I could not believe what Casey texted. What did she mean she wasn’t dead? What car bomb? Who the hell is Robert? I must have had a rise in my blood pressure or a screwy look on my face because my buddy noticed.
“What’s the matter, Lizzie. You seem tense,” smiled Lucy and her beehive hairdo.
“I’m hungry.” I wasn’t lying. The two tiny box meals were unsatisfactory and I felt weak and slightly disoriented. “Why can’t I have coffee?”
“You can. You just have to drink it black.” Lucy turned to answer the buzz of her phone. I was torn. I really like my coffee light and sweet so the idea of black coffee was not appetizing. However, I needed a boost.
“Good news!” she said. Her eyes were bright and beaming. “I just received the numbers for our Weight Loss group. We are down a total of 285 pounds! Isn’t that great?”
“How did the group lose that much in just two weeks? I’ve only lost 4 ounces.”
“Yes, well, every ounce helps. What’s important is that we stick with the program.”
Lucy microwaved my “dinner” and watched me eat it. Then she did a sweep of my apartment looking for any contraband food and when she was satisfied that I was alone with just my thoughts, she left. I waited the usual 15 minutes for her to do her final check on my vitals for the night. I had learned that no matter what I did after 9:00 PM I didn’t receive shocks. As long as I stayed in my apartment anyway. I was curfewed from 9:00 PM to 5:30 AM. And at 5:30 I leave my apartment then and “jog” to the 24-hour grocery where I buy snacks. I hide them in the access panel for the plumbing in the back of my closet. Any pleasure reading from my Right Byte I tell Lucy is from a work-out high. She believes me as long as I’m complacent while she’s here.
My phone interrupted my potato chip binge. The caller ID said nothing – not even unknown caller. “Helwo?” I said with a mouth full of chips.
“Lizzie?” an unfamiliar man’s voice answered. “This is Robert. I’m calling on a secure line but we only have a few minutes. Casey is fine. She is staying in my cubicle so her tracking device can’t be detected. My friends in the NSA planted a fake news article about Casey’s death. We are working to get the Right Byte off her. I’ll call again when we know more.”
I stared at my phone with crumbs falling out of the corners of my mouth. That all made my need for chips seem so small. How is the NSA involved with all this? Casey is living in a cubicle? Who is Robert? I started pacing so my Right Byte would register exercise and because I needed to pace to burn off nervous energy and to think. Lucy got a call right after Casey’s car blew up. Weight loss. Casey weighed 125 pounds. I flipped through the texts Casey sent yesterday. Janice Wiloughby, the poor dead woman, weighed 150 pounds. We weren’t losing weight; they were killing us off!
I had to get this Right Byte of me. I needed a plan.
To be continued…