Thursday, November 29, 2007

Getting Back

Getting Back

I've been watching the news reports all day, just like the rest of you. I've seen the hazy videos of me running out of the building, and seen Ellie in the car. Fortunately it's pretty grainy. They're still calling it an "accident" but they are launching a full investigation. The Fire Chief has called it "suspicious." The entire campus has been closed off, and parts of San Francisco have been evacuated. Listen, anyone reading this, you need to believe me when I say that I wasn't involved. I mean, I tried to stop it. I'm sorry about all of it.

I'm sure Marcia's people are out looking for me. The Chinese got rid of Ellie's car, and hopefully some evidence. They took all my clothes and forced me to wash up. I really want to get out of here, but I have no where to go. Ellie's been sleeping most of the day due to the sedatives they gave her. Around dinner time she's a little more conscious.

"Hey," she says as I come in. The attendants leave us alone.

"Hey. How are you feeling?"

She looks terrible. Her face is swollen, but she should make a complete recovery. A surgeon came in earlier to fix her head laceration a little cleaner, so there should be very little scarring.

"OK, I guess. I've been through worse. I could really use a cigarette."

I smile. "Me too."

"I'm leaving tomorrow," she announces. "I can't stay in this country any longer. Our entire operation will be jeopardized. I need to find a new role in my organization. I really screwed this one up. Alex, I'm really sorry about everything. You're a great guy, and I would have loved to try to make things work out, but you can't be mixed up with someone like me, and I can't be the kind of person you need."

I felt like protesting, arguing, doing anything to keep her around. "I hope you find what you're looking for, Ellie. I think deep inside you're a pretty good person. You've stood by me through everything, and saved my butt a ton of times, and in a lot of different ways. I hope we meet again some day. I'm going miss our times, just hanging out."

"Yeah. You're pretty special too."

I feel like crying but I hold it together. I heave a big breath. "I guess this is it, then. I'm going out there to get Carrie, and you've got a plane to catch."

"We'll always have Casablanca."

"Huh? Oh yeah." Duh. "What does he say? 'Here's looking a you, kid.'"

I squeeze her hand and kiss her cheek. She waves at me as I leave. As I leave the house, General Tam gives me keys to a car that I'm going to use, a gun, and a phone to contact him. I try to avoid him as much as possible.

Now to find Carrie.

I drive around SF for a while, just breathing and thinking. Carrie's smart. She's probably somewhere monitoring everything. She'll want to know the second that suspicious is cast in her direction. She won't be in any of her usual spots. She'll want to have access to Infinitae's data gathering prowess, which should still function even without Building Four. Somewhere with a hot internet connection.

She wanted us to drive South yesterday, but we never made it. Where was she headed? There's Stanford. She might have access to some servers there. I doubt that she'd be there.

What about the data center in Santa Clara? What ever happened to it? I know that Infinitae blocked it, but I figured that wouldn't pose much of a challenge to Carrie who wrote the blocking code. I start heading down there, no clear plan in mind. I drive for a while thinking about Ellie. I don't know how much of our time together was real, and how much she just faked. It's not like we didn't spend quality time together, and didn't make time for each other. But letting me go through that torture, it's not something I can forgive.

I stop near the warehouse. The streets seems quiet and dark. I have no idea how to get in. I'm not a spy or an infiltrator. I begin to think about how Ellie would do it. She'd probably just bust the door down. I recall that back door we exited. I scurry around back and look at it. There's no handle on this side, only a lock. I put my ear against the door. I can faintly here the roar of the servers which are apparently still running. I wonder why.

I bring the car around and line it up with the door. Slamming the gas, I back the car right into the door, and it impacts with a crunch. Hopefully the din inside will block the noise of the impact. I pull the car away which thankfully still runs. The door's frame is loose, and with some wiggling I'm able to pull it completely off, frame and all. I see some wires poking through the frame. Hopefully they're still intact and I didn't trigger an alarm. No matter.

I draw my gun and remove the safety. I have no intention of killing Carrie, unless she fires first. I head back towards the front, trying to find that office I noticed the first time. I finally spot it, but it's empty. About a dozen large monitors in the office are displaying newscasts, surveillance footage, and various readouts. I notice one that is displaying my damaged car, but it's too late

I feel the cold business end of a gun against my neck.

"Drop it or I'll drop you."

I toss my gun away.

"Put your hands on your head." She starts patting me down, and swipes my emergency cell phone, pocketing it. She begins laughing, slowly.

"Wow, Alex, you never give up. Where's you friend Elena? Too hurt to make the trip? What a shame. Move it."

She pushes me into the small office at gunpoint, and sits opposite me. "What are you doing here, Alex? Come to kill me?"

"If I have to. You've done some bad things."

Carrie shakes her head. "I didn't make anyone suffer for years. Every person I killed died with very little pain."

"So what now, Carrie? Are you going to kill me?"

She picks up my phone and studies it. "Maybe I should call the news stations. I could be a hero. I've already tied you and Ellie to this datacenter. It wouldn't be a stretch to get them to believe this is your hideout. Hero today, goat tomorrow. And I come out smelling great."

"Then what? What's your big plan? You can't go back to Infinitae. You can't expect to escape suspicion forever."

Carrie points around with her gun. "See all this? Do you know how many emails and IM's and chats and voice communications I've collected here? I've got trillions of conversations waiting to be mined. Even as we speak I'm transcribing all kinds of voice conversations. The CIA would kill for a system like this."

"Why? What's it all for?"

"God, Alex, do I really need to spell it all out for you? Think of all the corporate insider information I'd have. I'd know about every earnings miss. I'd know how senators are about to vote. I'd know what the Fed is planning. Within a few years, I'd be the richest person on the planet. I could run for office, buy a few campaigns, and who knows? I could be President. Imagine that, President Park."

"You mean White, don't you?"

She glared at me, and aim her gun in my general direction. "Shelly White is dead. That loser no longer exists. You made sure of that. Maybe I should thank you. You know, we're really not that different, you and me. Maybe that's why I liked you so much back then. I was a loser, and you were a loser, too. But guess what? I've grown up, and you're still a loser."

"We're nothing alike. You're a murderous, psychopathic bitch with delusions of grandeur. You'll never get away with any of it. They'll trace everything back to you."

"Forget it Alex, I've covered my tracks too well. They've got nothing on me. Look at this screen. I'm monitoring the entire world for any mention of my name. The moment it pops up, I can be prepared to defend myself."

"Do you even care about the people you've killed? Wasn't Benson you're professor?"

Carrie smirks at me. "Yeah, well, he wanted to go back to his wife. Poor bastard, she was terrible."

"You killed him because he wouldn't sleep with you? I don't blame him."

"Hey!" she waves the gun at me. "He had it coming. He made his choice, just like you did. Can I help it if I take these things personally?"

I shrug and look around the place. My leg starts shaking. Carrie starts studying my face. "Alex. Are you expecting someone? Oh my gosh." She looks at my phone, then begins to disassemble it. "Alex, I'm surprised at you! This phone has been transmitting this entire conversation, hasn't it. It looks like it's off, but my guess it that you've had the screen disabled. No, that's not it. Let me see. Ahh, here it is, the battery is it's own transmitter. I can take it out and it's still recording. Genius!" She smashes the whole thing with the butt of her gun, then points it at me.

I can't help but smile at her. "They'll be here in a minute. It's over, Shelly. You've confessed to everything. It's all been transmitted and...oh yeah you'll like this...posted on the internet!"

Her face grows dark. "Get up. Get up or I'll drill you."

Alarms begin sounding all around the building. On the monitors I see black cars pulling up from all directions. Then entire building is surrounded.

"Come on, move it." She pushes me ahead of her. I look back to notice that she's grabbed a device off her desk and pulls out an antenna.

"What is that, a detonator?"

"Move your ass Ross or I'll set it off now."

She pushes me through the center to the very middle. There's a metal railing leading up to the ceiling panel. "Remove the panel, and don't try anything funny. After I remove it, I see that the railing leads up to the ceiling about thirty feet up. "Climb!"

I climb up the thing, and find a hatch which I push open. In moments I'm up on the roof. I look around. Hidden from the street, I see a small gyrocopter. "Stand back," cries Carrie. I see flashing lights in every direction. She jumps into the single passenger vehicle. She pushes some buttons, and the blades begin spinning. A gyrocopter needs to be moving forward to work, unlike a helicopter, but a small motor can assist the startup. I notice that the roof of the building has been cleared out like a runway.

"Hey Alex," she shouts at me through the growing din of the gyro's motor, "too bad I scrambled your signal. The moment you stepped in, I detected your transmission. You think I can't dampen a cell signal? You've lost, Alex, and I'll make sure you get blamed for this explosion too. Goodbye."

She revs up the motor and starts taxiing right down the roof of the building. I run after her and just catch one piece of the rear wing. I hold on for dear life as I'm dragged down the roof. I can't hold on, and I roll right to the edge of the roof. I have about two seconds to jump off before the whole building explodes in a huge burst of flame behind me. I hit the ground and roll under a car as a deluge of servers and wires and cinder blocks rain down all around me. Once the debris stops falling, I start running. I spot a car where some people had stopped to look at the fire, leaving their car running. I hop into it and speed away.

Well, I'm back at Ellie's hideout now. There are videos on the web connecting me to the scene. None of my secret transmissions got through. I can't beat Carrie. She's just too smart. Her gyrocopter disappeared to who knows where, and I have no way to clear my name. Wherever you are Carrie, know that you can't escape, and I'll be chasing you.

I don't know if I'll post again.

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