tilly and the others: part 6

Tilly frowned, squinted, and finally opened her eyes. The sun was lasering through the holes in the lace sheer curtains she'd hung over her bedroom window. She sat up. Why weren't the drapes pulled?

Then she remembered the helicopter from the night before and decided that perhaps it hadn't been a dream after all.

Her alarm clock told her it was half-past eight, and she had the same moment of panic she'd had her entire adult life — late! —before she remembered she was retired, and had been for three years now.

It was Saturday. She had until Wednesday afternoon to get the Pizza Tela software installed.

"Better do it first thing," she muttered to herself as she climbed out of bed.

Washed and dressed, she made her way to the kitchen and decided that a coffee made more sense this morning than her usual cup of tea. Coffee and toast, instead of tea and cereal. Yes.

She ran through the list of things she should do today. The software installation first, yes. She'd just talked to Owen, so that front should be quiet for at least a few days. She had enough groceries, but it was probably about time she gave the apartment its first dusting...

She chuckled to herself and took a bite of toast. The twenty-three year old woman who had convinced her new husband to emigrate to Vancouver would have been horrified at how banal this life was. Then again, they'd never made it to Vancouver, had they? She'd found out she was pregnant with Owen on the leg of the cross-Canada bus trip between Montreal and Toronto. She'd never even been to Vancouver to visit.

Tilly added milk and sugar to her coffee. Maybe she could fly there with her Pizza Tela money. Just for a mini-vacation. Once she knew more about these Others.

She finished her toast and carried her half-full coffee cup to her computer desk. The expediencies of apartment living had dictated its place should be in the dining area, between the kitchen table and the front door. Tilly turned the computer and monitor on, then remembered the CD was still in her purse.

The computer was displaying its login screen by the time she returned to her desk. She did the necessary typing and read over the piece of paper that had been folded into the case while the computer finished loading.

It was a form to complete a background check. Of course. She'd be taking credit card numbers from customers over the phone. Some of it looked like it would be difficult to fill in since she hadn't really had an "employer" the whole time she'd lived in Canada. She and Marcus had always run their own businesses. Maybe she could give them some old business contacts to vouch for her.

She put the CD in the computer. Windows asked her what she wanted to do with it, and she told it to view the files only. Then she ran the virus scanner on the whole CD, just like Owen's friend from high school had taught her. It found something suspicious almost immediately, but it was in a hidden file that didn't seem to have to do with the installation itself. Tilly clicked the necessary buttons and sipped her coffee. She wondered if there would ever be a way for her to tell Matt Peters that his office computer was giving viruses to all the new order takers.

The installation was a bit crude — it rather looked like the sort of thing Owen's high school friend used to make for fun and show off on the Zondernaams' home computer — but the application itself looked easy enough to use. Just as well, because Tilly couldn't find any on-line help or a user manual on the CD.

She popped out the CD and put it away in a desk drawer. She almost went to log off, but at the last moment opened a new spreadsheet file and quickly made a list of all the mentions and encounters she'd had with the Others so far. She included the helicopter from the night before, even though it didn't fit the rest of the list, just because she couldn't imagine what else it would have to do with anything. Then she saved the file and shut everything down.

She still needed to get a headset and make sure the volume levels were set correctly on the computer. The only place she could think of to buy one was downtown, at the Eaton Centre.

Tilly made a face. The Eaton Centre on a Saturday was bound to be crowded and noisy.

She looked at the clock in the living room and shrugged. "It's only ten," she said out loud. "It won't be too busy yet."

She went to the door and put on her jacket and shoes.