Grabbing my dumbbells, I sit at the edge of my bed, start on my biceps next. Not that I have to. When Beta augmented my missing bytes, he hard-coded my muscle build into the skin itself. As long as I’ve got my phone on and/or am near decent Wi-Fi, the bod will be stylish regardless of whether or not I’ve been working out. My concern is that if and when I find my missing bytes, I’ll be soft-boiled on going fully actual again. If that’s even how this works. Better safe than sorry. And anyway, there’s something therapeutic about repeatedly lifting a heavy object. It’s…familiar. Comforting. It’ll keep my parents from suspecting anything’s wrong with me. I still haven’t told them about my missing bytes. I don’t know that I ever will. I’m fine with them ignoring me as if everything’s normal, me all tucked away safe and sound in my corner of the living room, no computer, no smartphone (that they know of), no running around town…or uploading to my secret place…at all hours of the night.
On with my workout. I’m finishing a set of shoulder presses when I spot Ernie downloading beside my bed. He’s got junk food and sleepover stuff with him, and he looks flabbergasted.
“I didn’t take forever to download!” he exclaims. “Since when did your dirty Czech Internet connection join the twenty-first century?”
I continue working my dumbbells. “You’re interrupting my power hour, leviathan.”
“Bug Eyes kicked me out. Need a place to crash while I stalk El Cassetto.”
“How about your own room?”
“Good one.” Ernie dumps his crap on my bed and opens a fresh box of honey buns.
“I thought your grandparents put a lock on the fridge.”
“Ugh. Please tell me you’re not making deals with Robbie again.”
Ernie inhales an entire bun. “In the words of San Angelico’s most recently knocked-up celebrity-slut, Asia Afrodesia, ‘Just because cocaine is illegal doesn’t mean you can’t still get some.’”