The diner was specifically chosen because it was not one of those "see and be seen" places. It was not in a trendy part of town, the windows didn't glisten, and the décor didn't call out to passersby to come in and take refuge. The owners didn't care about befriending their patrons, nor did they seek out other business owners or local leaders to schmooze with (not that there were many in this neighborhood). Other than the few people who still lived in this section of town, the diner was largely ignored by most pedestrians. That is why Misha chose to come here daily. There was a time in her life where she would have looked over this place like everyone else. These days, she needed a place to be ignored.
Choosing to live under the radar meant not having much money for luxuries, so her favorite place in the diner was a counter spot closest to a TV that played the 24 hour cable news network. Today, like any other day, she was sipping coffee while watching the strange events of the world – strange, ever since the Visitors had come. Early on, Misha wondered if she was going crazy. Aliens invading Earth? I must be hallucinating...all the stress is finally catching up with me. She finally resolved to live it out because, whether it was all fantasy of her mind or reality, this shit didn't seem to be going away. There were still mornings when Misha would wake up laughing, thinking all 'this' had been a horrible dream. Her mind could not fathom that her life had been reduced to such shambles. But her walls had started to crumble before the arrival of the Visitors.
The young waiter gestured with the coffee pot. Misha nodded and pushed her cup towards him. As he pulled the pot away, both of their heads snapped towards the TV. A Visitor's bulletin flashed upon the screen. Recognition flickered in Misha's eyes as she slid off the stool and leaned across the counter to get a better look. A gurgled, involuntary moan escaped from the back of her throat before she could stifle it. She did, in fact, recognize the young boy in the 'human' version of a visitor's uniform. Frozen in place even after the bulletin had ended, she didn't see the waiter's concerned look or sad shake of his head.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Misha traveled down the sidewalk past the papered over shop windows and graffiti covered concrete walls. Although the broken bones had healed, she still walked with a slight limp. As she pushed through the door of the hole in the wall Indian restaurant, she scanned the tables. She continued back to the register, where the man behind the counter nodded politely.
"I need a rice pudding…to go, please," she said.
"Anything else, ma'am?"
"Um, a tea, too." She answered. Misha pushed a five dollar bill across the counter and was given five dollars back in increments of dollar bills and change. She turned her head and gazed at a painting over the register. "I need to see him," she said as quietly as possible.
"I will send word and contact you tomorrow," he answered busying himself filling a plastic bag with napkins and a spoon from behind the counter.
Misha smiled and thanked the man when he brought her order in styrofoam containers from the back.
When she returned to her apartment, she pulled the receipt from the bag. A handwritten '18-14' was circled at the bottom of the receipt. The number indicated a meeting place and time that she was to meet her cousin or, if things were too tight, another Resistance member who would convey messages for her. She would often show up to a meeting place only to be redirected.
Misha sighed, hoping this time she could convince him that, despite her healing wounds, she needed to be with the Resistance rather than on the sidelines. The latest underhanded, weakly camouflaged attempt to flush out Mike Donovan was too much for her to take sitting down. Misha knew that Mike's mother had to be involved – or at least know about the plan – since she was the official human spokesperson for the Visitors. How in the hell could she do this to Sean and Mike? Misha had always considered her aunt by marriage somewhat of an ice queen, but never had she expected Eleanor would stoop so low as to use Sean to catch Mike.
She stared out a dusty window at the street lamps that had begun to flicker in the fading light. She didn't foresee herself getting much sleep that night. She wished she had someone to talk to and somewhere to have a conversation where she didn't have to speak in code.
An hour later her phone rang. She lifted the receiver.
"Hey. Marlo, from downstairs. I just wanted to let you know that your apartment will be fumigated tomorrow, so you may want to make plans to be gone. I thought you might want to take your valuables with you."
"Uh...yeah, sure Marlo. I'll, uh, go stay with my cousin." Misha answered.
The man chuckled. "Sounds like a good plan. See ya around."
Misha hung up the phone and smiled despite the distressing situation. She looked around, trying to figure out what she would leave behind and what she would need to take for her new place with the Resistance.