The ice is cheap, has little white flecks in it. Like at a cheap restaurant. Of course, this place hardly qualifies as a restaurant, Constantine thinks, as he extracts the ice from its glass and drags it across the back of his neck. It's all he can do to keep from going nuts-they've kept him waiting for at least ten minutes-probably closer to fifteen-actually 13:38:01. This watchband is starting to itch.
Place is stale, smells like dust. Fluorescent lights buzzing in the next room. He winces and tries to steel himself for another minute. But the rises in him, like a submarine churning its way to the surface. What was he doing here, in some industrial park almost halfway to Bandera?
What he was doing here was hanging on the words of Cooper Davison. "Remember how you were always good at video games?" He almost pukes with excitement thinking-what kind of job could involve video games? After he hasn't seen him for seventeen years, it must be important.
Working with Cooper again wouldn't be that bad. Wonder what he grew up to be? His dad was a banker...that doesn't make sense. He's churning this over when they actually call him in.
"Mr...Atkins. Sure you're comfortable?" An old man's voice from the end of a very long table...no turning back now.
Constantine winced and said yes.
They handed him a little book, asked him to work some crossword puzzles, word finds, the type of shit you'd find in some sort of children's activity book. The old guy looks kind of surprised when Constantine hands it back to the guy in five minutes. He mumbles something to himself and disappears for a verrrrry looooonggg time
"Here." The old man drops a ream of papers in his lap, warm from the printer. Constantine starts to work on more of this shit, which is shit, because that's what it is, shit. He tries to marshal his forces of concentration, but something in the wall is churning.
What is he, in fucking detention or something? Constantine never, ever got detention.
Then the dendrites in his brilliant brain bristle and he knows. The test is not about how many words he can make out of ESTABLISHMENT. He flattens himself under the table as the wall starts to rain things which are sharp and metal.
This rain follows Constantine, but he manages to put tables and chairs between him and it. The path of metal spike destruction finds a pattern in his movements, so Constantine goes completely random, covered in sweat. By this time, the office furniture is mostly sawdust...the wall stops sending in nails.
And now, there's Cooper. Seventeen years and Constantine didn't even have to guess who it was. First it looks like he wants to shake Constantine's hand, but then he pulls his hand away and smiles awkwardly.
Constantine follows Cooper's eyes and sees where a metal spike is wedging his right pinky finger in half. He thunks it on what's left of the table. Cooper motions and a few guys in suits start to strip the place bare.
"So...it looks like you passed our little test." Cooper jerks his head to the left, cheshire-cat toothy grin seems to stay in the same place.
A bit of a pause. Cooper seems to be waiting for him to say something...Constantine also seems to be waiting to say something, but his mouth won't budge.
"You see Constantine-Connie, I think you would be a good fit with my organization. We're basically a large research lab. We are top secret, very top secret, and-"
"Can you hook up the...spike thing again? That was pretty fun."
"You liked that, huh? You're gonna love working for Project Faustus."