Friday, November 9, 2007

Ellie's Gone

Ellie's Gone

This morning was kind of interesting. Carrie was running a little late. Turns out she finally decided to wash herself. When she came downstairs finally, she had even put on makeup and a simple red and white dress. Her hair had some body to it instead of just hanging limp. She beamed at me and pirouetted for a moment.

"Nice," I say. I think it's kind of cute, like a Jr. High kid trying to look grown up. She didn't really pull it off, with her makeup a little garish and the dress just not real attractive.

"I'm just trying to cheer things up around here," she says. "With your moping and all this crazy stuff, one of us has to take the initiative."

I have to admit it did cheer me a little. The more I get to know her, the more I see this funny and sweet side. She's like a kid sister, or something like that.

When we arrive at work, we're disgusted to find carcasses of dead seabirds all around, all covered with oil.

"What the hell, what's going on," I ask. Over near the shore, I see people wandering around in environmental suits.

"Don't you ever read the news," asked Carrie. "Some idiot hit the Bay Bridge. There's thousands of gallons of oil all around her."

"What the fuck?" I look out over the shore and notice the "closed" signs. "My dad was talking about hauling our boat over her for some fishing. I guess that's off."

I can smell oily fumes wafting off the ocean.

"Well if we don't figure out what's going on at this office, we can expect more of that or worse," says Carrie ominously. "Part of cyber-warfare includes sabotaging the enemy's refineries."

"Great." We go inside the refuge of our building.

Today is all about figuring out the secrets of fingerprinting. I still don't understand how it works. Apparently every item in the universe emits an electronic signal of some sort. This signal gets propagated through electronics. Apparently, some of the servers in Building Four have quantum sensors that can sort out the signals in incoming transmissions. Each signal is translated into a computer file that ranges in size from 10 to 50 megabytes. The strongest of these signals seem to usually be the originator of the signal.

The servers then complete an exhaustive search of the signals to find similar signals in the past. Once this comparison is complete, we can now determine where a signal came from.

Carrie calls for me in the middle of the afternoon. When I get into her office I notice makeup is a little smudged. I walk up to her, get a tissue, and fix it a little. She seems a little clueless about the whole thing, but I've watched Ellie work her magic for hours (while I'm waiting) and I think a little's rubbed off.

"I figured out a new line of research. It looks like they're trying to isolate the electronic fingerprint of living humans. The problem is that unlike computers which are fairly static, humans are constantly moving, eating, breathing, and changing. This makes our fingerprints shift, but they may have found a way to compensate."

I look at her without much comprehension. "What can they do with that information?"

Carrie smiles at me. "Well, they would be able to detect who's been were, who's doing what, where you've been, etc. It's the ultimate spy weapon. Imagine if we could fingerprint terrorists. Then we could put detectors all around and find them easily. But I think they have something worse in mind, but I can't seem to figure it out yet."

"You mean Infinitae could locate anyone on the planet at any time?"

"In theory. It doesn't look like they've achieved that but they're close. Oh, could you print me a new hit list? I shredded the old one, but I need to check something. It might help me figure it out if I knew who was on the list."

I go back to my machine and pull up the list. No one is near the printer so I print it undetected. I bring it back to Carrie who snatches it from my hand.

"Hmm..." She studies the paper for a while. "Wait, there's a new name here. Huh. Say what's Ellie's full name anyways?"

I shiver. "It's Elena Galistina. Why?"

Carrie hands me the list, and I scan down the list. At the bottom I see Ellie's name in black and white.

"I think they're on to us," breaths Carrie, looking up at me. "They're going after her!"

"She hasn't done anything! She doesn't know anything! I gotta get out of here. I've got to catch her before she leaves the house."

"Do you want me to come? Maybe I can help explain things to her."

"No, I don't think that would be good. She's gone off the deep end a little, but I don't want her to die."

I rush out of the office, jump into my car, and head over to my apartment. As I pull up, I notice a cab stop half a block away. I look at the cab for a moment. No one gets out. I sigh. "Well if that's the killer, I'm a goner."

The door is locked so I knock on it. No one answers. My heart starts racing even faster. I unlock the door and peer inside. I don't see anyone.

"Ellie? Ellie?" I look around. All her boxes are gone. I look through the whole apartment. Not one thing of hers remains. All the rooms look nice and tidy as if a professional cleaning company had visited, but I know it's just Ellie. I slump down to my knees. She's really gone, I realize.

I get up and wander over to my bed. I can still smell her perfume on the sheets and pillow. For a long time I just sit there. I try calling her on her cell but the number has been disconnected. I try texting her email but it bounces as a closed account. I have no way of warning her.

I don't know how the end will come for her, or if it has already. A shot from a sniper, an explosion, an unfortunate pedestrian accident. She may be killed and I'll never know. I finally call Callie and tell her that I'll be over later to bring my stuff home.

As I head back to work, I notice the cab is still there. As I drive away, it follows me. I find a straight stretch and gun the engine. The BMW 535i has 300 horses and a sports package, so I lose that cab in a few blocks. I'm shaking and sweating again.

I'm finally back at Callie's getting my stuff together. I'm not looking forward to going back to the empty apartment, although it would be a lot nicer than Callie's messy place. I'm also a little scared of whoever could have been in that cab. I think I'll just work with Callie a little longer tonight, and try to spend as little time as possible in my apartment.

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