NOTE: This is raw and unedited. Even my writing coach's comment was, "massive revision needed." Also, it is very much in the middle of the story and so it may be too confusing to even follow. It could potentially be spoilery, but again, since you have no context I'm not sure it does spoil anything.
Lysandra had been to New York on several occasions so she knew the city pretty well. With a cup of coffee in hand she took out a burner phone she had purchased at the mall and put the battery in it. She did not turn it on. The coffee did not do a thing to clear the fog in her head from the drug that still lingered in her bloodstream.
She had to hand it to Nolin and Edward. They knew having enough people to confront would not do the trick. Drugging her had been a move neither she nor Esben had not expected. With the help of two Elbie it only set them back a few hours but it had been enough. As she sat on the bench, sipping her coffee, Qur’ag still had to work at keeping her adrenaline at a high level to counteract the drug.
Esben left her at the church to rest while he used the ACS guard to mail her watch to their final destination. This time she had no memories of what happened since she was not actually being active in what was happening to her. But they both knew what had to be done and so he left Qur’ag to complete the needed task. What she was about to do was also needed to ensure their activities stayed off the grid as long as possible.
She sat on a bench inside a fenced basketball court watching kids play basketball. Why these kids were not in school she did not know. Qur’ag protested leaving the church. He thought it best to stay put. That moving about would risk them being seen and worse, getting captured. With a staunch mental shut up at the morose Elbie she left the solemn quite of the sanctuary and went outside anyways.
Patience was a virtue when it came to crime. Crime tended to be a matter of opportunity. Knowing when and where to strike were an art form. It had been some time since she had participated in such activities. But old habits die hard. Fear and survival have a way of hardwiring themselves into all your actions even when you don’t want them to.
“Hey kid.” Lysandra called to a tween age boy with dark mussed hear and dirt smudges on his cheeks. “You got a phone?”
The boy was skeptical. Looked her over with a wary eye. “’Course I got a phone.”
“Let me see it.”
The kid squinted at her. “Why?” He inched closer anyways.
“Here,” Lysandra reached into her pocket and took out her phone and held it out to him. “I would love to trade you. What do you say?”
The kid hesitated, but slowly reached for it.
“Brand new. Only been used once.”
The kid turned it over. It was nicer than his phone.
He furrowed his eyebrows and looked at her. “Why you want mine?”
“When I was your age, I had one just like it. Call it nostalgia.” When she was his age, only rich people had cell phones.
“Nostalgia?” He wrinkled his nose. “What’s that?”
Lysandra blinked, she hadn’t stumped someone before with her vocabulary. “It means a fond memory. Think of your favorite thing.”
“Then you lost it.”
“Then, several years later you found it again and it makes you feel happy.”
“That feeling is nostalgia.”
The boy turned the phone on and went through some of the menus. He held up against the phone he brought with him. “What if someone calls for you?”
The kid dug his toe into the ground, openly examining her. Lysandra leaned on her elbows and smiled at him.
“What if someone calls for me?”
“I’ll give them your new number.”
“Well....” he drew out the vowel. “I guess so.”
“Sweet.” Lysandra held her hand for his phone.
He cocked his head to one side as he looked at it one last time and finally handed it to her. Even as they held their new phones he kept looking at the one her hand.
“Come on, Matt!” One of the other kids called from the across the basketball court.
Lysandra sat up.
“Thanks, lady!” The kid put the phone his pocket and bounced off towards his friends.
The name rang in her ears. Would Matt approve of her actions? Even as she formed the question another thought berated her for even caring what others thought. But this was Matt. She had never cared about the approval of the crowd, just a select few. And when she was too busy learning protocol or radio code Matt had become one of those few.
Another voice chided her for such sniveling sentimentality. Esben’s reason for leaving Qur’ag with her made sense, the Elbie could be her back up in the same way they had been at the Seattle office. It was unfortunate that it had to be the worst of them all. This arrangement would not work for much longer.
Since the human was the one who had spent time in New York City, she was the one in control for now. Lysandra headed back to the church making several switchbacks and staying under the cover of eaves whenever possible.
Inside the cavernous interior of the sanctuary it was easy to spot Esben’s current host. Mimicking some of the other visitors in the church, she dipped her fingers in the water basin, crossed herself, and made a half bow before heading down the aisle. It was between services at the moment so the few worshippers there were scattered at great intervals throughout the pews.
She slid across the wood seat next to him. Esben had his head craned up, his eyes roving along the curved arches. She waited for him to speak, his eyes continued to examine the structure around them.
She cleared her throat. “All done?”
He reached into his jacket and handed her a receipt. It had the tracking number on it. “It will get there by 10 am, no signature needed.”
Lysandra crammed the paper into her pocket. “Are you sure we can leave your host behind?” His eyes searched the stained-glass stories. “Hey, is everything okay?” She put her hand on his forearm. He jumped at her touch.
“I’m fine.” He finally looked at her. “Each mind is so similar and yet totally different.”
Lysandra took her hand back. For a moment she saw Edward. Maybe it was the effect of his voice inflection. No matter what host Esben inhabited, the way the person spoke came out sounding like Edward. She shook herself. “Okay. Well, we need to get going then.” She put her hand on his neck and waited for Esben to transfer into her. Esben would take over immediately. Not something she really liked but for now it would have to do.
The man’s whole body relaxed. She folded his hands peacefully folded in his lap where he sat like he was praying.