Chapter 4:

Thrown Into The Mix

Motor (Part 1)

“Good morning, Michael.”
I yawned from where I sat at my desk, then turned to my classmate who’d addressed me.
“Hey Courtney. How are you?”
Courtney was a good friend of mine. I knew her since my first semester. She was a quieter girl who was going to school to be a teacher. She hardly spoke when I first met her, but once she opened up, she became one of my best friends. We shared the arts class together for the whole time I was at Jefferson University, both of us taking different directions with our hobby. I’ve always liked art so I drew on the side. I had a picture of Suzuki I was working on in one of my folders.
“I’m good, thanks. How was work the other day? You worked yesterday, right?”
“Yeah, I did,” I said, turning towards her. Courtney had her hair done up in two pig tails, her hair being a shorter brown. Her big glasses made her light blue eyes, which were very beautiful, larger.
“You’ll never guess what showed up at my doorstep.”
“What?” Courtney asked, smiling with intrigue.
“A state of the art motorcycle.”
“What?” Courtney asked, “It was just there on your doorstep?”
I nodded. “The bike was in my spot on the bike rack and it had a note attached to it, saying it was for me.”
“Oh? Really?” Courtney said.
“Yeah, it’s really nice.”
“Well, where is it? Is it outside?” Courtney asked.
“It’s in storage now for repairs, there was some bug in it because it’s new, but I’ll be riding it later.”

School was pretty uneventful. I went to my classes, talked to students during breaks, ate lunch with Courtney and a couple of my guy friends; nothing too major. As I ate my lunch, I noticed my mind was focused on Suzuki, and anyone that might try to destroy her. I felt nervous, even though I knew I was safe and distant from the conflict. I made sure to check over my shoulder and around corners frequently as I walked to school, and Suzuki’s prediction was right. No one had followed me. No one was trying to hurt me. But, for some reason, I felt on edge, like I was still a marked man. Courtney noticed shortly after lunch and looked over at me.
“Hey Michael, you alright?” She asked with a smile.
I looked over at her, to that smiling face.
“Um, I’m ok.” I answered, looking down at my food.
Courtney looked quizzical, “You sure? You look like your troubled by something.”
I looked over at Courtney again. I felt like I had to get this whole thing off my chest. I needed to talk to someone; I wasn’t even sure why. Then, in a moment, I felt the tension leave. I put on a smile and answered nonchalantly.
“It’s nothing. I’m doing great.”
Courtney’s face returned to normal and she smiled.
As she went back to eating, waving to people who passed by, I went back to my nervousness from earlier. My mind did contemplate the possibility that the people who wanted me dead might target others close to me. I admit I did like Courtney. I would hate it if anyone came for her. The thoughts of being marked, and those close to me being targets, stayed in my mind for the rest of the day. Courtney and I walked the same way home from school, so I waited up for her as our last class adjourned. I wracked my brain about what I should do, and I guess that wracking was evident on my face as we walked, because Courtney looked over and noticed me.
“What are you worried about, Michael?”
I put on a smile and looked over at her. “Nothing, I told you that earlier.”
“I know that’s not true,” Courtney turned to me, looking worried. “I can tell there’s something going on. Can you tell me what it is?”
I turned to her, a little caught off guard at how perceptive she was. I knew any lie I tried to make now, with every second that ticked away, would only make it that less believable. I sighed and decided to fess up.
“Courtney, there’s something going on right now, it could be bad.”
“Like what?” Courtney asked, looking surprised. “What’s happened? Just tell me what’s wrong,” Courtney said, taking a step towards me. “I’ll do what I can to help.”
“I got mixed up in something that I have to fix. And, um,” I said, wondering how honest to be, then threw caution to the wind, “I don’t want anyone, or you, to get hurt, in case…”
“Michael, what are you talking about?”
I looked away.
“Somehow,” I said, “the bike I have isn’t exactly a bike. Somehow I had a piece of artificial intelligence land in my lap and there’s some powerful people trying to destroy it, and anyone that gets in their way.”
I could tell from Courtney’s eyes that she was amazed by what she heard. But her voice wanted to know more, almost like she believed me.
“Will that bike hurt someone? Is it that kind of project?”
“No, that’s what I thought it was,” I said, letting my face turn grave as I continued, “but the AI is like a person, she can just change into the bike. Her name is Suzuki. Someone wants her dead, and because I’m telling you about this, I’m probably going to be a target. I was supposed to keep this quiet so I could stay safe but I’m sharing it anyway.”
“Michael, what’s that mean?” Courtney asked. She didn’t seem to be dismissing the whole thing as false, which I thought she would, but rather, she looked afraid. Why was she afraid? Why not just write me off as crazy and laugh or something? If she actually believed me, that was the last thing I’d expect.
“I don’t know, that’s why I was saying,” I looked at her and put my hands on her shoulders, “however long this thing goes on, government agencies and this bike being sought after, I don’t think we should talk anymore. If they look for you because I know you…” This all felt absurd for me to say, I was beginning to think I was crazy.
“You need to get out of here, Courtney. Now.”
“Michael, let me help.”