Chapter 60

Leo’s head ached. Her eyes were closed. She was lying facedown on a rough fabric blanket. The mattress underneath her was hard. Her legs and arms ached, she reached up to her forehead, there was a cut above her eye that was throbbing with her heart beat. Should she get up and try to stand? If she didn't fall down first.

She gently moved her arms underneath her chest, her hands interpreting the fabric underneath her as a wool blanket, like that used by the military. She didn’t open her eyes; not until she pushed herself up and into a sitting position. Her arms and legs were sore, but they didn’t resist as painfully as they could have for someone who had just been in a car crash.

She opened her eyes, wincing at the fluorescents over her head, they turned the white room a sickly green. The cot she was sitting on was chained to the wall like a medieval Murphy bed. The walls were tile, as was the floor. There was a two way mirror. What was with these people and their two way mirrors?

She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands. The sedative they’d used on her in the truck was making her groggy and stiff. She wanted a drink of water and something to eat. How long had she been asleep? Was there a toilet in here? Yes, there it was, in the corner to her right, in view of the two way mirror. Should she just brazenly use it, staring at the mirror as she peed? Or should she just wait until her kidney’s screamed and her bladder exploded? Better just use it.

After the awkward peeing routine was done, she used the sink on the wall next to the toilet and drank from the faucet. The water tasted of chlorine and threatened to make her headache worse. 

A knock on the door made her jump and the flap for food slid up with a tray being pushed through. A cup and pitcher of water, mystery white lunch tray with lid over the plate, sad plastic cutlery. 

The food could be drugged. The pitcher of water could be not at all water. She didn’t care. She was hungry, they already had her and had drugged her. She just needed to eat.

She brought the tray to the table on the left wall and sat down in the metal chair. The dry chicken breast was under salted, the mashed potatoes were over-salted, and the broccoli was cooked until it was nearly grey. The pitcher probably held at least a liter of water, and she drank almost all of it.

She chewed and thought about where she probably was. The room looked like a jail cell, but the details were wrong. The two way mirror and the door. Observation type room, like that in a mental hospital. She was probably in Seattle, there’s no way they would have kept her under sedation for that long. So a mental hospital somewhere still in Seattle. But it was run by IJS.

Okay, mental hospital in Seattle, IJS run, and they were feeding her; that meant this would probably be a long term stay. At least, that's what they were planning. 

The door clicked open and a man in his early twenties came barging in, wearing an expensive suit coat, tablet under their arm.

“You had small explosives in your computer.” They huffed, hands on their hips. “You had a small code in a panel on the bottom and as soon as you though we were going to take you in for questioning, you punched in a code and detonated it? Why? Why would you do that?”

“And you must be someone from information processing.” Leo smiled. “Nice you meet you! I'm the crazy monkey with a sledge hammer who ruined your day. Should I also set fire to your Filofax? Would that put a cherry on the nightmare sundae?”

“I want you to tell me where your back up is?”

“Nope!” Leo sat back on her chair. “Why? Were you gonna ask me? Because even if you buy me a drink, no is no, hun.”

The suited gentleman sighed and paced a bit around the room for a moment, typing madly on the screen of his tablet. Leo just watched him, grinning like a Cheshire Cat, because it obviously made the man uncomfortable. 

“Listen.” He said. “If you just tell me where the backup is, I'll make sure they give you an easy sentence. You'll be cooperating instead of blatantly defying us. That's gotta be at least somewhat attractive.”

“Yeah.” Leo giggled. “Appealing to my rule following side will help. I'm a hacker accused of weapons trafficking and assassination. Telling me to help because it's the “right thing to do” will totally work.”

The man sighed and started to walk out the door. 

“Wait a second.” Leo said standing up. “What's your name?”

“Aaron.” The man said, not turning around.

“Okay, Aaron.” Leo said. “I won't take much of your time but listen, you seem like a nice dude. And these people are not nice. I've been accused of some pretty awful stuff and I'm on the run for it, even though there's a ton of reasons for me not to do the things they're telling everyone I did. When it's proved that me and my buddies are innocent, this whole agency is gonna go down like a star destroyer over a gravity well and everyone working for it will be parties after the fact. Get. Out. Run. Get any other job, anywhere else. I know what I'm saying and in what economic climate I'm saying it in. But trust me, dude. Get out while you can.”

He stood, hand on the doorknob for a solid minute and then walked out, nothing else said. 

Zoe FleischerComment