Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Having it Out with Ellie

Having it Out with Ellie

OK, I'm going to acknowledge right here and now that my life is in a downward slide, and nothing I do seems to stop it. Every choice I make seems wrong, every move I make backfires. It seems like everyone is against me. And frankly, I don't thing I did anything to deserve any of this. I feel like god is plotting against me, trying to see how much pain he can cause in my life.

What now, you ask? What else could possibly go wrong, worse than being put on a hit list and losing your job?

I'm on my way to the cabin in Tahoe. I decide I really need to see Ellie, and since it's on the way (or maybe it isn't...) I decide to stop over. Let's pretend she's staying in her own cabin somewhere.

I park nearby. I don't see any lights on, and there are no cars parked anywhere I can see. I wonder if she gave me the wrong address. I could barely find the place even with my GPS system.

I knock on the door but no one answers. "Hello? Ellie? It's Alex!" I call out but no one answers. After a while I try the door handle. It's unlocked, so I peer inside. Still no one. I take a couple steps in, and the door slams behind me. I turn to find a gun pointed right at my temple.

"Alex!" shouts Ellie, dropping the gun to her side. "What the hell are you doing here? Were you followed? You're not supposed to come out here. Damn it." She clicks the safety back on the weapon.

"I had to come see you. I've got some new information. Ellie, I need you to be honest with me. If you've ever really loved me, I need you to be honest with me now."

We sit at a small table. Ellie rubs her shoulders, a look of concern on her face. "I'll do my best, Alex. I know this is all pretty hard on you. You have to know that I'm on your side."

"But I need to know what other side you're on. Are you working for the Chinese? For Infinitae? For terrorists? And who have you been paying off? And why?"

She crosses her arms, never a good sign. "I've told you everything. I'm not sure I like where this is going."

I show her the list of transactions. Actually, I kind of fling it at her. "Look at it. Do you deny that this is your account?"

Ellie studies is for a moment. "It looks like it, yes. But there are a bunch of transactions here I don't recall. I can pull my live account information up if you want."

"Yeah, I want to see it." I can't see to remove the hostile tone from my voice, and Ellie starts glaring at me a little.

Ellie pulls out her laptop and begins entering codes until the same page as the printout is displayed. "Hold on a minute. I don't remember these transactions."

I look over her shoulder. Suddenly I realize what I'm looking at. This is her payroll account. I look at the piece of paper.

"You get paid $48,000 a month?"

Ellie nods. "Yeah, that's my retainer. Trust me, there are plenty of strings attached. But they figure that it will keep me away from counter offers."

The total balance is staggering. We're talking well into the 8-digit range.

"I get paid more when I make a kill," she adds. "Anywhere from a quarter to a half usually."

"Huh? So half is like 24 thousand extra?"

"No, I mean half a million. Look Alex, what I do doesn't come cheap. But this is really disturbing."

She shows me where a large sum, almost 8 million dollars, has been taken out.

"They financed the whole fake datacenter with that," she says.

"So you are involved! Dammit, Ellie!"

"No! That's not what I meant! Someone's obviously stolen my account codes. I never did recover my laptop after that raid. Someone must have stolen my passwords somehow."

I look at it for a moment. "That makes no sense. This transaction happened way before that raid. And look at those other payments. A lot of those coincide with people on the hit list. Ellie, I just...I just don't believe you any more."

And I felt more than that. I felt I couldn't trust her anymore. The whole trail led to her. She's been blinding me to the truth this whole time. A deep sense of betrayal begins welling up in me.

"Alex, please, you have to believe me."

"Then explain this. You were the only one who could have authorized these transactions. Why should I believe you? You've done nothing to lie to me since the day we met. You've used me, you've tricked me, and you don't even belong in this country!"

Ellie closes her laptop slowly and with a final click. I can see her tensing, the muscles of her jaw twitching, and her hands forming fists. "That's not fair Alex. I don't know what kind of person you think I am, but I did not make those transactions. I'm sorry for what I did to you. But you need to believe me when I say that I'm not involved."

"There's no other explanation. I wish you would just tell me what's going on, Ellie. Maybe I could help you. We're all on the hit list now. Whoever it is you're working with is about to double cross you."

I show her the list Carrie gave me.

"This is so crazy," she breathes.

"I gotta get out of here. I feel like climbing up a wall right now. Ellie, you just need to leave the country. I don't know what you've got yourself into, but you need to leave. Please."

She's really glaring at me now, with a mix of surprise and sadness.

"OK Alex. I'll go. I'm sorry you can't believe me. In a few days I'll be gone, and you'll never hear from me again. Now excuse me, I've got to do some things. You can see yourself out."

She stares down at her laptop as I make my way out. As I walk towards the door, I feel like I've made a huge mistake. I would hate for these to be our last words to each other. I look back at her for a moment, and she's regarding me with sadness and a little anger. I nod and walk out the door, kicking myself the whole time.

I'm now at the cabin, and I keep having to stop myself from going back to Ellie and apologizing. If she's part of the plot, she'll get what's coming to her. If not, she'll be safely out of the country soon. But my life just can't get any worse right now. I feel like either my best friend in the world has betrayed me, or that I've betrayed my best friend in the world. Either way, it's the worst feeling that I've had yet.

Well, have a safe and much happier than mine Thanksgiving everyone! I probably won't post again 'til Friday. Of course, if I don't...then you can guess what happened to me. I hope it doesn't come to that.

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