Motor (Part 1)
I found my clothing selection fairly quickly. I was happy to see my wound didn’t show through my school shirt, people would have stared for sure. The wound was doing well, but I found a store that sold bandages, playing off the gash like it was a nasty fall. The poor man behind the counter believed me, so with that misadventure behind wrappings, I went to find Courtney. I walked through one of the stores that had both men’s and women’s fashion inside, and noticed Courtney was just about to enter a changing room.
“Hey, Courtney,” I said quickly, and Courtney turned to me. She had a plain grey t-shirt and dark jeans on, and had died her hair black and wore it down instead of in pigtails. It looked different, and not in a bad way. She smiled, and I approached her so I didn’t have to speak so loudly.
“Almost ready to go?”
“Yes,” Courtney said, “you going to do your hair too? I could help you.”
“Um, sure, sounds good.”
Courtney was nice enough to not only dye my hair black, but also cut it for me. I wouldn’t have minded cutting it myself or buying a razor, but she brought up the very plausible idea that a quick buzzing might look too obvious. Once we were finished, I took a look at myself in the mirror. I liked the short jet black cut that greeted me. Courtney looked in the mirror too, smiling with a look of approval.
“I think it looks good on you.”
We ditched our school clothes in the nearest dumpster, making sure it was beneath other items (I was the one to do that). Arriving back at the alleyway from earlier, I was happy to see Suzuki was still there.
“We’re back.” I said.
Good. Suzuki replied. Let’s see how your homes are fairing.
We swung by our houses, just to be sure things were safe. No one was near or inside Courtney’s house, but I could tell a couple of goons were near my apartment.
“What do you think Suzuki?” I asked from where we were parked, “If you have a plan, it’d be easier for us to know what to do about our houses.”
Why not stay at Courtney’s? She’s not in danger.
As much as that would make sense to a computer, neither Courtney nor myself were comfortable with that.
“We could see my brother,” Courtney offered, “he’s nearby.”
We pulled up to Courtney’s brother’s house, and a minute or so later he came out and greeted us. The guy was old enough to have graduated, though I wasn’t sure if he had. He had an open button-up with no undershirt hanging over board shorts and flip flops. Call it a hunch about his level of education.
“Hi Tim,” Courtney said, giving her brother a hug.
“Hey, who’s the guy?”
At Tim’s suspicious question, that any normal brother would wonder, Courtney shot her brother a glance; not with much fire behind it, but the feeling was there nonetheless.
“This is my friend Michael. He needs a place to stay for the night.”
“My place is going through remodeling.”
“Oh, cool.” Tim said, probably believing me. “Come on in.”
Tim had put us in the living room of his house. He roomed it out to two other guys, but, fortunately, one of those guys wouldn’t be home till the next day so Courtney could use his bed. I was fine with the couch. The excuse was we’d study together, since we were taking the same art class. But really we had to wake up early for tomorrow.
“So how long have you guys known each other?” Tim asked.
“Since freshman year.” I answered. There was a pause before I got to the terms for our stay. “You know,” I said, looking over at Courtney, “we need to get up early tomorrow and it’d be best if we got some sleep now.”
“Sure!” Tim said, throwing a hand up dismissively. “This house is yours, my friend.”
I nodded, grateful, but hoped we really could leave tomorrow. As much as I trusted Tim, it’d be better if we didn’t have too great a tie with him; I’d hate to draw anyone else into this whole thing.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I was about to attempt infiltrating one of the largest companies in the entire world. I wasn’t a spy, I didn’t have any training. I was just a civilian college student with a major in art. I got up and decided to try and eat something. I wouldn’t feel like eating much tomorrow, and I thought I read somewhere eating food helped you sleep. Maybe I was disoriented and got that backwards. Either way, it was something to pass the time. I was surprised to see someone was already in the refrigerator once I got to the kitchen. The person turned, and I could make out Courtney’s face.
I smiled. “Couldn’t sleep either?”
Courtney shook her head. “No.”
A few minutes later, seated at the kitchen table, we finished our food and got to talking about tomorrow.
“So how are you feeling with this whole mission plan?”
Courtney didn’t answer immediately, and when she did I could tell she was scared.
“I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“Me neither. I feel entirely unprepared. I mean, we’re not soldiers.”
“Though,” Courtney interjected, “Suzuki seems to think we are.”
I paused at that. She had a point. If Suzuki thought we were incompetent, she’d have found someone else. Plus, I was pretty sure she was a weapon, so if all else failed, we could fall back on her.
“I’m a little scared, though.” Courtney added.
There was a silence between us. What more could we say about this? I reached across the table and put my hand on hers, giving it a comforting squeeze.
“Yeah, me too.”