she never went took any effort to cover her tracks. Under any other circumstances, I would’ve called her stupid, but if we’d been any less stupid ourselves a man wouldn’t be a cow, would he?
Here’s the file, by the way. Feel free to browse.
Loads of statements from the people she’d come into
contact with. Loads of red flags that should’ve at least warranted
a routine check. And loads of photos. Loads!
That one there is the most recent one. She’s dyed her hair red. The twin-tails were always a thing. Oh, see one over there? The one with the guy in the turtleneck? That’s the guy who doesn’t know where his memory lane is anymore. And that one there is her in the nightclub. Her would-be victim the little blonde in the background. The glass of gin she’s holding is exactly what you think it is.
I can see it. Right there, in your eyes. I see it.
woman is a witch. Class C so far, but she’s getting better and
better each time, which is to say she’s getting worse.
Listen to me.
She has killed.
And that's even if you're generous and discount what I've just shown you as forms of murder.
Whether or not she is mentally unstable is difficult to say. If you turn to page twelve, you’ll see an incident of her short stay in a – what was it? – Mayfield Psychiatric Facility when she was thirteen. Her family was well-off and the town small enough for them to scrub the details pretty well, but the few doctor chicken-scratches we’ve managed to dig up suggest she was admitted for visual-auditory hallucinations of some kind. How much of that is genuine illness, how much an indication that she was dabbling in the unsavory arts as early as that, I leave up to you to imagine. At some point, someone said she was well enough, and that was that.
Just understand there is a distinction between being sick and being dangerous. The latter does not require the former.
Now, obviously, once we put all the pieces together, tracking her down wasn’t that difficult. She’s in a little apartment in Jersey, working as a marketing consultant. She has a degree, after all. The job itself is relatively high-profile, so we figure she intends to stay there for a while.
I know what you’re going to ask me.
Why haven’t we gone in?
There are three months between the gin incident and her resurfacing in Jersey. She could’ve learned anything in that time. Going in guns-blazing is the thing that gets men killed. Gets you killed. We don’t want any casualties, from either side.
But I don’t wanna treat you like a kid. You know that surveillance is always the first step. We bugged the apartment, a couple of the neighbors, her office and the coffee shop she goes to to wind down. At first, we were pretty comfortable. Nothing suggested she was using her powers and we figured she was just laying low.
Until last week.
“Phoebe, for the love of God, what are you doing? What is this? I—I can’t move, Phoeb—“
This was taken in Reinhart’s own apartment. The woman being turned into a cat is Ms. Alana Jenkins, Reinhart’s downstairs neighbor. Ms. Jenkins claimed that there was a leak in Reinhart’s bathroom and was going to report Reinhart for negligence after she failed to get it fixed for weeks.
Reinhart had herself a better idea.
And now she has herself a cat.
And we’ve got ourselves what some people call ‘probable cause’. I call it shit hitting the fan.
I want you to go there. And I want you to capture her.
In case you had any plans tonight, I suggest you cancel them. You’ve got a flight in five hours. Agent DiNossi will be joining you. Edie’s got what it takes. You’ve seen her. Even if you think you haven’t, she’s always around. Just follow her lead, and you’ll be okay.
That’s all. Take the file with you. And shut the door. It’s burning hot out there.
Oh, and please – Agent Harris – Jake, if I can call you that – please share this thought with your fellow colleagues:
Don’t let the glass of gin in the Sector 3B freezer out.
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