Having slept on the problem overnight, I realised that it could just as easily be true that Lizzy had gone home, leaving both the Academy life and her alter-ego behind; there might be nothing sinister about it at all. But I still needed to find out, for my own sanity's sake.
The easiest way to allay my fears would be to speak to Lizzy directly, but I had no idea where she lived—where home was for her. Student Services would know though, so that's where I headed.
The lady on the desk was very pleasant, overly pleasant some might say. She beamed me a thoroughly plastic smile and said, "Lizzy who?"
"Lizzy—Elizabeth Buffalo, my room mate—former room mate."
She began tapping away at the touch screen with her long, painted red talons, far too long for an efficient administrator.
"Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo," she mumbled as she flicked from page to page. "Ah, yes, here we are! Elizabeth Buffalo. Yes, she dropped out of the Academy, I'm afraid."
"Yes, I know that, but I'd like to get in touch with her please."
"I'm afraid I can't give you her details. You know that, don't you."
"But you could get a message to her for me."
"Yes, but if you were that close, surely you'd have her details anyway?"
"Yeah, I did have them, but I lost them."
"Oh, I see. Okay, so what message would you like to send her?"
I cobbled together something along those lines, wondering what Lizzie would think if she ever received such a garbled and completely fictitious message, and then left taking a short-cut across the courtyards so I wouldn't be late for my next lesson.
Midway, I noticed a man looking at me, a student whom I assumed must also be on the Development Program because he was about my age—older than your average cadet. I'd noticed him a couple of times around and about before, but never taken much notice of him … until now. It felt like his eyes were boring into me. I stared back at him.
Suddenly, he began waving furiously, as though saying hello to someone ahead of me. I turned, but of the people I could see, no one was returning his wave. I looked back. He had dropped his head, apparently burying his attention back into his datapad. I shrugged it off and continued on my way, brushing my paranoia aside, but I could see his reflection in the glass of the building ahead of me. I swear he was looking at me again.
Am I being paranoid?