14 | A Spaghettification Effect

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Genelle laughed for a good minute before she finally caught her breath. "Hang on, let me get this straight. You badly want to find this physicist guy's home address for some reason, and to get it, you want a way to hack into the servers at HEPLOK, no less?"

"Yes!" Evanna gripped the phone with both hands as she sat on her swivel chair.

It was Sunday morning, and she had called the most tech-savvy person she knew. Genelle was an active member of the IT club, where she hung around one computer whiz or another.

"Evie!" Genelle's voice shook with another bout of laughter. "And before thinking of such drastic measures, have you thought of looking in an online directory?"

Evanna dropped her feet to the floor and straightened up. "What?"

"You know, those days, there were those phone directories. Now we have online directories."

"Oh..."

"Yeah. There's one called Kuro Peji. I think it has the largest database of residents in these parts. You'd able to find his address for free—unless he's living for rent. You might still be able to find his address, but it might cost you. You can also enlist help to track people, but then that's going to cost a lot more obviously—and the somewhat devious online methods to obtain private information can be found on the dark web, and to access that, you'd need a special browser. But you do not want to go there."

"Gen, thanks so much! I'll check Kuro Peji." A smile broke out on Evanna's her face. "You know such useful stuff!"

"Since I'm not watching thousands of episodes of anime, I have space in my brain for real world information."

"Oh, c'mon, that's just One Piece with a thousand episodes! And the story is so good!"

"Uhuh." Genelle let out another laugh. "I'm going back to packing then."

"Packing?"

"Oh, I might've forgotten to tell you. I'm moving to the hostel next week."

"What!"

"Yeah. My parents are moving out of Komoreby for work. So, I don't have a choice."

A silence stretched out. It was as if an invisible force extinguished the mirth in Genelle's voice.

"I'm sorry," Evanna murmured.

"On the bright side, I don't have to get up so early for school now," she said with forced light-heartedness. "I've decided to start packing early."

"I'll come to the hostel to help you settle in. Let me know when!"

"Thanks, Evie!"

After the call, Evanna leaned back with a troubled frown, her heart going out to Genelle. The idea of moving to the hostel was nightmarish to her, since it meant giving up what little freedom one had. Full-time incarceration.

She nibbled at some chocolate while the computer booted up. Even some dark chocolates contained dairy, and her heart sank every time she came upon the dreaded words on product packaging she habitually checked. They have to put at least an iota of cow milk into everything! Wouldn't be surprised if I find "milk solids" in bold on bloody fruit juice soon. She had settled on Ollever chocolate, which now dissolved in her mouth in a velvety glob of sweetness she thought was a slice of heaven.

Just when the Kuro Peji homepage loaded, her mom yelled her name.

"What do you want, Mom?" she yelled back.

Footsteps sounded closer and closer. Then the door opened with an unceremonious bang.

Mary stood in the doorway with a frown, which amplified the fine lines around her eyes. "Eva, would it kill you to do some cleaning around the house?"

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