Internet Friends: Chapter Two
The orthogonal room Kathy occupied for hours began to induce a degree of Cabin Fever. She used the excuse of possessing a sore body to justify the lacking desire to part from the enticing comfort of the bed. The adventure her and AJ endured was enough to make anyone not want to move either, but the mysterious origin of the discovery they made had a magnetic attachment. They both wanted to go back, regardless of how dangerous the situation could be and as much as AJ advised against visiting again, Kathy felt a strange need.
A knock on her bedroom door initiated a groan as she forced herself to her feet. AJ stood before her holding flowers and a box of her favorite candy.
“Good morning honey.”
AJ and Kathy locked lips and held each other for a few seconds. It lasted longer than usual and as much as she was enthralled by the surprise, she was also concerned.
“Sunflowers…on a Tuesday morning? What’s going on?”
AJ chuckled. “What makes you think that theres something wrong?”
Kathy gave him a look that explained everything. AJ sighed and sat beside her on the bed.
“Im leaving. I don’t know for how long, but it may be for a week. The team decided that going to Washington DC is for the best.” AJ said solemnly.
Kathy looked down in a depressing manner beginning to imagine some unfortunate event that she could create to keep him here. AJ lifted her head by the chin and kissed her. “I love you babe, but this is what the Debate Team has always wanted to do. It’s not like im not coming back.”
“I know.” Kathy chuckled. “I know. I hope you have a great time.”
“I hope so too.”
AJ left the room with Kathy in his arms and the two made their way to the high school.
Aurobindo High was one of the more hostile educational establishments in the state-wide area, it crawled with cyber-bullies and all forms of technological terrorists who loved to “troll”. The school’s system and how it functioned revolved around modern devices and the accessibility of the internet, one of the first to become a fully paperless environment and replaced everything with computer interfaces. It was Kathy’s sanctuary amid all of the conflict.
AJ hauled the two suitcases onto the bus, completely unaware that the entire space allocated for luggage was to it’s capacity. AJ cursed silently and handed them back to Kathy for her to set them aside.
“Wow. I can’t believe it, no room at all. I figured maybe they would get a bus big enough for 13 people.” AJ said bothered by the fact the back of the small yellow vehicle was full to the ceiling with luggage of assorted colors.
“You could set them in the walkway.” Kathy said, trying her best to offer her services of wisdom, but AJ refused every one and continued to fret over the lack of preparation. “It’s going to be fine. Someone will come and make room.”
AJ sighed in agitation. “The bus can explode for all I care. Then they’ll be room.”
Suddenly a bright flash blinded the couple, shrapnel from the bus flew out of the fireball that engulfed the transport vehicle hitting AJ in the arm. He fell to the ground, clutching the fresh slash in his limb. The searing heat from the explosion injected more pain as he groaned in agony.
“What the hell!?” Kathy exclaimed in shock. “What did you do?”
“Me? Why would I do that? …It…was only a wish.”
Kathy shook her head in bewilderment while AJ googled at the flaming remains of the bus.
“Do I have superpowers?”
The ride to the hospital lasted longer than usual, enough time for AJ and Kathy to analyze every little detail of the incident. It didn’t make sense to any of them to how a simple joke instantly manifested into reality.
“Do you think it was some kind of murder plot?” AJ concluded.
“Who would want to murder you though?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who would hate me passionately enough to kill me.”
Kathy ran through the numbers in her head. She knew AJ wasn’t the most liked person at the school and she only knew of one person who would attempt to challenge his mortality. “Dean. What about him?”
AJ pondered the name, but no viable reason surfaced to what could be behind Dean’s motivation in wanting to end his life. “I couldnt tell you. It may be, but we need to find more clues.”
“Like this?” Kathy said as she handed her phone to AJ. A text message stretched across the screen reading,
Enjoy the show kids?
We don’t like killing off younglings such as yourselves, but the secret of the Citadel will not be placed in the hands of those who’s comprehention of power exceeds what can be understood. Or controlled.
Do not begin to question the seriousness of my intentions, you two hold a secret greater than you realize.
We plan to take it back.
A cold chill ran down AJ’s back. “They tried to kill me.”
“It has to do with that room we found. The Citadel was mentioned in that one note too.”
“Yeah, so? I still want to know what this secret is that is so dang important. We didn’t even steal anything, all we did was read the note.”
“And found out that who ever was in there before us spied on hundreds of people…and what happened to him.”
AJ shot a look of shock at Kathy. “How much information did you uncover?”
“Just that. The history of the guy who was there before and nothing else. Apparently he was part of the Interweb Reformery and was trying to reverse some effect that changed the world. He researched everything he could about the internet and discovered what he called a “Matrix Backdrop” which supposedly has to be part of the secret he was…deleted for.” Kathy said to her best knowledge.
Kathy nodded with a gulp.
AJ stared off into the black asphalt of the road they traveled on, baffled at the ludicrous news that entered his ears. The “D” word rang in his head like a painful memory. AJ only heard of the word being used in that same manner once before, mostly in urban legends of people that dissapear without any trace left behind, and no suspect to blame for it. His gut wrenched in worry that he was now completely exposed to death’s touch, not only him but Kathy as well; the love of his life now in the same danger as he. The risk of him losing her was not an option and he vowed at that moment that he would fight against that fate that was inching nearer in his mind. He wondered if Kathy felt the same, realizing that he now had not only her life in his hands, but the entire world as well.
The night passed by with several mixed feelings stirring inside of the two. There was no telling what each one felt at any given moment due to the extreme nature of their situation. AJ waited for his insides to turn upside down to expel his lunch for relief, including the desperate need for asprin for the patchwork from his wound, and Kathy wished that she would’ve been born with the personality of dumb blonde. The two sat on the porch of Kathy’s apartment, looking up at the stars in a conscience despair for answers.
“I feel as if this is my fault.”
“Nonsense.” AJ said defensively. “It’s us. We did this.”
Kathy buried her face in her hands and began to cry. AJ moved her arm toward him and placed his hand in hers, clasping them together. “We will get through this. It’s going to be hard, but nothing impossible.”
Kathy smiled through the tears and huged AJ tightly. “Tomorrow, we finish this war.”