Challenge Accepted is an upcoming anthology of speculative fiction, featuring people with disabilities who rise to the challenge. This is an extract from Vicious Reality, Jane Jago's contribution to the anthology, featuring Alysson Kowalski from her novel Jackdaw Court.
“Man up,” I said briskly. “We need to know all you know about your little friend.” I threw him a wad of paper tissues and waited for him to get his stuff together.
“I met him about six months ago. At a wine tasting in the Napa Valley. He was the only other person there who didn’t talk like he had a stick up his ass. We had dinner.” Weaver’s voice was thready but he had himself in hand. “Wasn’t until we had met up a few times that I even found out he worked for Blue Ess. He’s only ever been here once other than today. That time we went to the guest house over by the western border of the property, so he has never been in the main house.”
“He ever ask you any stuff about the boss?”
“No. Never. We never talked about his work. Or mine.”
“Any other way he could’ve gotten info from you? Codes or the like?” Cyrus was less tactful than I maybe would have been but the question had to be asked.
Weaver shook his head. “No. I carry my codes in my head. And I don’t see how he could have got them from there.”
Cyrus grunted. “So why’d he pick you up then. Or was it just coincidence?”
Weaver looked truly miserable. “I don’t see how it can have been. I’m not a great believer in coincidence.”
I was thinking as hard as I had in a very long time.
“Lab,” I said curtly, “and we need to be quick.”
Cyrus fairly sprinted. Weaver was half a pace behind. And I kept pace as best as I could. Both men seemed to have caught my urgency as they had me in the computer lab with the doors locked behind us quicker than I would have thought possible. I went to a familiar tool chest and, swallowing a burst of nausea as I worried about the good, kind man in whose house I stood, I grabbed a handful of items.
“Weaver. Gimme your phone. Now.”
He was too surprised to do anything but accede, handing over a brand-new Galaxy. I opened the back and he paled.
“Don’t be a wuss Weaver,” Cyrus growled at him. “If she effs your phone up, I’ll buy you a new one.”
I showed them my teeth. “If I do break it, I’ll buy you a new one. Now shut up and let me work.”
Challenge Accepted is now available to preorder and will be released on 29 March!