97. Nina

Chapter 96

Nina

I’m not sure where I am, but that’s okay. I think that, from where I am, I can see everything, but I’m not sure how to do it. I’m right at the center, and all the rooms are around me.

The room I’m in has a provided phone, and I know to pick it up.

A deep, quiet voice greets me.

“Good morning,” he says.

The voice belongs to an intelligence dispersed all around me. I know I am imagining the voice. In its clarity is my voice too, adding to it and making it mine. But usually when you talk to an idea it doesn’t talk back.

“Hi,” I say. “How are you?”

There’s a long pause that I know is full of wonder.

“I’m glad you can hear me, Nina,” he says. “I was worried. I don’t really trust phones, but Izzy said it’s okay, so I’m calling you.”

“There’s nothing to worry about.”

“Oh. I’m fine,” he says. “You asked me that before.”

“Yes, I did.”

You have to be patient with him, but he’ll get it.

I can hear him nodding through the phone.

“I’m fine too,” I say.

“I’m glad. I was going to ask.”

“I know.”

I look around the room and check the door. It’s not my room, because my room number is 61. I look out into the hallway and see the scrawl on the ceiling.

Panopticon. There are questions that I have to ask the voice on the phone about that word, but I can’t remember what they are. I know I’ve been here before, years and years ago now, when I went looking for something deep inside this place.

What was I looking for? Where was I going?

Panopticon.

The voice on the phone clears his throat.

“Izzy had a question for you, but only I’m tall enough to reach the phone, so I’m supposed to ask it. The question was …” She could hear him thinking. “Mary Leigh Wasn’t Matt’s Mother, Was She? Charles Told Me You Were a Friend of His Dad’s.”

I smile a little bit.

“Yeah, that’s right,” I say.

“I’m sorry you lost your friend,” he says.

“That was a long time ago. I have as long as I need to get over it.”

“I’m still sorry,” he says.

“Thank you.”

“Do You Feel Guilty Over What Happened?” he asked. “That was Izzy again.”

“Yes,” I say. “I do. I’m responsible for a lot. I’m sorry about what happened to your grandpa, Izzy.” I keep the pride in my voice as best I can, and I stand upright.

“That Hasn’t Gone Away?”

“No.”

“It Will.”

I laugh a little. “What do you know?”

“The World Didn’t End When Mother Shipton Said It Would,” she says through him.

“A lot of people are dead because of me,” I say. “Matt was my responsibility.”

“Or Harold Camping Or Pat Robertson.”

“So?”

There’s no answer until I provide one.

“So I have as long as I need to get over it.”

“That’s Right,” I hear.

I close my eyes but still can see. “What about you?”

“It Didn’t Even End When Nostradamus Said It Would.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes. I Have A Friend.”

I do too.

“Izzy. Tell your friend thank you. For saving me. Thanks.”

Nobody says anything for awhile. His voice changes, like he’s not parroting anymore. It’s him again.

“You were the man who opened the cupboard, right?” I ask. “He was right there on the other side, and he was going to get me if you hadn’t found me. I never said thank you.”

“Oh. You’re welcome.”

“Is your leg okay?”

“I still have a limp.”

“I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay,” he says. “Izzy and I have found a forest and we’re on an adventure, so I have to go. Goodbye.”

He hangs up before I can say anything. I think I embarrassed him.

“Goodbye, Sonntag,” I say to the field spreading inside my room.

And then I wake up.

Close the door and we’ll disappear

Close the book and we’ll disappear

Chapter 98

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