Friday, January 31, 2014

16. darkness

by jeremy witherington

illustrated by konrad kraus

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

molligan turned his phone off and looked out the window.

then he turned around.

something was missing.


molligan didn't panic. he never did.

jody was probably in the bathroom.

or had gone into his own room to lie down.

the door to jody's room was ajar.

molligan peeked around it, then pushed it open.

no jody, in the room or in the bathroom beyond it.

he checked nikki's room the same way.

no jody.

molligan still didn't panic.

and yet he had a curious foreboding.

connie was on her way over. in fact, might have already arrived.

could jody have actually tried to escape?

a new human?

one of the reasons new humans had been developed was that they had nowhere to go.

and no primal lusts for travel and adventure.

but - jody was gone. that was a fact.

but maybe no further than the lobby.

maybe still in the elevator.

there was nothing else for it. he turned his phone back on and alerted central.

then he called the two techs still in the building.

first morris, on the sixth floor. he told him to check the elevator, then start going through the floors looking for jody.

then dooley, who was now down in the basement in abdul's apartment.

dooley was talking to connie. he answered on the second ring.


suzi and robbie were half a block from their destination of the cardboard structure in c-293, when the message light on the dashboard, suzi's phone, and robbie's brain all lit up simultaneously.

suzi let robbie take the call.

"this is 52-78" said robbie. he turned his volume up so suzi could hear the response.

"52-78, return to previous address, priority orange."

suzi had pulled up in front of the "cardboard structure" - a box.

they heard a loud noise.

"we have just arrived at c-293," robbie told the dispatcher. "and we just heard what might be a shot."

"noted. repeat, return to previous address, priority orange. a red car is on its way there. report to it or wait for it."


the message light went off.

the street was too narrow to make a u turn. suzi backed straight out to the previous intersection then turned back and headed for jody's and nikki's apartment.

robbie looked back. there was no sign of activity around the cardboard box.

only darkness.


connie had taken the phone from dooley and listened to molligan's account of jody's apparent disappearance.

she felt both exasperated and exhilarated. three disappearances at least spatially connected to each other within a few hours. it could be a statistical oddity - or something much more.

"no excuse," molligan was saying. "this is on me."

"you better fucking believe it's on you," connie told him.

this was the end of molligan. they both knew it.

"i will start looking myself," said molligan.

"yes, you do that."

connie clicked off and handed the phone back to dooley. "those two books?" she asked him.

"oh, yeah, here they are." dooley stepped over to the table beside the big armchair.

he handed connie the first of the two black books.

connie flipped it open. "planet of the green jaguars, by abdul al-jeremial". she quickly riffled the pages, scanning it into herself.

dooley handed her the second book - "the life of samuel johnson, ll.d. by james boswell". after a second's hesitation, she scanned it too, and handed it back to dooley.

connie turned to go.

"should i stay here?" dooley asked her.

"yes, for now. molligan will call you. or somebody will."

17. maureen and richard

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