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.
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.
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 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.
"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.
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.
"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."