I’d been transported, yet not in my own body. Both actions I was more than used to. Usually didn’t happen together. Usually.
And here I was, somewhere. It wasn’t even uncomfortable to be someone else.
The one idea I knew for certain was that I was here to solve a mystery. Probably a crime. Something disastrous.
People were counting on me to solve these mysteries. Their lives and mine depended on how fast I could solve them.
And only me.
Nothing like the fate of the universe hanging on your shoulders to bring your idea of reality crashing in.
I guess the first thing is to get myself untied, and this gag out of my mouth.
To say we were freaked out was an understatement.
Not that it showed – well, mostly.
Finn went in and out of that room, exploring the whole apartment. Finding nothing. “Carol, it’s completely empty. Enough dust to say that not only has no one lived there recently, it’s more that the landlord isn’t even trying to find someone to rent it.”
I’d pulled out the manuals and started going over the re-start procedure. The pages were crisp. They never had to be touched before this. Running down the lines with a finger only helped me focus. Erika has become a sister to me, and I had to stay focused. I knew that she would tell me to. Like she was at my elbow in this.
“Finn, it’s not all that logical, but I have to get the A.I. back up and running first. He can get these other re-set sequences going faster than I could by hand.
Finn only nodded. His hands clenched into fists, but holding himself still. And standing away from the keyboards to give me space. The only thing he could really do at this point was calm down. I could hear his deliberate breathing to get his heart rate down. The effect was to get more color into his face – not that I had time to look at him other than glances.
My hands were pretty frantic on the keyboards, punching in the commands out of the book that would restart the A.I.
At last the code on one monitor was scrolling down as it re-loaded the stored algorithms that made up his support core.
My only hope was that we didn’t have some huge data loss. I’d grown fond of “Al” and his Rat-pack version of a voice. Like another member of our close-knit family here.
Finally I got a prompt: “Enter your question:>_” The underscore was blinking.
I paused, my palms wet and pushed my fingers onto the table to stop their shaking. My own deep breaths helped stop those nervous fears.
And then I typed: “Al, you there?”
Again, let’s make this simpler: “Hello, World?”
A pause. The blinking cursor had quit. Something was happening in there.
Finally: “Carol, is that you?”
I almost jumped out of my chair, grinning from ear to ear.
I typed: “Yes. Do you have a name?”
The response: “Al. Like always. Or since you told me I could have one, anyway.”
Next I typed: “How’s your audio circuits?”
Al responded: “Fine, how are yours?”
That’s my Al. To the microphone: “It would be nice to hear you again.”
A modulated baritone came smoothly through the speakers: “And it’s good to hear from you as well. Glad to be back. What happened?”
Then I did jump up and scampered over to Finn’s arms to get a hug. Just the closest thing I could interact with, since Al didn’t have a body. Not that I ever minded hugging Finn. Plus, he was as wet-cheeked as I was with relief.
One step closer to getting Erika back, wherever she had gone…
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