Solomon sat inside the church, the deep blue red and green stained glass windows casting a somber song on his skin. The air inside was stale – he could almost hear the wood around him creak as he inhaled. There was no one else inside – there hadn’t been for years. Like so many that had gone before, it was an interfaith church that had become so interfaith it appealed to no one.
He steepled his fingers and let his face rest on their tips.
Judy hadn’t been at her apartment. From the looks of it, nobody had been there in days.
He watered her small plant before finally coming here, the place they used to meet in the afternoons between Panel sessions. He thought maybe he would find her here.
He looked at the pew in front of him, where she usually sat, just out of his reach.
Barb looked into the boy’s eyes, staring intently at her. She felt Dirth’s arm tighten around her just the slightest. She hadn’t ever seen a boy like this before. He looked her age – almost younger – but he somehow carried himself like a thirty year old. He seemed more mature than her dad and her brother combined. Also, something about the color of his features felt unnatural.
“Are you here to help us?” Dirth’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Yeah,” the boy responded. “I am. But we should probably get moving. I can explain on the way.”
“How do we know we can trust you?” Barb demanded. It came out of her a little harsher than she'd intended. She had trust issues.
“Look, I… I’ve been watching you guys from the beginning.” His eyes stayed focused on hers. “I saw you guys when you first got to the mine. I saw you getting chased by the EIU and I even saw you come into this room, but I… I haven’t said anything, because I… I’m trying to protect you. I’ve been trying to protect you from the beginning. You just have to trust me.”
Barb felt Dirth turn to look at her. It took her a second longer than usual to meet his gaze. His eyes were searching hers, asking what she wanted to do.
“Not to freak you guys out, but we don’t have a lot of time,” the boy went on. “I was only able to get the EIU off your tail for a few minutes, but they saw you come in here, and it's only a matter of time til they figure out how to open the doors.”
“Doesn’t take a genius,” Barb snorted.
“Yeah,” Jimmy smiled, reaching up to awkwardly smooth his hair. “But… it’s definitely not something they’re used to.”
Barb felt Dirth’s arm drop from her shoulder. “Alright, let’s go,” he said decisively. He looked down at her. “We don’t have a lot of options here.”
Barb managed a small smile. Why did he feel so distant all of a sudden? “Okay. Fearless leader.”
She turned back to look at the boy, Jimmy. He was already moving down the hall in a low crouch, motioning for them to follow quickly.
Jean Paltron was back at her desk. Miss Judy’s news had certainly put a kink in her plans. If Solomon had indeed told the rest of the Abolitionists about her appeal to block the EIU, and he still hadn’t been let go, then that group of bastards couldn’t be trusted for anything. What other illicit information had the Abolitionists been trafficking? Did they have a relationship with the EIU? If they did, then everything could ultimately be traced back to the Box Office, and the Abolitionists were the sole governing body with the authority to have her expunged.
Her hand in the factory collapse could never come to light.
She had to contain this. Fast.
The phone rang. It was Ros.
“Oh good,” she responded, “I want the full debrief, but first I need a few favors. I was just abducted by an ex-Abolitionist named Judy J. She has sensitive information in her possession. I need you to make her disappear. Yeah, on this side. And while you’re over here, I’ll need you to dispose of Solomon A. as well… Aww come on, don’t puss out on me, Ros. If what Judy told me is true, he may not even be an Abolitionist anymore. That’s right, none of the protections. So what if he’s a fuckin 20-20! Aren’t you a fuckin panda hunter in your free time?”
She took a deep breath.
“Yeah, OK, good.”
She began rearranging the pens and papers on her desk.
“OK good, yeah, Monica Davis, tell me her deal. Where is she and what does she do?”
She kicked off her shoes, stopping mid-way.
“Oh you have got to be kidding me. The EIU…?” Paltron’s voice trailed off as an unknown woman stepped out from behind her Glide Transit portal.
“I gotta go, Ros.”