"So, is this a new case, then?"
Cobb looked up. Arthur, his Point Man, was sifting through papers that he'd just found on the desk.
"I guess so." Cobb spoke carefully. Even though Arthur was one of the most trustworthy men he'd ever met, he knew you could never be sure who was listening. "Came in yesterday."
"Who is it from? A corporate magnate? Crime Boss? Drug overlord?"
"None of the above." Cobb put his pencil down and leaned back in his seat. "Its from a woman in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With no affiliations to a magnate, drugs, or crime."
Arthur's eyebrows went up. "You're not serious?"
"I am. She says she wants us to perform an extraction – but it could be extremely dangerous. But she has also said she'll pay us with everything she owns. I get the impression that she's desperate."
The Point Man sat down, his face a mask of thought. "Why could someone be so desperate they're willing to give us everything they own?"
"I don't know." Cobb looked at Arthur. "But this afternoon we find out. I've made an appointment for us to see her. We catch a flight at 10am."
Arthur looked at his watch. "We better go."
At 4pm, a taxi drew up in front a neat house in an Atlantic City suburb. Arthur was first out of the cab – his overwhelming impression was of trimmed lawns, childrens' toys, and peace. This was the type of community, he surmised, where people actually looked out for one another.
Cobb paid the driver, and walked round to join the Point Man. "Ok, we're looking for 3256 Cedar Street."
Arthur checked the map. "Its just over there."
The two men walked down the street, noting how the sunshine dappled the leaves and threw shadows. As they approached 3526, Arthur felt unaccountably nervous.
Cobb rang the doorbell.
A woman answered. Of average height, she had china white skin and the type of bone structure that musty have made her a beauty in her youth. Light blue eyes swept the two men appraisingly, and her face filled with hope.
Cobb spoke first. "Mrs Caddick?"
"I'm Dominic Cobb, and this is Arthur Ogilvie. We believe you had some…business to discuss with us?"
Her face lit up.
"Oh yes. Please do come in."
The two men entered. The house was decorated in light pastel colours, with minimal furniture. She led them to the living room.
"Please sit down. Coffee? Water?"
"Coffee would be lovely," Arthur smiled.
"One minute, gentlemen."
A few minutes later, all three were silently sipping coffee. Cobb had decided that the client would steer this meeting, as it was unclear what she wanted or needed. She spoke up.
"I know I may seem a little strange, inviting the two of you out here-"
"Mrs Caddick", Cobb interrupted. "Strange is not – strange to us."
She laughed, nervously.
"We've dealt with some very unusual cases," Arthur explained. "Extraction is not something that many would consider normal."
Mrs Caddick put her cup and saucer on a small table. "But this is strange. And could be very dangerous for you. I'm not even sure I should be involving you in this-" she stopped, and tears sprang to her eyes.
Cobb decided to give her a minute to compose herself. His eyes flicked around the room, taking in the framed photographs on the mantelpiece, the copies of prints on the walls.
"I would like you to find out where my daughter is buried." She choked the words out, her hands twisting a handkerchief.
Arthur put his coffee cup down and moved to her side. He took her arm.
"Mrs Caddick, the Point Man spoke soothingly, "please let us help you. When you say, find out where she's buried, what exactly do you mean?"
The client mopped her face with a handkerchief. She swallowed.
"My daughter was murdered ten years ago. They-" she paused, sobs beginning to choke her words again. "They never found her body. Or at least, they claimed they never did."
Both men fell silent.
"The man they think killed her is inside. Life with no parole. But he won't tell them where she's buried. He claims he didn't do it, he had an accomplice. His accomplice is still at loose."
Arthur shot Cobb a look.
"I want you to-" her tears were starting to overwhelm her again. "I want you to extract from his mind who his accomplice is, and turn them into the police. Then they will find Chandra. And I will have closure."
Cobb closed his eyes. This was an extraction he could never have predicted coming. He looked at the Point Man. He was perfectly composed, but there was a flicker of concern in his dark eyes.
"Mrs. Caddick." Arthur spoke, his tone gentle. "There is an extremely complicated legal procedure to navigate for this. We'd need permission from the prison, a psychiatric assessment, possibly even the State Governor. We could not even get permission-"
She gave him an agonised look, her voice sounded strangled with tears. "So you won't even try?"
"I'm not saying that," Arthur tried to retain his composure. "I'm merely saying that there is an obstacle before we'll even start and-"
"We'll do it." Cobb cut right across him. "Mrs Caddick, we will do our utmost to gain access and to achieve this. What you're asking us to do is not strictly legal, but what he did was against Society. Please trust me. We will be in touch."
The woman mopped her eyes with a handkerchief, and the three of them rose to their feet. She smiled, a smile of deep, heartfelt gratitude.
She showed them to the door. "Thank you. I mean this."
Cobb smiled, graciously. "Thank you for contacting us. Expect to hear from me within a couple of days."
Arthur was silent as they walked back to the car. Cobb knew that he was waiting to explode, so decided to let him. As soon as they were both seated, the Point Man turned to the Extractor.
"I can't believe you've agreed to this. This is- this is-"
"Dangerous, illegal, potentially mind screwing." Cobb put the key in the ignition. "I hear you. But, Arthur, she's desperate. And I couldn't but think, what if-"
"It was one of mine?"
"Damn right." Cobb turned the key. The Pontiac hummed gently and started to purr.
"When we get back, contact Ariadne. We need her to be our architect. And get hold of Eames."
Arthur swallowed. "Ariadne is in Paris, Eames is in London. It could be too dangerous for Ariadne, and as for Eames – why do you want him on board again?"
"Because we need an inside man. And a Forger."
Arthur raised his eyebrows.
Cobb smiled wryly. "Come on, Arthur. You never thought Eames has seen the inside of a jail?"
Arthur laughed, and the tension in the car began to dissolve. "Frequently. I'm just…worried about taking Ariadne on board. This is-"
"Going into new territory. But, its somebody's daughter. And whether you're on board or not, I'm in."
Arthur looked at the Extractor. "Cobb, I'm in. Lets get back and get started."
Cobb began to manoeuvre the car into the street. "Thank you Arthur. I mean that."