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My Adventure with the SOUSS
It's funny how one little thing can change your whole life. Life's all about timing and different choices you make. If a man wins the lottery, he often wonders, “What would happen if the person before me got this lottery ticket”. Of course, if one wins the lottery, they are probably too engrossed with the fact that they just won a large sum of money. But, fate is a strange concept. Was this man intended to buy that lottery ticket or... did he just happen to buy it? Either way, the fact is he bought it, and that little event changed his life forever. It's scary to think everything we do in our life contributes to the outcome of our whole existence. Take Archimedes for example; if he wasn't taking a bath at that exact moment, would he have discovered Archimedes principle? You know, that principle where everything that has a density lower than one, floats on water and anything above it doesn't. Maybe he would have... maybe he wouldn't have? The point is, everything amounts to something, and no little action should be taken for granted. We often hear people say 'seize the opportunity' but, maybe we were supposed to let that opportunity slip us by. Maybe, because of that little decision, our lives are the way they are. All I'm saying is, everything counts and no one really knows if what you did changed your future or not. It's hard to imagine your life being any different once it's already happened. Like, I can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't opened that letter, called that number, taken that plane and so on. What if I had chosen a different route? What would've happened?
I had just come back from school and I was doing homework. Nothing special, just plain history homework: reading the textbook then answering questions about the reading. My school doesn't really believe in long term projects, therefore when it comes time to do homework, it's seldom fun. I was up to question three: What is the significance of paragraph eight in the reading. A typical question; I've gotten lots of practice answering these. I scribbled across my page; My history teacher doesn't allow typed homework. Even though our world thrives on media and electronics, she likes us to practice our handwriting. She always says “My gosh! With all these computers around, pencils and paper will soon be extinct”. She's a little peculiar. Anyway, I was writing down my answer and my eye caught a letter sitting on my dresser. Usually I wouldn't be able to see the top of my dresser because it's always a disaster. There are clothes, brushes, lotions, makeup, and a lot of other junk on top of there. But, my mom made me clean it because she said it was un-ladylike for me to have a messy room. She's a bit of a neat freak but then again, she's a mom. So I saw this letter, in the middle of my history homework, and I thought it very strange. If I ever get mail (which I rarely do) my mom usually leaves it on the dinner table for me to collect before dinner. The only mail I ever get is 'thank you' cards or holiday greetings, and it's usually there, on the dining table for me to get. I walked over to the dresser, picked up the letter and eagerly tore it open. It was not long at all, only three lines and it was written in neat handwriting. It read:
Carmalita Rosario Morale Florez,
This is an urgent matter and it is imperative you take action right away. Please call the number attached as soon as possible. Thank you, and we're expecting your call.
The first thing I noticed was my name. I was born with the name Carmalita Rosario. My parents' favorite poet was Carmalita Valasquez and they named me after her. After being named after her, I thought it necessary I look her up. She's quite good; she writes about nature and the course of life. My parents grew up listening to her poetry and they became very fond of her. I was given the name Rosario because my mother's great-grandmother was named Rosario. My parents both agreed that Carmalita Rosario was too long a name for everyone to say. “Hey Carmalita Rosario! What's up Carmalita Rosario!” You see my point. My mom really wanted me to have a cute name that everyone at school and at home would call me. I was Rosa until one day when I was four and I helped a blue bird with a broken wing. Later that day, my dad found twenty dollars with a little blue feather on top and saw it fitting to call me Carma. Ever since then, every single person I know calls me Carma, so for someone to call me Carmalita Rosario, was unexpected to say the least.
I was a curious child, which was half a weakness and half a strength. It often got me into trouble because I'd stick my nose in other people's business. Once, I looked through my father's desk because I heard him talking about a something that he put there. Turns out it was only a menu to his favorite restaurant, but still, I got in deep trouble. I was grounded for a week and a half: No T.V, No friends, No anything, pretty much. But sometimes my curiosity was a strength. It allowed me to see things other people were too scared to. If I wasn't curious, I probably wouldn't be tell this story right now; I'd be sitting around, living a non-risky life. Curiosity is a very important aspect of the world. “Curiosity killed the cat”. It's true, being curious is a hazardous trait. It can get you into a lot of trouble and in a lot of danger. But if people weren't curious, life would be boring, mundane and safe.
I took the attached card in my hand and grabbed the phone. I didn't see the harm in calling the number. I carefully dialed the numbers and hesitantly put the phone to my ear.
“Hello Carmalita,” said a voice, slow, steady, sure of itself.
“Uh, hello. I'm... yes, Carmalita. Who is this?” It wasn't that I was scared; I was just a little nervous. I had no idea who I was talking to.
“That's not important. What's important is who you are.”
“Yeah, I'm Carmalita, uh, Carma actually.” There was blatant confusion in my voice.
“I know who you are Carma. It is you who does not know. It is not safe to be talking on the phone about this. I will not say anymore, but I will tell you this. There will be a car outside your house in twelve minutes. Please get in it and come to our headquarters. I will explain further there.” I started to protest. I wasn't about to just get into a car with some stranger.
“Wait-” but the only answer I got was the dial tone. I hung up the phone and rested my head on my hand. I needed a second to process what had just happened. I had so many questions that couldn't be answered. Who was this person? How do I know this person? How does this person know me? What the hell was going on?
I needed to take a walk around the block to gather my thoughts. I grabbed my coat and told my mom where I was going. I grabbed the nearest key and ran out the door. My next door neighbor was outside my house and greeted me. I know it was rude, but I didn't answer. Instead I brushed past him and continued down the block. I felt something vibrating in my pocket. Then I heard the very distinct tune of “Help” by the Beatles. I was a huge Beatles fan. I had all of their songs. It's safe to say I'm a Beatles fanatic.
“Hello?” I knew the mysterious car was going to be at my house in twelve minutes and I didn't want to waste my time talking on the phone.
“Carma? Where are you?” It was my over protective mom.
“Mom! I told you, I went out to take a walk! I'll be back soon... I think” I wasn't sure if I was going to get into the shady car that was due to be in front of my house any minute. I hastily looked at the street sign to know where I was. I was already on my block.
“Mom! I'm hanging up!” I pressed the red button on my phone and slipped it back into my pocket. I looked up and I saw the longest limousine I had ever saw. My jaw dropped a little when I saw this immensely long car. I looked at my watch to see if twelve minutes had already passed. Shoot, they were early. The driver stepped out wearing long white gloves and a Armani suit. I had gotten used to naming designer brands from my school.
“Ms. Florez I presume.” He was so elegant; it scared me a little.
“Uh... yes. Yes, I'm Ms, uh, Florez.” I wasn't used to anyone calling me 'Ms'.
“I'm glad you decided to accept our offer. Follow me please.” He opened the door to the limousine and before I had time to think about what was going on, he slightly guided me in.
“So... where are we going?” I was determined to get some information out of the driver.
“That is not of importance Miss.” He kept his dark brown eyes on the road.
“Well, I just thought... since I already accepted your offer to do... well I'm not really sure what I'm doing... I, uh” I was at a loss for words. Nothing like this had every happened to me. I couldn't comprehend what my mind was telling me. On one hand, I was scared because I has NO idea where I was going or who was taking me there. But on the other hand, I was excited. I felt like I was in a movie and this was all part of the plot. Soon there'd be a climax then everything would be resolved and I would be returned safety to my house. I was sure everything was going to be fine and that this would just be a little adventure I took.
I was rudely whistling when we pulled up next to a mailbox. There wasn't anything particularly special near that mailbox. I assumed we would just keep driving to one of those super high tech spy places. That is how I envisioned my movie. To my dismay, the driver got out of the car, walked to my door and gracefully opened it to let me out.
“Are we here?” I sensed a little gruffness in my voice. I couldn't believe how rude I was being. Though it might seem like my parents never taught me any manners, they believed etiquette was the most essential quality a human could have. At a young age, they taught me all the dos and don'ts like how you are supposed to say excuse me when you leave a group and how you are not supposed to put your elbows on the dinner table. Because my dad believed in chivalry, he always offered his seat up to my mother and he always let her go first. It's actually kind of creepy the way they are so nice to each other and nice to everyone else. Well, when I say 'nice' I mean polite.
“Miss, I would advise you to step out of the vehicle,” he said as he gestured in a smooth motion.
“Where are we?” I said as I stepped out of the car.
“At our final destination, Miss.” It bugged me how calm and mysterious the driver was. I followed him to the mailbox. He was holding a small letter with no address and no stamp. Just before he was about to post it, I stopped him.
“Hello? You forgot to put an address and a stamp on it!” He just smiled and proceeded to put the letter in the mailbox. After he put the letter in, he just stood there, starring at the mailbox opening.
“Excuse me? Why are we waiting here? Shouldn't we be going now?” I was so tired of people keeping secrets from me, and I couldn't take it anymore. When the driver didn't answer, I threw my hands up in exasperation. He simply held up a finger to me signaling me to wait.
We waited there for what seemed like hours, but in reality, it was only a minute or two. Suddenly, the driver's back straightened and he perked up. It seemed he had noticed something that I hadn't. He moved his head closer to the mailbox, slowly lowering his brown thin glasses in order to get a better look. I tried looking too, but there was only so much room and the driver was taking up most of it. He then grabbed me by the hand and walked into the building behind the mailbox.
“Hey, I know you're supposed to be all secretive and stuff, but could you please tell me where and why we are here? This is all getting to be a little bit too ridiculous.” I assumed he wouldn't answer, but surprisingly he stopped and turned to talk to me.
“Alright, Ms Florez, I believe it is safe for me to tell you what is going on. We are at an agency, called the SOUSS meaning The Safety Organization Utilizing Special Skills. Ms. Florez, you have a special skill and it is the SOUSS's job to figure out what it is, and how to use it effectively. The SOUSS is part of a long string of Safety Organizations that specialize in different things. There is a SOMS which is the Safety Organization for Monuments and Statues. There is a SOSJ which is the Safety Organization for Special Jewels. There is a -”
“That's enough, I think I get it. What kind of 'special skill' do I have?” I wasn't sure if 'special skill' mean like a super power, or just something I'm really good at.
“See, Ms. Florez, that's the reason we needed you so urgently. We are not completely sure what your special skill is.”
“When you say special skill you mean...?”
“Well, this one man had the ability to see how old any human being was. Another could know what someone was hiding.”
“And what was with the mailbox?”
“I needed the code to get into the room. You'll understand when we get there.”
“Wait! How do you even know I have a special skill?”
“Because, it runs in your family.” He smiled again, and continued to walk into the building. I had so many questions but I didn't want to risk being ignored again so I decided I would ask someone inside... if there were any others inside.
We walked down a long hallway to a small room on the left. It looked like a conference room. It had pens, paper, chairs, a podium. It wasn't particularly glamorous, but I guess it was okay. Thinking this was our final destination I sat down in one of the green chairs. The drivers just shook his head and walked to a door that said restricted. He punched in a few numbers and there was a soft beeping noise. He motioned me to follow him.
“Are you ready Ms. Florez?”