Y’all, this is really getting out of hand! Makeoutus interruptus, two former flames joining forces, friends dying to save you…what more, you ask, what more?? Well, last week you voted to trust no one, except the good robot Sev and your current tonsil hockey partner Chance and C. Kick everyone but Sev and Chance out of the room and try to figure out what’s going on, since Sev doesn’t know how to lie

Why don’t we see how that works out for ya!

Chapter 24: Countdown Begins In T-Minus 10… 9…

You look around at all the people crowded into your tiny room. Dr. Artemus’s fingers are actually twitching with impatience, like he’s itching to get his hands on your panty drawer. Cain just bores into you with those black eyes of his, full of secrets he is definitely not sharing. Chance sits next to you on the bed like a puppy, and Sev, well you can’t figure out WHAT Sev is doing. Does it count as a glassy stare if her eyes really are made of glass? Suddenly, you lose it.

“Get OUT!” you yell. “Out! All of you!” Chance jumps, startled, and Sev, always obliging, starts motoring to the door. Cain and Artemus are a little slower, which just deepens your distrust. “Wait. Sev, come back.” You put your hand on Chance’s arm and keep him from leaving, too. “Everyone else, go. I’m not ready to deal with you yet.” You sigh, relieved, as everyone does what you ask.

“Ok. Answers. NOW.” You look at Sev and Chance as the door clicks shut behind Dr. Weird Beard and Co.

“About what? The square root of 657382? How many blades of grass are in one square meter of the quad? Oh, I know! The entire genetic overlap of the royal families of Europe in the 16th century of the human rule!” Sev chirps. Jeezy creezy, where did the resistance find this character?

“No, Sev. What’s going on with those guys? What are they looking for?”

Chance shifts a little on the bed. “Babe, they know about Rolex. They’ve known since the moment he died. We all have trackers — not the robot ones, but small devices wired to a resistance computer so we know when a member of the team is in trouble. They don’t know if they can trust you — Cain seems to think you killed Rolex.”

“Wait, what?” You’d stopped listening when Chance called you, “Babe.” It annoyed you, but at the same time gave you tingles in places that were still tingling from your makeout. Metatingles. Metatingles? Get a grip. “Killed Rolex? But I guess I did kill Rolex.” You feel the tears prickle behind your eyes again.

“Not like that. They think you did it on purpose. They know he was working on something, and they want to get their hands on it. Look, you know Cain’s mother was a collaborator, and he acts like he’s working to clear her name, but what you don’t realize is he’s a traitor too. Dr. Artemus was once on our side — his wife was captured by the robots during the wars and he’s been out for vengeance ever since. But Cain seems to have convinced him his wife is still alive and he can get her out if he works with the machines.”

Wife? And he was just sticking his tongue down your throat? What a sleaze!

Chance continues. “Dr. Artemus was working on a program, basically a virus, that could be used to destroy all the machines. He’s now working with the robots to develop security measures to protect them against it. He seems to think Rolex had a program or something and wants to get his hands on it.”

“He didn’t have a program,” you start to say, but Chance puts a finger to his lips and flicks his eyes toward Sev. Oh, right. Robot. “If Rolex DID have something, why do they think he’d hide it in my room?”

“They don’t — they think he gave it to you earlier. But Rolex would have hidden it somewhere, I’m just not sure where. Look, he had as much reason to hate the machines as anyone — he and Tiny were dating, and when Tiny was turned, we thought we’d lose Rolex forever. He didn’t leave his room for weeks, and we figured he was holed up listening to ancient music on these crazy giant black discs he collected. The Jones? The Smalls? No … the Smiths! Anyway, it doesn’t matter. When he finally came out, he’d figured out how to reprogram the robots. He’d been working on a way to get Tiny back. And I’m sure the first place Cain checked for Rolex’s new weapon was Tiny’s room. That’s where I would look, and it’s obviously not there.”

“Well, where else would he hide his secrets?” you wonder.

“I have a secret!” Sev chimes in. “I have a secret, and a really cool hiding place.” Before you can tell her you’re not interested in where she keeps her antistatic hair ionizer, Sev reaches up and presses a place on her neck. Her head flops forward against her chest, and she starts rummaging around in her brain stem! If she had a brain stem! What the hell? She pulls out a slender silver rod, flips her head back in place and holds it up in triumph. “See? My antistatic hair ionizer! It’s the secret to my gorgeous hair.”

You sigh. Robots are useless. But suddenly it dawns on you. You look at Chance, and at the same time you both blurt out, “Tiny!”

Just then, Sev starts bleeping. “Alert! Alert! Sentries approaching. Arrival in 45 seconds.” Then she turns to you, and you swear you see human emotion in her glass eyes. “I’m sorry. I cannot tell a lie, and when they pinged me to find out where you were, I had to transmit the coordinates. Quick, back into the ceiling, but before you go, see the freckle on my shoulder? Press it. Please.”

You look at Chance, who shrugs as if to say, “Why not? What can happen anyway?” So you grumble something about ceiling vents and why can’t you try the steam tunnels for a change, then press the little dark spot on her shoulder and jump up into the ceiling. There’s something about that freckle … shocked, you realize you have the exact same one. Before you can think about it further, you hear Sev’s voice. “Self-destruct sequence initiated. Completion in 10. 9. 8. 7…”

Tears start pouring down your cheeks, but Chance is already nudging you down the air shaft toward Unit 25 and Tiny.

Do you:

A.  Drop back into the room and try to stop Sev from sacrificing herself? Maybe you can take her with you, or erase her memory bank so she can’t give you away to the sentries. Plus, what’s the deal with the identical freckles?

B.  Shake your head sadly and follow Chance toward Unit 25?

C.  Whisper to Chance that you should really find Cain and Artemus and deal with them first? What if they get to you before you have a chance to use Rolex’s weapon?

D.  Try to convince Chance to at least get some supplies before heading to Unit 25? You’ll probably need to make a run for sanctuary as soon as you find Tiny … if you can find him.

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.