It's been another unbelievable day at the office, and I'm just now getting around to filling you in. However, I need to finish up what I wrote last night. If I don't have time tonight, I'll post an update about the office tomorrow. I'm so exhausted right now that I can barely focus the letters on the screen. Back to last night:
So I'm sitting in the run-down motel, a place not even tourists venture into, trying to make sense of everything. I've just witnessed my girlfriend Ellie singlehandedly kill two men by herself, and barely bat an eyelash at it. Meanwhile I just watch in horrid fascination, then escort her out down the fire escape and over to my car. The ride over is in silence, although I may be muttering "Oh My God" over and over again.
I hear the shower end and I finish typing up my post. I had gone out to the car to grab my laptop, and then remembered I had a 49'ers sweatshirt and some sweatpants in my truck. I have been trying to talk myself into escaping to the gym but it never seems to happen lately.
Ellie emerges from the shower with only a bath towel wrapped around her tight body. Her dark wet hair hangs loose on her shoulders, and once again I'm struck with how beautiful she is. She sits down gently on the bed with her hands gripping the edge.
"How are you doing," she asks me matter-of-factly, kind of staring off into space. I think she's surprised I'm still here, and haven't bolted out the door screaming like a madman.
I'm not sure how to respond. "OK, I guess. It's not every day you see your girlfriend rip someone to shreds."
"Yeah. I'm truly sorry you had to see that. It's a part of me I've been trying to leave behind."
"Who were they?"
Ellie shrugs. "In my line of work, everyone's my enemy. However, judging from their crude tactics, and the fact that they didn't cover our escape route, I'd see they were just some street hoods someone hired for a hit. They didn't strike me as any kind of organized group. I don't mean to say they weren't dangerous, but they certainly weren't professional. Someone thought they would be expendable, and were sent just to scare us. I'm a little disappointed at my men for letting them through. That will have to be addressed, if any of them survived."
"Damn," I say, remembering the hit list. "I know who they work for." I show Ellie the list and explained the whole thing, how Carrie and I had uncovered the plot.
"I wish you have come to me with this sooner," she remarked, examining the list.
"I did, but you wouldn't listen," I exclaim.
Ellie cowers a little bit, which is remarkable for someone coming off a fresh kill. "I'm sorry Alex, I had gotten wrapped up in my own issues. I was using this stuff as an excuse to leave you, without listening to you were saying. I really let you down. In my world, when you work with a partner, you've got to cover each other's backs, and I sure didn't."
"Yeah, well...I understand now. Can we just...in the future...just talk to me. You know I'll keep your secret to my death, but people know about you. The Counter Terrorism division thinks you have a connection to these killings. Even Carrie has uncovered some Chinese connections."
Ellie pulls up her wet hair and lets it flop down again. Did I mention that she has the most delicious neck in the world? "Huh. Nothing really has shown up on my radar. But now that I've been compromised, I may be shipped out of here. Alex, this plot seems really bad. I've never heard of half the stuff your friend has uncovered. Mind reading? Mind control? If they can achieve anything close to that, the world is in big trouble."
"Yeah. Imagine if McDonald's could project an image of a burger over TV or in an online ad and that makes you have to buy one. Goodbye free will. It wouldn't even need to be a McDonald's ad. They could project it during a football game or a news broadcast."
"If what you're saying is true, they could project guns or fighting to a foreign nation, and create a civil war."
"Or just sway elections, influence legislatures, create consumer needs, and Infinitae and its backers would stand to earn a fortune. It would make Google look like a backwater bait stand. We're talking about a multi-trillion dollar company, and it would become more powerful than the government."
"Fuck my handlers, we need to put a stop to this," breathes Ellie. "Now I know how you got so obsessed over this. If any of this is possible, and America hold the keys, then countries like China don't stand a chance."
"Now hold on a second. First of all, we don't know who's behind this. Secondly, why would we go after China? Don't you guys have nukes?"
"Exactly," she says, her brow furrowed a bit. "No matter what happens Alex, you have to remember whose side I'm on. I've fought long and hard and sacrificed a lot to help my country. If we're involved in this, I'll deal with it. If it's Americans, so help them. I cannot allow a threat to China's sovereignty stand."
"Easy, Tiger." I call her that sometimes. When she wrinkles her nose she looks like a kitten, but when she pounces it's more like a wild animal. "What's your plan?"
She looks around the room. "You found something for me to wear? I've got to dump my rags somewhere. Burning them in a drum would be best. I'll need to find another safe house. Hopefully they didn't capture my laptop, although it's pretty useless without my password. I'll need a new laptop and some way to connect to the net. I also need a car. We'll try to find a junker no one will miss. I'll find a way to contact you, don't try to contact me. I'm sure you'll be well monitored if they haven't already. Chances are forensics will be able to place you at the scene. Just keep working on finding out more about the plot. If they question you, be honest. You came for the food."
I'm silent for a moment. "What about us? Where do we stand?"
Ellie rocks a little on the edge of the bed, looking uncomfortable. "I don't know. I'm still tied down to China, and probably will be for a long time. I can stall for a while, but eventually they'll want me back there. If I'm lucky maybe I can finagle a desk job. I'm getting a little old for field work. I guess I could bring you in but they'd have a hard time with that. They'd ask you to renounce America and I'm not comfortable with that."
"I mean, if there was none of that. If you could just break off your ties today, if you were free, what would you want?"
Ellie looks at me. "I'd want to be with you. I'd want to be a good friend. I'd want to build a life together. I'd want us to share things...like we're doing now. Even share dreams that we know will never happen."
"Yeah." I get up and sit next to her on the bed, and press her against me. The clean smell of her hair overwhelms me. She holds one of my hands and traces the lines with her soft fingertips. A tear crawls down her cheek and drops on to her towel. "I wished I'd known all this about you. Not just your real job. I mean your feelings. I know you're used to keeping secrets. But even knowing what I know, and seeing what I've seen, just hearing you talk like that makes me love you even more." I stop and realize I've never said the "L" word before.
She grips my hand tightly. "Oh Alex. Please don't say you love me. I can't handle it right now."
"But I do. I love you, Elena, and I don't even know your real name. I don't want to know it. Even if we never see each other again, or we get shot to death, I want you to know that."
Ellie wipes the tears from her eyes. "Oh, Alex. You know I love you too. That's why this is all so painful."
I lift her chin and we kiss. For a moment, I expect the door to be blown in again, but this time the kiss lasts, and grows more passionate. Ellie's towel drops away, and she pulls off my clothes.
Let's just say that when we're together, our bodies become as one. We know each other's wants and needs, and hold nothing back. We hold each other in the afterglow, talking softly to each other.
Before we can drift off to sleep, Ellie reminds me that she needs to find a new place. I suggest Professor Benson's cabin. We leave the room, gather what supplies Ellie needs, including as much cash as we can get from an ATM, and I leave her as she finds a small rusty truck to boost. We kiss and part, not knowing if we'll ever see the other again. For all I know she could be on her way to China.
I crash back at my place for a couple hours of sleep, hoping no one comes looking for me. I find several messages on my cell, apparently from Carrie, but I'm too tired to listen.
I know my life will never be the same. I start forming a crazy plan, but sleep overcomes me and I leave it for another day.