Let’s pull all these fragments back together and see what we have. Here’s the original snippet.
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My brother was jubilant. “Five hundred bucks just for looking after an envelope,” he crowed. “This is my lucky day. This is the best thing that’s happened to me this year.” He glanced at the package. “I wonder what’s in it?” he murmured. “Still, that shouldn’t worry us. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no problem.”
That’s what Herbert thought. But right from the start I wasn’t so sure. I mean, five hundred dollars is five hundred dollars, and when you’re throwing that sort of money around, there’s got to be a good reason. And I remembered the dwarf’s face when the car backfired. He may have been a small guy, but he seemed to be expecting big trouble.
Just how big I was to find out soon enough.
Here are the examples we've been building:
Fliss was ecstatic. “Do you believe it? Actual aliens,” she hooted at me. “If only Jane had money to pay us. Poor petal! Still, if we can crack this case and show proof… the jobs and pay cheques will follow!” She looked hopefully at the USB drive, with the Gummi Bear still attached. “Hmmm… would you be a dear and check that disgusting looking thing, please? Whatever on it, I’m sure it’s a good start. Couldn’t make our situation any worse, could it?” Fliss added, glancing at me with a half grin.
I wasn’t so sure. Jane said she had proof but, if we hadn’t have been so desperate to reveal alien existence to the world, I would have advised Fliss not to take on the case. All we had was someone’s word that, last week, she didn’t look like a 90-year-old, and a USB drive that looked like it could give you a virus, in more ways than one. Was our Jane Doe just a dazed and confused old lady, or had she really made a close encounter?
The truth (and more) lay waiting for us on that drive.
The first thing I did was phone my mother. “A hundred bucks, ma!” I shouted, then I realised I needed to lower my voice so the TV room residents wouldn’t hear me. “Just for agreeing to look into the case!” I whispered. “And more to come if I find evidence of bingo fraud! I told you it was better than working at Muffin Man!” I pushed the door closed slightly. “I mean, he did mention that it might be dangerous. That I could get roughed up a little. But that’s not going to happen, is it? These folks need help getting off the toilet. I can almost do parkour!”
Even as I was saying it, I was wondering. D’Angelo was built like a steamroller, he could have flattened me without even looking up from his phone. But I saw his eyes when he thought somebody had caught him talking to me. I saw the fear. He may have been a big guy, but someone in Sunnybank Village was capable of making him very, very small.
Now it was my job to find out why.
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