“Explain to me Ophelia,” the agent quipped, “why Agent Mott isn’t returning you to your dorm?”
“He had a sudden stress induced migraine,” she explained. “Between you an me Agent Lee, I don’t think he’s going to last that long. He needs to leave.”
Agent Lee flinched, “Is that a threat?”
“What? Oh. Oh! No! Of course not. No. It’s just, I’m getting vibes. If he doesn’t get out something bad will happen to him.”
“Vibes? What’s your deal again?”
“My ‘deal’? Is that how you normies put it?”
“Well, if you are going to call us Abbies so derisively, then can’t we at least add some tongue-in-cheek to calling you normies?”
“No one calls you that.”
“Not yet, perhaps, but you will. Well, not you, specifically, thanks for that,” She rambled, offering the woman a quick placating smile. “My ‘deal’ is limited precognition. Mainly vibes, nothing concrete. I sense paths, which reminds me, any chance I can stop and see Reggie real quick?”
“You know you’re grounded, right? You aren’t really suppose to be making social visits.”
“Please. I need him to trace something for me.”
“Now’s not a good time for him. He’s having sensory overload. He lost his focus and has been having issues regain control.”
“How bad is it?”
Lee sighed, “Complete shut down. He is in a sterile room with no simulation of any kind. He’s losing his mind. The Director is quite concerned.”
“You aren’t suppose to tell me these things, are you?”
“Then why do it?”
“Call it a vibe. Do you really need to see him?”
“I think it could help.”
“Well then, lets go.”
Agent Lee turned left when she should have turned right. Hallway after hallway she lead Ophelia to a vacant part of the compound. She nodded as they met random people but never stopped. Finally she stopped at a room where a nurse was watching some monitors.
“How is he today?” Lee asked.
“Same as yesterday. Not better, but no digression,” he replied.
“Well maybe a visitor will cheer him up.”
The nurse looked dubious, “You know what the Director said.”
“I do, but the kid has been alone to long. It’ll be quick, wont it Ophelia?”
“Super quick,” she pipped in. “Just dropping something off.”
“On your head be it,” the nurse said as he waved them on.
Lee brought her to the end of the hall, “Second door on the right. If you want to actually go in to see him you’ll need to put on a suit.”
She walked on alone, not really listening. She had been thinking the entire way down about the boy. Reggie was a few years younger than she was so she didn’t spend much time with him. Maybe that’s why she didn’t know he was so sick. Now that she knew she was worried she was making the wrong call. Would she risk one young boy just to maybe get information on another? Did she owe that to Wire? As she remembered her brief interaction with the new kid she couldn’t get his lost look out of her head. He had fought so hard to make sure the Director was okay. Then when he was sure he was, he had switched off, instantly shutting down. Clearly he needed help, and if finding out his background would help with that shouldn’t she do all she could to help him?
Reaching the room she carefully put on the suit. Then she knocked, waited a moment, and entered. In the far corner of the room was a boy. He had thrown his mattress up against the wall and was huddled on top of it clutching his head. His black hair chaotically stuck out between his stark white fingers as he flexed and released the fingers, in turn driving them into his head and releasing the pressure. She remembered he was slight, but this was something else. He couldn’t afford to lose much weight, and he had surpassed that a few pounds ago. His shoulders were sharp against his over-sized tee. They thudded as he gently pulsed against the wall. She instantly regretting coming. She couldn’t ask him to do this. Is wasn’t their job after all. They weren’t agents. Wire would find away back to his memories, she didn’t need to hurt Reggie anymore.
Reggie finally noticed her existence and paused. After a minute or two he cocked his head to the side and stared at her. Waiting a few minutes to really take her in, he motioned for her to come closer. He continued to study her as she approached.
“Are you real?” he blurted before she could reach him.
She was so taken aback it took her a moment to answer, “Yeah. Are you?”
“Depends on the day.”
“I think I’ll be real if you are.”
She smiled at that, “Sounds like a plan.”
“You need something.”
“Yeah. There’s this kid who doesn’t remember anything. I thought maybe you could help him out.”
“I have nothing to go on.”
“Ah, but you do. I have brought you a present. I would like you to deduce everything you can from this,” she said as she moved to put her hand in her pocket. She remembered she was in a huge suit only after she’d jabbed herself in the leg. This caused the boy to laugh. She pulled her arm out of the suit sleeve and wormed it down to her pocket. Then she slid off her helmet and passed the sample from one hand to the other. Finishing the transition she slid her hand back into the suit. Ignoring the helmet she approached the boy. She’d get extra time for removing the helmet and giving him unsterilized objects, but so long as it didn’t kill him she could live with the consequences.
The boy stretched out his hand and she placed something small in it, “A piece of lint, really?”
“Yeah, I got in a bit of a kerfuffle with this kid. Snagged this in the process. What can you tell me?”
Reggie held it in his palm for fifteen minutes, examining it. Then he smelled it for a few minutes and even tasted it a couple times. Ophelia was worrying about how much time she had left when he finally blinked and looked at her again.
There was the ghost of a smile on his lips as he began, “This is from a wool garment, red, most likely a hand-me-down. The dye used hasn’t been used for the better part of three decades. I’d guess it’s a sweater but it could be a scarf. It’s a heavy grade, necessary for keeping warm in the north. I would say by a fisherman of the great lakes but I smelled salt water. Considering we’re smack dab in the middle of the US you can take your pick as to if it’s Washington or the New England States. The person values this item greatly and so did whoever had it before him. The dye has faded, but not as much as if it had been washed frequently. It’s soft and supple so it’s been handled often, not in storage for ages. Does any of this help?
“It might. It certainly can’t hurt. Thanks for looking at this Reggie,” she smiled.
“No, thank you. It’s odd, the storm has died down. The one in my head,” he answered without being asked. “Would you visit again, with another puzzle?”
Taken aback, yet again, she replied, “I’ll try. I got in trouble a few nights ago and am still grounded.”
“What did you do?”
She laughed, “Can that be your puzzle? You try to deduce from what you know of me, what I am in trouble for.”
“A challenge eh? I gladly accept.”
A knock at the door alerted them to their closing time. He blinked and looked around. She got the feeling he didn’t realize he had been on the floor all this time. She pointed to the mattress and he nodded. Lugging it up, they got it situated back in it’s frame. Then she poured him a glass of water and waved.
“I’ll see if they can let me out for a brief visit,” she promised.
“Looking forward to it.”
“But you know, if they don’t you’ll just have to get better and see me in the quad sometime.”
“You’d talk to an underclassmen.”
“Of course I would, and anyway, you have a challenge to complete.”
She spun and started out. She didn’t make it far before she heard a shuffling behind her. Turning she saw him carrying her helmet. He gently handed it to her. He studied her for one last moment before nodding and releasing the helmet. She could practically hear the cogs whirring as he began making deductions about her. Shaking her head she finally reached the door and popped through. She was expecting Agent Lee to be on the other side, she was wrong. Apparently Agent Mott was feeling better, only he didn’t look it. He was seething with annoyance.
He managed to point down the hall before bellowing, “Dorm. Now!”
Leaving her suit on she shuffled to her dorm. She did her best to ignore Agent Mott. He was a loose cannon, for no real reason. Besides, she had other things to worry about. How to get back to Wire to see if any of Reggie’s ideas would pan out. Time would tell, and she would find out soon. Once she was done being grounded at least. However, if Agent Mott had anything to do with it, that could be a very long time.
Part of Agents & Abbies
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Prompt: Write a scene that tracks the origin of a specific piece of lint.