By R.G. Summers
Art by Dawn Vogel
After my phone call with Mr. Charlie, I went directly to the salon down the street. He had told me that he would send a plane immediately and that I only needed to be at the RentonMunicipalAirport by ten-thirty that night. I took pictures of my mother to the salon so that the hairstylist would know exactly how to cut my hair. It was more eerie than melancholy to watch her hack off my hair. The stylist did a fantastic job though, and gave me the same bob cut that my mother had sported for most of her life. I stopped by Banana Republic as well, and ran up a hundred dollars’ worth of apparel purchases that were more mature than my exclusively denim-and-cotton wardrobe.
After packing a suitcase, I taxied to the airport. It was a tiny airport, just south of Seattle. It was not an international airport, which made me instantly suspicious of the legality of this flight. I waited patiently, witnessing small, private planes land and take off in the night. Just before ten-forty-five, a series of lights appeared in the brooding, dark sky. I watched as a modest jet landed on the runway.
An Asian man in a sharp uniform emerged from the cabin of the plane once it had come to a complete stop. Airport officials approached him, undoubtedly curious about the foreign plane landing in their regional airfield. Only once he had finished speaking amiably with them did I venture outside to meet the Trongodian gentleman.
“Mrs. Derosa?” he asked.
I smiled, relieved to know he was not acquainted with me. The fewer of my mother’s associates I actually interacted with, the less likely I was to screw up this high-stakes game of charades.
“Yes, and you are?” I asked in Trongodian.
“Your pilot … Mr. Charlie sent me. We’ll be ready for takeoff as soon as the plane is refueled. You’re welcome to board now.”
He offered his hand to help me onto the steps that led into the cabin, but I froze. Staring at the jet, I suddenly realized, I am about to get on this plane.
Seventeen years of aerophobia erupted inside of me, and I suppressed the violent urge to throw up. My mother had died on an airplane. I hadn’t been on one since Uncle Bruce brought me to America, but now I was expected to sit still on a flight across the vast Pacific Ocean.
“Is something wrong, Mrs. Derosa?”
Petrified, I forced my voice out. “The last time I was on a plane, it crashed.”
“Oh,” my pilot responded. “Well, I can assure you that we’ve got good weather and a solid jet to escort you today. I just flew here from Trongodia without mishap–I’m sure we can fly back just as safely.”
I nodded stiffly, but clutched my purse and luggage with a death grip. “Yes. I suppose so.”
How ridiculous this was! Thousands of planes took off and landed every day, why should I be afraid? I was about to commit all manners of crimes as part of an international identity fraud scheme, and yet the only thing I was really afraid of was the jet right in front of me.
My terror only increased as I marched boldly up into the aircraft’s cabin. It had a beautiful interior, and I plopped down in one of a few leather seats uneasily. In the luxurious beige seat, I crossed my arms over myself and waited for my mind to grow tired of being afraid. While the plane refueled, I came to grips with the situation. By the time my pilot returned to his place in the cockpit, I was braced for a nerve-wracking eleven hours. I pulled a pack of cigarettes out of my purse and started smoking as soon as the plane began wheeling about the runway. Nobody told me to stop. It was a private plane.
I slept fitfully through most of the flight, and only had a minor heart attack as the plane touched ground in the Trongodian capital, Xaqarii.
It was eight in the morning by the time we landed, and I felt a little unready for the day after an uneasy night’s sleep on the jet. I disembarked into the muggy and smoggy air of a totally different country. The Pacific coast of America far behind, I was now in the middle of a temperate landmass. Wispy white clouds hovered overhead, and the air was heavy with the industrial smell of the capital.
I had no idea where to go from there, so it was lucky that Mr. Charlie had already sent someone. As soon as I entered the airport terminal, I caught sight of a chauffeur holding a sign with the Trongodian characters for my name on it. She was a plump woman dressed all in black, and very somberly explained that she was going to drive me to my hotel. I followed her through the crowded and noisy airport, worried that I might get lost in this massive transportation hub. People were all shouting over each other and at me. Old men wanted to shine my shoes, shysters wanted to change my currency for me, and various people tried to thrust political and religious brochures into my hands. It would have been worse outside with all the cabbies and bicycle coaches vying for my business, but my chauffeur made it quite clear I was provided for.
My apprehensions and hopes built upon themselves as I was driven to downtown Xaqarri in the back of a limo. Who was Mr. Charlie that he could send private jets and limos on a moment’s notice? So far, nothing I’d seen suggested that any of this was connected to the Trongodian government.
The metropolitan skyscrapers and overcrowded pedestrian markets clashed with each other, but I watched them both from the tinted window of my limo. I had no memory of this urban heart of Trongodia; I had been raised in the city suburbs away from the poverty and wealth, the high class and low society of the city. Beggars and businessmen went about their days, making it clear how well adapted they were to their places within the societal structure.
It was lucky that Uncle Bruce had been able to get me out of Trongodia following my father’s arrest. The country was in a bitter and ugly stage of industrialization, compounded by a powerful element of corruption within the government. Income disparity and organized crime had been feeding each other for the past ten years. It was part of the reason my father had actually been able to smuggle technology out of Trongodia–the infrastructure had adapted to support and expect a certain amount of embezzlement and fraud.
Since I had left though, the environment had only decayed further. I hoped for a bright, post-industrial future for my home country, but at the moment the political and economic situation was very bleak.
My chauffeur drove past the savage warehouses and cold manufactories, delivering me to the doorstep of a brilliant hotel. Before I got out of the limo, the plump chauffer handed me an envelope and explained it was a message from Mr. Charlie. A bellman helped me with my suitcase, and my driver drove away without another word.
I don’t know why the suite surprised me; by now it was obvious that Mr. Charlie did everything with princely extravagance. Regardless, the high ceilings, velvety curtains, and towering view of the city took my breath away.
Only once I was securely in my room did I stop to open the letter from Mr. Charlie. Reading through the handwritten characters, I quickly gathered that he wanted me to meet him at three o’clock in his office at the Poichi Technologies headquarters building. In the meantime, I made use of the ensuite Jacuzzi and reviewed all the letters from Mr. Charlie to my mother. They weren’t very telling, but they did provide a few details I would be able to sprinkle into our conversation. I also went out and bought a prepaid smart phone to use while I was in country. The last thing I needed right now was exorbitant international phone bills getting delivered to Uncle Bruce.
I made it to Poichi Technologies a few minutes early. I tried to suppress my nervousness as I met with Mr. Charlie’s secretary. She had handed me a massive, unwieldy pen and asked me to sign in, and afterwards ushered me his office to wait for him. By three o’clock, I was already sitting in Mr. Charlie’s office, waiting for him to arrive.
The office was painted a faint, golden-yellow color and several old black and white photographs were framed on the walls. Mr. Charlie’s desktop was immaculately tidy and perfectly organized. It made me uncomfortable to be left alone in this environment. I felt powerless. Who was Mr. Charlie that he didn’t worry about leaving a spy in his office? I worked on the assumption that there was a camera somewhere in the room, and refrained from poking around. I might have admired the old photographs, but I was busy building up my courage.
After a few painfully long minutes, Mr. Charlie made his entrance. He was light on his feet and moved quickly. The door closed instantly, but quietly, behind him. His dark blue suit had an expensive sheen to it and his gaunt face was rounded out by its middle-aged sagging.
We looked at each other as if we were each seeing a ghost.
“What’s the matter,” he finally asked, starting our Trongodian conversation, “don’t you recognize me?”
I was already blowing it! I tried to think of a response. “You’ve aged.”
“You haven’t,” he observed.
“It’s good to see you again,” I told him.
“Is it?” he asked skeptically.
I panicked. How had my mother’s relationship with this man left off? “It’s good just to see anyone,” I replied.
“After all these years, I would imagine so.” Mr. Charlie came closer, and I stood up to shake his extended hand. “Of course, it probably felt more like a good night’s sleep to you.”
“There was nothing good about it.”
He was staring at me, sizing me up. I tried not to take it personally. “God, Melinda, if anything you look younger.”
“Seventeen years in a cryogenic case does wonders for you.”
Mr. Charlie laughed, and it was then that I realized that I did not like this man. There was something about his smile that suggested he was happiest at others’ expense. He was too focused, sterile without being cold.
“I suppose so.” Moving over toward a small bar, he offered “Can I get you a drink, Melinda?”
“No thank you, but do you mind if I smoke?”
“Go ahead,” he offered. “You might as well, while we wait.”
I fished my nearly-empty pack of cigarettes out of my purse and asked, “What are we waiting for, Mr. Charlie?”
“For a response from my friend at the Department of Identification. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, but it took me a minute to send off the prints after my secretary fingerprinted you.”
Fingerprints? That unwieldy pen she had handed to me! It was the just the setup she needed when she asked me to sign in. Mr. Charlie only dropped that line to watch my reaction, so I tried to remain cool. “You’ve held on to my finger prints after all this time?” I asked casually.
“No,” he replied, “but the Department of Identification, a few years after your accident, put the Citizen’s Protection Act into law, requiring all Trongodians to be fingerprinted for government records. They have a massive database now … I’m sure you’re finding out just how far technology has come in the past twenty years.”
“No kidding,” I answered, lighting my cigarette and taking a drag. “They’ve made leaps and bounds with cryogenics.”
Mr. Charlie laughed again, but sat down at his computer. I remained standing, and walked over to the photographs on the golden-yellow wall. I had only vague memories of the Citizen’s Protection Act and being fingerprinted as an eleven-year-old. I had not accounted for it when I planned this identity fraud.
I focused on a photo of a Trongodian protest march from the fifties while Mr. Charlie clicked at his computer. “Aha,” he said, before muttering the contents of his email, “Charlezu … I checked the prints against the database … no photo identification available … but the prints belong to …” he paused, and finished breathlessly, “Melinda Derosa.”
I smiled at him with a victorious confidence. Lindy Derosa was legally identical to Melinda Derosa on paper. “I think I will have a drink,” I announced. “Mind if I help myself to a vodka and tonic?” I poked around the miniature bar, not entirely sure what I was looking for. I never drank, but I’d found out from one of her letters that vodka and tonic had been my mother’s favorite drink.
Mr. Charlie limply fell back against his chair and stared at me, bug-eyed and amazed. “My God, it really is you.”
“Who else would it be, Charlezu?” I asked impatiently.
“Is it just me, or are you more irritable, my dear?”
“I just spent seventeen years in a glorified freezer. You’ll pardon me if I’m a little less than chipper.”
“Ah, but yes!” Mr. Charlie agreed, leaping up and clapping his hands. “Tell me, Melinda, tell me how on earth did you ever get out? How could you possibly when your husband is …”
“In prison,” I bitterly cut him off.
“Yes …” he sighed. “But we’ll discuss that in a moment … who in the world revived you?”
I had known this would be the first question from all of my mother’s associates. I had spent some time trying to figure out a plausible story, before I realized that I already had one in my lap.
“Do you remember the American, Richard Bhurman?” I asked him.
“Yes, yes, vaguely,” he answered. “He worked with Dr. Derosa, didn’t he? I met him briefly … but no one’s seen or heard from him in years, not since …”
“Who do you think took over the project once my Howard was arrested?” It felt weird to talk about my dad using his first name.
Mr. Charlie was duly surprised by this turn of events, but apparently found it plausible. “That’s fantastic. I can hardly believe it.”
“Well you best believe it, because it happened, I’m here, and I think you understand why.”
“Oh, I understand why you’re here,” Mr. Charlie said powerfully. He rose from his seat, finally recovering from his shock and proceeding with the conversation. I handed him the vodka as he reached for it. I stood by and watched him, very carefully, as he poured vodka and tonic into two highball glasses. He spoke, as if to the alcohol. “You’ve come to me because you need help, and there’s no one else you can go to for it.”
I didn’t like his confidence. I didn’t like how he handed me my drink as if he held me in palm of his hand. “You really think you’re my only option?” I scoffed and took a tender sip of my drink, not knowing whether or not he was my only option.
He laughed. “What is that American word … moxie. It would take a lot of moxie to attempt to enlist any of your old contacts. I have to hand it to you, Melinda, when you burn your bridges, you incinerate them.”
A whirl of profanities rushed through my head. I had all her old letters and addresses, but what had my mother done in the days and weeks leading up to her plane crash … and who had she done it too? In a political environment as corrupt as Trongodia, it was easy to make enemies, even if you weren’t actively involved in espionage. I chose to remain silent, hoping Mr. Charlie would give me more information. I followed him as he stepped back to the desk, and we sat down on either side of it.
“I am terribly sorry about what happened to you, Melinda. When you told me you needed to get out of the country, I put you on the first plane I could get booked under a false name. We had no idea there was a leak within our organization.”
Seventeen years of mystery began unfolding as Mr. Charlie unintentionally explained my mother’s flight from Trongodia to me as if it was something I had personally experienced.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, Melinda, but it was your contact, Karen Lee. She was working for the police, as an undercover agent.”
I was losing the thread of the story. So Karen was working for the police. What did that matter to someone who had been spying for the national government?
He continued, “That’s how the Department of Intelligence found out that you were working for us, too. She reported your treason. It was all Karen.”
It did not confront Mr. Charlie that my face was slathered in unadulterated shock. While he assumed I was coming to terms with being betrayed by Karen–whoever that was–I personally had to come to terms with who my mother was.
Mr. Charlie was not in any way connected to the government. At the very least, he professionally smuggled people into and out of Trongodia … and my mother had worked with him. She was not the beautiful, heroic spy I had always imagined her as, but a double agent actively working with the corruption of her country rather than trying to fight it. She was a villain. My mother, the treasonous criminal. Had Dad known this? Had Uncle Bruce? Why had I never been told?
“I never would have expected our own intelligence department to sabotage the plane … I thought at worst they’d lock down the airport in an attempt to apprehend you. I suppose it was a sign of things to come. Things have gotten much, much worse in your absence, Melinda. The press is monitored more than ever, and no one gets a public trial anymore.”
I was hardly listening to him though. My heart and mind had stopped with the idea that my mother had been a treasonous criminal. I finished my vodka and tonic, hoping it would calm my nerves like it always did for people in the movies. I didn’t have faith in alcohol though. I lit up another cigarette and drew in deep breaths of my trusted nicotine. “This is a lot to process, Charlie,” I said simply. The quiver in my voice shook like my fingers, though, giving me away. It was impossible to process.
“I would imagine so.” He set his drink on a coaster on his desk and folded his hands over his stomach. “Needless to say, reform and correctional facilities are not a priority in our country. The prisons are in a deplorable state. I called up a contact yesterday–I’m glad I can at least tell you your husband is still alive. That’s not true of everyone who entered the prisons five years ago. If you can get him out of there, it will be nothing short of a resurrection.”
I hadn’t even stopped to consider that my father might already be dead. I was glad that the possibility had not entered my mind before I could be assured otherwise. I didn’t know what to do though. I had been banking on the fact that my mother had friends in high places within the Trongodian government. Thank God I hadn’t called anyone else before Mr. Charlie! I would have been arrested on arrival, and that would have been a hard conversation to have with Uncle Bruce, let alone the Trongodian Department of Intelligence.
Mr. Charlie sighed. I had no idea where this conversation was going to go, so I listened intently as he explained, “It was horrible, when I realized that I’d put you on a doomed flight, when I realized it was Karen who turned you in … she’s dead now, by the way.”
The way he said it, I couldn’t tell whether or not he was implying that our people had killed her or not.
“I owed you a terrible debt, which I tried to repay by helping your husband smuggle the triconadapters out of the country …”
“And look how well that worked out,” I cynically replied.
“Yes … well,” he stammered and sighed. “I don’t relish the idea of what you’re going to ask me to do. Things have been quiet for me lately at Poichi Technologies. With all the technological advancements, security is tighter than ever, and–you know me–I don’t like to get involved in risky projects, no matter what the payoff.”
“I understand that,” I answered, raising my voice as if I actually had other expectations. In all reality, I had no idea what to expect anymore. Figuring it wouldn’t hurt, I added, “I need help though.”
“And I can help you,” he said. “I can and I will, Melinda. I’ll help you break Dr. Derosa out.”
From the moment he said that, the conversation became very surreal. I could only keep up with the insanity of it for so long before I reached my breaking point. I simply could not believe that any of this was actually happening. I could usurp my mother’s identity, I could accept that she’d been a double agent working for a group of organized criminals, but there was something fundamentally over-the-top about the idea that this man was going to help me break my father out of a federal prison.
“There’s just one favor I’d like to ask in return,” Mr. Charlie ominously added. I raised my eyebrows, not wanting to agree to anything preemptively. “You remember the Scarlet Barrel Project, of course.”
I faked a sly smile. I had no idea what that was code for. “How could I forget?”
“Surprisingly, there have been some developments in that region of the world that could use our attention. We never rightfully finished the project, but I know that you could close the case on that whole affair if you spent a month down there. I wouldn’t ask anything of you until you and Dr. Derosa were both safely out of country, but once you are, I’m sure I could count on your assistance with that project, yes?”
It was obvious I didn’t have any other option. Mr. Charlie’s voice told me that his assistance breaking my father out depended on my willingness to return the favor. Without the slightest idea of what I was agreeing to, I told him, “You can count on me. Once I have Howard back, I can help you with this last project. I’m throwing in the towel after that though. This business has wreaked enough havoc on my life.”
Mr. Charlie grinned, almost as if he had expected me to refuse the proposition. I did worry about what I had just agreed to, but I presumed that my mother would be able to handle it once she was unfrozen. She’d escaped the responsibility of getting me through my terrible twos, my screaming sixes, my flippant fifteens, and every challenge along the way. She could bail me out for this one thing. Besides, she’d been a treasonous double agent. It was kind of like karma, or something.
While I came up with poor ethical rationalizations for my agreement, Mr. Charlie pulled a file out of a locked drawer in his desk. I scooted closer to his desk as he spread out all the papers and photos before me.
There were maps. Maps of the Trongodian jungle and maps of prison architecture. He presented me with time tables for prison guard shifts, photos of the guard uniforms, and photos of some of “our people.”
“There’s two boys I think you could use,” Mr. Charlie told me, “You don’t know them, but they do good work and they’re both …” he looked at me, a glint of envy in his slender eyes, “young.”
“This,” he continued, gesturing to one, “is Jon Rykye. He’s bright, and good with a gun. He’ll be able to hold his own if things get ugly beforehand. I don’t suppose you have your usual arsenal with you, so I’ll be sure to arrange for extra weapons. I trust your sharp shooting didn’t atrophy during your suspended animation …”
I’d never fired a gun–I’d never held a gun–in my life. I looked at the picture of Rykye, and felt confident knowing that this burly, bald man would be beside me.
Mr. Charlie pushed a different picture in front of me. I picked up the photograph and studied the slouching, smoking man. He was so tall and so wiry, he looked like a stick figure. “Liam Jojing is a pyrotechnics expert.”
My eyes jerked back up to Mr. Charlie, and he explained, “This is not going to be a stealth operation.”
In the following hour, Mr. Charlie and I went over a wide variety of details and cobbled together a plausible plan based on the information he had obtained from his contacts. Not without apprehension, I gave him the go-ahead to contact Rykye and Jojing so that they could sign onto this harebrained scheme. The meeting remained surreal, while I was in that pale golden office with Mr. Charlie. My small, pragmatic voice of reason screamed bloody murder in the back of my head as I formed a plan to break my father out of the Conterragoa Prison in rural Trongodia.
We were finished with our discussion before five that evening, and dusk was just starting to settle over the urban Xaqarri skyline. Mr. Charlie and I made plans to meet again on Thursday, and I left him with the number for my prepaid mobile phone. He was shuffling all of the incriminating papers back into his file as I stood up to leave the office. I already had my hand on the doorknob when he asked, “Oh … Melinda, I meant to ask … in your last letter, you’d mentioned you were … pregnant?”
I smiled sadly. He wanted to talk to me about me. “I miscarried,” I lied. “It was the start of my bad luck.”
“Ah,” he responded. “I’m sorry to hear it. Perhaps it was for the best though, considering the way things turned out.”
“After I get Howard back … there will be time for a family then.”
Mr. Charlie waggled a finger at me, reminding me of a crucial detail, “And after you finish what we started with Scarlet Barrel.”
The walk to the hotel at twilight was a different experience than it had been at three in the afternoon. An industrial glow emanated out of the shoe manufactory down the road, and smoke pumped out into the purpling sky. I felt guilty in my expensive Banana Republic suit dress, walking by beggars and other refuges of the city. I carried myself confidently though, and tried to ignore them the way the locals did. The sidewalks were crowded as everyone shuffled impersonally along, on their way home. There were districts in Xaqarii that I would not have wanted to walk in at this hour, but I knew that this was a good area. The buildings were bright and new, the streets were clean, and most of the passersby were dressed as professionally as I was.
Given how peaceful the area seemed, it alarmed me how many police officers I saw. I had passed just as many earlier, but it had not troubled me then. Having talked to Mr. Charlie about the political climate of Trongodia, it put me on edge. I had gotten comfortable in America and felt at ease in Seattle. Now, I wasn’t even sure which civil liberties I might have.
With waiting on a street corner for a traffic light to change, I noticed a scowling police officer patrolling the block. He was heading in my general direction leisurely, but when he glanced at me and saw me staring, he gave me a cold, dark glare. I quickly averted my eyes, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I noticed that the other pedestrians tried to avoid eye contact with the police. When I looked back though, I saw that he was now heading right for me. I watched the traffic light desperately, waiting for it to change so that I could cross the street and lose myself in the crowd on the other side of the street. It flashed green and I took off briskly, clutching my purse to my body and trying to put as many people between the officer and me as possible.
I didn’t look over my shoulder again until I was certain I had lost him. I relaxed a little bit once I saw that he had not pursued me, but for the rest of the walk, I kept my eyes on the ground in front of me.
I felt better once I was shut away in the privacy and security of my luxurious hotel suite. I slipped out of my grown-up costume and changed into a pair of familiar pajamas. It was very exhausting to be my mother all day, especially when I didn’t know who she was. It felt good to feel like myself again. I ordered room service and had some of the finest Asian cuisine I’d had in years.
The view from my wall-length windows only became more beautiful as the night progressed. The uneven skyscrapers all reached up to the sky at different heights, glowing with little boxes of yellow light. Between the clouds and smog and ambient light, there wasn’t a star in sight. It was impressive, really, that people could build a city bright enough to choke out the stars.
As I marveled at the city, I heard my phone ringing–my actual phone, not the disposable Trongodian one I’d bought earlier. I had forgotten to turn it off. I dug it out of my purse and saw that it was Uncle Bruce.
Bruce hardly ever called me. We emailed regularly, but it was a rare occasion when he actually used his phone to contact me. Weighing my options, I decided that it would be easier to deal with the eventual phone bill than ignore Uncle Bruce now. After that strange phone call I’d overheard from the closet yesterday, I was curious to know how he was doing too.
With a press of a button, I made a decision I could not take back. “Hi, Uncle Bruce!” I answered.
“Hi, Lindy,” he replied, his voice sounding even deeper over the phone. “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing good,” I responded. “What’s up?”
“I just wanted to give you a buzz and check in with you. My time’s been all turned around from traveling, but it occurred to me that I should probably call you and make sure you got back to school alright.”
“Yes, Uncle Bruce, I managed to figure out how to taxi back to school.”
“Of course, I just wanted to call. That’s what Uncles are for.”
“I was a little late getting out of the condo,” I falsely confessed. “It was kind of a crazy morning, and I was late to first period physics, but it was totally okay. Mathews didn’t even mark me tardy.”
“Pays off to be a good student, eh kiddo?”
“Definitely,” I agreed.
“So what are you up to right now?”
“Oh, you know,” I responded, eyeing the cityscape of Trongodia’s capital, “just hanging out in my dorm, homework and stuff … how’s Egypt?”
I remembered what I’d heard of his last phone call almost verbatim. He didn’t have any idea that I’d been in the condo when he returned from Egypt yesterday. It was all so strange, and I didn’t have any qualms about asking him a loaded question.
“Busy, as always. It looks like I might have to drive out to Alexandria tomorrow to make an offer on some titanium sheeting. Out here, you really have a chance to haggle over prices if you’re willing to meet the supplier in person.”
My heart sank as he explained all of this. I knew he was in New York, but I didn’t want to believe that he was lying to me. I had never known Uncle Bruce to lie to me, and this first dishonesty caused me to question whether or not he had pulled the wool over my eyes on other matters as well.
We didn’t have much to say once we had both finished lying about what continents we were on. I burned with dozens of questions, but I couldn’t give myself away by asking anything about Mr. Charlie, Rick Bhurman, or mom’s treason. Instead, I told him I loved him, and hung up after he had said the same.
That night, I snuggled down into my massive king-sized bed with my laptop to catch up on the Trongodian news using the hotel’s wifi. I was so overstimulated by everything that had happened and everything that was sure to happen in the next few days–I didn’t think I would be able to sleep. I started reading the Xaqarii Daily online though, and was only halfway through the headline story about protests in the manufacturing district before I passed out. Sleeping soundly on my fluffy, sprawling bed, I didn’t even wake up when Mr. Charlie texted me. Instead, his text was waiting for me in the morning. As soon as I woke up, I found out that by Saturday morning I would either have my father out of prison, or be in there with him.
R.G. Summers writes primarily science-fiction, but has published stories and poetry of all natures. Summers lives in Seattle, more or less, and has great hopes for the future, including being able to pay the rent by writing, and someday owning a crock-pot. She’s also training to be a circus performer, just in case this whole “writing” thing doesn’t work out. You can find her little corner of the internet at https://sites.google.com/site/herpuckishness/
Dawn Vogel has been published as a short fiction author and an editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Although art is not her strongest suit, she’s happy to contribute occasional art to Mad Scientist Journal. By day, she edits reports for and manages an office of historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. For more of Dawn’s work visit http://historythatneverwas.com/Follow us online: