I chewed on my lower lip, my heart racing. If the Environmental Protection Agency was onto us, Mirror, Mirror was doing something to harm the environment, not protect it as I had always believed.
Poisoning the water? Chemical fuel?
Bile rose in my throat and I struggled to control my emotions. I needed to do something but what could I do?
My resources were limited in the middle of nowhere but I had one resource, which was invaluable.
With trembling hands, I pushed my way out of the bedroom, but Queenie had already logged off her video call.
“What are you doing up?” she demanded, guilt coloring her face. I forced a nonchalant look onto my face and shrugged.
“I didn’t know I needed to check in on you when I needed to pee,” I retorted, sauntering toward the bathroom.
Queenie scoffed at me but she turned her attention back to the computer and I sank inside the bathroom, my phone in my hand.
First, I dug out the medical kit and found a Vicodin which I downed without water before sinking onto the toilet lid and dialing Alex’s number.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Alex demanded without preamble. I lowered my voice to a whisper.
“I need you to do me a favor,” I breathed into the phone. I doubted that Queenie could hear me beyond the door but I didn’t want to risk it.
“What? Do you need to come home?” I could hear the stress rising in her tone.
“Not yet,” I mumbled. “But I changed my mind. I need you to start looking into Mirror, Mirror after all.”
I heard Alex inhale sharply.
“Look in how?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied slowly, keeping my words quiet. “But I think they’re poisoning the environment under the guise of doing eco-friendly research. They may even be taking government grants for this. I don’t know. That’s why I need you.”
“Sash…even if you’re right about this, I’m going to need more than just suspicions. I’m going to need proof.”
“I know that,” I sighed. “But my hands are a little tied at the moment, Al.”
“Where is this coming from? Did something happen over there?”
“I’m not sure,” I answered evasively. “I’m going to see what I can find out from my end and you see what you can do from yours, all right?”
“Sash, are you in trouble? I’m coming over there—”
I said that much louder than I intended and I lowered my voice instantly.
“It won’t do you any good to come,” I insisted. “You do what you can and I’ll do the same.”
“I don’t like this.”
I hated myself for worrying Alex even more than she already was but I needed her. I couldn’t exactly use the company computers to investigate them and Alex certainly had more contacts than I did as a journalist.
“Maybe this will be your big break,” I teased even though my pulse was racing erratically. I was terrified about the position I’d put myself in but I needed to know who I was working for.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” I said, realizing I’d been in the bathroom for a while. I didn’t want Queenie getting suspicious.
“You better,” Alex growled.
“I don’t need to tell you that Mom doesn’t need to know about this, right?”
“Obviously, although I’m starting to understand exactly how she feels, Sash.”
“Love you, girl.”
“Love you too.”
We hung up and I stared at the cell in my hand nervously. I’d just committed to being a whistleblower for a company I’d worked at for years.
And based on what? A conversation I’d overheard that I could have misconstrued?
Suddenly I felt ridiculous and I wished I hadn’t been so hasty calling Alex.
I’ll call her back tomorrow and tell her I was on drugs when I called.
If there was something going on, I would need more proof than an eavesdropped conversation, wouldn’t I, Nancy Drew?
Shaking my head, I rose from the toilet seat lid, feeling incredibly foolish. I chalked it up to all the turmoil I’d been through over the last days, the emotional rollercoaster I’d twisted and turned upon.
You’re looking for a distraction from the drillers and making up problems where there are none.
I knew that what I’d heard was more than me concocting things in my mind but it wasn’t enough for me to expose a company I’d always loved.
The Vicodin was beginning to take effect and I threw open the bathroom door. My phone clattered to the floor as I stared at a barrel of a rifle.
My eyes rose to look at Queenie in shock and a slow, cruel smile formed on her lips.
“My dear, what big eyes you have,” she jeered, adjusting the barrel and I stepped back into the bathroom in shock.
“What the hell are you doing, Queenie?” I gasped, calling her by her last name to her face for the first time in our working relationship.
“Taking care of you once and for all,” Queenie growled, waving the barrel toward me. “Get out of there.”