Day 5

Prompt: Use the following sentence as the start of your entry: I heard the car door slam and immediately looked at the clock.

I heard the car door slam and immediately looked at the clock. I thought I would have more time, a few extra minutes to finish changing files before he came through the door. I started the wipe to hide my tracks, to make sure he didn’t know it was me, and turned off the screen, praying it would finish before he logged in.

His steps were loud outside, keys jingling as he unlocks the front door. I creep backward through the kitchen, sliding off these ridiculous heels, alert, praying I get out of here alive and don’t get this poor girl killed. That’s the risk of dying in a jumped body: the host dies and you’re brain-dead.

He’s opening the closet door, probably putting away shoes or a coat, and I cross the hallway to the dining room. I stay in the shadows, crouched low, calculating where his next move will be and if I can get out of here without him knowing. Steps track down the hallway as I press into the living room. The carpet is soft on my bare feet; I scrunch it between my toes, listening.

The hiss of a beer breaks the silence, cap dropping onto the kitchen counter before he sweeps it into the bin. I’m almost at the front door, cursing to myself. He left the hall light on. Is it too much to ask for him to consider saving energy? Soft padding of bare feet into the office. Now might be my last chance.

I slide around the corner, heart racing, his shadowy outline barely visible through the foyer doors. He’s clicking the mouse, meaning either business as usual or I should be running.

“What the-?” I hear him say, beer hitting the desk with a thud.

That’s my cue. I open the door quietly as I can, hoping he’s too focused on figuring out what my wipe is doing to hear the click. The night air is cool as I shut the door behind me. I keep close to the house, ducking under the windows until I’m on the far side from the office. Lights haven’t gone on in any of his windows. I make a run for it, a quiet dash through the yard, sliding around the corner of his neighbor’s house and into the night.

James is waiting in the van at the end of the block. He opens the door as I get close, eyes betraying relief.

“You cut that close,” he tells me.

“Too close. He came home when I was running the wipe. I think he saw it.”

“What?! Do you know what could happen if he figures out who made those changes?”

“Yes, James,” I snap at him. “That’s why I’m going back tomorrow, as Julie again. I need to find out what he knows.”

He stares at me for a few moments, bewildered.

“You’re joking,” he says, shaking his head.

“I’m not joking. We need to know if he’s onto us. It’s the only way.”

“Des, we don’t know the first thing about the relationship between these two. If you go in there without intel, you’ll just make it worse.”

“I can’t sit on this, James, not when people could die.”

We’re quiet for a moment. He sighs, running a hand through thinning hair.

“Give me a day. Let me see what I can find out. In the meantime, I’ll put Carl on tail duty. If Warren breaks his routine or starts sniffing in the wrong corners, we’ll know.”

“Fine. But then I’m going in.”

He raises his hands in surrender, lines of worrying etching across his face, lines engraved in his skin by decades in this terrible line of work.

“Alright,” he sighs. “Let’s get you back in your body.”

I nod, giving my body a pat on the head before putting the headgear on. I’ll never get used to seeing myself unconscious. He starts the van, driving toward Julie’s house while I punch in the access codes on my hand console. It’s a short drive, ending just as I finish the configuration.

“Ready?” he asks.

I nod, closing my eyes. This part is the worst.


This story is continued on Day 9.


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