I have been here all day. In front of the computer. For so long now I can feel my head slowly being viced together, along with the feeling of something akin to icepicks piercing the inner corners of my eyes until they scrape the back my skull. But I can't tear myself away, not yet. This is all thanks to a malfunctioning security system, of course. Normally I would just brush the annoyance off and get the task done, I mean, it's really no sweat to fix so long as one of my brothers can do a quick run around the perimeter checkpoints where the micro cams are set up. And normally, that would be it. But today I feel like I have some kind of high level Raphael-like hangover. Or Raphael induced hangover, anyway.
But, it was probably my fault, this awful impending migraine - after sitting at my computer until all hours of the night, I was woken early by the alarms. There was nothing even vaguely threatening on any of the monitors, so I set about running some maintenance routines of the south eastern wing security trips. Normally they detect anything larger than a rat moving in the sewers, but after having sent Mikey to do a test run down there, so far, nada. It was irritating, to say the least, as I could not find fault with the system set-up, and was coming to the realisation that we'd have to go in and physically find and fix the wiring, a task that would be both a pain in the rear and at least a week's work. I had decided to see if any other of the trips were at least activating when correctly triggered and had urged Mikey to also walk down the northern tunnel to see if the cams would pick him up.
"Okay, almost there." His voice crackled over the two-way radio.
Instantly the security alarm sound blared throughout the lair. I flicked a switch to turn it off.
He waved to the security camera, and from the confines of the lair I could see his goofy grin. Then his miming of someone trapped in an invisible glass box.
"Got it, Mikey." I said into the two-way. "You can head down to the SoTows, let's see if we have another problem there."
"Roger, Don. Wilco." The two-way whirred, distorting his reply only a little.
I saw him padding away until he disappeared off screen.
The rest of the surveillance worked like a charm. As per our agreement, I had repaired his beloved ipod, which really just required a software upgrade but I think more to the point was that he just wanted me to do it. I think the searching and waiting aspect of upgrading software was more than he could bear, instead opting to trudge through the sewers. To him that was doing something, waiting was doing nothing. I had a quick look at his current playlist - Kanye West and Taylor Swift were on high rotation. So typical of my dichotomous brother.
I breathed out a sigh and I dropped some dissolvable aspirin into a jar of water and stared intently as it fizzled out, my mind drifting to endless loops of wire I would later be unravelling. The sound of the alarms going off was not a help.
My chat box chimed as a message popped up on screen.
Howdy stranger, it read.
I raised my brow in pleasant surprise. I typed back my reply.
Hey April. How's things?
A few seconds passed as my cursor blinked.
Nothin' much, just at home bored and wanted to know if you needed any help with those systems today.
I sat back and my swivel chair creaked under my weight shift. I had mentioned running some tests, briefly, a week ago. I guess April had just remembered, and offered her help. She was just so...well considerate. But something more than that.
Perfect. Just in time. I pressed enter, and waited.
Yeah, how so?
I smiled at the screen, as if she could see me. I hunched over and typed my reply:
Well, if you want, you could head down here via route 6, I would love to know if those security cameras near Bleecker are activating. I can meet you at the mains so you don't have to walk the rest of the way alone.
A few moments later she replied: It's a date.
A date? I swallowed hard, leant back and knocked my jar of aspirin water to the floor.
"Cripes..." I muttered. I attempted to sop up the puddle inching towards the power box with some scraps of paper.
Don...you still there?
I quickly typed back a reply: Just wet myself.
I felt myself flush with embarrassment. Why was it lately that I always saying things like this around her? As much as I tried to maintain my calm demeanor, it didn't take much for me look like an idiot.
Haha, that was not how it sounded - just spilled something on myself.
There was a pause, and I could almost see her doubled over her laptop, laughing. Eventually she must have gathered the strength to type.
No problems, D. Will see you in twenty.
See you then. I added.
I didn't really like the thought of April walking around the sewers whenever she visited, but knew she'd be affronted if she felt like we were escorting her every move. She was funny about that sort of thing. Her independence was hard won and earned, and it was just another thing about her that made her that much more attractive, if I was being totally honest. I pushed the thought aside, and picked up the two-way.
"Mikey, you still there?"
"Yeah, bro." It crackled back.
"You can cut the stroll short, head back down the eastern mains so I can track there. Then we're done."
"Ah, sweet" he sounded genuinely pleased, "I'm almost there. But what about the SoTow tunnel?"
"April's heading over so I'll check it then. You could – ah, pick up some supplies from the market?"
"Okay – but have you got the tab squared because last time I was there they shit kittens over it."
"What? I thought I gave you the money to pay that."
Mikey hesitated, "Uh...you did? 'Cause I don't exactly remember..."
"Right. Just... I'll transfer some money to your card. Settle it when you get there." Collectively we earned a little here and there. The little bit of cash more vital than ever to our survival.
Mikey paused momentarily, "So...I can get anything I want."
"Anything?" he emphasized the word in a way that made me break into a cold sweat of worry.
The radio went silent, but minutes later he triggered the East Main tunnel cameras as he walked through.
I held down the radio button, "Thanks Mikey, that one's good to go."
He grinned cheesily towards where he thought the camera was and gave a thumbs-up, then scurried off towards the China town.
I quickly transferred money to our market card for Chang's, the owner of which we had a friendly agreement with. Well, hopefully still had a friendly agreement with. I checked the time. I was running late.