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“How do you know where Wise is going to be?” KJ asked.
“He stopped by my work for some reason. Last Monday. Or, I guess, this Monday he will have had…”
“Yeah, you got it,” Jill said confidently.
“…he will have had stopped by my work.”
“I have no idea. I shooed him away because I was at work. I think he said something about how I should call him when I was done with work, but I totally spaced and didn’t.”
“Why didn’t you call him back?” Jill asked.
“I told you, I spaced.” Jill just looked at me as though I had just admitted to committing a terrible act. I felt like I had to say something so I did. “What? I had no idea how big or important all this stuff was!”
“Yeah, no kidding,” Jill said, clearly sounding like she thought I was somehow supposed to get how big and important this all was.
“Dude! Jill! No way—this is not my fault. You tell me how the hell I’m supposed to know about any of this without you telling me anything about it?”
“To be fair, your Help Room was kind of a joke,” KJ said, smirking at Jill.
“Oh, ok, sorry, I’m trying to avert a war with an enemy literally not of this world, and you’re annoyed that I can’t finish coding a glamorized FAQ.”
“Yo, wait–but do you know where the nearest Fire Escape is to where Wise is even going to be?” Kate was suddenly talking.
“So, you know where in almost exactly when he’ll be, but like, I’m pretty sure we need a Fire Escape somewhere nearby or we’re going to have to allow for us to take a Lyft or something since you work in the suburbs.”
“She’s right,” Jill said. “So, Jake? Where is this place?”
I begrudgingly told here the address of my work place. She looked it up on Google Maps and smirked. “Nice strip mall.”
I shrugged, pretty sure that if Kate or KJ had made that dig it would have rolled off my back, but Jill doing it just pissed me off. “It’s not myfault they found office space in a strip mall.
It’s actually bigger than it looks.”
I felt like an ass defending my workplace, but whatever.
“So, we need to pass these coordinates over to the Accessory and pull up the holomap,” Kate said. Jill cracked a half-smile and looked at Kate. “You figured out how to pull up a map on the Accessory?”
“Yeah, well, Jake did.” Jill teased out the other half of her smile and tossed a quick glance at me but immediately looked away. God forbid she should actually acknowledge she was impressed with me or something.
“The odds of there being many static Fire Escapes seem pretty low to me,” KJ said. “I mean, it’s the suburbs. Why infiltrate there?”
“You might have a point,” Jill said.
“I do?” KJ said smiling with a bit of pride.
“Hang on—Julio met up with me right around the same time with a temporary Fire Escape.”
“That won’t work unless you know the exact start and end time of the Escape and I mean exact. If you’re a millisecond too early or too late, you could lose a limb or worse when you try to pass through it,” Jill said. As my heart sank, half of it felt it was just dumb luck and the other half was feeling like Jill was just picking on me.
“Pull out the Accessory then, Jake,” Kate said. “Maybe we’ll find a couple not far away. You don’t know.”
Kate was right. I pulled out the Accessory from my drawstring bag and activated the holomap. Kate read me the coordinates from Google Maps and I realized I could just navigate there by line of sight.
As I swiped us across the Hudson river and into New Jersey, I could see quite a few Fire Escapes dotting the area. I found our way to the stripmall and before I even got us there, I could see a cluster of Fire Escapes glowing in the distance. I figured they’d break apart and spread out as I brought us closer but they did not.
“Dude, there’s like fifteen Fire Escapes all around your building, man,” KJ said, stating the obvious.
“What the Actual Hell,” I said.