The OracleWe pull into a large parking lot. A small motel is garnished with vines, dirt, and filth. Not the best motel that I’ve ever seen. Of course, I say that like any motel is reasonably sanitary.
“We’re here,” the driver says. Lucas helps me out of the van as Mr. Burns follows me.
“Thanks,” I say.
Lucas smiles. “You’re welcome,” he says gently. I grab his arm for support.
I nearly faint on the walk through the parking lot. Must’ve lost a lot of blood, I think.
Finally, we reach the doors of the building. Mr. Burns opens it and holds it open until we pass through.
The outside of the motel is glorious compared to this. Blood splatters the moldy tile floor. Stacks of paper are thrown throughout the lobby. There is a birch desk in the northeastern corner and a key rack behind it. A woman sits near the desk on an old wooden stool.
“Good afternoon,” she says. I nearly chuckle at the woman’s high tone of voice. “Welcome to the Grand Palace Motel. Would you like to rent a room?” By the looks of it, I determine that she is the receptionist.
“No thank you,” Mr. Burns begins. “However, it is peculiar that one of the keys on the rack is square.”
“Indeed,” replies the receptionist. “Would you like to eat at our buffet, then?”
Odd. Why would Mr. Burns say something like that? I wonder…
What the hell?!
""It is a code.""
What in God’s name is happening?
My head splits with throbbing pain. With every pulse my entire body seems to explode in pure pain. I start to collapse on the floor.
""A code, Shay. It is a code.""
I can’t help crying. My body is shaking. I hear someone calling my name.
What’s going on?
Someone grabs me as my world fades to black.
“Wake up, Shay.”
I open my eyes. Light floods in as I find myself in a hospital room. Lucas is here, carefully examining my shoulder.
“Looks like you’ve fully recovered,” a woman says, walking into the room. She’s dressed in a white gown and has deep blue eyes.
“What happened back there? In the motel, I mean,” I say.
Lucas shrugs. “I’m not sure. You just fainted on the floor. We got you to our hospital wing as soon as we can.”
I pause. I fainted?
“Did something unusual happen before then, Shay?” someone asks. It’s a familiar voice as a man walks in.
It’s Mr. Burns.
“Well,” I begin, “yes, something did happen. It was weird. Right before I blacked out, I heard a voice.”
“A voice? No one was really talking,” Lucas says.
“It was as if I heard it in my head.”
Mr. Burns gives a nod. “What did the voice say?”
“They said ‘It is a code’ over and over again,” I say. Mr. Burn’s eyes widen, and Lucas is staring at him.
“Do you think…” Lucas’s voice trails off.
Mr. Burns nods. “The Oracle.”
“Pardon?” I ask.
I’ve only heard of Oracles once or twice. It is used in Greek mythology. Oracles were like messengers and would send heroes off to their journey. It was said that the Oracles were the Fates personified.
“An Oracle is a person who can receive messages, what we call Signals, from the Codex,” Mr. Burns explains calmly. He takes off his round glasses and rubs it on his shirt.
“Wait…” I say. “Isn’t the Codex a book? Like, writing?”
“No, Shay,” Mr. Burns says. “The Codex is something greater than writing on paper. The Codex is a super-computer that has been in existence for years.”
“So how am I a part of it?”
“You see,” Mr. Burns begins, “the Codex collects data, processes it, and sends it, just like a normal computer would. However, the Codex doesn’t print out its information or send it via the internet. It sends data to random people telepathically. Those people receive the data subconsciously and write it in errors, like you did. But the data they receive are encrypted, and only an Oracle can decrypt the data.”
“So what does that have to do with my blackout?” I question.
“You see, Shay, you asked a question to yourself. Something along the lines of ‘why would Mr. Burns say those weird things?’ or ‘why did Mr. Burns say something off-topic?’ However, while asking it to yourself, you also sent that question to the Codex. And the Codex responded.”
“And why did you ask me to shred my composition book?”
“Because,” Mr. Burns replies, “you would have given it to Beatrice, who you know as Ms. Madden. Then, she would have killed you. I told you it was a matter of life and death.”
I smile. “So what is my composition book?”
“It is a Code, Shay. Encrypted data that only Oracles can decrypt. A Code is the encrypted data received from the Codex. It holds an answer to… a question. We aren’t sure what question it was trying to answer, though. It certainly wasn’t as important as your life.”
“Why did Beatrice want to kill me?” I question.
“She is part of an organization whose purpose is to destroy the Codex and its Oracles. They are the people are trying to stop us from locating the Codex.” Mr. Burns replies calmly.
A tall man walks calmly into the room. His black sunglasses shield his eyes, and his black hair bounces as he strides. The man slowly ambles toward my bed. He gives me a stern smile.
“Shay, this is Xavier. He is the leader of X-Axis,” Lucas says, grinning.
“Nice to meet you, Shay,” the man says, “but please, call me X.”
“A pleasure,” I reply.
“How are the wounds, Michael?” X asks, turning to Mr. Burns.
“They aren’t too serious. Just a bullet to her shoulder. She won’t be able to move her left arm for a while,” Mr. Burns replies. “We also learned that she may be an Oracle.”
Xavier’s eyes widen. “You mean… this is her? This is our messenger?”
“Yes,” Mr. Burns says.
“Excellent. Get your rest, Shay. You may need it in the morning. Tomorrow we will go to combat training.”
“Combat?” I ask.
“Indeed. You will come across people like Beatrice quite often in the coming months. As soon as we find the Codex, our war will be over,” Xavier replies.
War? What kind of war? I haven’t seen fighting on the streets?
""A secret war. They keep the war in hiding – prevent it from going out to the public. It is to protect people.""
All of a sudden my head feels dizzy. I feel like I’m going to pass out, but I don’t. It’s a message from the Codex. Thank you, I think.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” Lucas says. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” I reply. I take off my necklace and put it on the nightstand next to me. Everyone leaves except for the nurse. She is patiently sitting in her desk as I fall asleep.