Liz, Five Months Before Impact Day
“This is impossible,” I moaned, staring at the mess of paper sprawled out across the table.
“I hate to admit it, but I think you’re right,” Aidan agreed.
Rachel glowered at the two of us, but there was resignation in her eyes. Her shoulders slumped.
“There’s got to be something we can do,” she said. “We can’t just give up.”
“I’m open to suggestions,” Aidan said.
“Even an army couldn’t take that place,” I muttered. “No wonder they’re the largest gang in the city.”
“What if we drop a bomb on it?” Rachel said. “Blow the whole thing to pieces.”
“Charlie would survive that?” Aidan asked.
“Almost certainly,” Rachel said.
“It’s designed to be bombed,” I pointed out. “Even a nuke wouldn’t get through.”
“I could build something bigger than a nuke,” Rachel said indignantly.
“Yeah, and you’d take half the state with it,” Aidan said. “I don’t think that’s an option.”
We all sighed, racking our brains for inspiration. None of us were willing to give up, but it seemed like an insurmountable obstacle.
“What would Charlie do?” Aidan asked.
“She’d try and punch her way through,” I said.
“She’s reckless but she’s not stupid,” Rachel snapped.
“I could try and buy her,” Aidan said. “But I don’t think there’s enough money in the world to get them to give her up.”
“It’s too bad we don’t have superpowers,” I muttered.
Rachel’s eyes lit up.
“What if we did?” she said.
“I’m not sure I like where this is going,” Aidan said.
“You don’t have some weird comic book power machine, do you?” I asked. “Because I don’t think I’m willing to take that risk.”
“Even I couldn’t build something like that,” Rachel said, sounding a little disappointed. “But I know of the next best thing.”
“Wendy,” Aidan said.
Charlie had tried to explain how Wendy was important, but neither of us had really put much stock in it. A weird video from an anonymous source did not prove that Wendy was anything other than a normal barista.
“I guess it’s worth a shot?” I said, not really feeling it.
“She already refused to help once,” Rachel said. “She might again.”
“At this point, I’ll try anything,” Aidan said. “Even if I am skeptical.”
“Do we have any proof she even can help?” I asked.
“My hunch says she can,” Rachel said. “And my hunches are never wrong.”
“We’re building a whole plan off a hunch?”
“It’s not like we have anything else,” Aidan said. “Why not try?”
I didn’t have an answer for that, so I just shrugged. Rachel gestured for us to stay put, and disappeared into the bedroom. A minute later, she emerged, holding an envelope.
“Charlie left this with me,” she explained. “Just in case.”
“A letter?” I asked.
“To Wendy. Said it might help convince Wendy to help, if something happened.”
“That’s… vaguely suspicious,” I said.
“You don’t give Charlie enough credit,” Rachel said. “She thinks things through, she’s just more willing to take risks. Especially when she has back-up plans.”
“What does it say?” Aidan asked.
“You want to read it?”
“Is there any reason why we can’t?” he asked.
“Not at all.”
She handed it to him, and he opened it. I read over his shoulder.
I know what the cracks mean.
If you’re reading this, it’s only a matter of time.
If they break me…
Well, I think you know better than I do what happens then.
Make your choice.
Live with the consequences.
After all, they don’t really matter, do they?
Help me, Wendy. You’re my only hope.
“What is she talking about?” Aidan asked. “What cracks? What consequences?”
“I knew there was more we weren’t being told,” I said.
“She didn’t want to tell anyone,” Rachel said. “She’s been seeing cracks that nobody else can see. Even I don’t know what it means.”
“And the consequences?” I asked.
“Wendy wouldn’t tell us,” Rachel insisted. “Just that she couldn’t help because there would be ‘consequences’. I think Charlie is calling her bluff.”
“So even you don’t know what this means,” Aidan said.
“Not entirely,” she said, shrugging. “But I think it’ll help.”
“So that’s it?” I asked. “This is what we have? A hunch that Wendy can help, a vague letter from Charlie, and your word?”
“A general goes to war with the army they have,” Rachel said. “This is what we have.”
“This is stupid,” I insisted.
“It’s not the strongest plan,” Aidan said. “But at least it’ll get us out. And who knows? Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it’ll lead us to something better. Maybe it’ll distract us for a few hours. But at this point, we have literally nothing to lose.”
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s go talk to a barista.”
“I could use a coffee, anyway,” Rachel said.
As we packed up and got ready to leave, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more Rachel wasn’t telling us. I made eye contact with Aidan, and he nodded.
If Rachel thinks she’s playing us, she’s got another thing coming. Once we’ve rescued Charlie, everything changes.
Next Week: Willing To Die For Her