She took stock of the stuff she did have in her fairly Spartan apartment: a couple of desk lamps on fragile side-tables, some lousy Inspector Mole paperbacks, a notebook and pens, the laptop on her kitchen counter, a large bright green stuffed boa constrictor draped from the coat hanger hook on the door, her four identical pairs of sneakers, the ancient princess telephone. And that, as she often liked to say, was that.
"The books could go out the window,” she considered, but by this time her initial panic had passed and she was capable of breathing again. Cautiously, she approached the laptop. The calamitous email was still there, glowing at her with impunity in the early dusk light. Bla bla bla, bla bla bla, we're sorry to report, bla bla bla, your package has experienced an exception bla bla bla, tracking number, well that's something at least. She clicked on the tracking number and the browser leapt to another page, this one displaying a list of the places where the package had been scanned until its untimely demise. The very last place was not too very far away. Wetford, Arizona. A twelve hour drive or so, Zoey thought. I could get there by morning if I hurried.
It was helpful to be thinking in terms of a plan. This was her typical modus operandi. Planning and control. Taking responsibility. Setting out and getting it done. Fulfillment. Finding the package was a must. No two ways around it. What would Chris say? How could she face him? She couldn't, at all, and that was that. He didn't even need to know, ever, as long as she found it. She was relieved she hadn't yet informed him of its request.
The truth was she had been putting it off all day and had only just now logged back into the computer to take the plunge and send him a note. The device had asked to go home. Literally. She was trying to think of a way to express it better than that, but hadn't come up with the words. She felt guilty, as if she had let the thing down. Maybe it was homesick. Who knew? The whole project had been wearing her down, causing her more anxiety than any other job she could remember, and when you came to look at it, that made no sense at all. There was no rational cause for all the fretting and worrying, unless you attempted to calculate the actual shape and size of the utterly unknown.