Chapter 14

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Harvard Bookstore is a wonderful and eclectic bookshop in the heart of one of the all-time kick-ass world-class bookshopping neighborhoods, the stretch of Mass Ave that runs between Harvard and MIT. The last time I visited the store, they'd just gotten in an Espresso print-on-demand book machine that was hooked up to Google's astonishing library of scanned public-domain books and they could print and bind practically any out of print book from the whole of human history for a few dollars in a few minutes. To plumb the unimaginable depths of human creativity this represented, the store had someone whose job it was to just mouse around and find wild titles from out of history to print and stick on the shelves around the machine. I have rarely felt the presence of the future so strongly as I did that night.

Harvard Bookstore: 1256 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138 USA, +1 617 661-1515


Mom and Dad were grey-faced when I knocked on the door. I tried to make a joke of it. "I'd have thought that you guys'd be used to this by now." My voice cracked a little on the last couple words, and they gave me enormous hugs. They'd figured out where I was, and confirmed it by calling my phone, which Dalia had answered, telling them all about what had happened on the bus. Mom and Dad had dipped into their line of credit to pay a lawyer to start shouting at the SFPD about me, but she was only one of hundreds of lawyers so employed and my parents had had no idea that I was released until I stumbled up the walk.

I wanted to shower for a hundred years. I wanted to sleep for a millennium. But before I did anything, I wanted to find Ange.

"She got home ten hours ago," Mom said. "But her mother said she went right back out to the chicken farm." That was what the press was calling the place we'd all been held, down in South San Francisco, the name coming from the cameraphone photos that had already appeared online, making the place look like some kind of nightmarish poultry factory.

No doubt Ange was waiting for me there and I'd missed her in the horde. How the hell did people live before phones?

"Can I borrow your phone?" I said.

Mom handed it to me, and I spent a couple moments unfogging my brain enough to get it to cough up Ange's phone number, which had been my first speed dial for years. "Have you heard from him?" she said as soon as she picked up.

"Kind of," I said.

"Where the hell are you?"

"Home," I said.

"What the hell are you doing there?"

"Preparing to estivate," I said. Estivate is a very handy verb: it's a kind of hibernation, "a prolonged state of torpor or dormancy." Just where I was heading.

"Not until I get there. How dare you get out of jail without my finding you?"

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