With fingers still lightly dusted with confectioner’s powder, Khloii reached for the I/O wire that would meld them together, letting them share the memories of the last eight years. As children, after their implants had been installed, the learning programs downloaded and processed, they had double interfaced mind-to-mind. Their minds so similar, forged together now by circuitry and wire, sharing sensation, thoughts, memories, and emotions, they had become closer than brother and sister, even twins of the same womb. They spent hours silently communing, at last not even trying to hide their obsession with each other. Sabin caught her hand before she could press the needle-thin plug into the port at the base of his skull. “You want to live eight years of war?”
She was mercifully quiet for a while, as though thinking of something to say. “Must be difficult, though, travelling on your own. Dangerous, even.”
I laughed, probably for the first time since the plane landed. I’d heard that too often before, too. “Dangerous? This place?” She looked and sounded sincere enough, though it was hard to be sure with that make-up and accent. “I teach jeet kune do and self-defence. The scariest thing I’ve seen since I got here was Phantom of the Opera. I admit, I didn’t actually plan to be making this trip alone, but my fiance dumped me in November, and I was stuck with the ticket. I’m enjoying it more than I expected. So, what have you got around here that’s dangerous? Serial killers? Or just drunks?”
She was silent for a moment. “Are you superstitious?”
The wind brushed her cheek — had it ever stopped? It whistled through the leaves, high and sharp, crying like an animal in pain.
No, not an animal. Ice trickled down Eleanor’s spine. A child. Her child.
“Virginia?” The wind continued to cry. “Virginia, where are you?” Eleanor started forward, in the direction of the voice, then stopped when she felt herself trembling. Would she really find her daughter? Or just another mangled body, nothing human left to it?