“Still three days. You were only out for a few hours this last time—long enough to let us do the last of the post-op cleanup work.”
“Yeah, don’t ever do that again. If you’re going to knock me out, I need to know before it happens.” I took another drink of Coke. “I need an Internet connection, shoes, and another soda.”
Dr. Kimberley smiled. “I think all those things can be arranged.”
“Good.” My can was almost empty. I finished it before returning Dr. Kimberley’s smile. “Let’s have ourselves a revolution.”
We’ve reached Seattle in one piece. It was a little touch-and-go for a while there, but now here we are, and Maggie has somehow managed to hide us by going the opposite of underground. Money. Is there anything it can’t do?
We’re about to leave to see the Monkey, the man who can supposedly make identities that fool anyone and everyone in the world. That makes this Maggie’s last hurrah; when we’re done here, she’s heading back to Weed, back to her bulldogs and her grindhouse movies. I’m going to miss the shit out of her, but I’m also glad, in a way.
At least one of us is going to make it out of this shitstorm alive.
—From Adaptive Immunities, the blog of Shaun Mason, August 1, 2041. Unpublished.
There are days when I wake up and realize I no longer know the man in my mirror. Who are you, with your graying temples and your two-hundred-dollar haircut? Who are you, in your fancy suit, with your vast political power that does you no good when it really matters? Who are you, with all those ghosts in your eyes?
Seriously, you ass**le. Who the f**k are you, and why are you looking back at me whenever I look into my own eyes? What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his own soul? It’s on days like this that I really want to know.
I wish I could explain to them why I let this happen. I wish I could tell them what it was for. And I wish I thought, even for a second, that they were going to forgive me…
—From the private journal of Vice President Richard Cousins, August 1, 2041. Unpublished.
The polite voice of the hotel roused me from my bed shortly before sunrise. I sat up, blinking in disorientation at the opulent room around me—it would have been a suite in any other hotel—before I remembered where I was, swore softly, and got moving.
My clothes were scattered near the bathroom door, under the panel with the light controls. I’d spent almost ten minutes the night before just playing with them, cranking them up to mimic natural sunlight for the seasonally depressed, shifting them into the UV spectrum for the sake of people with retinal Kellis-Amberlee. In the end, I’d gone to sleep with the black lights on and the white-noise generator turned to full. It was almost like being back in Berkeley, before everything changed.
I hadn’t slept that well in a year. Being woken, even gently, felt like a betrayal.
There’d been no discussion of how we’d be getting to the Monkey’s: We just assembled at the van, like all of us being together again was the way things were supposed to be. Mahir got into the front passenger seat, balancing his tablet on his knee. Maggie and Becks took the back, and in the rearview mirror I could see Becks sitting sentry, watching out the rear window for signs of pursuit.
“Where to?” I asked, as I buckled my seat belt.
“I’ve got the directions,” said Mahir, and held up the tablet, showing me a black window with a blinking green cursor in the upper right corner.
I blinked. “What the f**k is that?”
“Our map.” He lowered the tablet, swiping a finger across the bottom to make the keyboard appear. He typed the words “find Monkey” with quick, efficient taps before pressing the ENTER key. The cursor dropped to the next line.
Maggie was peering over the seat at us. I frowned at the tablet, which Mahir was watching with absolute focus. Minutes ticked by.
“Okay,” I said finally. “This is officially stupid. In case you were wondering whether it had the ‘Shaun thinks this is stupid’ seal of approval, it does. Is there a plan B?”
“Yes.” Mahir held up the tablet, showing it to me again. A second line of text had appeared beneath his, with the cursor blinking on a third line now.
EXIT GARAGE, it said.
“You’ve got to be f**king kidding me,” I grumbled, and started the engine.
“It’s based off a pre-Rising computer game,” said Mahir. “So primitive it’s invisible to most monitoring systems.” He began typing. “At the end of the drive, wave to the guards and turn left. You’ll come to an intersection with a 7-Eleven. When you get there, turn right.”
“Fucking. Kidding. Me,” I said.
At the base of the driveway, we all waved to the guards as we waited for the gate to open. They waved back, apparently accustomed to strange behavior from their eccentric, wealthy clientele.
“Are you sure this is necessary?” I asked, still waving.
“If the directions say to do it, we do it,” said Maggie. “That’s what everyone says. If you don’t listen to the Monkey, he doesn’t meet with you.”
“Let’s hope the directions don’t tell us to shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” I muttered, and pulled out onto the street.
The directions did not tell us to shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die. They did tell us to drive down dead alleys, only to turn around and go back the way we’d come; to drive in circles through residential neighborhoods, probably setting off dozens of security alerts; and to get on and off the freeway six times. It was incredibly annoying. At the same time, I had to admire the Monkey’s style. None of the neighborhoods we drove through had gates or manned security booths. None of the freeway exits we used required blood tests. We might be driving like idiots, but we were driving like idiots without leaving a definite record of where we’d been, or why we’d been there.
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