Story Excerpt
Operation Bravo

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"Black hole!"

I recognized the urgent voice as Ian Traver's, one of my best friends. There was only one reason he would be calling me on a land line instead of my cell phone, and only one reason he would nearly shout out what he did.

The world had just gone to hell.

As Ian always said, the term "black hole" was an odd one, but we weren’t geeks for nothing. If you knew you were headed for a black hole and you were about to die, what would you do?

Geeks ran for their lives.

"Understood," I replied.

The line went dead.

I hung up and pulled my cell phone out of my pocket. I pulled the SIM card out then dropped it onto the floor and slammed my foot down on it. I did the same for my tablet, except I didn't smash it. I had a better plan.

I nodded to the receptionist as I passed her and walked out into the corridor. I found the nearest trashcan and dropped my phone and bag into it. I hated giving them up, but I had no choice. Nothing that could be traced could go with me.

I walked across the campus to where the dorms were located. They weren't MIT sanctioned dorms. Just the apartments closest to the campus, like right on the same street as the campus, which was why everyone referred to them as the dorms.

I used the staircase to reach tenth floor then walked down the hallway and knocked on one of the dorm room doors. A big beefy football player goon answered the door, rubbing his eyes as if he'd been asleep.

"Oh hey, man, did we have a tutoring appointment?"

"I need my bag."

"Yeah, sure." The guy stepped back, allowing me to enter the room he shared with another football player. I tutored them both. He walked to his bed then reached down and pulled a bag out from underneath of it.

I took the bag and unzipped it, quickly checking through it to make sure everything was still there, not that I doubted it would be. Craig Thomas might have needed some help getting his chemistry grade up, but he wasn't a bad guy. He'd eagerly agreed to hold onto my bag for me until I needed it in exchange for a deal on me tutoring him.

Once I was assured everything was inside, I zipped it closed. It was a small bag, about the size of a man's shaving kit. Just big enough to hold the items I would need to disappear.

I pulled my wallet out of my pocket and fished two hundred dollar bills out. I held them out to Craig. "I was never here. You never kept a bag for me. Understood?"

Craig's eyes widened. "You don't have to do that, dude. We had a deal."

That was one of the reasons I liked Craig. He was an honest goon. "Take it, go have some fun with your buddies." I handed him the tablet. "If you get a SIM card for this, you can have it, too."

Craig frowned as he took the tablet, then eyed me. "You're not in trouble, are you?"

"No. I got a new tablet, which is why I kept the SIM card, but I remember you telling me you didn't have one."

"A SIM card?"

I smiled. "It's like the key to the brains of the tablet. You can get one down at a computer store. There's one down by the campus library."

"Cool, man. Thanks." Craig was smiling as he looked the tablet over. "You sure you don't need it?"

"I'm good. I got a new one, remember?" At least, I would be getting a new one after this. For right now, nothing electronic would be going with me. "I'm headed out to visit my cousin for a couple of days, but we'll touch base when I get back." I shook a finger at him. "Don't forget to study."

"I hear ya, man." Craig chuckled. "My coach is already thrilled with the new grades."

I'm sure he was. Unless Craig kept his grades up, he'd be kicked off the football team. That was one of the reasons I'd been tutoring him.

After leaving Craig's dorm room, I caught the first public transit bus I could find. It didn't really matter where it was headed, just as long as it was away from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus.

When I spotted a second hand shop, I pulled the bell to let the bus driver know I needed off at the next stop. I know buying another set of clothes seemed like overkill, but I was a paranoid bastard. Nothing would be going with me today. Not my cell phone, tablet, or even the clothes on my back.

I found a nice pair of faded jeans, a dark blue Henley shirt, a pair of brown boots, and an army green hip waist canvas jacket with matching woolen cap. I quickly changed in the fitting room then went out and paid for my clothes.

I stuffed everything I would need to take with me into my pockets then donated what I had been wearing and walked out the door. I caught the next bus going by. I rode around for about a half hour before getting off and making my way to the subway.

I took taxis from one subway station to another and took busses to taxi stands then back again. I switched between modes of transpiration several times, taking it one direction them another until I had been all over the city. I moved all around town, slowly making my way west, until anyone who might have been following me had either lost interest or lost me.

It was dark by the time I reached the edge of town. I had a taxi drop me off at a truck stop next to the freeway. I walked inside and found a booth then ordered a coffee. I wasn't sure how long I was going to be here before I found the right driver to take me on the next leg of my trip.

Getting out of town was my top priority. I hated leaving everything behind, but I had no choice. I still didn't know why Ian had sent out an alert and wouldn't until I could find a place to buy a burner phone or reached the house Ian shared with Hank Moore.

I rubbed my temple. My head was throbbing. I knew it was because I didn't know what kind of danger I was in. With the way things had been going lately for the members of the geek squad, it could be anything. Between kidnappings, jungle juice, and psychotic rich collectors, our lives were not boring.

Just once, I wished my life was as boring as shit.