Chapter 9: Darker

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Half of the occupants of the house were sleeping. Eleanora and I, in the whisper-quiet hours before dawn were camped in Victor's office, plotting. I claimed a spot by the open window, watching the rain fall through thin trees and turn the sidewalks black. Eleanora lounged in my leather chair with a laptop against her knees, she was quiet save for keyboard clicks and an occasional frustrated sigh. When pressed about our market trip, I insisted to Eleanora that we keep things quiet until we knew more. I told Eleanora everything about Mar I could, but fear prevented me from talking with Victor about her.

Telling him made her more real. It also made our existence that much more strange and unpredictable.

"You should tell Victor." It was more of an order than a suggestion from Eleanora. She twisted to face me, her eyebrows pinched in frustration. "Perhaps he would have some idea of how to help the girl."

"What about helping her friend?" I asked. I had not forgotten the look on the girl's face as she was dragged away, nor the hollowness of Mar's face on the ride back to the market.

"Misty,"Eleanora said, supplying the name like I had forgotten.


Eleanora pursed her lips while she considered the idea.

"If we were to save her and the sister, then maybe Mar would trust us," she said, agreeable but unbelieving. "But is it worth the danger it could put all of us in? What if Godwin comes sniffing around?"

I shrugged. I didn't have an answer for her or really to anything right now. I was still focused on the sensation of her touch.

"We can't just wait around for it to rain, Kit," Eleanora chided. She snapped her computer shut and rose. Frustrated fingers pulled at her short-cropped hair as she braced her elbows against her knees. "Things are growing darker in the city. The crackdown on security, the sharp increase in drones buzzing in the sky, now this? It's leading up to something. The city changes before our eyes and we can no longer ignore its growing pains."

I turned away from her to stare back out the window, to pause for a moment without her glare on my face. I sighed.

"Have you talked to any of our friends?" I asked, nearly between my teeth. Eleanora was known to keep strange company, namely androids that were a bit too twitchy and selfish for my tastes.

"Jin didn't have much to share last time we spoke," Eleanora explained. "And Tuck is being Tuck."

Dirty bastard, I thought to myself. That droid just wanted to watch the world burn and he didn't have a preference who or what was consumed by the chaos.

"They're besides the point. What are we,"Eleanora said, motioning between us, "going to do?"

I closed my eyes and sighed.

"I don't know."

"Perhaps, I can be of help," a voice from the hallway chimed. My eyes opened to catch Victor in the doorway, still in his night clothes and leaning heavily on his walker. I bolted across the room to help carry him to his chair.

"It's funny," he said as I set him into his plush desk chair. "The older I get, the less I want to sleep. I'm tired of sleeping."

He chuckled and a memory of childhood dominated my thinking. Victor loved sleeping. On Saturdays, he was impossible to wake before 10 am. And as a child who had no real need for sleep, it cramped a lot of my plans. I spent so many Saturday mornings either trying to watch cartoons or spying on Victor from the crack under his bedroom door. On rare occasions his sister would show up at a crisp 7am and demand to claim me for the day. Victor would groggily answer the door whileI waited in the living room, my eyes glued to the cartoons but sharp ears listening for the sound of my aunt's exasperated voice.

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