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Fred had been through so many songs, miles, files and hotels that he had become exhausted. The Sheeba Inn he chose for the night had a rather professional style and grace to it and the view from the 19th floor was spectacular. His view was over the vast and mysterious Lake Tahoe. Even though the wear and tear on the casinos amenities had shown their age, Fred actually felt like a high roller for once. It was just too bad that all he wanted to do upon his arrival was sleep. He pulled back the covers and flopped onto the bed face first. Using only his big toes, he lazily made several attempts at at removing his shoes before succeeding. His body was trying to pull him into himself. His eyes fluttered closed. He was oblivious to the blue light striking his body only moments after falling asleep.

When the phone rang some hours later, there was a frantic woman's voice on the other line. Fred finally realized it was Angela Frey when she spoke something about his pamphlets he'd left at her house.

A: "It's about time! why haven't you replied to my texts or voice mails? You're a real asshole ya know? Are you ok? Where are you? And what the fuck are those pamphlet-paper things? You know all that conspiracy crap is gonna rot your head right? When are you coming back? Are you coming back? Are you fucking some other girl? Your such a dick, I miss you... hello?"

F : Um.. yeah... I mean no...

A: "Yeah" your fucking the girl?

F: No! That would be a real conspiracy dear. And no, I'm not banging anyone.

A: Where are you?

F: South Lake Tahoe.

A: Why?

F: Personal business. I just came from a meeting with an old friend in Ukiah.

A: What's her name?

F: Zakari Taniguchi is his name. He is a veteran friend of mine. I had made a pact to meet him back on the first of March and so I did. I'm working my way up to Portland in a few days. I'm sorry I didn't tell you nor pick up your messages, I've just been working though a lot of pain and mental blocks. Honestly I'm still trying to remember much of our friendship.

A: Friendship? You got to be kidding me! Friendship? Is your brain that glitched up? More like partners, pal. My God... it's worse than I thought.

F: You have no idea.

A: When are you coming back home?

F: I don't have a home. It's just an apartment and a shitty one at that. But I'm thinking a few more days out here before I hit the road. What have you been up to the last few weeks? Anything exciting?

A: I'm not one for small talk Fred. You need to bring your ass up here because you got lots of explaining to do! A package came to my door via FedEx addressed for you. I let it sit for a few days but you've have never gotten mail here and have been gone so long that curiosity won and I opened it. Inside was a computer tablet and a hand written note obviously written by a woman's hand. It's some cryptic message. Just a page of nonsense letters with a few recognizable words like "enclave", "psionic", "natives", "Nor-Cal" and "Lake Tahoe". So who is she Fred?

F: I don't know what your talking about. A tablet you say? What's the return address?

A: It says Aiguo Sīkōng. Ramstein Germany, NATO Allied Air Command.

F: ... No shit?

A: No shit. You need to get back here a.s.a.p.

F: Ok, ok. I'll head out tomorrow. I gotta sleep it out tonight.

A: And Fred?

F: Yeah?

A: Don't do that shit again.

[Click]

Fred rolled his eyes. Another computer? He hadn't even started scratching the surface of the hard drive Gooch gave him. And NATO headquarters? What was that kid Aiguo up to? He just saw him a few days ago back in the California Starbucks, now the kid was in Germany? What the hell? Fred wanted to sort it all out but was too tired to think. As he drifted slowly back to sleep his last thoughts were of Angela Frey and her disgruntled tone. Now, not only was his pain mental, it was becoming surprisingly emotional. The feeling of heat pressed his cold heart. He tried to imagine the ocean and its waves before he finally gave in to sleeps sweet surrender. His dreams were of little gray men.


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