"Well, that wasn't much of a safe house," I said as we watched the Goon Squad (also known as the Pinnacle Police Company) march through the rooms, breaking furniture, ripping open the beds, searching for any information left behind.
Canto and I sat on the edge of a platform two miles away, looking through long-distance goggles. "How'd they find us?" Canto asked.
"They must have had a tracefile in one of the packets we got at the pharm," I said. "There were thousands. All that data."
"I copied all the stuff that I decoded," Canto said. "I have it right here." He held up a portable drive the size of a fingernail. "If there was a tracefile, it wasn't in these."
"Good," I said. "Then it wasn't all for nothing. Not yet."
Canto looked down at the sprawl, the first light of morning hitting the gray buildings and darkened windows. "But where do we go?" he asked. "You don't happen to have a second safe house, do you?"
"No," I said. "I don't." I turned off the goggles, not wanting to watch the Goon Squad tear up more of my belongings. Guillemet's tip-off had come in just in time – any later and they would have caught us trying to escape. Sometimes I wondered how Guillemet knew so much stuff, how far his AI programming went, but I was always afraid to ask. If I asked, he might rescind his help, no matter how guilty he felt.
I sat and thought and then it came to me. "Come on." I stood up. "I know where we can stay."
We went to the abandoned library, the one I had visited right before the job at the Church of the Thin Man. It seemed like I hadn't been there in ages. The building was "dumb" – no security systems, no drones to protect it, just an ordinary lock on the door. It was one of many dumb buildings in the sprawl, where the people who owned the land didn't have the money or resources to make them into smart-buildings or they just didn't care.
The library was also in the middle of a blackout zone, so it was the perfect place to hide out.
Canto looked at all the books, most of them unread for hundreds of years. I don't know how they all survived without turning to dust, but they did. I set up blankets in one of rows of stacks, in case Canto wanted to sleep, but he just sat down on the floor, his face blank. This whole thing was starting to get to him.
Why wasn't it getting to me? I had the bout of paranoia, but then it went away. I saw the Slender Man again, but he didn't do anything. I blinked and he wasn't there anymore. From the stories Canto told me, some people survive with the symptoms for years, some only for days. Perhaps I was in the "lucky" group.
I tried not to think about that as I wandered the stacks, fingers trailing the spines of old books when I came across one that looked strange. It was old, but out of place. This was the science section, with thick tomes detective to the universe or the planets. And then there was a slim volume called Beware of Faded Giants.
I picked it up and started to read.