DIZZAMM. You guys are being super adventurous! I’m kind of scared, actually. I’m not so much into adventure as I am into “sitting in one place and reading Anne of Green Gables for the 150th time.”
But! Adventure calls! Where we last left off, poor Tiny was being robotopsied, Chance was trying to rescue him, Cain and Rolex had last been seen going through the window and you were up in the air vents with a map to the school. You guys overwhelmingly chose to go with B. Find Aunt El. She had something to tell you, and maybe she’ll have some good ideas about what to do next.
Let’s see what our aunt has to say! Also maybe she’s baked us something!
Chapter 12: Take Two Chill Pills And Call Me In the Morning
You’ve started making your way slowly to your room, using the tech map that Chance gave you as a guide. But just as you’ve made your second left through the narrow air vents, something on the tech map stops you. If you take a right, just up here . . .
Seeing the light shafting up from office below seals your decision and you quickly – if not entirely gracefully – drop down into the nurse’s office. “Hey, Aunt El,” you quip, giving your aunt a quick wave as she looks at you with alarm.
“What happened to knocking? Knocking, I’ve found, is incredibly easy to do.” Although her tone is sarcastic, the small smile on her face assures you that she’s glad to see you. And you, you realize, are glad to see her. As crazy as the last 24 hours have been, finding that you have family, and close by, has been an unexpected miracle.
You drop down on the cot, swinging your legs, as you beam at your aunt. “So, I’ve been thinking. As far as I can tell, I used to be the leader of this little . . . whatever this is. Right?”
“I think so; that’s what I’ve managed to gather from Rolex, anyway.”
“Right. And then something – a mind wipe, I guess- happened. And I forgot everything.”
“That’s the long and short of it.”
You look down at your hands, unsure of exactly what you want until you hear the words coming out of your mouth. “I want to go back.”
“Back? Back to where?” You can see that, even as Aunt El asks you this, she knows exactly what you mean, and a cold, hard look comes over her face as she shakes her head gravely. “No, not a chance.”
“Aunt El,” you plead. “I have to do something. So far all I’ve done is run around after boys I barely know and maybe can’t even trust.”
“You can trust Rolex,” Aunt El says. “And me, and Chance.”
“But not Cain?” you ask, raising your eyebrows skeptically.
Aunt El sighs and shrugs. She opens her mouth to speak, but a sound from the hallway stops her. She puts up a hand to keep you silent and moves away from the door.
You expect to hear a knock, and are already forming an excuse as to why you are out of your room at this hour. But the excuse dries in your throat when you see the doorknob start to turn.
Aunt El acts quickly and competently. She picks up a hypodermic needle from her desk, wheels around and sticks it in your neck.
“I don’t . . . what . . . ” You try to protest but it feels like your body is encased in syrup. Mute, you are left to communicate by rolling your eyes, silently pleading with your aunt as she busily pushes you into a lower cabinet.
“Please forgive me for this,” El whispers, whipping her head to the door at the sound of the lock giving way.
El closes you into the cabinet. The last thing you hear before you succumb to the darkness is her scream.
You wake up, panicked. Dreams of being chained down in a small room flitter out of your mind as consciousness seeps in. You try to move your arms and legs, but they are stiff from lack of use. You wonder how long you’ve been asleep – and what Aunt El injected you with – as your hand fumbles for the cabinet door. Locating it, you unlatch it, trying to be as quiet as possible.
You are too stiff to unfold yourself gracefully from the cabinet, and you perform what could generously be termed a hunched crawl in order to release yourself. You bang your knee and trip, your left foot slipping into what feels like a pool of spilled soup.
You look around to make sure that no one heard your clumsy exit before looking back at your left leg.
“Oh no. No, no, please.” The pleas slip from your mouth as you scramble to your feet. Not a pool of soup, no; but blood, congealed and already making its way towards dry. And lying there, her arms flung out at odd angles, the only link to your past.
“Aunt El!” You cannot help but scream her name, even though part of you registers that whoever did this – whoever stabbed her over and over – could hear you and come back. You crouch down to El, trying to convince yourself that this is real life, when you notice something strange. Something is in her left hand.
You desperately do not want to touch her body, but you have to find out what she has in her fist. Obviously whatever it was was worth dying over, and you can’t help but curse Aunt El for her stubborn bravery. She must have known what was going to happen, you think. Why else would she try to keep me hidden? But why make me unconscious completely? Why not just tell me to stay quiet?
Maybe her killer had a bioscan sensor, you ponder as you try to loosen what you can now tell is a microchip from her hand. And whatever she stuck into me kept me from being scanned?
The answers don’t really matter at this point. All you want is to rewind the clock to last week, when your roommate was just annoying, and not an annoying robot, and when Tiny was still alive, or activated, or whatever and when you didn’t know that you had a family, so that you didn’t know what it felt like to lose them.
And when I knew who to trust, you think. No one.
Slipping the microchip into your pocket, you look around for a reader, or any tech you could use. You find a pocket reader kicked into the corner of the room, near Aunt El’s right arm, and you gingerly navigate around her body, trying to avoid stepping in any more of her blood. You bend down to pick up the reader and that is when you see the numbers near El’s right hand. 25. She must have written them in her own blood, and you have to close your eyes to fight the rising nausea and grief. Aunt El knew what you were trying to tell her earlier. You have to go back to Unit 25, where it all began.
Just then, you sense you are not alone and, turning, you see Cain in the doorway. His mouth is open in shock, but his eyes glitter with something hard – menace? Outrage? Grief? You can’t tell.
“Come on,” he says, sparing a glance at your blood-covered shoes. “We need to get you out of here.”
A. Go with Cain? You’ve got to get away from there before the killer comes back.
B. Make an excuse and find a way to leave without Cain? He could be the killer, for all you know.
C. Quickly explain the circumstances, show Cain the microchip and try to figure out what Aunt El wanted you to know?
D. Take your tech map and the microchip and tell Cain, “I’m going to Unit 25. You can come with me, if you want.”?
CHOOSE WISELY! The future of your fictional life depends on it!