Hey! Roxy goth here, wishing you all a Happy new year and a fantastic 2021! Thank you to tonofthebalence for reviewing the last chapter and Carabcod000 and Not Pony Tails Or Cotten Tails for favouriting and following.
See chapter one for the disclaimer and let's crack on.
I think now has come the time to tell you about the thing you're no doubt wanting to know the most. How I got into SHUSH.
I always knew from a young age that I would join SHUSH eventually. It was a fact my parents re-iterated to me throughout my youth, and when I was 16 the training increased. I was taught more martial arts and my core-strength was worked on via doing the bird dog, the elbow plank, the side plank and so on.
Eventually, the week after my 18th birthday [done, I later learn, just in case you should be unfortunate enough to die on or just after your 18th birthday] I received a letter from SHUSH. I knew it was from SHUSH because it told me it would self-destruct after I read it.
"This is it, Bentina." My dad told me, eagerly, after I had finished coughing. "This is your chance to prove to the world what you can do!"
"Dad!" I said. "It's only SHUSH!" I meant it as a joke, but my dad got very serious and leaned across the table to grab my hands and say, in a hushed manner.
"It is not 'only' SHUSH, Bentina." He told me. "SHUSH is everywhere, do you understand me? They know everything and everyone. The reason why you have that-" He nodded at the letter. "Is not only because you're our daughter - though that is certainly part of the reason - but because SHUSH know you. They will have observed you, watched you and made sure you are right for their organisation. Remember that. They have invited you because they want you, not because they have to. And it's up to you not to let them down. Are you ready, Bentina?"
I nodded, solemnly. Any part of my that thought that this was not serious, that this was some sort of elaborate jokes played upon me by my parents had gone. This was it. This was real.
My dad nodded and got up. "Right then. We'd better go. Get your coat, Bentina."
"Where are we going?" I asked, somewhat impatiently, as my dad struggled to get his arm inside his coat.
"Oh, didn't I mention?" He asked, with a twinkle in his eye. "We're going to to SHUSH headquarters."
Now for obvious reason I can't actually say where SHUSH headquarters is. Aside from the fact that you know where it is anyway, I would be breaking confidentiality rules and SHUSH would kill me anyway. And yes I do mean that literally.
But when I got into the headquarters it was to be met by a very serious-looking women - a swan - wearing a suit and who had her hair piled on top of her head in a beehive style. "Miss Bentina Beakley?" She asked, looking at me with cold eyes.
I nodded. She gave a small nod and ticked something on her clipboard. "Do you have the letter we sent you?" She asked, without looking at me.
"Um..." I said, feeling confused. "No?"
She looked at me. "Why not?"
"Um...because it destroyed itself?"
She blinked and looked at me and I felt more and more anxious. It was just at the point I was about to announce that this was all a terrible mistake and clearly I wasn't meant to be here that she smiled and said. "Good. That's the correct answer. Well done, you have passed the first test."
I breathed out a sigh of relief and she held her hand out. As we shook hands, she explained. "I apologise about that, but we've had an increase lately of people claiming to be told to join SHUSH and presenting false letters inviting them here. My name is Mrs Penny Trumpeter, but you may called me Agent 627. I am responsible for training new agents. Like yourself. First off we need to establish your intelligence, your level of physical fitness and your reflexes. Follow me."
What followed was a series of tests. To establish my intelligence I was given a straightforward test that you would be given at the time you left school. Then I was given a word-association tests, so 'I'm going to say a word and you're going to say the first thing that came into your head.'
One of the answers I remember giving was to the word 'death.'
'Murder.' I said. Then wondered if that was slightly to dark.
"Murder." The interviewer said, without missing a beat.
"Intriguing." I said.
The interviewer scribbled my answers down, then pointed at the door. I said. "Exit."
He looked at me like I was stupid. "I mean you can go." He said, in slightly annoyed fashion.
I made my apologies and left.
The test to establish physical fitness was a simple obstacle course. Well, I say 'simple obstacle course': if you imagine the Total Wipeout course, but slightly smaller and without the water. There were a lot of moving obstacles - designed to test my reflexes - including a bit at the end when you were in front of a target, someone yelled 'Fire!' and an arrow fired straight at you.
It was a rubber arrow - seeing as they didn't actually want to kill the recruits - but the whole point was the recruits didn't know that, and so they were expected to act as if there was a real arrow fired at them. My approach was to leap to the left and grab the arrow as it sailed past my ear, out of mid-air. I was very surprised when it collapsed in my hand and stood looking at it dumbly when I heard applause.
Agent 627 stepped out of the shadows, applauding. "Very well done." She said. "I knew you were very good at sports, but I wasn't expecting this level of fitness. Do you realise?" She asked, smiling a little. "That you did that course in 3 minutes, 45 seconds? Most people take at least five minutes to complete it. Some people even take 10 or more." Her smile disappeared as her eyes turned cold again. "They are dismissed immediately, of course." There was a deliberate pause and then she said. "You, on the other hand?" Another pause while I waited in anguish. Once again she smiled and this time it actually met her eyes. "Welcome to SHUSH."
I grinned back and was so thrilled I jumped round the room a bit. [I always told you your strangeness was hereditary, Webbigail.] After doing that, Agent 627 added. "We just need you to sign this little document..."
LITTLE DOCUMENT!? It was 67 pages! I remember because I had to sign at the bottom of EVERY PAGE, I thought I would never get out of their alive - I'd be a skeleton by the time I was done.
When I got out it was to be greeted by Agent 627, who first comment to me was not 'Welcome to SHUSH' but. "I can't help noticing you're right-handed."
"Er..." I looked down at my hands. "Yes. I am. Most people are."
"Don't be smart with me." She warned, - although I wasn't. I was simply stating a fact. "How do you feel about becoming ambidextrous?"
I knew what ambidextrous meant. It was the ability to use both your left and right hand equally well. I agreed [obviously] and Agent 627 shook my hand, told me she'd see me in a months time to begin training and said goodbye.