“I saw it on the news, Simona. The biological attack. It’s all over the place. They’re saying someone found a way to transmit another strand of Covid. A strand that’s more powerful than the vaccines they’re circulating,” Kathy (Jacob’s mom) says, scrolling through her Facebook feed and putting her “proof” in my face. “You see this, Simona. Look! It’s everywhere. They’re everywhere and they took my son!” she screams. At a loss for words, I break down and collapse on the ground. Should I even bother telling the truth? I mean if she thinks she’s telling the truth and this is how I feel about it, how would she react to the existence of a Wordworth? My parents would probably think I was on drugs. I sob and cling to Kathy’s leg. Kathy cries and helps me up. She embraces me. “There, there, Simona. I know it’s scary and I’m sorry, but we will get through this. We’re going to find out what happened to my son. He couldn’t have just vanished without a trace like he did, unless the government got him. They have people wearing invisible 5G clothes, you know. They could have grabbed him at anytime after zapping his brain. I saw it on my Qway None girlfriend’s blog.”
I wipe my face on my arm and sit back at my kitchen table. I know she mean Q Anon, but I don’t have the energy to correct her. Not right now. Stunned, I look at Kathy. She gazes back at me with her intense blue eyes. Kathy’s short brown hair and very slender physique remind me of Jacob. I look outside one of the windows. “Don’t worry, I’m sure the truth will hit Facebook or YouTube in the coming days. For now, all we have is speculation from credible sources,” she says, placing a hand over mine. She caresses my wrist and says something about the former president, but it sounds like gibberish.
“I think that’s enough, Kathy,” my dad says, in his gruff CIA veteran voice. “Simona just went through a tragedy. Jacob is missing and there was an alleged terror attack on American soil. Let’s not say anything rash and let’s not assume we know what’s going on. I doubt there are government agents who are invisible because they’re wearing clothing that oscillates at the frequency of 5G. So, let’s keep calm and support my daughter.”
“You would say that, Howard. How do I know you aren’t in on it. You were a spook after all, weren’t you? I’m sure you know things we don’t. Philip used to tell me of all the goings on you two dealt with. Not everything, of course, but enough for me to know there are things we don’t know, and just can’t know,” Kathy says, resigned to her opinions. Mom stands behind her lost in thought. Both women have the same slender, but proportionate build. They almost look like twins except Jacob’s mom has more rounded facial features. Mom’s features on the other hand are sharp. They aren’t related or anything, thank god, because that would be really weird, but it just shows how close my Howard, my dad, and Philip, Jacob’s dad and Dad’s partner, both have similar taste in women.
Dad hugs Jacob’s mom. “I know this is a difficult time for you and I won’t pretend that we aren’t grieving for your son, while still grieving for Philip. For my daughter’s sake, please don’t say anything that could scare her right now,” he says, compassionate and confident. If only he knew just how much I know and how much I’ve experienced these last few days. “Yes, I worked at the FBI and CIA a long time ago. I assure you, our capabilities are nowhere near what you’re suggesting. If anything, bureaucracy makes nearly impossible for anything like that to receive funding, much less happen without the public being informed in some way. If anyone should know, it’s me.” Dad sits down, calm and collected as usual. He’s dressed inconspicuously in jeans, a gray t-shirt and a cloth, business-casual jacket. The soft colors of his clothes combined with his overall presence always make me feel comfortable. “Amber,” Dad says, getting Mom’s attention.
“Sorry, I’m still half asleep, Howie. What’s up?” she asks, out of it, stroking her long blonde hair. Mom looks at Dad, anticipating his request. He hasn’t even asked, but I can already tell she’s going to say yes. That’s just how they are.
“Would you mind grabbing breakfast with Kathy? Simona’s been through a lot and I just want to keep her company while you and two grab some food. If you don’t mind, that is,” Dad declares. He half smiles and slightly raises his eyebrows as if to say please. He looks at Kathy, then back at Mom, who rubs his arm and smiles. She nods. Like Dad, she’s also dressed very casually. She stands behind Dad and puts her small hands over his broad shoulders, then kisses him on the cheek. “Of course, my love,” she says.
“Shall we, Kathy?” Mom asks Jacob’s mom while grabbing both of their purses from the kitchen counter. “Why not? I suppose I could eat,” Kathy responds, patting her non-existent stomach. Mom and Kathy leave, while Dad scoots his chair closer to the table. He chuckles.
“5G is composed of microwaves,” Dad says, looking at the kitchen cabinets. He taps the arms of his chair and sits up. “You know, a suit made out of it would fry the wearer even if it was lined with tons of lead. I suppose we kind of did this to ourselves though. Can’t have free speech without everyone having a voice, even if they’re voicing blatant lies and spewing garbage. Anyway, Simona, this business with Jacob…” Dad pauses and stares at me. There’s a serious and unfamiliar gleam in his eyes. “What really happened?” he asks.
Why does he want to know? It’s not like he’s going to believe me. I mean he’s more likely to listen without interrupting, but still, what good would any of this do? “I, um, I-I,” I stutter, fidgeting with my hands. Without thinking, I start scraping my fingernail polish and picking at my cuticles. Dad puts his hand over mine. His eyes sharp and determined. “What happened, Simona? Can you tell me?” Dad grabs my hand with a firm grip. “Please, Simona, tell me. I don’t care about how incredible it sounds or how crazy you think it is. I worked at both the FBI and then the CIA with the highest clearance possible at the time. There is absolutely nothing you can tell me that I haven’t heard,” he declares, calm, but forceful. Dad nods as if to urge me on.
“Well, Dad” I begin, twiddling my fingers again and shifting in my chair. I huff and puff, then stare out the window. “Jacob drove and I went with him. You know he drives uber, or lyft, sometimes both, and stuff.” I pause and look around the room, anxious and nervous. “This guy. This thing. Ate his words and the other people’s words, and…” I say trailing off. This is ridiculous. He won’t believe. I know my dad. He took me Christmas shopping so I wouldn’t believe in nonsense like Santa Clause. He’s the kind of guy the will hold a tarantula to prove it isn’t something to be afraid of. He isn’t going to believe any of this. I wouldn’t, if I didn’t experience it. And, even then, I’m still having a hard time believe it actually happened. I sigh and shake my head.
“Why did you say no, Simona?” He whispers, caressing my hand. Dad’s dark brown eyes are solid stone, fixed on me.
“What? What are you talking about, Dad?”
He scowls at me. “Simona, listen carefully,” Dad commands, his hands moving like knives against the air, emphasizing his concern. “Did a woman talk to you? A woman named Fandellia. If she did, nod.”
Puzzled, I nod slow and starting crying.
“Ok. So, you probably said no,” Dad says. “It’s okay.” He gets up and gives me a hug. “Don’t say anything. If you met Fandellia, then it’s because you were targeted. But, it also means the Wordsworth following you probably fled since one of her cronies probably showed up. Simona, you need to be careful who you talk to and how you talk to them. If I were you, I’d turn tail back to wherever Fandellia’s group was and join them.” Dad sits back into chair and taps his fingers on the table. “Your mother and I are busy people. I’d help you if I could, but I still have my private practice. Covid has only made things busier in the Manhattan, especially since the vaccines are out and people are still missing family members. But, if you uncover anything and need some resources or help tell me. I can’t actively search myself, but I can follow up on leads and what not. Losing Philip this year was hard enough,” he says, half smiling.
We spend some time sitting in silence. Dad checks his phone and responds to emails and texts, while I pretty much do the same. Mom and Kathy return, setting down a paper bag filled with bagels, condiments, cold cuts and miscellaneous snacks. Coffee wafts through my apartment as Kathy pulls her cup from the 4-drink carrier. She looks at me crestfallen. I look away. She looks too much like Jacob.
Mom pulls a thick, hard cover book from her bag and plops down on the couch. Dad continues working and Kathy sits by the window scrolling through her phone. Most likely on Facebook. A few hours pass. I catch up on most of my work while the bright, cloudy sky darkens as the sun begins to set. Everyone appears to be doing the same thing: Dad’s still working, Mom’s reading and Kathy’s nodding at her cellphone listening to videos with her headphones in.
I plug my headphones into my computer as well and start digging through articles from The New York Times, Courier Journal, BBC and the AP. Hopefully, I can find some witnesses who weren’t affected by Wordsworth. I’m not sure where to start, but I feel like finding Jacob is more important than anything else. If we can make our way to Montana together, then we can do whatever comes up next as team. Yeah. I think that’s the best course of action. Find Jacob. Then, maybe, heading to Fandellia.
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