When they reached Pavelec’s car, SMS stepped in front of Cyber and got into the front passenger seat. He hoped the message was clear: he was the one in a position of authority here, not Cyber. Cyber’s comments had unnerved SMS a little and put him on his heels. That wouldn’t do.
Cyber just shrugged, swung himself into the back seat, and rolled down the windows.
They drove for an hour, back south to Victoria over the winding Malahat mountain pass. Pavelec put some modern rock on the radio, and no one spoke. SMS spent the first half of the trip staring out the window through glazed eyes, chewing on his fingernails as he tried to sort through the things Cyber had said. Had he just been trying to mess with SMS’s head, or was there more to it? Were the webs SMS had woven over the past several years starting to unravel?
When they were about ten minutes out of the city, SMS got another buzz from the man in the back seat. “Feeling a bit freaked out?”
“About how much I might know.”
SMS peeked over at Pavelec. She was staring intently at the road, completely unaware that her two passengers were using their special abilities to communicate silently with each other. At least Cyber had the sense to keep his phone in his pocket and set on Silent.
“how much you might know about what?” texted SMS. He wasn’t going to be goaded into revealing anything.
“I read an interesting article about your mother.”
“is that so.”
“Sounds like she was a pretty special lady.”
“she was. where are you going with this?”
“I think I know what happened to her.”
SMS took a few seconds longer to reply to this. He chose his words carefully. “her death was a matter of public record. there was an inquiry, and we received a settlement from the garage that installed the faulty brakes.”
“You don’t actually think her brakes were installed wrong, though, do you?”
SMS twisted uncomfortably in his seat. “why shouldn’t i?”
“If you read the same report I did, I’m sure you noticed all the faulty logic and the lack of detail. That report was a total sham. It didn’t even mention any of the circumstances that led up to her ‘accident.'”
“what circumstances?” Now SMS was really starting to sweat. He had thought the police report was buried, that everyone but him had completely forgotten about it. Where had Cyber managed to dig this stuff up?
“You really want to keep playing dumb? Fine. I’m talking about your mother’s relationship with a certain local businessman, someone who repeatedly tried to hire her during the year leading up to her death. But she kept refusing. She didn’t want to work for him. When he thought you weren’t around to see it, he got a little angry with her, and she was getting more and more stressed out. Sound familiar now?”
“vaguely,” said SMS, but there was a lump in his throat.
“Do you remember who that businessman was?”
“Now you’re just flat-out lying to me.”
“what do you want me to say?” SMS clenched his fists and dug his fingernails into his palms. Cyber knew. He knew about Mom, he knew about the “accident,” he knew about Innis, and he obviously suspected that SMS hadn’t bought the official version of things, either. The only question, now, was whether he had shared those suspicions with Innis.
Cyber wrote, “NOW are you feeling a bit freaked out?”
“you’re dredging up some pretty painful memories.”
“Something tells me those memories are never too far from your mind, though, are they, Shawn?”
SMS didn’t reply. He was blown. He had to be blown. He’d put years into securing Innis’s confidence, building towards the right opportunity, and now it was all over. Somehow, something or someone had given him away, and now Innis had sent Cyber, his new puppet, to punish SMS for his disloyalty.
After a minute, Cyber picked up the conversation again. “I’m on your side, you know.”
“I want the same thing you want.”
A pinprick of hope shone into SMS’s black despair, but he replied cautiously. “what exactly do you think i want?”
“You really don’t trust me, do you?”
“you haven’t exactly been straight with me so far.”
“Fair enough. Why don’t I tell you what I think you want, and you can tell me whether I’m right. I think you want Ian Innis to pay. You want him to face justice for cutting the brakes on your mom’s car because she refused to work for him. And you want to be so close to him that you can see the utter shock of your betrayal in his eyes when all is revealed.”
SMS turned around in his seat and looked into Cyber’s eyes. There was a dark, determined, but still somehow playful smirk on the man’s face. Cyber raised his eyebrows, as if to say, “Well? Am I right?”
“yes,” texted SMS. “yes, that’s what i want.”