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Book 2 – Chapter 1 – Déjà Vu- Part 2

Emma  had fixed my tail, and didn’t tell me. She had spare parts for it. I must have felt them in her Frankenbackpack the night I got my tail. She was holding the bulkhead before it snapped shut on my tail, and right after she fixed it, she announced she was moving to Los Angeles.

It’s difficult to piece together how a friend has screwed you over, even when the edges that together perfectly. When a friend has done violence against you, and held your hand afterwards, you remember the touch more, because you hung onto it.

I had to hear the truth from Emma, and I had just the Sword of Damocles to screw over her list of job references forever. One word to Professor Lanyi and her career would be over.

And she had my tail working again. My lovely lovely tail. I was sure we could work some kind of arrangement.

Her phone still wouldn’t take my calls, and I doubted that would ever change. I could have waited for her to come home, but I wasn’t patient like that. If the functioning tale was payment for a job in L.A., the only people who would want to tail would most likely be at Furrificon.

And she had left me hanging out to dry for Professor Lanyi.

The bus stop was empty and I had a few minutes before it arrived. I called Simon.

“Yello,” he said, “How is the movie?”

“I’ve changed my mind,” I said, “I want to go to the con. Do you have any room left in your car?”

“Sure,” he said, “I had someone back out. It’s just you and Trisha, I guess. I thought you had to work though.”

I banged my head against an imaginary wall. “I do,” I said “I’ll take care of it tomorrow. What are you leaving?”

“Thursday morning,” he said, “Early enough to beat the traffic.”

“Fabulous,” I said, “Call me and I’ll be out front.”

“Dare I ask what changed your mind?” he said.

“I’ll tell you on the way,” I said.

We finalized our plans, and I put on a game of Tetris. I tried to imagine why Emma would screw over a friend for a chance to move to L.A., but any way I looked at it, I couldn’t.

As for the problem of Manager Badger, I spent a little time on the Internet when I came home and found an answer – if only he would let me use it. I started throwing clothes in my travel case since I planned to have a very long night on Wednesday.

I set my alarm for the insane hour of 4:30 a.m., and took forever to get to sleep, worrying that I wouldn’t get enough. The alarm yanked me into the stillness of the morning, and even my shower couldn’t convince me that I wasn’t dreaming.

I broke my own taboo and bought the biggest cup of caffeine-infested espresso on the train to work. The other dazed train riders sized me up, as if saying, “Welcome to the fold, kid.”

The office was empty when I came in, but we had DSL so I began to download programs on every computer.

Manager Badger was a creature of habit. He was always on time. It was the traffic which made him late. I had been in the office for three and a half hours before he arrived, sucking down liquid from her coffee machine.

I waited until he was settled in his office before I knocked.

“Yes, Montague, what is it?” he said. He was plugging the cables sprawled around his desk and his laptop.

“I need to take some personal time,” I said, “Something’s come up. I need tomorrow and Friday off.”

“This like you doctor’s visit?” he said, “You know I need you here. I need those program reports filled out.”

“I know,” I said, “I’m willing to work her all night for you, to get them done. I’ll have them on your desk tomorrow.”

He folded his hands in front of him. “You know the mail won’t even have the new programs until tomorrow afternoon.”

“Yes,” I said, “I came in early today and I’ve downloaded most of them.”

Manager Badger cocked his head and I watched the ramifications of my words bounce in his brain. “You downloaded them how?” he said.

“I can show you on my computer,” I said, “They are the exact same programs we’ll get tomorrow.”

He followed me out to my cubicle and I started a new version of the database management program we supported. His eyes were disbelieving and he scratched his chin. “Where on earth did you get this?” he said.

“We’ve legally bought these programs,” I said, “We just don’t have the physical copies yet. So I got them from a bunch of pirate web sites.”

“You what?” He said.

“I scanned them already. There’s no viruses or spyware,” I said, “I’ve checked the firewall and we haven’t had any break-ins. And if you let me do this tonight, then Benny has time to check over my work and you can get the report to our CEO a day early.”

He pushed himself off my chair. “All right,” he said, “You’re something else, Montague.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said.

“That better be a damned good report my desk tomorrow,” he said.

“Or I’m fired,” I said, “I know the drill.”

Manager Badger chuckled. “Good,” he said, “Don’t think you’ll do this again though.”

I spent all day and all night in our test bed, breaking programs and ordering takeout. I left around midnight but I have been so busy, the day had not seemed longer than any other.

I crashed on the train ride home. A mountain of drowsiness collapsed in on me and I almost didn’t recognize my stop. I had to race to the door and slam my arm out as it closed, or I would have been dragged to the last stop at Alewife.

I finished packing and set the alarm for six. I collapsed to my bed and went right to sleep.

I had spent the day waking early, high on coffee, keeping nonstop busy until one a.m. and sustaining myself on the worst hoagies and Chinese food the city had to offer. This was good. This was exactly how life went on at a convention.

Categories: Book 2 - How Cheryl Lost Her Tail, Chapter 1 - Déjà Vu.

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