Rifadoft frowned and loomed over him.
“You’re treading dangerous ground, boy. I advise you to stop…”
“Advise, advise! You’re always advising everybody!”
Trent gave a sardonic laugh.
“That’s what makes you so special in this whole masterful web of your own design. I figured you out. And I want in on it!”
His demand took the Agent by surprise, but he maintained a most serious and powerful demeanor.
“You don’t know me,” Rifadoft said. “You don’t know what you’re asking. Walk away now and leave it alone.”
Trent let his rattled emotions surface. He spat his words through grit teeth.
“No! You don’t know me, Agent, and what I’m capable of! I have tremendous influence over American society with my little ‘Allowance-Level 8 stratum’! I can help you. Or, I can tell everybody what I know, and they’ll listen to what I have to say.
“So, either you embrace me as your new ‘partner’ or I’ll start talking loud and proud to the Leaders in the Alliance. They won’t hesitate to shut you down in a heartbeat and take your nutrient-rich Island back for themselves like they should have done from the very beginning!”
At his unyielding fervor, Rifadoft pulled back from the boy. He breathed in deep of the stirring breeze that ruffled the countryside around them. His eyes shifted to watch the silken shadows quiver in response to it. They fell to and fro upon the dirt driveway at their feet as, like specters, they lengthened eerily with the setting sun.
The look in the Agent’s knowing gaze was a discomforting cast of indignation and confidence. But it was the solemn pity that touched his eyes now that was most frightening. Gently and sincerely, he spoke.
“I warn you one last time, Trent. Be content and stay out of this.”
“I know what you’re up to, Agent, and I demand my share!”
The whispering breeze struck Trent’s mind with a shuddering chill then. It rippled down his spine and through every nerve. Rifadoft stood above him in patience. He watched the boy’s green eyes widen and soften with penetrating thought. A dule of Mourning Doves shook the encompassing branches with frightened urgency. They took flight as one shadowy mass in a cloud of fluttering wings across the twilight. At the same time, Trent stood slumped in the middle of the driveway, ruminative and silent.
The boy looked up to match Rifadoft’s gaze at last. He turned his lips into the faintest smile and allowed a careful glance around him.
He said, “Allea lodyuhf, David. Keep up the good work.”
Rifadoft did not respond but only frowned. He watched as Trent turned away with tempestuous energy. He bolted across the grassy meadow with a vile shudder in his wake. Then the boy vanished into the distant thickets that swept across the whole of the expansive countryside.
Rifadoft closed his eyes and breathed a troubled sigh at the inescapable event.
“There, Trent Birdges. You’ve got your share.”
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