Aftermath: Episode 6

“You didn’t have to update the IDM at all, did you?” Abby asked as she walked into the third floor of the Tree. Emily had left not long ago, promising to do something that would get her another kiss from her ‘princess’. The calico cat had merely blushed, and told her not to do anything too stupid.

The telling grin on the grey fox’s face had said a lot.

Simon swiveled around on the chair, allowing the squirrel to give a cocky smirk. “Nope. IDM doesn’t update, unless they change the debug code. But as we’re officially in production, technically, they shouldn’t bother touching that unless they have to change something fundamental.”

Abby sat down on another of the chairs in the main computer room. “Called it,” she said quietly. Simon gave a chuckle before he went back to the IDM. The main computer room was merely a room with several workstations, instances of the Internal Debugger Module. The center had a large table as its only fixture, with several chairs dotting around it.

Abby had commandeered Cal’s workstation, as the orange tabby was out with Sam and Haley, out for a walk somewhere. She was glad for the silence, only broken by Simon’s clickety clack on his old-style keyboard.

Each instance of the IDM could be changed in whatever way the user wanted. Simon preferred his old monitor style, three monitors placed side-by-side with a mechanical keyboard, which produced the loud clacks whenever he typed. It oftentimes sounded like it was a constant stream based on how fast he typed, and Abby knew that Haley would sometimes come up here when no one was here just to type as fast as she could. She liked to play on it.

Abby didn’t have an instance dedicated to her, not for lack of option of getting one. Simon and the others had almost constantly asked if she would like one last link to her old life, or if she’d like to learn something new. Sam had been an intern at NuVO, and had gathered a lot of random information, but not nearly as much as Cal, who seemingly knew at least something about everything.

Sam’s was similar to Simon’s, except her keyboard was mostly silent. It was more of an electronic hologram esque style, and it ran silently. Abby would sometimes come up here only to realize that Sam had been typing something the entire time.

Cal’s was the weirdest one; a strange style of monitors that seemed to envelop a single chair. The chair was able to be pulled out (which Abby did every time she sat in it; she had figured out the tabby hated his stuff messed with) away from the cage of monitors. If she had to guess, she figured it was out of some anime or show that he might have watched when he was younger.

Haley had one too, but it was closer to a laptop than anything. Small, a single monitor, close to what someone her age would have in the real world. She was almost never at it, she was too busy running around the Tree and driving everyone crazy.

“What can I help you with?” Simon asked, his head turning to look at her. His fingers kept typing, the sound echoing in the uncomfortable silence. Abby tilted her head to him. “Well, you’re not up here often, so I figure you wanted something. Or just wanted to talk.”

“I’m…I don’t know.”

Simon shrugged. “That’s fair. Most of us don’t know what we’re doing. Well, if you feel the need to talk, I’m here. We’re all here for you.”

Abby nodded. “Thanks,” she said quietly. Simon turned back to his instance, working on what looked like a few emails to people in the real world. The Tree was the only place with direct access and lines of communication to the real world, and the only reason for that was because of the debugger.

When asked where she had liked to stay, she didn’t know why she asked for the Tree. There were already so many others here, and surely one of them would try to put moves on her. They might have even considered her ‘easy’, considering what she’d been through.

And yet, they had been eternally patient. She’d learned their quirks easy enough. Cal was a good cook, Sam could barely brew a cup of coffee, Simon shouldn’t ever drink coffee, and yet…she still felt a bit like an outsider. It had been Haley, the small curious kitten that she was, that had gotten through to her.

“You feel helpless. Like you control nothing about your life. You’re a child again, and you’re looking up to the people that helped you, that are most like you. I think that’s normal. Cal’s easy to get along with, and no matter what they say Simon and Sam aren’t the type of people that would do anything to hurt you, and I think you know that, deep down. You just don’t realize that you know that,” Haley had said.

“You a psychologist now?” Abby had asked.

“No, just someone with not a lot of patience who sees a lot of things,” Haley had answered happily.

“Maybe you can help,” Abby said suddenly. Simon’s ears perked up, and she could tell that she had his full attention. “I just…feel so helpless here. There’s not a lot I can do. I was barely in college, and then…this. I don’t have any real world experience. What am I doing here?” Abby asked.

“You’re here because you wanted to be. As for the helplessness, well…offer’s still on the table,” Simon said. Abby blinked questioningly. “If you wanted to learn what we know. Become a coder, like we are. We can get you set up with another instance. We’re training Haley anyways, and it’s not a big deal if you join in too. We’ll start off slow, and I know you’ll pick it up quickly,” Simon explained.

“I think…I think I’d like that,” Abby answered quietly. Simon nodded with a small smile. He turned back to the instance, going back to doing something on it, before he abruptly pushed the enter key and put his full attention on her.

“So it’ll take a while to generate another instance, but the module can handle that. All you need to do is choose where you want to be, if you want Cal’s place I’ll leave telling him to you, but I’m sure that Sam or Haley wouldn’t have a problem with moving if you want it. If you want my spot, feel free,” Simon said. Abby chuckled when he mentioned Cal’s spot.

She turned to the far side of the table, a spot with a good view of the windows outside. Despite being the middle of the day, they were covered in dew spots, but the image was still fairly clear of the street outside, of the North Tower. “I think…I think here,” she said quietly.

Simon nodded, and turned to get another instance up and running. “You can go get a chair while I’m working on this,” he said. Abby nodded and went downstairs to grab something. She wasn’t sure what she was doing, or why she was doing this. It didn’t make sense, to her.

And yet, she felt that this was the right thing to do. She took a quick look at the area where Emily and her had sat, where they had kissed not long ago. The memory of it still took her breath away, but not in a bad way.

She had thought that she was broken, completely. And yet…maybe she wasn’t. She was worthless, and yet worthwhile enough for everyone to want to spend time near and around her. To even take the time to teach her some things.

She had ignored the fluttering of the thing between her legs at the time. And she’d ignore it from now on, too. But she was glad that at the least, she wasn’t completely broken. Maybe just mostly. Maybe she was still salvageable?

“Hey Abby,” Cal’s voice rang out. Abby’s ears turned before her head did, and she saw the other three cats -well, two cats and one kitten- come in from the front door. The calico hefted a small chair up, and waved lightly. “What’s with the chair?” the orange tabby asked.

Sam sighed, and Haley stifled a giggle. “She’s joining us upstairs,” Sam explained. She gave a pointed grin to the calico, the albino having figured out exactly what was going on near instantly, “so where did you choose? I have ten waiting on seeing if you chose Cal’s spot,” she grinned.

Cal looked affronted. “What!? Come on, that’s my spot! I chose it, don’t I get to keep it?” he complained, grinning to assure Abby of his being perfectly ok with it if she did.

She had friends here. Goofy, cat-like friends who knew more about her than most…and less than most. She had a life here, with people that trusted her that she trusted back. It was still too early to tell, for her, and yet…maybe she wasn’t fully broken.

“Cal, you don’t need to worry. I chose the spot over by the windows,” Abby answered. Cal made a simple high five.

“Ha! Spot is still there!” Cal said with a grin. Sam sighed again, facepalming lightly. “Come on, we’ll help get you set up,” he said, grabbing the chair out of Abby’s hands. “Unless…you wanted to do the honors?” he said, offering the chair back.

She could make it, here. In this world of sex, and nudity, there was always a bastion of hope. And wasn’t it just her luck that she was right in the center of it.

She grabbed the chair out of Cal’s arms. “And if I did? Thanks though, I got this,” Abby said as she started to climb up the three flights of stairs. They barely caught a small murmur from Simon up at the top.

“Four cats, four! I thought two was bad!” he had said. The cats in question looked at each other, before laughing quietly. It was still a library, after all.