I'm feeling a little better today. I think the initial shock has worn off, and being near Ellie last night helped. Have I mentioned how great she is? She risked getting apprehended just for me. I so wish we could have a chance to start over. I know she's got her life, and I've...well I've got nothing right now. I've been sitting around my apartment catching up on all my TV recordings. None of the shows are any good any more, and with the writers' strike, there won't be much new for a long time. Well, I mean those guys have a right to get their fair share, but where's my new TV shows??
It's funny how in just a few short days my apartment has disintegrated into a messy nightmare. I never knew how much work Ellie put in around her. I've got dishes piling up, clothes on the floor, garbage around. I'm a frickin slob. I spend a bunch of the afternoon cleaning up the place. The mindless work seems to calm me a little bit.
Right around sundown I get a little knock on my door. I open, and it's Carrie. I haven't returned her messages or emails. I'm not sure how she got my home email address but its not surprising. Now Carrie looks terrible. Her face is red, her hair and clothes are disheveled. This is probably the worst I've ever seen her. I try to get rid of her.
"Hey, Carrie. It's really not a good time."
"Please Alex," she sniffs, "I just need a minute. Please. It's cold out here."
I relent and let her in, knowing full well that I'll regret it. "OK, but I was just about to get ready to go out."
Carrie nods and sits softly on my chair, putting her hands in her lap. "I'm not mad at you," she says. "I know you were just trying to figure things out. But why Pollack? You know he's on our list."
I sit opposite her. "I'm sorry Carrie. I thought if I showed him everything, it would get him on our side."
"All you did was to force his hand. Now we're both on the outside. Nice job."
"Carrie, did you just come here to bitch at me? If so then you can go because I don't really need it."
She shakes her head sadly. "I know they're all in on it. All of them. The Americans, the Chinese, the Pollacks, all of them. They keep playing us against each other. I don't understand it. I think it's some US-China plot to maybe take out Russia. China is reforming, but Russia is backsliding. I think China's afraid of them, and this plot is a way to control that threat. I know how crazy it sounds."
"Do you have any evidence of this? Anything?"
Carrie nods. "Remember the server farm we found? I finally hacked into the financials behind it. Apparently a Chinese national has been funding it. I traced the back account back to someone named Kai Ying Slavinsky. Kind of a weird name. Ring any bells?"
Kai Ying. Didn't Ellie sign her note with that name?
"Anyways, that same account has been receiving regular payments from the Chinese government. I tracked some other payments in that account. One was sent to a Marcia Ross. Is she related to you?"
"What? There's a payment made to Marcia? Can I see?"
Carrie pulls out a piece of crumpled paper from her pocket and slowly hands it to me. I see the history of payments. Carrie shows me which ones she suspects. "This one here is a payment to Dr. Pollock. Do you see? They're all in it together. Here's a payment to Professor Benson, a couple weeks before he died. Just follow the money, Alex. I've got more."
I look at her for a moment. I wonder if she's even slept in the last few days. Even behind her glasses I can see the bags under her bloodshot eyes. I know she hasn't showered in days. Even though she is bundled up, I can still see her little body trembling.
"Alex, we're on the hit list! This is their pattern. They let people go, and then rig some kind of accident. I'm really scared. Did you see this? The kill date is Thanksgiving!"
I don't know what to day. Last night I was so sure that Ellie wasn't involved. I should just bring this all to her.
She hands me the copy of the latest hit list. Ellie, Carrie, and I are scheduled to be taken out on Thanksgiving, two days from today.
"Well I hope they like skiing, assuming anything's open by then." I sigh. I had been so looking forward to taking Ellie snowboarding. We had talked about it a lot and she really looked forward to it. I'd shown her a bunch of pictures from last winter, and she just loved the concept. "If I'm going to go out, I'm going out with my family."
"Aren't you worried? Aren't you concerned? Alex, I think they really mean it this time. Your friend Ellie isn't who she says she is. She's really dangerous. All these people are involved, and they're getting rid of everyone who's been associated with the project. We might be the last two people who know the truth, and who can possibly put a stop to this. Trust me, I've tried to make some inquiries with other parts of the government, but I've gotten nowhere. No one will listen to me. We have to take some kind of action."
I'm silent for a moment. "Listen, Carrie, I'm out of this. If Ellie's involved, that's her business. If Marcia and Doc are in it, so be it. I'm tired of fighting all this. I'm tired of trying to figure out all this mess. You have a handle on it. Maybe if you just talk to Ellie, she can help you straighten this all out."
"No!" Carrie fairly screams. "I'm not talking to her. You need to stay away from her. You have no idea how evil she is. Why do you think she's on the list? Even the conspirators can't trust her. She's been playing you for a fool. I can see it so clearly."
I rise to me feet, agitated. "What do you have against her? I know her, and she's not like that. She may have done some bad things in the past, but she's putting it behind her. The last thing she wants to get involved again. I'm sure there's an explanation for everything."
Carrie looks like she's about to burst. Her face is redder than ever, and she looks like she's holding her breath. "God, Alex. You're so blind. You've always been blind to what's right in front of you. How could I have...oh god. Alex, you just..." She grabs her crutches and hobbles to the door.
"You're going to die, Alex. You're so fucking stupid. I don't see what the hell I saw in you. You're going to fucking die with the rest of them. I tried, I really did. Fuck you!!"
She limps out, not even closing the door behind. I watch her hobble down the street towards a taxi stand, and then close the door. She's completely lost it. I look at the papers she's left behind. Once again, troubling doubt enters my head. Is it possible Ellie really is involved? Could these transactions have come from her account?
As usual I'm at a loss. Part of me wants to believe Ellie so bad. I have no way of authenticating any of these numbers. I'm just going to have to confront Ellie, and find out the truth. I just hope to god that Carrie is wrong.