The Compromise in Room 1011

There was a knock at their shared door. Stella stopped pacing the room and scanned her thumb to open it. With her arms crossed, she filled the space of the doorway, unwelcoming Noam in. Stepping towards him, she forced herself into his room. He was not going to control her, and he needed to know that. “Okay, so, how are we going to do this?” It came out sounding like a challenge.

Noam didn’t answer, though that look of disappointment passed across his face again. Annoying. Annoyed.

“I think we need to contact the leaders of the community. We need to tell the people who know the people. They’ll help us spread the word.” She thought this idea was quite smart, and so she spoke it loudly.

Nodding his head in agreement, Noam responded to her idea. “That makes sense. And seems manageable.” Building on her idea he suggested, “What if we told the people we’ve already met in the community? Like Luke, that kid who reads to those children. It seems like he’d know people. And every kid he reads to must have parents…” He paused, looking to her for…? Approval?

Cross My Heart by Tara Joyce

Her mind had already moved past her first suggestion which, sure, sounded fine but was it really enough? Now she had a newer and better idea and instead of responding to Noam, she made this suggestion, “I think we should talk to Chris, the very person who got us into this situation in the first place. I think we should show up, and be like, what’s up, asshole! He won’t be expecting us since he thinks we’re now drooling zombies, and we can scare him into giving us information about the scam the Rewriter’s running. It’s perfect.”

“That makes no sense, Stella.” Noam sounded suddenly tired. “And it’s not what we agreed on doing.”

“It makes perfect sense,” she pushed. “I see it as phase one of a two phase plan. Once we scare Chris, and get some intel, we can start sharing it, like we discussed. Without the info, what really do we have to share?”

“I appreciate you optimism, but your plan, it doesn’t sound real. Chris has no reason to tell us anything, and I will not get involved in any of this drama. Talking to him gets us involved. No thanks. Let’s just talk to people, people not involved in this whole scam, and share what we know with them. That’s what we agreed on.” Noam hadn’t moved from the doorway since their conversation began.

She was frustrated that he wasn’t agreeing with her. “I know what we agreed on, Noam. But now I think we need to do a combo-hybrid. First, we need scare the truth out of Chris, and then two, we need to share that truth with people. The Rewriter needs to know that he didn’t fool us. I bet we’re the first people to escape his little human factory. He needed to know that. It’s got to scare him that we can, and will, spread the truth about him.”

“So let me get this straight. You think we’ll change him by letting him know that we’re on to him?” Noam’s voice was laden with skepticism. “I think you’re right that he won’t like the idea that two people got away and could be hurting his people-farming business with their big mouths, but I doubt he’ll care. Especially enough to change anything he does.”

“Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, Noam. And mine is that he will care, and it will make a difference.” She folded her arms across herself, trying to signify that she wasn’t going to budge on the matter.

Cross My Heart by Tara Joyce

He didn’t speak for a while and it looked like he was working something out in his head, like a math problem or something. Finally, he responded, “Fine. Let’s try it your way,” and with that walked swiftly back into his room. Before closing the shared door, he told her to “meet me in the lobby in one hour,” and with that he was gone and she was left staring at their shared steel door.