I moved quickly out of the Tube to avoid the explosions and get out of Quinn’s way. My heart was pounding through my chest, neck and arms. Quinn did not materialize. I pressed my hand to my breastbone and backed into the corner next to the Tube. Sinking to my knees and hugging them tight to my chest, I tapped at my Wristmate, sending a Nudge to Quinn. My finger hovered, ready to send another Nudge. Instead, I counted to 30, and then again to 30, but slower. Just as I sent another Nudge, Quinn Nudged me back with a quick audmes saying that he was home with Minnie and they were sealing up their apartment. There was a green ashy dust swirling everywhere. I exhaled and inhaled rapidly. My head floated off my shoulders and around the room. They were okay. I looked around Bo’s apartment but the air was pristine. There were no foreign contaminants here. I sent Quinn an audmes that they could seek shelter here if they needed. He Nudged back twice followed by a twiddle-tweet.
I curled myself tighter into a ball, pressing back into the corner and ran my fingers through my hair until it stood on end. My breathing slowly settled out, but the effort left my muscles tight and primed to move. Then I noticed that the apartment was full of noise. My heart started pounding rapidly again. Were Bo and Jameson really arguing? What would pull Bo away from his Spiral? More importantly, what would cause Jameson to raise his voice to anyone, let alone his Master Bo?
I rose on shaky legs. A hand trailing the wall, I stumbled over the steps into the apartment. Bo was in his chair but gesturing wildly. He was perched on the edge of the plush cushion, his foot bouncing up and down. Jameson was flashing in front of Bo, his hands held palms out to ward off Bo’s anger. Their words bled into each other and I couldn’t tell what they were arguing about.
I drifted towards my balcony, my hand on the door lock before Jameson stopped it from opening, one hand covering mine. He was speaking, as was Bo, but their words were indistinct, dull and muffled, like they were whispering in the other room. Then their voices were louder than whispers, much louder. Finally, I heard Bo’s screaming.
“What are you doing you crazy homlip woman! How dare you let it in to kill me! Don’t just stand there you bassin! Step away from the door! Don’t be a hazard!” His tirade continued as I looked from him to Jameson. My head moved heavily from one to the other until my eyes focused on Jameson’s craggy orb face three inches from mine.
“Miss Ridley! Miss Ridley! I say! Do you hear me? Please Miss Ridley, move away from any openings. Bo has approved my use of force. Please, Miss Ridley, go sit there. There you go.” Somehow I was in front of the other chair in the living room. I crawled into it, pulling my feet under me. I almost tumbled over the side as I nestled my bare feet into the warm cushion. I wrapped the blanket up over my back and shoulders. Once I stopped moving, the chair stopped feeding blanket out.
Bo and Jameson were arguing again. I picked up the spare Spiral and stared at its brightness in my hands. It was small, just wide enough to cover the eyes before swooping down to devour the ears as well. Shiny and chrome, it had a heft to it which lightened the closer it came to my head. I let it block out Bo and Jameson’s droning.
A bell chimed as the Spiral moved tighter against my skin. I shook my head, knowing there was no way to knock it loose but trying just the same. The interface blossomed in front of my eyes, endless streams of images and text and videos scrolled in a blur, almost too fast to see. If I focused on one video, it slowed and drifted to the front to engulf my vision. A quick glance left and right then up to the left again unselected the clip and it jumped back into the stream. I looked up to the right then down to see what the most recent news streams were showing. It was split between what was going on outside and the most recent events of the Por-Mar wedding extravaganza. I hovered over a clip that showed the two images simultaneously, honoring the Elin Mar’s decision to hold the weddings on such an historical day. I deselected it.
One of the screens showed some footage from just outside the apartment. Bombs were still going off. I turned my head to look outside the apartment window but instead looked to another part within the same newscast. A gorgeous newscaster was reporting the terror and atrocities going on. She barely moved, like a doll. I watched her lips, trying to match up her voice with the movement. It felt off, like the first time at school when I dozed off and my mind incorporated what I was learning into my dreams.
An explosion bloomed directly behind her, exploding blue and white through the grey-green of the clouded sky. It looked like an ancient picture of the sky come to life.
A chime sounded through the Spiral. I continued to scroll through the different news clips. The chime rang again, louder. I unfocused my eyes and allowed the stream to rise-up and flow around me. The chimes came more frequently, louder and more insistent each time. Then, the Spiral released its suction grip on my skull and lifted off of my head. My eyes widened, trying to scroll through the images to see what was happening, to figure out what was going on. Bo’s face drifted fuzzily in front of me. I blinked and blinked again. He laughed, that normally obnoxious sound. But it was different this time, slightly more gentle. He brushed my bangs out of my eyes, his fingers lingering at the corners of my vision.
“It’s hard, that first time the new Spiral model releases you. You’ll adjust.” He stood abruptly, laying the Spiral gently on its soft stand.
“Miss Ridley, are you okay? What did you see out there?”
“You can’t ask her that, Jameson. What in homp are you thinking? Who the homp programmed you?” Soon he and Jameson were arguing again. With the Spiral out of reach, I curled tighter and listened to the hum of their argument. I closed my eyes. The chair swayed gently as my heart-rate lowered. I dreamed of a yellow blinding ball.