I stretch when I wake, as I've done every morning that I can remember. My arms go up to my head and then outwards, like a flower's petals opening to greet the sun. My eyes are still closed, and I'm warm in the bed, and I'm shocked when my hand brushes against someone else's hair. Who did I bring home last night? The thought's electric and my body goes tense. I'm not seeing anyone, and I don't sleep around. Well, except maybe on special occasions, like when he's just too cute to not take home, but I'm sure that I've not been anywhere recently where I'd see someone cute.
I gently pat the hair, and determine that it appears to be connected to a head, and then I pull my hand back. Some quality of the air tweaks a half-awake neuron in the back of my mind, and I realise that I'm not in bed with anyone; there's someone in another bed in the same room as me. That makes more sense, but I'm still not sure what's going on here; I may have to give in and open my eyes.
My eyes open, and I look at the ceiling, and then very cautiously turn my head slowly to one side, trying to loll as though I'm still asleep and just changing position. Then the head comes into view, and I recognise Red, Jeremy, Red... damn it, maybe I should call him Mr. Paulo and be done with all these names! And then the last few weeks come flooding back to me, and the warmth of the bed is irrelevant because I remember the explosion at the aquarium, and the explosion at the town hall, and fleeing from the police at least three times, and a friend of Puppy's called Dysnomia, and....
I sit up, slowly, and look over at Red. He's still sleeping, one arm flung over and around his pillow as though it's a life-preserver of some kind, his face relaxed and handsome, one foot poking from underneath the blanket at the end of the bed. I look around the hotel room again, remembering it from last night, and finally remembering that I'd pushed the computer cart into the bathroom, just in case. I shake my head, smiling to myself that I could be so silly. Right, well, I'll get the computer and the scanner back out from the bathroom then, and scan and upload these photographs to the Rebel Voice for distribution, and then I think I'll have another shower. It's rather nice being civilised like that again.
The computer is a laptop, a Macbook, which both pleases and surprises me. I would have expected the hotel to have some generic Chinese-made laptop bought in bulk at rock-bottom prices, not something as sleek and sophisticated as this, with its brushed aluminium case and magnetic power-cord attachment. It turns on with the press of a button on the right-hand side and powers up quickly. The wallpaper for the screen is, predictably, the logo of the hotel chain, and the desktop is blessedly free from icons. The scanner is found automatically and mounted as a remote peripheral, and I place the first photograph on the flat bed and start scanning. While that hums busily to itself I open a terminal and establish a secure connection to the Rebel Voice's gateway server, ready to hop onto the main box.
New mail in /usr/mail/bossyboots says the system message on the screen when I log on to the gateway box though. I change the photograph in the scanner while I think about that. There's no mail server on this box, it's just a jump-off point with a couple of easy-to-find dead-ends in case of hackers. So where has this mail come from? One way to find out, I suppose, but I'll have to log in as the bossyboots user first, and I've no idea who this is.
While I think about it, I attempt to connect to the main server. Immediately I discover that there's no access to anywhere from this machine, and I log out immediately. I change the photograph again, half-way through the first stack now, and stare at the laptop as though it's made lewd suggestions. What is going on? It looks like I'm going to have to guess the bossyboots password to find out.
Behind me I hear sounds of someone shifting their weight, so I turn round and see that Red is getting up, still mostly asleep by the looks of it, and has forgotten where he is just as I did. I admire his heart-pattern boxers for a moment, and then cough in a lady-like manner to get his attention.