Anika stared at the name and number in her little red book. It was burned into her brain, and yet, it seemed scary in her old casual handwriting from years ago. Anne’s handwriting. Someone she no longer knew. That woman seemed like a figment, a long lost twin sister. Anika settled back into her seat sighing at the dreaded duty that lay before her. She had to make a call she’d been fearing for years.
Anika leaned over and took Vincent’s cell phone from Harry’s lap. As she did, she brushed against him on purpose. She noticed the creeping smile on Harry's face. It made her smile too. It was almost like they were dating again, she thought. He would smile and flirt as she played coy. It wasn’t too far from reality, and she hoped that it would sustain them through this day. If they could just last until 4 o’clock, they could start over. Maybe be together forever. No more death. Just them.
Anika held the phone to her lips, held her breath and dialed the number trembling.
“Hello?” His voice was gruff, as if she had awoken him.
Harry’s smile faded as he heard her use her old name. Anika turned away from him as she spoke into the buildings wisking rapidly by the car.
“It’s time. We’re heading to the Petite Auberge, and I have the cryptex.”
Anne started. Could he possibly have not heard she got out of the life? That she was married now, trying to forget the past? She stammered...
“L... Listen, just be there in 15 minutes.”
There was silence on the line. Anika breathed heavily, awaiting his response. He wouldn’t be so cruel. He couldn’t be.
“Please?” she begged.
“Fine”, he stunted gruffly. The line went dead.
Anika hung up, and turned back to Harry.
“He’ll meet us there, with the code.”
“Good”. Harry wasn’t quite sure what else to say. He knew about this whole scenario from his days with the federal government. He had no idea his wife was involved, and to what extent she knew more than him. He couldn’t risk revealing the secrets he knew about this one particular object…and knew his wife probably couldn’t trust him either. His wife…the words sounded foreign in his brain. He was Orson, she was Anne. Two people that had never met. But now she was his wife, his partner with the cryptex, and the only person that could keep him alive.
Harry could hardly keep his eyes on the road, as Anika pulled the last item out of the bag. The item he knew was in there, that he’d avoided looking at for 10 years, that he hoped beyond all certainty could solve their problem.
Anika held it aloft in the light, and it glittered slightly….
Harry gasped. It was exactly as he imagined….
Part XI brought to you by Schrodinger
Up next: Koz