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Amanda opened her eyes to the sunrise slanting through her window, reflecting off the (currently black) screen of her iPad on her cluttered night table. She groaned. I forgot to put the cover on again. And to put the shades down. Then she remembered the message she had sent last night, last thing before sleeping. She hit the home button to wake her iPad up. Both her manual messaging and the usual Apple messaging systems had notifications. Shouldn't there be a way to combine those? There probably was, but that was a question for a programmer. She typed the idea into a notepad app, though, just like she did with her other ideas for how to make the things she used better. She might not know how, but someone would. That done, she opened the nonwizardly message.



The sister's been throwing up since midnight. I'm gonna have to bail on New York. Tell Jason I say hi when you see him?




Amanda wasn't sure what to think. On one hand, if she were going into a potentially dangerous situation on Ordeal, it was better not to be worrying about bringing a friend along. Finding a way to lose him would have been difficult, not to mention rude. On the other, they'd been looking forward to going to New York for some time, and now he was going to miss it. Besides, his sister being sick  wasn't exactly something to celebrate. Amanda felt what she thought might be relief, quickly followed by discomfort over said relief. She wrote a quick note to her mom that they didn't need to pick Chris up anymore- he'd had to cancel at the last minute. 


Then she checked the Manual message. It was from the Advisory. Amanda felt a lump in her throat as she opened it.



Don't find reasons you can't do something. Find reasons you can.



No. Why is it so hard to understand that this is the wrong answer? Why do they always have to dig themselves deeper? Amanda recognized that train of thought. It wasn't what she needed. What she needed was a plan for today.

She pulled up the help function. 

"Is it possible to get warned if my Advisory gets close?" she typed.

"Proximity warnings can be created for any entity. However, if you are trying to avoid your Advisory, there are problems which will need to be addressed sooner or later. Given that you are on Ordeal, probably sooner."

"My problem with my Advisory is that they apparently think being autistic and non-speaking is so bad that I can't possibly not want to get rid of the way my brain works. I've been dealing with this exact problem for years. All that's different is that the stakes are maybe higher, if it turns out that wizardry actually can rewire brains like that. So I'm prioritizing. If I'm going into significant danger, I have other things to focus on."

"Such as?"

I think that's the first time my Manual asked me a question. Is it sentient? Is it supposed to be able to do that?

"Such as finding out what's going on at Grand Central Station that I'm supposed to go help with. Just because my Advisory has switched from helpful to a source of pity-paternalism-ick doesn't mean I should be useless."

The situation report for Grand Central Station appeared on her screen. Apparently dinosaurs had come through a world gate that had forced its way open, and wizards had fought them off, and now they were trying to patch time. None of that made sense to her. She wasn't sure if that was because she was new or because the situation didn’t make sense to the people who made the report. 

"Is there anything I should be doing?" she typed. 

The report scrolled down. Below the not-really-an-explanation she couldn't make sense of, there was information on what was needed. As many wizards as could get to Grand Central Station should do so in order to hold the time patch in place. They would be meeting at track twenty, which was the sum total of what Amanda could properly make sense of. There was a note that the Grand Central world gates were currently down -what does that mean?- and that wizards in need of pre-existing world gates should therefore come through the Penn facility.-um... what?- There were also coordinates for people who planned to use "personal transit." 

"Is personal transit the spell I saved yesterday?" Amanda typed.

"That spell is one of many which can be used for personal transits. It is usable for fairly short transits- a different spell would be used to go to the moon, for example."

I can go to the moon? Cool!

“So could I use that to get from Penn Station where my train comes in to Grand Central where the problem is without inducing sensory overload on the subway?”

“Yes,” appeared on the screen.


Amanda barely noticed her breakfast as she ate it. There was no way she could have told you later that she had scrambled eggs with ketchup, nor that she'd accidentally opened a bottle of apple juice to finish filling her cup after the (pulpless) orange juice gave out when her glass was half-full. If it had been particularly bad, she might have remembered, but the textures mixed reasonably well and she drank it without ever realizing her mistake.