Just a quick reminder: pretty much everything you’re going to read on this blog or its PDFs is an absolute first draft. In most cases, you’re reading these pages before even I do as I write them and post them without even checking for typos. The whole point is to write every day and worry about editing later. If you want to read something from me that has been proofread and edited (WOW!), please check out manfromzero.com and buy my most recent novel. It’s good and takes place in the same story universe as Fire Escape–just way in the futrure. In the meantime, if you want to make it easier for me to write, why not support me on Patreon? Just go here: patreon.com/petenicholls. Don’t want to commit to Patreon? Then buy me a cup of coffee! Or hay, just let me know that you like my stuff. That means so much, too. Find me on Twitter, IG, or FB.
Get the most recent draft here:
Read the latest words below this line:
“He could very well have been spying, I suppose. I just.. I’m sorry, you’re right. I just knew him for so long that when he came out to me, I just assumed he was telling me everything. And now he’s dead.”
I was worried she was about to start crying but she didn’t. The lack of tears and sobs didn’t stop her from seeming so sad. Her mouth was draw downward, her brow sunk over her eyes.
“Now what,” she said suddenly. “He was quietly helping us better understand the Conva people.
He was helping us see the good in them. He couldn’t have been spying. Couldn’t have been.”
It was hard for me to not correct her on the spot. Tedesko had lied to me on the Conva ship, told me that my friends’ lives were in danger when I knew they weren’t. I remembered when I finally got back to them, I told them about it—told them he had lied and tried to manipulating me. Then, I heard KJ inhale—I looked to him as he started to speak.
“But, Tedesko lied to Jacob.”
Manchester’s brow crinkled as she realized KJ’s words and looked at him.
“How?” she said flatly.
“He told Jake that we would be killed if he—“
“Kage. That’s not important right now,” I said making a face that told him what I was thinking:
He shrugged, his face seemed to shrug as well, telling me what he was thinking: ‘What? It’s the truth.’
“It’s not important. What we need to focus on is what we can do to help.”
Manchester shot her eyes back at me with a laser-like directness. “Who’s this ‘we’ exactly, now?”
I had to think quickly. “We’re from Department… J.”
Obviously, I made that up completely. KJ groaned and shot me a dirty look. “What are you telling her that for?”
“What it’s our group!” I insisted hoping KJ would play along.
“I know that! But we’re supposed to be a secret group!”
“A secret group with a name?” Manchester said under her breath, adding: “You guys have an official website, too?”
Kate jumped in to get us back on track. “The point here is that Jacob is right–we are here to help. Please tell us how you think we can.”
I smiled confidently and turned back to Manchester as she spoke. “Let me consider it. How can I reach out to you?”
“You can’t. We’ll have to find you.”
“Here,” KJ suddenly said, holding out a small flip phone to her. “It’s a burner, but you can leave us a message at the one number in the contacts. You can also text that number if you aren’t in a place you can talk out loud. It’s end-to-end encrypted so you don’t have to worry about that.”
I looked at KJ and smiled. “That works, too.”
“Thank you,” Manchester said, taking the flip phone and eyeing it somewhat suspiciously. “Hi end operation you have here. Is there a battery for this?”
“Oh, sorry!” KJ said, reaching in his pocket and pulling out a cell phone battery. I looked over and saw Manchester holding up the phone so we could see the socket the battery slides into. KJ held out the battery to her.
“No, it’s fine. You are just being careful. Leaving the battery disconnected stops the phone from being traceable while it’s powered down. I get it.” Manchester took the battery from him but did not slide it into place.
“I also removed the coin battery on there so the onboard clock will be inaccurate when you turn it on.”
“No problem,” she said, placing both the battery and the flip phone into a jacket pocket. “Thank you for reaching out,” she said.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for at least trusting us this far.”
“You’re welcome,” she said, adding “Now, can I get a ride to my apartment? I have to check in by eleven.”