In the interests of national security, I will call them Edward and Julian Gabacci, although their real names were Leon and Anthony Parducci.
They were cleaners, but that was just a front they maintained in order to study floors. They wanted to know everything about floors — what they were, what they did, how they worked, what they were made of, their impact on people, what you could put on them, and so on. The Gabaccis were research scientists — not in the sense of having formal scientific knowledge, but rather in their all-consuming desire to penetrate the deepest mysteries of the universe. They were visionaries, wizards, trailblazers, and they would suck the truth out of an enigma like a bilge pump sucking the intestines out of a goat.
They cleaned the floors of a government building, which housed an organization so secret that it remains unidentified to this day, but one whose intent was as sinister as it was unfathomable. And it was in this building that Edward and Julian Gabacci stumbled across a terrifying secret, which, if unleashed, could destroy the world, both literally and figuratively.
It was a container of floor wax that aroused their suspicion. It was unusual — very unusual. One might even call it abnormal. And if that was the case, then it was certainly not ordinary. There was something in the floor wax itself, something invisible. Yet, despite being invisible, it was not inert, for it had an effect on whatever floor it was put on. Edward and Julian could tell through their prodigious powers of the mind that once this particular floor wax was put on any floor, that floor would be physically different in some way. And someone, somewhere, in this building had to know, too, because they (whoever “they” were) had made a deliberate decision to keep this floor wax in the janitor’s closet, out of sight and inaccessible to anyone who did not have the key to the closet. But Edward and Julian had the key, and the mysterious “others” knew they had it. This terrible circumstance was what sealed the fate of the Gabacci brothers.
Their cousin Otto was the first victim of the “Men In Black” — or should we say, the “Men Formerly In Black,” for they no longer wore black. They now wore a variety of colors except black, so that no one would know that they were, in fact, the Men In Black. Otto was found dead in his home, his head still attached to his body, lying face-down. The coroner stated that it was death by heart attack! But what did that really mean? How could Otto have had a heart attack unless something had caused the heart attack — something terrifying enough to scare a man to death? Or was it something entirely different? What made his death even more mysterious was the fact that Otto was not a cleaner like his cousins but a milk truck driver. He had never even set foot in the building where Edward and Julian worked.
After that, events moved quickly, although nothing happened for a week. Edward and Julian cleaned according to their routine. But they were being watched by the security cameras on every floor.
A mysterious black car was now seen parked across the street from the Gabaccis’ house. It was seen every day, but not according to a predictable timetable, for the Men Formerly In Black were too clever for that. Edward and Julian knew full well that the presence of the black car was connected to their inadvertent discovery of the unknown invisible component in the floor wax. That component had to be some kind of chemical compound. But since it was unknown, could that mean that it came from somewhere beyond?
The last night that they were seen alive, Edward and Julian tried a daring experiment — one they could not put off any longer if they hoped to learn the truth. They poured some of the floor wax onto the floor and went over it with a heavy duty floor polisher, which was scientifically designed for that specific purpose. Soon they would know what they wanted to know, or at least they would begin to know what someone else already knew. And that someone else — those “others” — saw it all on their security monitors. They could see what Edward and Julian were doing. And they understood the threat that they posed. Edward and Julian could not be allowed to live. The Men Formerly In Black would see to that.
Three weeks later, a submerged car was dragged out of the Allegheny River. Two partially decomposed bodies were found in it. They carried no identification. And their fingertips had been burned with acid, so that no prints could be taken. The police treated the case as an accident — predictably! No public inquiry would ever be held. The secret will forever remain a secret. The world will never know what Edward and Julian Gabacci discovered.
Maybe it’s better that way.
Copyright@ 2008 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org