You can find A back here.
The woman on the other side of the desk glared at her, and Libby schooled her face into a helpful, open, honest expression. Captain Halliday—he’d introduced himself as that when they sat down at Records and Information—crossed his arms over his chest and glowered.
“What did you do?”
Libby took a deep breath. She’d explained this situation three times already, but she might as well embark on a third. “I didn’t do anything. There was an…accident, I woke up in the hospital and somehow none of my information is there.”
“That’s not possible.” The woman tapped her perfect nails against the table in agitation. Her desk was so orderly she probably glared at the dust motes so they stayed away.
“You had to do something, information doesn’t go missing.”
“Except if that were true why would we be here asking how to correct it?” Brody tried, aiming for reasonable.
“How do I know you’re not trying something now,” the records worker snapped at him.
He leaned forward, shoulders tight, and even Libby felt like she should scoot back a bit. “If you’d like to contact my commander and ask about my references I’ll give you his number.”
It wasn’t just that he’d, very obviously, run out of patience with this woman and her inability to see past the nose on her face, it was that the man sitting next to her wasn’t… In every other situation she’d been in with Brody he’d been patient and caring, and basically exactly what she’d expected of a search and rescue worker.
There was a reason these people got treated like heroes to a startling degree.
The guy sitting next to her, right this moment, wasn’t a search and rescue guy. He was a soldier. And it wasn’t hard to imagine he was the kind of soldier who was very good at removing obstacles. And while maybe that should have made her uncomfortable—the way it’d certainly made the records worker and the manager off in the corner uncomfortable—she wasn’t his obstacle, and she didn’t have any intention of being.
The manager bustled over. “Excuse me, is there an issue here?”
“You mean other than the fact your employees don’t understand that it’s illegal to falsely accuse someone of a crime?” Brody snapped at him.
Libby took a chance, and reached out and put a hand on his arm. She shot him a look, like they were friends and she had this, before she smiled at the manager. “I have an unusual situation and Ms…” she glanced at the name plate on the desk, “Ms. Jones seems a bit out of her depth.” Even if she’d remembered perfectly well the woman’s name—she hadn’t—acting like this lady wasn’t worth her time served her right for making assumptions about Libby and the hot mess that was her life right now.
Ms. Jones drew herself up and turned cherry red, opening her mouth furiously.
“Miss Jones, go take your break,” her manager said stiffly.
Libby could see the woman wanted to fight about it, wanted to say she was right and there was no way Libby’s information could just be missing. Libby maybe felt a moment of remorse, Miss Jones wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t likely it had actually just spontaneously disappeared. But with a string of quiet prattle she’d gathered her bag out of the desk drawer and walked off into the bowels of the office.
The manager sat in her chair and pulled himself up to the computer. “Now then. Allow me to pull up your file—”
“That’s the problem, it’s not there.”
He blinked at her for a second, and looked at Brody, before looking back at her and doing something on the computer. “My. Very well then. Can you give me any of your information other than your name?”
“Which would you like first?” Libby asked.
Forty-five minutes later they’d looked her up at the university transcript office, her public school transcript office, the tax bureau, the G.I.G website, birth records, death records, professional organization lists—given she’d never become a member of any she hadn’t though that would net anything—and even the private pre-school she’d gone to for two years before starting the public school program.
The manager, Jim, was growing more agitated by the second. “You’re just…not here.”
“I’m not.” She nodded. “What do we do now?”
Jim rubbed his face for a second, and sighed. He grabbed a tablet out of the desk drawer and pulled up a form on it, passing it to her. “We have a procedure for missing information. You will need to fill this out, and we’ll need affidavits sworn through secure channels, contacted by us and not you, that you are who you say you are.”
She blinked. “Okay.” The form was basically all the information they’d just trawled through, and she started putting them in.
“While you fill that out I’m going to go get my manager, because I don’t know what we’re supposed to do after that, we’ve never had to do it.” He flushed. “I’ll be right back.”
He walked away at a brisk pace, and Libby sighed and went back to her form.
“So totally don’t rush, but somewhere in the middle of that Inspector Hussein asked me if I knew where you were because she had some follow-up questions.”
Of course she did. “Well, if I ever get out of here…”
“Do you want me to tell her it’ll have to wait until tomorrow even if it doesn’t?”
Libby looked at him for a minute, taking in the wide eyes and loose posture. She wasn’t even sure that question was a test. He seemed to genuinely be willing to run interference for her. She was becoming way to inured to how nonsensical and crazy her once-orderly life had become.
“No. Thank you, but no.”
He nodded, and typed something on his personal device. “I told her whenever we get out of here we’ll figure it out.”
She finished filling in the form, and sat it down right as the manager and his overlord came back.
“Miss Wade?” The manager’s manager was older, somewhere in that interminable time between forty-five and fifty-five that certain averagely attractive men with salt and pepper hair manage to hang out in for a decade either side. He held a hand out to her, as he slid into the chair across the desk.
Libby shook his hand, and tried to drum up some kind of business smile. “That’s me, presumably.”
He chuckled. “My name is Ian Mews.” He looked at Brody, cocking a brow.
“Brody Halliday,” Brody answered, holding a hand out to shake. He smiled brightly. “I’m just trailing along, trying to help.”
Mews nodded. “Now, as I understand it you were involved in an incident a couple of days ago and now all your records have somehow been purged?”
“I’ve looked everywhere,” Jim insisted, annoyed.
“I’m not sure what’s happened to them,” Libby answered for herself. “The first I found out there was a problem Inspector Hussein interviewed me at the hospital and said they couldn’t find me anywhere.”
“Hm.” Mews stared at the computer for a second. “Well, first let’s take the step we’re supposed to take next. Do you have someone I can contact independently, easily?”
“My boss? Matthew Perthins at G.I.G.? All of his contact information is on the website.”
“Perfect.” Mews smiled coolly. He typed something in, and a connecting call sound rang from the computer.
“G.I.G., Community Satisfaction division, how may I direct your call,” the receptionist asked. Libby was pretty sure it was the red-headed male one that didn’t like her.
“Hello, my name is Ian Mews, from Records and Information, could I please speak to Mr. Perthins, it’s a sensitive, important matter.”
“Of course, Sir,” the answer came immediately. “I’ll transfer you.”
There was a soft chime to say the call had moved, and then Matt was answering in all his worried glory. “Mr. Mews? What can I do for you?”
“You have an employee named Libby Wade?”
“I do.” Matt huffed. “Is everything alright?”
“Everything is fine, she’s having a little trouble with her information right now and I need someone to look at her on screen and affirm for me that she is who she says she is.”
“I can do that.”
Mews turned the screen around. “Mr. Perthins, is this the person you know as Libby Wade, full name Elizabeth Mary Wade?”
“Yes, that’s her.”
“Good.” Mews turned the screen back around. “How long have you known her?”
“Eight years.” He frowned. “Libs, has it been eight years?”
“Nine,” Libby answered, smiling wryly. “Last month.”
“Nine then,” Matt corrected. “I did look in our accounting system, she’s still there and drawing pay.”
Mews nodded, smiling. “Good. I think we’ll get this straightened out quickly. Thank you for your time.”
Libby wasn’t sure at this point it was going to be ‘quickly’ no matter how quickly they did it. “Do you have a theory?”
Mews glanced between them, and started doing something on the computer. “Our actual storage systems are as impervious as is probably humanly possible. We have never ‘lost’ information.”
“Except?” Brody asked, leaning forward.
“There is no except, we never have.” Mews made a final key stroke, and Jim let out a gasp behind him. He turned the screen around, so she could see all her information. “You have a right to know, and also given what you’ve told me I think we might need to pass this along to law enforcement. Our search program is not near as bulletproof as the actual records.”