“Are you hungry,” Amy asked.
“I can eat,” I said.
“OK, then let’s get something,” she said. Still playing Sherpa, she towed my suitcase and laptop bag behind her, as I followed. By my watch, it was well after 2PM. ‘I can eat’ was an understatement.
The dining facility was a large cafeteria with several lines. It looked like something out of an upscale hospital. Amy said: “The base runs 24/7, so at any time, there are people getting up, who are in the middle of their day, or finishing work. Do you want breakfast, lunch or supper.”
Amy led the way to a serving line. I made up a small salad. In the entree section, there was some meat dish whose name began with a ‘K’ and was mostly made up of consonants. “What’s that, I asked.
The woman on the other side of the line answered: “I’d tell you, but I can’t pronounce it without spitting.”
“What’s it taste like?”
“Sort of like a cross between chicken and pork, but a little spicier.”
“I’ll take that. What’s good with it,” I asked.
“Green beans and mashed potatoes. “
”That too, please.” The worker served it up and I moved on. Because I might want to try sleeping soon, I skipped coffee for water. At the end of the line, I gave the cashier my script card, she rang it through. I didn’t offer to buy Amy’s meal for her.
We found a table, sat down and ate. The K-whatever-it-was turned out to be very good. We didn’t talk. We had nothing to talk about. I knew she wasn’t going to tell me anything about where I was or where I was going. I wasn’t going to tell her about anything I had done. There was no point in trying to catch up on old times, because I didn’t believe who she said she was and she was smart enough not to push it. And maybe, given that I had come frightening close to initiating a gunfight inside of a not-very-large room, she may have been a little scared of me. Which I realized didn’t bother me a bit.
When we finished, Amy said: “Leave your stuff on the table. Do you want to get a little rest?”
“I could do with a little down time and freshening up,” I admitted.
“All right,” she said. She led the way down a hallway to an elevator. “Hold your card up to the sensor--” indicating a little protrusion–“and then press the down button. I did so. The elevator came, we got on. There was a panel of floor buttons, three of which were circled with green LED. “The green lights indicate what destinations you’re cleared to go do. The guest rooms are here,” she said, pushing a button that said ‘1DF4’. The car moved a bit, then the door opened onto another corridor. It looked like a floor in a medium-grade hotel.
‘Which room,” I asked.
“Any one with a green light outside of it is unoccupied, so take your pick.”
I chose one a random. I looked inside, it seemed clean. A windowless Marriott. “Now, what,” I asked.
“Hold your card up to the panel next to the door.”
I did that. A yellow light blinked, then turned green.
“If you were to look outside of the room, there would be a yellow light indicating it’s occupied. The door will open from the outside for your card.” Amy went to the credenza, there were three sheets of paper on it. “These are maps of the floors you can access. There’s a little bar, a library, a gym and the dining facility. There’s no computer access, I’m afraid, but the TV gets about every channel there is. Questions?”
“Fine. I’ll be here for you at 0300, if you want to eat before we leave.”
“My time,” I asked.
“OK,” I said.
Amy nodded and left.
I turned on my phone. No signal. No wireless networks. I took out the charging cable and plugged it in. Then I took out a couple of gizmos and went to the door. One essentially overrides the latch, so the lock can’t be bypassed. The other was a little edge that went between the door and the sill. It wouldn’t keep the door shut, but if it was disturbed, the alarm would wake up Karen Quinlan.
I got undressed and took a shower. I washed my underthings and the wicking t-shirt that went under the armor. Then I picked up my phone and read a book for awhile. Books of paper are much better to read, but they’re harder to travel with. Then I sat on the bed, set the alarm on the phone, put my gun by it and switched off the light. I meditated for five or so minutes.
Then I went to sleep.