Catharsis
rating: +9+x

"In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again."


Detective Jason Fritz took a final puff from his cigarette before tossing it into the river before him, watching as it vanished beneath the crashing tides. The irritation in his lungs kept him alert and focused on nights like these, where the hours seemed to compound and shifts dragged into the morning hours. There were many other, much more private reasons he continued to smoke even after the diagnosis, but he had managed to convince himself being alert made everything worth it.

"Really gotta quit that shit, man."

The voice of that 20 year old fucker chief had stuck with him - Roger, he thought his name was - forced its way into his ears like a knife. Jason rose to his feet and about-faced, coming within feet of his partner.

"Thanks, doc."

The boy scoffed. "Just looking out for you, old timer."

"You know I'm 35, right?"

"Yeah, what's your point?"

Jason rifled through his pockets in search of another cigarette. "Nevermind." He turned sharply, gazing at a blue tarp gently flapping in the wind. "What's your theory?"

"My theory?" The boy shook his head. "Seems like a pretty cut and dry suicide to me."

"Why here, though?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why do it here?"

The boy shrugged. "Maybe it was convenient. Maybe he didn't have a gun. I dunno. Point is, we don't have anything suggesting foul play." A finger rose towards the bridge. "Part of the railing is out. Probably forced his way through it on the way down."

"Forced his way through it?" Jason gestured towards the body. "Guy's a chubby egghead. Worked for some pharmaceutical company a couple miles from here. Don't you think it's a little strange that he somehow pushed through solid metal?"

"Stranger things have happened, detective."

"Yeah." Jason exhaled a cloud of tobacco smoke before inserting his hand into the dead man's coat pocket. He fished around aimlessly for several seconds before finding a solid object - plastic, maybe. Removing his hand, Jason gazed upon an identification card, still slightly bent from being printed.

"Antonio Rodriguez." He mumbled, putting on a slight Latino accent. "Started working there three days ago. I looked him up on Facebook. Tony here married his childhood sweetheart only a few weeks back."

The boy inhaled in irritation. "What are you suggesting, detective?"

"What I'm suggesting is that you're wrong." He looked up at the bridge, broken pieces of metal still swaying in the wind. "Why would a guy happily in love with a brand new job do this?"

The boy began to speak, but Jason silenced him.

"It's rhetorical." Jason glared at him. "Let's take a look around. See if there's anything worth our time."

The two men joined each other and began walking into the night, a cold breeze jolting their ties.

"You believe in ghosts, kid?"

He sneered. "Not really, why?"

His eyes darted away from the boy and fell to what remained of his smoke. "No reason. Don't worry about it."

Jason flicked the cigarette to his side and watched as it slowly burned out, leaving nothing but a dry, cracked husk of paper and ash next to the body of Antonio Rodriguez.


The person you are trying to reach is not able to take your call at this time. At the tone, please record your message. When you are finished recording, hang up or use the keypad to select more options.

Lisa, it's me. I don't have a lot of time to talk, so I need you to listen carefully and call me back as soon as you can. I am so sorry for what is happening. I never meant for any of this to happen. All I wanted was to keep you safe. I just wanted a second chance. They're not going to leave me alone. I just called Mark and told him to give you the stuff inside of my safe. One of those things is a note. Do not read it. Keep it in a safe place and do not tell anyone that you have it. If you ever open it, they will find and come for you. Please, for God's sake, don't open it.

I love you so much that words cannot begin to describe it. I am so sorry for what is about to happen. I'm so sorry. I love you.


"See? I told you. Cut and dry."

The boy motioned towards the broken railing, blood still glistening in the summer moonlight. Jason reached for his smokes and grimaced in frustration when he realized they were finally gone.

"Still sticking to that theory, yeah?"

"What other explanations are there?" He chuckled. "You think he charged through it like a fucking linebacker?"

"Show some goddamn respect." Jason's voice was firm, yet not hostile. The boy's smile gradually receded into a submissive scowl while his superior analyzed the area, looking for any evidence of Rodriguez. He ultimately found some dangling from a piece of metal nearly 200 feet off the ground.

"You see that?"

"Yeah. Looks like ash."

"Because it is." The detective gritted his teeth. "I can smell it, too."

"Smell what?"

Jason rose to his feet. "He didn't charge through this at all. Somebody burned through it with thermite." An air of discomfort washed over the men. "If this was a suicide, he planned for it very well."

"You saying he was murdered?"

"No, not necessarily. It's just unusual." He exhaled and fell to a knee, leaning closer to the ash. "Reminds me of something. You ever heard of something called the Chaos Insurgency?"

"Can't say I have."

"Don't blame you. If it weren't for bits and pieces I've picked up over the years, I wouldn't either. Hearing about them is already difficult, and finding them is even harder." Jason let out a wheezy exhale. "Back when I was a beat cop in New York, we got a two-eleven. Nothing unusual about that of course, so I walked over to the bank. I was close to it at the time, so I actually beat the patrol guys."

The boy listened intently, crossing his arms and falling into a relaxed stance.

"Three guys, all of them armed with AK's. They were using thermite to cut into the vault. You could smell it from blocks away. Smelled like a goddamn warzone."

"Did you get them?"

"That's the thing." Jason turned away and stared intently at the ash. "Before any of our guys moved in, they were already dead. Nobody else was in the bank at the time, and they had shot out of all the cameras. Nobody had any clue what happened until they did the autopsies. All we knew was what the security cameras captured - a few conversations about some doctor at a research facility and an insurgency."

The boy crossed his arms in confusion. "So how'd they die?"

Without turning towards him, Jason replied, "Self inflicted gunshot wounds to the temple."

And, in a moment, Jason felt his pace quicken as his mind finally put the pieces together.


Yeah, hello?

Hey, Mark.

Tony?

Yeah.

Christ, man. Do you know what fucking time it is?

Sorry, I just - you know, I just needed to talk to someone.

At three o'clock in the goddamn morning?

You know I wouldn't call you if it wasn't serious.

Yeah, right. What is it?

I'm going to die, Mark.

What? What the fuck are you talking about?

I'm on the bridge right now. I just thought you should know.

Are you fucking serious right now?

The code to my safe is 5515. There should be a note, a key to my safety deposit box, and a few thousand dollars inside.

Hold up, man. Hold up. I'm getting in the car right now. Just stay on the phone, okay?

I need you to make sure Lisa gets the money and the note. I didn't have time to write up anything official, so I'm just asking you to do me a favor as my friend.

Nothing's happening to you. I'm in the car. Where are you?

You're not going to get here in time, Mark.

Listen. Listen to me, Tony. You need to calm down. I know a lot of shit is going on with you right now, but just calm down and listen to me.

This isn't a debate.

For fuck's sake, Tony. Don't do this. I'm begging you, man. I am begging you.

I'm sorry, Mark. Goodbye.

Tony? Tony, you still there?

Tony?


In the desolate parking lot of a McDonald's at 3:00 AM, Jason once again flicked his lighter and began puffing from the fourth cigarette of the night. Unlike before, he was acutely aware of the pain in his lungs, searing through his chest like a raging wildfire. He coughed sporadically, phlegm rocketing from his mouth and exploding in a splash of gray and red on the pavement, as a blue pickup truck made the turn into the lot and shut its headlights off.

"This him?" The boy, barely fighting off the tantalizing beckon of sleep, lifted himself out of the back of the patrol car. Crumbs from a burger rolled off his uniform and onto the passenger's side mat. Jason rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck before beginning his steady march towards the truck, watching as a tall figure in a hoodie fell from the driver's seat.

"Let's be brief. I don't have a lot of time before they trace me." The figure, a man in his 40's by Jason's estimates, quickly approached the detective and held out a yellow envelope stained with coffee. "As promised, the note. I'll take my payment now."

"Hang on, just hang on." Jason moved his right hand to the top of the envelope and began to lift the flap up when a hand stopped him.

"Not part of the deal, man." The figure was clearly agitated, seemingly in fear of something nobody could see. "Look, I can just take it back and leave, if that's what you want."

"Just relax." The detective turned to his colleague, folder still in hand. "Get the briefcase out of the trunk, please. And for god's sake, clean yourself up."

After ensuring his uniform was clean of food, the boy shimmied to the trunk of the patrol car and lifted it open, his fingers wrapping around the handle of a brown leather briefcase. Jason watched as droplets of sweat streamed down from his hairline, coating the handle in a slick, clear film, and shifted his weight to face away from the hooded man in a subtle display of trust. Jason's eyes met the boy's and flashed an expression of reassurance and calm, though it seemed to be in vain, his face twitching subtly and his right hand rapping against the side of his leg. By the time it occurred to Jason that the man was seconds away from fleeing in an anxiety induced panic, he felt warm leather touch the tips of his fingers.

"$200,000. Untraceable, as promised." He opened the briefcase for the man and watched as the moon lit several stacks of flawless green cash. The man craned his neck to look inside before closing it and abruptly leaving, quickly walking to his truck. Jason gritted his teeth and inhaled sharply.

"One more thing."

The figure stopped, snapping his head to the right.

"I don't know who you are, and frankly, I'd like to keep it that way. You got the note as you promised, and as far as I can tell, nobody knows about it. But you should know I work for people that don't take kindly to leaks. If I find out anyone besides the three of us knows about what happened here tonight, well…frankly, there will be consequences." He paused. "Might not be tomorrow, might not be for a while. But it will happen, and that I can guarantee you."

The figure remained motionless for several moments before marching to the driver's side of the pickup truck. He stepped inside and fumbled for his keys before roaring the engine to life and driving out of the parking lot into the New Mexico fog. With a certain grace, the detective dropped the briefcase and removed a silenced pistol from his belt, firing three rounds into the windshield in an explosion of glass and crimson. Jason heard the labored breathing of the boy behind him.

"What the fuck, man?!" His voice shook, the anxiety palpable. "The hell is going on?! We could be fired! We could be arrested, man! For fuck's sake!"

Jason said nothing, keenly aware of the boy's eyes darting back and forth across the envelope as he opened it and removed a single sheet of paper. He held it up next to his face and stared intently at it.

"From the second I saw Antonio's body, none of this made sense." He grinned. "Couldn't be sure it was them. Even if it was, this isn't their MO. And then, it clicked for me."

His gaze once again fell to the boy.

"Get the fuck out of here, and never tell anyone about this. Only gonna warn you once."

The two men left the parking lot moments later, and the boy never saw Detective Jason Fritz ever again.


The beaming young waitress approached Jason's table with an endearing grin, setting down a plate of eggs and bacon as she looked to the unusually content detective with slight confusion. He had been tracking her movements like a wolf ever since she had come barreling out of the kitchen, not once directing his gaze anywhere but her eyes. She removed several napkins from her apron pocket before snapping her head towards the man across from Jason, still maintaining a forced smile.

"Would you like anything else, sir?"

The man stroked his ash gray beard and flashed a smirk. "I think we're okay for now. Thank you."

She began walking away, but he abruptly raised his hand to stop her.

"What did you say your name was, sweetheart?"

Her discomfort was now obvious. "Uh…Jessica. Jessica, sir."

"Right. Jessica." The man clicked his tongue and lifted his glass of orange juice off the tablecloth. "My associate and I would like to send our compliments to whoever prepared this juice. It's quite delicious."

She chuckled. "It's just store bought orange juice, sir. We don't make it."

"My mistake. Must be jet lag." The three shifted around in awkward silence before he spoke again. "Jessica, before I let you go, could I ask a favor?"

"Sure?"

"You see, me and my associate have some business to attend to. Now, without going into details since I imagine you don't want to be here all day, it's very important we finish this business before I leave." He took a sip from the juice. "So, I politely ask that you do not come to our table again, as doing so would be quite distracting. Now, I realize that your job necessitates you speak to us."

His right arm moved off his leg slightly, revealing a silenced pistol aimed directly at her chest.

"I see you around us again before we leave and I will not hesitate to split open your pretty little face for everyone on the local news to see. Understood?"

Breaking into a sweat almost instantly, she nodded before walking away from the table as quickly as possible without running. Jason could still hear her strained hyperventilation as she opened the door to the restaurant's kitchen.

"Was that really necessary?"

Mr. Suit chuckled. "You've known me long enough to understand my theatrics."

"She's just a kid."

"You're so right. Which is why, with her bright future ahead of her, she won't talk to us again." His grin quickly faded. "Now, your report."

Jason lifted a briefcase from under the table and placed it in front of Mr. Suit.

"Everything's there. Made sure I couldn't be traced."

"How?"

"Paid some thug to break into the doc's house. Clipped him as soon as I got the briefcase."

"And the kid?"

Images of the boy flashed in front of Jason. "He won't be a problem. He's scared."

"I must say, you've certainly exceeded expectations." The smug grin returned to Mr. Suit's face, stretching to an almost unsettling extent. He removed several papers from the case, skimming over their contents before sliding them back inside. "I'll be sure your efforts are noted with my superiors. For now, stay quiet and out of sight. There will be more assignments for you in the future."

Mr. Suit stood up from the table, cleaned himself with a napkin, and left through the double doors of the diner, making prolonged eye contact with Jessica as the doors swung closed. Jason followed him, lighting a cigarette as he walked towards the setting Albuquerque sun.


Person of Interest #16619-A

Name: FRITZ, JASON G.

DOB: 8/31/1982

Threat Level: Black

Profile: PoI #16619-A, identified as Jason Fritz, is believed to be in possession of documentation relating to the termination of Doctor Antonio Rodriguez, a former Level 2 researcher at Site-882. This information details, among other sensitive pieces of information, the existence of Mobile Task Force 55-Bravo, various security protocols at Site-882, and Doctor Rodriguez's work on SCP-████. It is speculated that PoI #16619-A will attempt to utilize this information for financial gain, possibly by providing it to a hostile Group of Interest. PoI #16619-A's connections to Groups of Interest, specifically the Chaos Insurgency, remain unknown at this time. Field reports also suggest PoI #16619-A had direct involvement with Incident TAT-22, in which several individuals were neutralized during a bank heist due to potentially leaking classified information sold to them by Doctor Rodriguez.

Apprehension of PoI #16619-A is considered a top priority objective for Mobile Task Force 55-Bravo at this time. All individuals linked to PoI #16619-A, either directly or indirectly, must be detained and questioned upon being identified. Voice modification software similar to that used during Foundation cover-up operations following Doctor Rodriguez's termination is to be employed in an effort to extract information from relatives, friends, and former coworkers. The whereabouts of PoI #16619-A remain unknown, but search efforts are being focused in the New Mexico area due to his prior employment as a detective with the Albuquerque Police Department.

In light of this situation, all Foundation records of Doctor Rodriguez have been redacted and transferred to a secure information storage facility.

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