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Underground Agency

Kathy gazed out over the wasteland, a huge depression of tumbled earth between two main roads, where the big new ASIO building had been. At one end the corner of a broken building stuck out at an odd angle. The lake glinted in the background. Beyond it, the flag on Parliament House flapping defiantly.

"What happened?" Kathy asked in her best authoritative MLA voice. "How did you manage to get rid of that incredible, unwanted eyesore? They wouldn't listen to us. To them, we're just a tinpot local government."

"The spooks got nervous," Robbie said. "Suddenly realised that their ginormous new building made them a target. Stood out like a sore thumb. Everybody hated it. Everybody could see who went in and out, so everybody's cover was blown. But they'd just built it and didn't want to move. So we offered them a deal. Give us a trillion dollars, and we'll dig a great hole under it and lower the building down. Twenty metre cover of soil, for a park or a new suburb, so nobody will know it's there. They loved it. Top security, so no palaver over tenders. And there we were."

He jerked a thumb towards a new mountain rising from the airport.

"Did a few mates a favour there, too," he said. "The city planners loved it when we blocked off the new office complex the airport had built because they didn't need planning permission, and we got a big kickback from a guy who wanted to build houses under the flight path."

"Didn't the airport owners object?'

"'Course they did. But when it's a matter of national security ..."

Kathy pointed to the projecting building corner.

"So what went wrong?"

"Ratshit construction. Building couldn't stand on its own two feet."

"Did you expect it to?"

Robbie held up a ball of string. "We reinforced it. Had jacks under the columns so we could lower it gradually. We'd just about got the hole done and one of them slipped, and boom! The building's down there, but it sort of came to bits."

"Any casualties?"

"None of our guys. We're big on OH&S. Them, they're not saying, but it was a weekday, and the place was probably chocka."

Kathy looked around. There was nobody except a few curious passers by. The site wasn't even fenced. "Where are the search parties?"

"There aren't any. They might find something."

He gestured to the depression where the building had been. "All I've got left to do is landscape the site. No grave markers or memorials. Just trees. Maybe a pond."

"How will they explain the missing building?"

"How they always were going to -- they've relocated. Where, is, of course, secret."

"So the job was a success. Will you get paid?"

Robbie grinned. "I already have been. You have to get it in advance on jobs like this, or they'll deny that you did anything, on grounds of national security."

Copyright D.W. Walker, 2013

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