NOTICE: My stories are going to go under renovation in the near future. And I’m trying to do a quality check. So if you, my readers find any posts with missing images, fragment sentences, or spelling errors, send me a link to the post and told me what was wrong, all from the contact page, ya’ll would be my heroes. Again, my stories are going to go under construction shortly. This also means this story is going to be edited. Don’t worry, nothing fundamental will be changed. So this chapter is a rough draft. But I feel like ya’ll have waited patiently enough. So here’s a cookie, a little something to tide you over. And I haven’t forgotten about the civil wary aliens story.
The Foxtrot post office was empty. But a girl in a dark purple hoodie, dark shades and popping her bubble gum leaned heavily against the facade of the building, looking off into the sunset. Jess looked me over and heaved herself up and waited for me to come to her. We began to amble towards the manhole we would be going home by as I bubbled over with excitement and spilled what I heard. She didn’t say anything. She stopped walking and looked at the coast.
“Do you ever feel like this is pointless like the government is going to catch up with us?Do you think we’re doing any good?” Not waiting for a response she said, “I don’t. I miss not having to buy clearance groceries. I miss not having to hang around in abandoned sewers.” She trailed off. I put a hand on her shoulder.
“I don’t know what brought this on, but the thing is Jess, you sound like me. Remember all the times in the past two years that you’ve brought me out of the pits of despair? How you told me I was keeping my family safe by doing this. You need to believe in the cause. Sure, I remember being normal and not on the run. I remember not dealing with shady distributors, I remember not being below ground more than above. Yes, we’re doing good, we’re alerting everyone to what the government is doing.”
“But that’s the point, Anne. Everyone already knows the government is corrupt. This country is no longer a republic. That the riots do nothing. Our newsservice does nothing. It just reminds people that their troubles are much nearer than they thought. That they are bigger than they thought. That our newsservice could create more troubles for them if they got caught. We’re harming people. Leonardo got arrested today. He didn’t even have a copy on him. Two of our other “retired” distributors got arrested today. If we’re not careful we’re going to get arrested.” She looked down at her feet she stared at the ocean and the blazing sun setting fire to the sea. She extended an envelope to me. “I already opened and threw away your layoff letter. You didn’t even get severance pay. But this letter, well, you can see where it comes from.” She shuffled her feet, “I’ll be on that bench over there.”
I looked at the letter and my heart pounded. It read: Anne Hutchens (my fake name), post office box 16 Foxtrot. There was no return address. But I knew where it was from. The envelope smelled like lavender. I opened the letter to find my mother’s handwriting adorning one page of script.
Oh, Honey, I miss you so much. Thank you for finally sending us your post office box. Your father says Hi. So does your sister. They both miss you as much as I do. Your father lost his job a while back and we’re scraping it out. But don’t worry, we’re fine. Your father is going to get a job as a foreman on a huge project over in Echo. We don’t know what it is yet, but we hope it pays well. Your sister is getting good grades, though the spelling is still a problem. We all read your newspaper and we’re all proud of you, working so hard to get the truth out to people. Keep up the hard work. I love you. Never forget that.
Two wet smudges appeared on the cream stationary as I let my tears fall. I folded up the paper and put it in the envelope so I couldn’t damage it with more tears. I stood there as the blazing sun extinguished itself into the sea, tears silently streaming down my face. I trudged over to Jess. We didn’t say anything as we made our way home. When we arrived at our little patience cave, I went to bed as Jess typed away. I lay in dim listening to her clicking away at her keys. She had seemed more quiet and solemn than usual. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat up and asked,
“What is so important that you’re writing this much?” She didn’t even pause her typing as she wrote and wrote. She answered,
“I’m writing a draft of an article of the information you found out at Super Slush. Writing calms me down.” I laid there in the dim listening, not another word passed between us. I pulled out my Mother’s letter and just looked at the envelope until I drifted off to sleep.
I woke to find Jess gone. Her hoodie, messenger bag, everything. I walked over to the fridge and pulled out our last meager bag of carrots. The emptiness of the bag and the fridge did not encourage my stomach. But then I remembered. I had gotten paid yesterday. I looked in my backpack. I found six, ninety-eight out of the fifty-six, ninety-eight I had made yesterday. Had I dropped my pay? A cold fist clutched my heart and I began to breathe quickly. Until I noticed a note on Jess’ desk. It was made out to me.
Hey, Anne. So sorry I had to take most of your paycheck without telling you. I had to go meet the printer suppliers early this morning and I thought you should sleep as long as you could before work. I promise I’ll buy groceries. Please don’t freak out. I left the money for you in case you wanted to buy a breakfast sandwich somewhere. Remember to wear lots of makeup. And don’t take any risks. -Jess
I smiled. A breakfast sandwich sounded great. I moved to put the carrots back in the fridge, but I hit a key on eh keyboard. I wasn’t very good with computers but I knew enough to know that Jess hadn’t signed out and shut down the server the night before. Her screen showed an internet browser. The tabs were our blog, an article draft I glanced my eyes over, and an email server. I didn’t know it was an email server until I clicked on it. I didn’t like to snoop around Jess’ stuff, and I was about to hit the power button to shut it off when I noticed the subject line in an email. It was one word. Anne. I clicked on the email. As I did I felt a sense of foreboding. The email was from Jess to a hiddenID@emailserver.com A common, free email server that anyone could have the message ran thus.
Sugar Henry Easy/Denver Ocean Easy Sugar/New York Ocean Thomas/Sugar Union Sugar Peter Easy Chicago Thomas/Thomas Henry Easy/Ocean Peter Easy Roger Adams Thomas Ida Ocean New York/Chicago Adams New York/George Ocean/Adams Sugar/Peter Lincoln Adams New York New York Easy Denver/John Union Sugar Thomas/Boston Easy/Chicago Adams Roger Easy Frank Union Lincoln/Sugar Henry Easy/ Henry Adams Sugar/Adams/ John Ocean Boston/Adams New York Denver
/Sugar Henry Easy/Henry Easy Adams Roger Sugar/Mary Adams New York Young/ Roger Union Mary Ocean Roger Sugar/Mary Ocean Sugar Thomas/Roger Union Mary Ocean Roger Sugar/ Adams Roger Easy/Thomas Roger Union Easy/Sugar Henry Easy /Mary Adams Young/Sugar Union Sugar Peter Easy Chicago Thomas/ Sugar Ocean Ocean New York Easy Roger/Ocean Roger/Lincoln Adams Thomas Easy Roger/Adams New York Denver/ Ida/William Ocean Union Lincoln Denver/Roger Adams Thomas Henry Easy Roger/New York Ocean Thomas/Denver Ocean/Adams New York Young Thomas Henry Ida New York George/ Denver Roger Adams Sugar Thomas Ida Chicago/Roger Easy Mary Easy Mary Boston Easy Roger/Thomas Ocean/ King Easy Easy Peter/ Union Peter/Young Ocean Union Roger/Easy New York Denver/Ocean Frank/Thomas Henry Easy/Boston Adams Roger George Adams Ida New York/John easy sugar sugar
I sat there looking at the computer with a glazed expression. I was flabbergasted. I understood nothing of the meaningless jargon she had typed. I copied down a few lines so I could pull it out and inspect it. Maybe I could crack the code during the day.
I emerged on south Elm street only a few blocks from Super Slush and only one block away from Apple Woods Fast Food. I got a Sausage egg and cheese biscuit. It was heaven in my mouth. I grinned I hadn’t felt such buttery flaky goodness in forever. But my smile faded as I placed my hand in my pocket. I felt a scrap of paper with scribbles of the email. I pulled it out and looked at it. My eye fell on the words: Roger Easy Mary Easy Mary Boston Easy Roger/Thomas Ocean/ King Easy Easy Peter/ Union Peter/Young Ocean Union Roger/Easy New York Denver/Ocean Frank/Thomas Henry Easy/Boston Adams Roger George Adams Ida New York. The words had no more meaning than they had when I had first looked at them. I walked to Super Slush contemplating my problem. Should I ask Jess what her email really said and why it was about me? Or should I try and figure it out on my own? I decided against asking Jess directly. She’d be offended that I snooped into her email. And she may not tell me. I sighed as I pushed open the swinging door to Super Slush. A small jingle greeted me as I stepped inside. Once again the day proved to be slow. But after school, the same four kids that had come in yesterday ordered and settled in their favorite booth. They seemed to be contemplating the deeper things in life.
“Tim, why is the new development named Juliet?” Said, Roger.
“It fits with the other districts. There’s Echo, November, Yankee, and a whole bunch of others. They’re all classified by letter. It’s called the Phonetic Alphabet. Nato invented the first Phonetic Alphabet in order to say or send things as just a random order of words. But the most important thing to see is the first letter of every word. Your name would be, Romeo Oscar Golf Echo Romeo. You see?” Roger smiled into space as he heard his name.
“Don’t get all fairy-headed, it’s a code you’re not really Romeo.” Snapped Sam.
“You’re just upset because your name is, Sienna Alpha Mike Uniform Echo Lima. It doesn’t have anything cool in it.” Said Denis. I decided to throw caution to the wind as I placed their milkshakes on the table. I leaned onto the table and I dropped all of my change from my breakfast this morning. It totaled almost two dollars and these kids needed more cash in order to keep getting milkshakes. I asked Tim in a hushed voice,
“My friend is giving me messages in a code like that but none of the letters are like the one you are describing. Could you find the code?” The kids had snatched up the change and Tim rolled a nickel around. He looked into my eyes and said,
“Could I see a sample of the message?” I thought about it. What if this boy got in trouble because he saw a part of the message. I decided against it.
“No,” I said. “But I’ll tell you a few of the words.” I looked at my scrap and decided to tell him the words at the very end of the email. “Could you translate Boston Adams Roger George Adams Ida New York? Tim rubbed his chin and sipped his milkshake.
“I’ll need some time to look around the library. I’ll be here tomorrow, and I’ll tell you what I dig up.” I smiled, and said,
“I’ll see if I can swing free milkshakes for you boys. Thanks a bunch.” I walked behind the counter and began to look busy re-stacking cups. If this kid could figure out my mystery, I could figure out what was going on with Jess. With this newsservice, I had lost so much, but my friend had always been there for me. I needed to make sure she didn’t get tangled up in anything that would hurt her.