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The woman screaming below woke him from his near coma. Why Kryler remained with the harridan Andre did not understand. Likely arguing about him staying the night … again. Hopefully they wouldn’t wake Mia since he crashed in baby’s room when they pulled an all-nighter.
How late were they up last night programming for the new game? Disorientation clouded his mind; every muscle in his body ached. He hadn’t felt this bad since he jumped a foot in height when he was fifteen. He went from the shortest in the school to the tallest in six months.
Cripes, he felt worse than when he stayed over for seven days working on the Rainbow expansion to keep Kryler’s mind off Natalie … leaving … wait …
Who was screaming below if not Natalie?
Why was gravel and stone digging in his skin?
Andre struggled to open his eyes, which seemed glued together. The expansive vista of ocean and cliff faces set off vertigo and he slammed his gummy eyelids shut.
“Come on you mother-fucking bastard! Tell me you haven’t died on me you asshole! Be alive! Oh God, be alive! Help! Come on Andre talk to me!”
That would be Jane. The spy.
Memory started leaking. The normal pickup when government security break-in happened. This time to investigate instead of as one of the suspects. Following up the foot leads, because the hacker was a master the coffee-house login, a pattern similar to what he had pulled off as a kid. The fights, guns, and dozens of other things a nerd like him had no business being in followed until now.
Something tightened around his ribs. … Right, the rope connecting to Jane. … A couple of ribs felt broken.
He opened up his gummy eyes again, supposing the sticky was drying blood from a head wound and the bullet in his shoulder. A series of fence posts kept him from being pulled off the overlook. For once he was grateful of his insane height. His fourteen year old size would have been pulled right off the cliff.
Scrambling against non-existent toeholds below him swung Jane. Her only support was the rope and his weight.
“Stop screaming!” He yelled, or tried too. The fit of coughing prevented him from saying anything. Pain raised through him; broken ribs grated and simulated sensory nerves in ways he had never experienced before.
She screamed pure terror as the rope shook with his coughs.
“Quiet!” He finally managed to get out.
Silence followed for a few seconds. “You still awake?” Drifted up from below.
She jogged his elbow while programming, why did he think she would shut up now? “Yeah.” He said as loudly as he could, without breathing deeply. The ribs hurt with each breath.
“The bastards left us for dead. Don’t know why they didn’t push you off.”
“Wedged.” Andre decided short answers would work. “Little time.”
“Right, that count-down worm you put in. They would need to fix it.”
“What phone? You think they could solve it with a phone?”
“No.” Andre tried to shift. The boulder behind his hip held him in place and he had no strength in his wounded shoulder to push free. “My phone.”
“God, are we starting that argument again?” Jane had confiscated his phone when they realized the bad guys were trying to trace them.
“Put battery back … phone.”
“And let them know we are still alive, are you nuts?”
“Put battery in.” Andre took as deep a breath as he dared. “NOW!”
“Alright. What do you got in mind bright boy?” He watched Jane twist and turn. One foot was caught in the rope, balancing the weight drag on her waist, but unbalancing her and preventing her from getting a firm attachment to the rock face. He heard the battery snap in place. Funny how he heard tech noises before anything else.
“Dial 7734 star.”
“7 – 7 – 3 – 4 – star. Sure you don’t want 911?”
“Dialed bright boy. What next?”
“GPS – turn on.”
“Roger.” Her soprano voice carried up the confirmation. “Done.”
“58008 star pound”
“5 – 8 – 0 – 0 – 8 – star – pound – Dialed.”
Satisfied he had done all he could, Andre wiggled to relieve some pressure and rested. After a few moments, Jane shouted up. “Andre, bright boy. What next?”
“Done what? What did I just do bright boy?”
“Friends coming.” Andre watched her tuck the phone into her spy suit. He had a few fantasies about getting her out of the men-in-black look. He took one out to play with. There was time to kill. “Wait” He let her know.
“Wait? Wait for what?”
“Of course wait,” she muttered. Her voice was approaching tech level in his ability to tune only into it. “Stupid bastard can’t explain shit about shit. I’ll just hang here like a piñata while we wait. Ass…”
He must of passed out, because he had lost time. Jane’s talking had changed.
“Yes, this is a real woman on Andre’s phone. … What do you mean, no way? … Boobies’ emergency code?”
“Rescue.” Andre projected as loud as he dared. His ribs hurt worse. He barely heard himself.
“Look just come in get us. Shipwreck outlook. If you got guns, you might want to bring them.” Andre heard the phone beep off. “Some Chrysler guy is on his way .. and said something about Effie and willing guns being close behind.”
Will shotgun with Efran driving in his mother’s car might beat Kryler. Only 30 miles away. “Twenty.” Andre said, trying to let her know rescue would be here in a mere score of minutes. Boobs was the highest of the rescue codes they put together for conventions – everything from “leech fan” to “sex-fiend.” Boobs was for Kryler, back when he had a marriage to value. He was the only one to have women throw themselves at him; being an artist helped toned down the gaming-computer-developer-nerd factor. If one counted graphic artists as artists, which at least four women had at various times. Boobs meant drop everything and come save me now.
Got to love his friends.
(words 1,022 – first published 11/6/2013; republished new blog format 4/1/2018)