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Once I got up the energy to stand, I did, and used the Accessory to get me back here.
“Wait, so Wise is dead?” KJ said.
“I didn’t say that! I said I saw him get shot by these two thugs!”
“So now what do we do now?” Kate said. “We needed his help.”
“We do it on our own,” Jill said.
“No. We should go back for him,” I said. KJ smiled at me. “You felt something for him didn’t you?”
“I did, but not like that. I just don’t like leaving him for dead.”
“I think it’s a risk that is not really worth taking, but, if you want to, I get it,” Jill said, adding, but it sounded like you couldn’t breathe on that asteroid. Were those thugs wearing any space suit or environmental suits or what did they look like? Did they have any—”
“Yeah—I already told you what I remember. Let me just like take a nap or something. I nearly died.”
“Sorry, man,” KJ said. “We’re just anxious.”
“I know. It’s OK. I want to go back for him immediately.”
“The hardest thing to get used to about this space, this region of existence, is that there really is no point in worrying about time beyond the passing of your own personal time.”
“What do you call this… nowhere zone, Jill?!?” KJ asked.
“That’s as good as any name I’ve tossed around. Jim doesn’t have a name for it, do you Jim?”
“No. Dr. Ellsworth never had a name for it as far as I know. If she did, my father didn’t tell me what it was.”
“Ellsworth was the founder of this library?” KJ asked.
“As legend has it,” Jim said.
“Jake you’re going to need a rest before we do more. That’s why I was talking about letting go of time as a concern. You don’t need to worry. It’s true, Wise is wounded and probably dead on that asteroid, but he’ll stay in that state until we go back and see for ourselves. You used the Accessory to get back, right?” I nodded. “Good. So your previous destination on that asteroid had a Fire Escape there and as a result, it will be in your Accessory history. Easy peasy to get back to Wise at the very moment you left.”
“Oh, ok, great. You sure this isn’t a distraction from the important stuff?”
“Like I said, with this as a base of operations, time isn’t as big as a factor so long as we don’t die of old age before we stop the double-Oes from what ever they are up to.”
“Let’s show you to your rooms,” Jill said.
“Rooms?” Kate said. “This place is a hotel, now?”
“More like a bed and breakfast,” Jim said. “Come on, I’ll show you guys. Do you have any bags?”
Jim looked at us as though he wasn’t already aware that all we had was on our persons.
“Wait, do we get our own bathrooms?” Kate said, sounding excited.
“Well, no—but the accommodations are pretty reasonable, I think,” Jill said.
We followed Jim through a portion of the library that was just tables and shelves of books. Maybe thirty feet away from the lab portion of the library and 50 or so feet away from the dinner table, where Jim’s three holo-ladyfriends still sat paused seemingly in perpetuity. From this location and angle we could see a rather grand staircase sort of tucked in a corner of the library that was completely hidden from where we had been spending time. It was a glorious old thing that looked like it came out of an old horror movie with a haunted mansion or maybe the big atrium from the Titanic.
“Yo, this is like, both beautiful and creepy,” Kate said, smiling softly and looking around as we climbed the steps. When we reached the top, we could see a big hallway that also seemed like it came out of one of those old horror movies.
“Hey, uh, Jim, did this Ellsworth lady like old horror films?” KJ said.
“I don’t have much knowledge of her, I’m afraid. So, I can’t answer that question.”
“Dr. Jennifer Ellsworth died a long time ago—before horror movies,” Jill said, following us up the steps.
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“I’ve just picked up bits of info about her over the years.”
“How did she die?” Jim asked. “I’d love to know for my own knowledge base.”
“No one knows,” Jill said.
“When did she die?” Kate asked.
“No one knows,” Jill repeated.
“So, how you know she’s dead?”
“Simple, Kate. She was born in the early 1900s.”
“So? She could be alive still.”
“Kate, she’d be 118 years old,” I said.
“Word? My bad. I’m usually good at math.”
Jim stopped walking about halfway down that long hall and pointed like a flight attendant pointing at emergency exits at two doors opposite each other. “These are the first two rooms.”
He then pointed to the next two rooms, pointing more at the one on the left and added, “this is Dr. Rivera’s, the room across and the first two, you can each choose which ever you like. If they are not to your liking, just let me know. We have four more rooms to choose from further down the hallway.”
“Dang, man,” Kate began, “Even in this Nowhere Zone, they still got a brother being a butler.”
“Would you prefer I take a Caucasian appearance?” just then Jim’s skin turned from a very dark brown to a pinkish, beige shade.
“Oh, really? Wow, no, you’re fine, Jim!”
“Can you do Asian?” KJ asked.
“NO,” Kate said. “Jim, just stay black.”
“What? Is having an Asian butler racist?”
“You know, I think I need a nap too,” Kate said.
“I need one as well,” Jill said. “But like he said, if you guys need anything you can ask Jim. He can’t get it for you, but he can tell you where to find it.”
“What you mean you haven’t figured out solid holograms yet?” KJ said, sounding surprised.
“No, I haven’t figured out solid holograms yet,” Jill said flatly.
“We should talk, I have some interesting theories on how that would work.”
“Good night!” I said, picking the door opposite my sister’s and moving through it. Inside it looked even more like a gothic horror film than it had before. Lots of dark brown wood on the walls and hardwood floors. The bed was a four-poster and even had a canopy. This place was nuts!!
I got undressed and climbed into bed. Sleep came quickly and I slept for a long time. When I woke up, I couldn’t immediately tell because my smart watch battery had died. I looked over at the nightstand next to the bed and saw an LED alarm clock that showed the time as 4:20 PM, but what that meant in terms of the time of day on Earth, I had no idea.