Our word of the day is “inchoate” - In an initial stage, incipient. Imperfectly formed or developed. Of or relating to a crime committed in preparation for a subsequent crime of greater complexity or severity.
Arthur followed the man in the suit as he was lead through a long series of confusing corridors and interconnecting rooms. The decorum was spartan and functional, like one would expect to see in a military base or government laboratory. The only furnishings were desks and rather uncomfortable looking plastic and metal chairs reminiscent of a high school play. Not even a simple coat of paint covered the bear concrete walls, only terse signs which labeled each room, warned of hazardous conditions, or pointed the way to conveniently located emergency exits. Although they were on the 8th floor of the building, no windows were visible, and the only sources of light were florescent fixtures set in metal frameworks at regular intervals along the ceilings of each room and hallway. Several steps behind, Arthur and the man in the suit came through a small work room stuffed with equipment and, passing through a small door at the far end, emerged into a long hallway. This hall was unlike the portion of the building Arthur had seen so far, and he was a little relieved. The hall was lined to either side with a series of doors, each with a small brass nameplate and to the side of each door was a tall leafy plant. The two proceeded down the hallway, and as they passed door after door, Arthur spotted a small drinking fountain inset in an alcove coming up on the left. “About damned time” muttered Arthur. He reached into his coat pocket for his flask and made a bee-line for the fountain, picking up pace and passing the man in the suit. As he passed, Arthur heard a quick zip of fabric and a sudden pressure on his right shoulder. The next thing he knew, he was lying on his back staring up into a the face of the man in the suit, silhouetted against a fluorescent light in the celling. “What the devil was that for you lummox?” “Sir, I’ll have to ask you not to drink from the fountains, they’re not safe.” Arthur’s ears were ringing. “Not safe?” “Yes sir, it’s for your own safety.” “It’s a water fountain. You seem to be the only thing around here posing a threat to my safety. And don't call me sir. I’m not in your damned little private army.” “My apologizes sir...” Arthur glared. “Detective. Are you injured?” Arthur shook his head. “The pipes are filled with benzene. Everyone in the facility is on strict orders to prevent any of it from escaping into the drainage system. Let me help you up.” Arthur wrested his arm away from the man in the suit, and staggered to his feet, pawing at the smooth hallway wall looking for a suitable handhold but finding none. “Benzene?” “It’s an industrial solvent.” “I know what it is, what’s it doing in the pipes, other than giving you an excuse to polish the floors with your visitor’s backsides?” “As I said detective, I’m very sorry. We think that whom ever infiltrated the building put the benzene into the water supply so that they could clear the building by setting off the fire sprinklers making the air...” “Never mind, never mind. Look, take me to the officer in charge. I’m sick of this follow the leader rubbish. I’ve got better things to do than follow some oaf around like his trained puppy. Your lucky I...” The man in the suit slammed Arthur against the wall, jamming his elbow deep into his ribs and knocking his feet out from under him with a single swift motion so that the man’s force against the wall was the only thing holding Arthur up. The man drew his face just inches from Arthur's. He spoke with the same professional politeness he had been using all along, as if nothing about this conversation set it apart from any other he had had that day. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience sir. We’ve arrived at the director office. If there’s anything else I can help you with today, please don’t hesitate to ask for me. My name is Agent Goren.” “The man in the suit deftly stepped back from the wall and Arthur fell to his knees. The man straitened his suit, opened the nearby office door and swung it gently back against the wall, and then turned and walked off down the hallway.