Grave Messages

Sleep is so good.

Yes it is, brain. Yes it is.

We should do it more often.

I’ll try to keep that in mind. But right now I need to take a leak.

I drag myself out of bed, barely managing to get my feet underneath me before I perform a face plant onto the carpet. Standing up, I run a hand through my hair before stretching my arms above my head. I let them fall to my sides and try to remember what I was about to do.

A quiet cough interrupts my deliberations on the matter and I turn to see Emma looking at me from where she’s standing by the computer equipment. Her hair is suffering the after effects of a lengthy fight with her pillow and I consider giving her a hard time about it.

Then I look down and realize that only a pair of white boxers with hearts all over them stand between her eyes and my man bits.

Is it too late to pretend we’re sleep walking?

“Hey - sleep well?” I try to ask the question casually as I head for the bathroom but I suspect that my burning cheeks are not helping my cause. Neither is the focus on my feet making my steps any less awkward.

“Like a baby,” she replies with a satisfied smile. I’m glad she has the grace to not comment on my attire when I pass by her. “I’ve got something to show you when you’re done in there.”

“I hope it’s one of the pictures we found on a major newspaper’s website,” I say before closing the door behind me. I lift up the toilet seat, give my bladder some breathing room, and push down the button that has the green water-saving text on it. I wash my hands and dry them and then, just as I’m about to return to the room, decide to put the seat back down.

Brown noser.

“What’s up?” I ask, my footsteps hiccupping as I choose to go fetch my pants instead of standing around in my underwear.

“I tried logging into the Rebel Voice,” Emma says, her eyes flicking back and forth between me and the computer screen. “It looks like everything has been wiped clean or locked away somewhere I can’t find it. And there’s an email somewhere there shouldn’t be anything at all.”

“What’s it say?” I ask, buttoning up the cargo pants Joel so kindly provided me with two lifetimes ago.

“I don’t know,” Emma replies, a frustrated sigh escaping her lips as she places another photograph in the scanner. “It’s protected and I have no idea what the password is.”

“Who else would have access to your database?”

“Q… it has to be him.” Emma squints down at the monitor and purses her lips. Tentatively she reaches out a finger and taps a few keys before hitting enter. “Strike one. Great, I have to think of a password created by one of the most paranoid, secretive men I’ve ever met.”

“Well it has to be something he’d expect you to know,” I point out as I come to stand beside her. I take a moment to breathe in the scent of her before focusing on the display. “Bossyboots?”

“I don’t know and I don’t want to know.”

“Maybe it’s a clue to the password.” I think it over for a minute while Emma works the scanner again. “Do you think he’d put a limit on the number of wrong passwords you can enter?”

“Definitely,” she says with a quick nod. “But if it’s really important then there would probably be a prompt after a certain number of attempts that would verify that it’s me doing the guessing. Then I’d get another number of tries before another prompt would appear.”

“Okay, so we’ve basically got an unlimited number of guesses - that’s good.” I say the user name a few times in my head and a smile suddenly comes to my lips. Why not?

I lean down and type in TheseBootsAreMadeForWalkin’ and tap the Enter key.

“And… there you go,” I announce as I move to sit on the bed. I look back at Emma’s confused face and add, “You’re in.”

“I’m in what? Oh… no way! What did you do?”

“Trade secret. You’ll have to torture it out of me.”

“There’ll be time for that later,” she tells me with a wicked smile that sets my blood pumping. But she tucks the smile away as she turns her eyes to the computer and opens the email, so I force my mind to other thoughts. I grab the TV remote and turn on the news, keeping the volume muted. I feel so out of touch with the world. “Okay, let’s see what we’ve got here.”

“Is it dated?” I ask as I search for the local news station. This bloody thing must have five hundred channels.

“Yeah, it was sent… oh God, he must have sent it right before the aquarium was destroyed.” We exchange silent glances before she continues. “Okay. It says that he’s been having a strange feeling that something bad was going to happen and he’s been unable to shake it. So he kept this email open with all the info he’s been able to get from Wilkerson’s cd and he’s planning on sending it whenever the bad thing came knocking. Most recent info is at the bottom, he’s adding it as it comes… oh.”

“What is it?” I look over to find that the fingers of her right hand are covering her mouth and tears are welling in her eyes.

Someone’s here. I don’t think this is going to end well. Sending.

I stare at her for a few seconds, wondering if words exist to ease her pain. If they do, I don’t know them. I look away, unable to witness her naked suffering, and when my eyes fall on the TV a shocked blast of air escapes my nostrils.


“The local news,” I say numbly, “they’re covering Wilkerson’s memorial service.”

The End

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