Nora tossed and turned for what felt like the hundredth time that night. She was grateful that Joe slept like a log as she would have felt guilty for accidentally waking him up through her own restlessness. Something didn't feel right. In fact, something felt off, but she couldn't quite put her finger on whatever it was. It was only enough of a problem to be poking and prodding at her, making her feel like something was amiss without giving her enough information about what the issue may have been.
She carefully climbed out of bed, her bare feet sliding into a pair of slippers that were resting on her side of the bed. They were warm and cozy and walking around the house in a pair of those made stepping on stray dog kibble feel less gross than if she had been walking around barefoot. Nora looked over her shoulder to make sure, once again, that she hadn't woken up Joe, and seeing that he was still sound asleep, she took that as her cue to get up and stretch her legs.
She was no stranger to sleepless nights and insomnia. Technically she didn't even need sleep (or food or oxygen) to function, but she was still part human and she felt the toll that a lack of sleep took on her mind and on her body. Nora quietly made her way downstairs and into the kitchen to fill up her purple water bottle. Maybe she just needed to hydrate. Or maybe she just needed to sit on the couch, put her feet up on the ottoman, and zone out to a few episodes of The Twilight Zone with a cat curled up next toher.
"Hey there, Coco," she said softly, reaching out towards the handicat who had been snoozing on one of his many beds set up throughout the house. "It's just you and me right now." She scooped him up into her arms with little protest and gave him a few cuddles on the way to the couch, ultimately setting the cat down next to her while she turned on the television and immediately lowered the volume on the television so as not to sonically blast anyone awake be it human, cat, or dog. Nora made herself comfortable on the couch just as the cat did, with Coco circling in one spot before finally settling down. With her legs stretched out across the ottoman and the rest of her comfortably ensconced in the corner of the sectional, all she needed was one of the blankets they kept nearby for coziness.
Once Hulu was quietly streaming in the background, she reached for her laptop from the coffee table out of habit. There was no reason for her to be online at this time of night, but she was just passing time as it was and figured that taking a quick look at her inbox couldn't hurt. Rod Sterling was already explaining the wonders of the Twilight Zone by the time she had pulled up her screen and she absentmindedly reached over to give Coco a few scritches. The sound of the cat's motor-like purr brought a smile to her face; she knew she had been through so much in his short life that even little things like giving him a good chin scratch meant a lot. Handicatness aside, Coco seemed to live a fulfilling life chasing toys and birdwatching, even if he had to do so while scooting around the floor rather than running like the rest of the zoo.
A sticky note on her desktop caught her eye as she casually deleted mindless emails about upcoming Labor Day sales. Nasim had given her the names of three other people who were also confined to the facility he was currently staying at. He had been suspicious of them and their stories but had no way to verify them given the limited access he had to the outside world and instead had passed them onto Nora. She reached for her water bottle and unscrewed the cap before taking a long sip. "Might as well," she mumbled as she capped the bottle again. It wasn't as if she had anything else to do at the moment.
She set the water bottle aside and readjusted her laptop. With the MacBook Air sitting comfortably in her lap, she typed in the first name on the list: Gerald Holland. The first screen of search results looked mostly benign but useless and consisted of links to various people finder sites. Intelius, Spokeo, PeekYou, Radaris, they were all there pointing to links that would explain nothing. She skimmed the next few pages of search results for any mention of military service. Holland had been an Army Lieutenant if her memory served her correctly and even typing his name and title didn't seem to give her anything helpful. It was curious but maybe not entirely unusual for such a cursory search. Nora tried a few more search term combinations without luck and added a line to the sticky note from earlier to remind her to ask Joe about finding other veterans online.
The next name on the list: Elizabeth Han. Nasim had described her as some kind of executive but hadn't specified what field, and 'executive' felt just about as broad as the 'consultant' title that so many people seemed to be tossing around. This time, there were too many results. The name was too common to come up with anything substantive, but she bookmarked a few profiles that looked like they might match the title of 'executive'. So far she had found an attorney, someone at UCSF, the managing director at one of the big student loan companies — there were too many options here and any of them could have easily needed time in a facility like the one Nasim had checked into.
With a furrowed brow, she typed in the last name she had: Rory Jacobs. The first page of search results was mostly a list of LinkedIn profiles that seemed to pull from all across the board. There was an artist of the same name, along with a software engineer, a web developer, a videographer, and various social media links, none of which seemed connected. Again, it was a common name and 'Rory' itself may have been a nickname that the other patient was just more comfortable using. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that some of these people might have been using aliases to protect their own identities as being inpatient for anything wasn't exactly stigma-free, even for a place as nice and as luxurious as Nasim had described. That alone was reason enough to distrust her friend's surroundings.
She pulled up an app on her laptop and clicked on an icon to type a new encrypted message to Nasim. "Did the thing and didn't find much. Suss. Couldn't even find anything on the vet. Try to get more info or even contact info for when you're out of there under the guise of wanting to keep in touch." Nora hit send and waited for the telltale whoosh sound before shutting the lid of her MacBook. She leaned over and set it on the coffee table once again before settling back into the couch and hoping that the misadventures from The Twilight Zone would be enough to distract her from the suspicious lack of information she had found.