Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Prince William County, Quantico, Virginia
Delivery people arrived at the best times. Penelope sighed and peeled off her nitrile gloves, carefully avoiding oozy residue.
"So, is that Mystic Heather?" The delivery girl pointed at Penelope's highlights cap, smeared with purple goo.
"Hey, fellow Manic Panic fan!" Penelope scrawled a signature on the clipboard. "No, Mystic Heather was a little subtle for my needs. This is Lie Locks. For when a girl really wants to make a point."
"Good choice." The girl peeled back the edge of her green and gold beanie, showing tips of bright blue hair. "Bad Boy Blue is the colour of the season for me."
Penelope shook her head sympathetically. "I'm really sorry it had to come to that."
"It happens. He'll get over it. Or he won't." The girl took back the clipboard, but lingered at the door. She pointed with her chin towards the parcel. "So, is it true? That they send an advance copy to everyone who contributes?"
Penelope raised her eyebrows as she slid the book out of the case. "All I can tell you is that by the time you're holding it in your hand, it's already out of date."
"Always suspected as much." The girl turned to leave, her skates clunking across the wooden floor of the hallway.
"Hey! Watch out for the stairs," Penelope called after her. "How did you get up here on those, anyway?"
"Well, I guess Amazon's a bit like hacking; they always leave a back door open." She pushed off a stopper, and whirred down the hall.
"And that's not creepy at all." Penelope closed the door and put on her gloves to wash out the colour before Lie Locks became Wonka Purple and not the statement she wanted to make at all.
How to Make Divorce Fun
The Illinois Supreme Court had wide, shiny marble floors, affording Kalinda plenty of time to watch the girl on skates as she skimmed towards the courtroom doors with a parcel under her arm.
"This session's closed," Kalinda supplied helpfully. It was going to be a long wait in a draughty lobby. She may as well have an interesting conversation, and she liked this girl's bright pink hair.
"Huh." The girl pushed up her goggles and checked her clipboard. "Can you tell me, is there an Mrs Alicia Florrick in there? I have a delivery for her, it's marked urgent."
"Oh, I can sign for that." Kalinda stood up and leaned over the clipboard, slid one finger down the list of names. "See, there's me right there. I made that order, it's a gift."
"You bought Mrs Florrick a book on divorce?" The girl raised an eyebrow at her.
Kalinda shrugged. "What are friends for?"
"With friends like that, who needs a husband? That kind of thing?"
"That kind of thing." Kalinda tapped her finger against the page. "Do you want to get a coffee? Court's going to be out for a while."
"I'd kind of love to, but I have a deadline." The girl twirled neatly on her skates and pushed off for the front doors.
Something was bothering Kalinda. "Hey, how'd you get past security?" If there was a way to do it, Kalinda would really like to know how.
The girl turned to wave, gliding backwards over the polished marble. "Everyone loves Amazon. Who'd say no to us?"
Kalinda hefted the book on her lap and filed that fact away for later use.
When Big Blue Turned Green: An Allegory for Tourists and Tree-Huggers
Autopsy Suite 3, Building 6a, FBI Academy
Dana didn't bother to take off her gloves when she went for her gun. "How the hell did you get in here? This is a secured building." She aimed for centre of mass, ignoring the bile dripping from her gloved fingers. She could clean that up later when the situation was secure.
The girl in the goggles rolled back on her blades in surprise. The cardboard parcel hit the floor as her hands crept upwards. "Uh, I'm from Amazon? I have a parcel for a Doctor Dana Scully." She did a double take at the yellow goo slowly oozing from Dana's hands. "Dude, is that bile? How the hell do you maintain your cool exterior?"
"FBI training," Dana lowered the gun a little, but not all the way. "How do I know that's from Amazon? It could have a bomb in it." The girl had green hair; it was reasonable to assume she was some kind of radical.
"Why would anyone order a bomb from Amazon?"
Dana didn't relax, not just yet. "Just open it. And then put it down on a clean surface." Just in case it really was a book. She took pride in her personal library, unlike Mulder who used his to store food and porn.
The blades skimmed over the linoleum of the autopsy suite to a clean table, and the girl hoisted her butt up onto the steel surface. She prised open the cardboard packaging and let the book slide out into her hands. She held it up for Dana to see. "You know, I loved The Caligarian Candidate, but after that, there was just no follow through. From Outer Space was truly disappointing. I liked him better before he started writing non-fiction science fiction."
Dana finally put her gun down, and peeled off her gloves. She ran her fingers over the cover of the book sadly. "This didn't end well."
The delivery girl made a face. "I know, right? I hear the alligator eats the dog in the end."
Is Eating People Wrong? Great Legal Cases and How They Shaped the World
Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver
Alex knew witness protection was never going to be a blast, but studying to take the bar every time the Bureau decided to relocate her was beginning to wear thin. She hunched over her book in the library, cramming Colorado state law as fast as she could. It was damn cold in here and she wanted to get home to her poky but secure little apartment.
The sound of skates over the tiles made everyone look up. Alex frowned; they wouldn't let a girl just skate on into the library in New York City. Actually, they probably would. She pushed her hair back and quelled a wave of homesickness.
The girl stopped in the middle of the reading room and held up her parcel, voice ringing through the silence. "So, I've got a parcel here for an Alex..."
Alex lunged forward before the girl could finish her sentence, dragging her from the centre of the room and pulling her down onto the seat beside her, hand pressed over the girl's mouth.
"Shhh!" The little old lady at the next table pressed her fingers to her lips, blinking at them through owlish glasses. She probably worked for the mob. Any minute now, Alex would be studying for the bar in New Mexico.
Alex pulled her hand away slowly, cautioning the girl with a stern glare.
"...Cabot." The girl brushed magenta bangs back under her cap. "Wow, I don't know if anyone's told you, but it's totally time to switch to decaf."
"How the hell did you find me?"
The girl shrugged and pulled off her mittens. "I just follow the address on the slip." She proffered the package. "Do you want this or should I organise a return?"
Alex grabbed the parcel, took in the smiling logo on the side and sighed."How many damn times do I have to change my details on this site?"
"I know what you mean," said the girl. "I used to live in Canada; they're still mailing my checks there."
"I should just make a whole new ID, but then I'd lose my browsing history." Alex pulled open the box and took out the book.
"Wow," said the girl, looking at the cover then back at Alex's face. "I can totally see why you had to go on the lam. So, is it wrong?"
"No, this is exactly what I ordered. Amazon have excellent service when they're not violating state protection orders." Alex flicked through the book to the case citations, just for the pleasure of seeing her name as it used to be written.
"No, I mean, is eating people wrong?"
"Are you asking for my legal opinion?" Alex tucked the book into her satchel. " Technically I'm not qualified to give it. Not in this state."
"I heard there's a robot who says we taste like prosciutto."
"The robot lies," said Alex. This girl was awfully familiar, though the hair wasn't right. "Wait a minute. Don't you have something to do with that fashion designer with the superhero name? Gideon Gordon something starting with a G. There was a case – what did the press call it? That's right: The Lurex Death Machine."
"Well, I guess we're all on the run from someone." The delivery girl got to her feet. "I'll keep your secret if you keep mine." She was gone before Alex could call her back, skates flying over the tiles.
Escape From Alcatraz [Holographic Edition]
Stormcage Holding Facility
The girl had hair that was the bright orange of molten rock, and her goggles were still fogged from the security wash-down. River sashayed up to the bars with a smile. She hadn't been expecting company. This was a surprise. She liked surprises.
The girl – Ramona, by her laminated ID badge – pushed her hood back and turned a full circle on her skates. "So, what are you in for?"
"Sweetie, I'm in for anything I can get." River leaned her chin on a cross bar. "What do you have for me?"
Ramona dug into her bag and pulled out a cardboard wrapped package. "What I've got is a delivery for a Doctor River Song." She eyed the name plate on River's cell. "I guess that would be you, then."
"That would be me." River thrust out a hand from between the bars and the girl scooted backwards in alarm. "I don't remember buying a book, but it seems like I'll be getting the opportunity soon. I must remember to place the order when I get out."
Ramona passed the book between the bars gingerly, snatching her hands away quickly. "Do they let you do a lot of shopping in here?"
River tore open the packaging. "Shopping? No. Not a lot." The book was reassuringly heavy in her hands. "But as I said, I don't think I'll be here much longer."
"So, what? There's a file in the book? How is Escape from Alcatraz going to get you out of here? It's the hardback edition; maybe you can club someone to death with it." Ramona backed a little further away from the bars just in case it was her.
River turned the book and looked at the spine appreciatively. "Oh, this isn't the hardback, my dear. This is the holographic edition." She flipped through the pages until she found the first illustration plate. "What a lot of people don't know is that three copies in the original run accidentally merged with a subspace corridor."
"No kidding!" Ramona crossed her arms."That explains a lot of strange traffic. And that dream my boyfriend had the other night. I really need to stop using that corridor."
"You'd better skedaddle," said River. "I wouldn't want you to get caught in the backwash."
"Okay. But just in case you need back-up..." Ramona unzipped her bag and took out a seriously heavy looking mallet. "Since I'll be nearby." She propped the mallet on her shoulder and skated away with smooth strokes.
River placed the open book on the floor, watched the corridor form above the holographic plate. Any minute now.
The security guard rushed in, breathing heavily, weapon drawn. "Did you see a girl with hair like this?" He mimed Ramona's bangs with two fingers.
River smiled and stepped onto the plate. "I'll just pop out and see if I can find her." The beautiful wash of subspace slipped over her, and she let herself fall.