(Closed) A Cookie For Your Thoughts

Carol yawned as she set her bulging bag down on the counter in the breakroom. Yesterday had been rough  and she had not slept well, but even though she was not supposed to go to work for another hour, she still felt obligated to come in early like she was accustomed to, and check the storage tubs in the breakroom. As usual, the chocolate chip cookies were almost gone. Carol dumped out the crumbs and set the tub in the sink to wash and checked the other carefully labeled storage bins on the shelf. Each tub had the name of its contents on the front for easy accessibility, a sticker list of ingredients on the side, and a dry erase label on the date. 

Carol set aside the leftover, individually bagged trail mixes and protein bars and wrote new dates on the lids. 

Another agent stepped inside the break room, briefly matching the room’s colors and contents with his scales before snagging one of the bags of trail mix from the counter. With his tongue.

Carol jumped and spun around, her hand automatically going to the taser in her pocket. At first she did not see the guilty party’s face, but her nose and ears quickly identified him before he changed back to his natural green tone.

”H-hi, Agent Torres... Sorry about that.” The chameleon agent replied sheepishly after extracting the bag from his tongue and mouth. 

“You startled me, Agent Jackson,” Carol grinned and relaxed. “What are you doing here so early?” 

“Going home. I had the night shift but I wanted something for the road to help me wake up.” Cade stretched and yawned, uncoiling his tail briefly. His tail nudged a chair, startling him with the noise. He went into camouflage mode again, sucking in his gut to make himself thinner.  He scanned the room with his eyes moving independently of each other until he was certain he was safe. “Heh. Definitely need a nap.” 

“Would you like me to make you some tea before you go?” Carol asked conversationally. 

“No need, unless you’re making yourself some?” 

“I am.”  She hadn’t been planning to, but she would not mind having some tea, and making sure Cade was fit to drive before he left. He seemed alert enough, but some company and snacks would do him good. 

    • Alex Shoveler
      Alex Shoveler

      As a relatively new employee with early morning training, and exhibiting an admirable work ethic, Sophie always came into work earlier than most.  Her gusto, and obligations, inspired Alex to come in earlier than he normally would.  Besides, it didn’t seem fair for her to have to come in early while he could enjoy a nice slow morning at the condo.  Following his conscience, he grabbed his lunch box and briefcase, straightened his tie, and ungracefully clambered into the passenger seat of Sophie’s BMW i8.  Due to the extremely impractical layout of the car, he secured not only his belongings but Sophie’s as well. 

      Another early morning in St. Canard was spent commuting to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.  SHUSH Central.  Despite driving to work earlier than usual and missing the bulk of the morning commute, people actually drove faster at this time of morning.  But, it was generally quiet at this hour and gave the city a more soothing ambience.  This relative peacefulness was better enjoyed when Sophie asked to roll down the windows and let the cool Spring air in.  If only the windows would lower down all the way.  It was one of the design flaws of her particular car.

      Alex thumbed through his briefcase as his partner drove them to work.  Everything was in place and without any room to spare.  He really needed to find a better way of condensing notes.  Or perhaps get a larger briefcase which wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.  Speaking of room to spare, Alex’s stomach began to growl eliciting a grin from Sophie.  Waking up this early no longer afforded him an opportunity to eat breakfast at the condo.  The two ducks chuckled and discussed their breakfast plans for the day.  It seemed that their conversations usually turned toward the subject of food.  Sophie had already eaten a small yet nutritious breakfast and would grab some coffee at work later that morning.  However, Alex would proceed straight to the cafeteria and work on some more of his report while eating.

      A few minutes later they had parked in the garage, kissed each other goodbye, and proceeded to their respective departments.  Alex wasted no time after clearing the lobby security checkpoint in walking to the cafeteria.  He desperately needed something to eat before taking on the day’s workload. 

      “Hmm tea sounds pretty good today.”  He mumbled to himself.  “Wonder if the hot bar is serving breakfast this early?”  As he walked over to the counter, the signage posting the hours that breakfast was served answered his question.  Looked like he was half an hour too early.  To make matters worse, his wallet was absent of cash.  Alex let out a frustrated sigh.  He refused to use his debit card in order to keep spending down to a minimum.  At least he remembered to bring something for lunch.  Guess breakfast will have to wait.

      Alex walked out of the cafeteria and up a flight of stairs to the breakroom to place his lunchbox in one of the coolers.  As he entered, he was a little surprised to see two other employees in the room chatting.  There were more early risers at SHUSH than he had thought.  As he turned around and headed toward the counter to fix a cup of hot tea, he noticed the labelled snack bins.  Ever since working at SHUSH he had always assumed that the contents were for anyone who wanted them.  Yet, he had never actually taken anything or even inquired about it to his coworkers. 

      Well, there’s a first time for everything.  Especially considering how hungry he was.  He curiously walked toward the bins and studied their contents.   Turning around once more, he took a couple gentle steps toward the two agents and politely inquired.  “Good morning!  Sorry for interrupting, but the food in the totes.”  He motioned over to the counter.  “Are those reserved for anyone?”  Please say no please say no.

      • Agent Carol Torres
        Agent Carol Torres

        Cade matched the color of his surroundings again, rolling an eye toward Alex. 

        “Help yourself.” Carol replied. “I just refilled a couple of them.” 

        • Alex Shoveler
          Alex Shoveler

          “Oh thanks!”  Alex beamed in surprised delight.  “That’s awfully kind of you.”  Something odd next to Carol had momentarily caught his attention, but Alex quickly dismissed it.  Perhaps his eyes were playing tricks on him from the lack of food.  He ambled over to the counter once more and eyed the delectable contents.  His deliberation was settled a few seconds later on one of the protein bars.  The protein would help keep him awake and energized unlike his usual breakfast of coffee and pastries which often resulted in a late morning sugar crash. 

           

          “You know, ever since I started working here, I’ve always wondered who made these.”  He admitted as he spun around.

          • Agent Carol Torres
            Agent Carol Torres

            “Well, you found her,” Carol smiled. “Here you go, Agent Jackson.” She poured the chameleon a cup. 

            Cade flushed pink. “Thanks, Agent Torres.” He couldn’t blend in with ordinary clothes on, but he was in the habit of adjusting his scales’ pigment everywhere he went. 

            “Agent...Shoveler, correct? I’m-“ Before the collie could finish, a lion came in and set his briefcase down on a table loudly enough to make Carol jump. 

            “Torres.” The lion raised his brows. “I thought I’d find you here.”

            ”Yes, Agent Anca?” 

            “I need more printer ink at my desk.” 

            “Duly noted.” Carol took out her phone and made a note. 

            Kevion nodded his thanks and moved to fix himself a bowl of oatmeal he’d brought with him.

            Cade had ducked down into his chair to hide his shirt from the grumpy-sounding lion. 

            “As I was saying, I am Carol Torres, Resource Manager, and one of the contributors to SHUSH’s pantry. Heh. How are you, Sir?” Carol returned her attention to Alex as she finished stirring her tea. 

            • Alex Shoveler
              Alex Shoveler

              To Alex’s caffeine-deprived surprise, a levitating suit next to Carol reached for a cup of tea.  Suddenly, the suit had a pink tinted chameleon in it.  Alex’s eyes widened in momentary shock at Agent Jackson’s camouflaging abilities.  He could have sworn there were two people in the breakroom when first arriving.  Then, something just seemed off.  Now he knew there was, indeed, two people with him. 

               

              Just as he was about to shake his head to snap out of his drowsy stupor, another agent, a lion, walked in the room to accompany the trio.  The loud thud of agent’s briefcase startled Alex seemingly along with everyone else.  Actually, the clatter helped bring Alex back to his senses.  As the lion, whose name was revealed to be an Agent Anca, quickly made his request to Agent Torres, Alex quietly watched the exchange with curiosity.  Although he had worked at SHUSH for a few months, he never really had the opportunity to meet new people outside his department.   

               

              Alex beamed in response to Agent Torres’ official introduction.  “Nice to meet you, Agent Torres.  I’m Alex Shoveler, an analyst.  It’s an honor to meet one of pantry contributors.  Without a steady stream of snacks, operations here would probably grind to a halt!”  He flattered with his trademark grin that always crept up the right side of his beak.  Although, to be honest, having a stocked pantry actually did help with morale.

              • Agent Carol Torres
                Agent Carol Torres

                “Oh, I highly doubt that, Agent Shoveler. Agents Gryzlikoff and Wolfe would snap everyone back to attention even without the lure of food.” Carol chuckled. “I just like making sure there’s something available in case an agent comes in from an overseas mission too tired to go shopping or cook for themselves, and for those who have to leave quickly without packing ahead of time. The protein bars come in handy for long flights.” 

                “If you ever leave SHUSH, Ma’am, (and I hope you never do!), you could open your own bakery,” Cade grinned appreciatively. 

                “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Agent Jackson, but I think I’d rather work at a library or for another organization than bake full time.” Carol wiped her brow to silently explain why she was unwilling to slave by an oven or stove all day every day.

                ”You could still write a book with your recipes. I bet everyone here would buy one!” Cade replied.

                Kevion rolled his eyes at the chameleon’s flattery and made himself some coffee.