I hate coming to the Peach Towers food court on Saturdays, because it’s always filled with shoppers carrying a half dozen shopping bags (or having their robot servants do it for them), which means the lines to the restaurants are always three times as long. If I were smarter, I would pack a lunch when I work on Saturdays. However, I am not smarter.
Karina is, though. She’s got three sandwiches on a paper plate and some tomato soup in a thermos. My stomach rumbles, but when I look at the line for the Soup’n n Green’n, it’s still fifteen people long.
“Do you want one of my sandwiches?” Karina asks. “I made an extra one in case you needed it.”
“Thanks, but I’d rather suffer and own my mistake.”
“Speaking of suffering… Any luck with researching Jones yesterday?” She munches on a tuna-and-cheese sandwich and I instantly regret turning it down. But I will survive. I am a survivor.
“None of my usual sources had anything new,” I say. “Might go down to the Data Farm next week sometime. Will you be busy with your whatever stuff like last night?”
“That’s just Fridays. You know that, Morgan.”
“Yeah, but I was really bored last night. We never get to hang out on the most important night of the week, unless you come over at like eleven or something. I want to have fun like a normal person…”
“Morgan…” Karina gently chides me. “Let’s focus on finding Jones.”
“And yes, I’m busy for most of the week next week. Orchestra practice, and getting ready for the tech expo with Father, and… We’ll figure it out.”
“We always do.”
“And, Morgan?” She pauses so she can swallow the last remnants of her sandwich. “Thank you for helping me with the Magitek Soda case. It meant a lot to me.”
“It was nothing,” I say. “Lamar did all the hard work. I mean, besides what you did. I basically did nothing, is what I mean.”
Karina shakes her head. Then she says, “There is one more thing.”
She digs into her purse and pulls out– the other can of Magitek Soda.
“How about it?” she asks.
“I have been kind of curious…”
“If we’re being tracked for a few days, we can’t go to any of R8PR’s hideouts or anywhere like that,” she says. “Is it worth the risk?”
“Will we ever be able to live, not knowing?” I ask. “Not knowing the ultimate secret behind the ultimate soft drink?”
“No.” Karina looks at the can, nods, and then pops the tab. It opens with a hiss.
“Here we go.”
Karina takes a few sips and swishes it around her mouth for a moment. She slides the can over to me, and I do the same.
It tastes… tangy. Kind of like orange soda, but sweeter. I swallow, and let the carbonation soak over me. The aftertaste is fresh. Too fresh. It’s like drinking citrus-flavored mouthwash.
We look at each other.
“That was pretty bad,” we say in unison.
The worst mystery, fully solved.
Also, if you’ve read this far already, could you leave a comment this way and tell me how you’re liking the adventures of Morgan & the gang so far? I’d love to hear it.