I woke up with my head on the lab table. Wood wasn’t the most comfortable pillow. I pushed myself up, trying to remember what I’d been doing.
The satbot lay on the table. I’d finished it, tested it, and it worked. Then I’d tested the other bots’ ability to connect to it. Haley and I had tried it out in Denver, and it had managed to connect. The phonebot had managed to successfully impersonate a house’s landline, and the mobile connection bot had been tested in every way possible outside of Turkmenistan.
I checked the time on my cell phone. It was 3:42am.
I’d fallen asleep in my chair, but we could go tomorrow–not that we would. Tomorrow was a Thursday. Our best chance for Izzy to touch down without being seen would be at night–which meant we’d need to be doing it during the day. Saturday would be our best choice. Then we wouldn’t have classes where our absence could be noted and confirmed.
I pulled myself up and out of my chair, traveling through the dark hallways to finally arrive at the dorm room I shared with Daniel.
Daniel’s snoring greeted me as I opened the door.
Not turning on the light, I took off my clothes, pulled on my pajamas, and got into bed.
Daniel’s snoring continued, and I counted it as a success since I hadn’t woken him up.
I lay in bed with my eyes shut, waiting to go to sleep, and failing to get anywhere with that. However tired I’d felt when i woke up, I felt completely normal by the time I’d gone from one of the lowest levels in the compound to my dorm room.
My mind kept on going back to the bots, and wondering if I’d missed anything that would cause them to all freeze up once I tried to use them.
I tried to relax, concentrating on my breathing, being aware of the air moving in through my nose and out through my mouth, but that didn’t help me.
I felt calmer, but I didn’t go to sleep.
Except then, unpredictably, I fell unconscious.
I don’t know when I fell asleep except that I definitely did. What happened afterward couldn’t have happened if I were awake.
It would make for a better story if she’d interrupted a Sandman-style dream sequence, something that was both surreal and character revealing at the same time, but life isn’t always convenient that way.
It also could have been worse–much worse. Two words that crystallize just how bad worse could be: wet dream.
Long story short, Daniel’s mom appeared in my head.
We stood near the playground in the park that overlooked much of the Castle Rock Compound. It was during the day, but no one played on the swings.
She looked as she often had when I visited their house–dressed up. She worked at a bank. In this case, she wore a red, button down blouse and black pants. She had full lips, dark hair, and light brown skin.
She glanced over at the playground, and said, “Neither of you are children anymore.”
“No, I guess.” I noted that in the distance a cloud hung above the ground. Distortion in the air below it made me think it was raining.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your sleep, but I have to talk to you about what the two of you are planning.” Her accent seemed a little stronger than normal. I’d never been sure as to whether it was a Greek or Israeli accent, but since her family had immigrated from Greece to Israel before she hit the age of ten, it could have been a mixture.
“I’m not going to interfere,” she said, “but I should. The problem is that they’re killing people. I talked with Daniel. He said that the two of you agreed not to do anything more than gather information without permission. Do you intend to stick with that plan?”
Thinking about the rain cloud on the horizon, I said, “Yes.”
“Good,” she said. “I will hold you to that. We want to know what they’re doing, but we don’t want to give them or the Nine a reason to target you.”
I didn’t need to ask if they would.
“Then I’ll let you sleep,” she said, and the scene dissolved. “Your mother says hello.”
My very first action when I woke up was to check whether Daniel was still in bed.
I reached across the gap between our beds, poking him. “How did your mom find out?”