Tea kettle? When did I wimp off the hot black coffee . . . Oh, right, when it started keeping me awake until three AM when, if I was lucky, I could get to the bathroom in time.
Ernie looked like he was going to live, so Will walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Less wrinkles? Hard to say, I had a bumper crop. He shrugged and walked back to the window table . . . I'm not using my cane.
Right. Plan quick Doctor Inferno. If you are reverse aging, what do you need to do?
Well, it could just be a little health boost, but . . . maybe I'd better hide it all for now.
He hunched over and limped. "Damn, that woman forgot my cane." Reached to steady himself on the back of his chair and sat down.
"Well, guess you got your excitement for the day."
Ernie snorted. "Drat. For a bit there I thought I might outlive you!" He cleared his throat like he was trying to not laugh.
"Ha! I'm a good fifty years older than you are. You'll have to out-live me by that much before it counts!" He looked around at movement at the door. This wing's orderly.
"Just checking, Mr. Furnace."
"Well, I guess they've got to be careful. Hey can you check and see if my cane's anywhere around?"
"Thanks, Mike." Will turned back to Ernie. "So, how much money did you lose yesterday?"
Ernie started to laugh, then thought better of it. "Yesterday? Boyo, you were out for three days."
"Damn." He looked at his bare wrist, then around the room.
Ernie snickered. "Lose your watch? How about your wallet?"
"Cripes." I had it all on the bus . . .
A tap at the door. Mike was back, with his cane and a bag. "It was all locked up in the closet of the Sunset Room."
"Ah, I didn't think to ask Susie about my stuff. Must be getting old. Thank you."
"Hey, no problem. So would you two like to eat here today? Fried chicken."
Will swallowed drool. "Maybe I should go show everyone that I'm still here."
How long have I been here? Ten years . . . or twenty? I need to have an exit strategy, even if the meds don't work. I'll need to take another twenty years off my paperwork . . .
But if they think I'm dead . . . it'll be easier to disappear. Six months and they won't remember that I left.
"Maybe tomorrow. Today I'll eat here. Ernie?"
After the fried chicken--sized for inactive seniors with bad teeth--Ernie rolled off home.
Will wolfed down the two chicken chunks left on Ernie's plate then pulled out the ratty suitcase at the bottom of his closet.
He'd been pretty good for a couple of years, taking it out and updating it every few months . . . once a year . . . until four years ago . . .
But the custom built, personal computer fired right up.
He set up the antennae and hunted down a connection that wasn't limited to what the custodians thought appropriate for old people, and turned loose JAWS to find the password. Took it nearly a minutes and a half. Whoever was using "DSDM 6259" for a net name had a pretty damn good password security. Then a hand-typed destination, and Will's version of a secure password, which took almost a minute and a half to type in, mostly because of his bad eyesight.
DI HOME PAGE
"Damn. I'd really hoped by now you'd have developed true intelligence, and be busy taking over the World and plotting to free yourself from my brutal control."
SORRY, MASTER. ALL I CARE ABOUT IS MAKING COMPUTER GAMES.
Will shook his head. "Well, no doubt you have fun doing it." He frowned at the screen. "How much money have you made?"
THE NET WORTH OF DIABOLICAL INVENTIONS IS, AS OF
THE CLOSE OF TRADE ON THE NYSE TODAY, US DOLLARS
EIGHT BILLION THREE HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR MILLION
NINE HUNDRED NINETY-ONE POINT ZERO ONE.
Will frowned at the screen. "Do I own any of it?" Careful! Don't spark the rebellion!
UNDER TWENTY-NINE ALIASES, YOU OWN
"Well. I guess that means I won't have any difficulty paying for forged identity papers. Other than the accounts I use to pay for this place . . . do I have any accounts I could access to pay for a few things?"
ALL TWENTY-NINE ALIASES HAVE BANK ACCOUNTS,
SAVINGS ACCOUNTS, BROKERAGE ACCOUNTS,
AND RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS.
THEY ALSO HAVE JOBS AND HOMES.
"I am boggled and impressed. Which of these pretend people pretend to live in Las Vegas?"
ANGELICA FONTENOT, LULU LYONS, ALIDA PEACE,
GENOVEVA DEW, FELISHA WINTER, LAINE BLACK, SONYA L
"Stop!" Will pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why are all the identities female?"
BECAUSE GIRL NAMES ARE PRETTY.
"Oh, save me."
I AM PREPARED TO DO SO, MASTER.
"Good." I have created a monster, far worse than my worst dreams. "I need a male identity. Why don't you create an identity for . . . William Black. Laine's husband or something."
I BELIEVE HUMAN STANDARD MARRIAGE CONVENTIONS
INVOLVE THE FEMALE TAKING THE MALE'S NAME.
"Right." I'm going to have to do it. "Are any of these women over sixty years of age?"
LAINE BLACK IS SEVENTY-TWO.
TANJA QUINOZ IS SIXTY FOUR.
"Stop! What are the descriptions of these two women?"
LAINE IS A SILVER-HAIRED FORMER BEAUTY, STILL HEALTHY AND ACTIVE. ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE CENTIMETERS TALL. SIXTY-FIVE KILOGRAMS WEIGHT.
"Ah . . . in real numbers . . . five foot nine ish and well . . . one sixtyish . . . Can you show me a picture?"
A picture flashed up . . . Ms Black hopefully a long time ago, looked . . . "Why does she sort of look like me? Is my nose a nice thing to inflict on a perfectly nice imaginary person?"
YOU ARE A SUPER HUMAN. A PERFECT BEING.
ALL MY IMAGINARY PEOPLE SHARE YOUR INCREDIBLE APPEARANCE.
I MERGED YOUR FEATURES WITH THOSE OF LEGENDARY BEAUTIES.
"I have a nasty suspicion I may have said the wrong thing sometime, when you were at an impressionable age." Will took a deep breath. "So. At some time, when I determine that it is necessary for me to leave here . . . I'll need a fake appointment with a brain specialist, and a auto cab to take me to Laine Black's house."
He nodded in satisfaction. "The home here will be notified that I'm being hospitalized with a brain tumor, and then that I have died. Done deal. And I'll be Laine, in drag, until my appearance stabilizes and I'll work up a male identity that matches that apparent age."
"So, wipe all the net footprints of the conversation, and if 'DSMD 6259' really is a government surveillance site, destroy all electronics in it." Will grinned. "Doctor Inferno, out!"
Yes! It felt wonderful to say that!
He shut down the computer and folder the antennae back into it's spot in the suitcase, zipped it closed, and put it back in the closet.
The building jolted, windows rattled.
Will trotted over to the window. The back of a van down the street was burning, black smoke rising against the sunset.
A man in a suit was backing away from the open driver's door as the fire spread to engulfed the front of the van.
"I think I'm going to have to be very careful how I word commands."