"Over"? Did you say, "Over"? Well I thought I was done with Carrie. I thought I was done with Ellie. I thought I was done with Infinitae, the plot, the lies and deceits. I came back to Frisco today, trying to reclaim my life, and perhaps start to move on.
But then came the nagging questions. Where did this whole plot come from? Who's telling the truth, and is there any truth to be found? What the fuck has been happening?
So I drove back this morning, dropped my shit off at the apartment, and then decided to go out to lunch because I don't have shit in my place. Hell, Ellie did most of the shopping, and cooking, and cleaning, and lying with me and to me. Fuck. Can you see I'm in a mood?
I'm in the mall, eating a slice of non-turkey infested pizza, when guess who sits in the chair next to me? Well you had a 50% chance of getting it right...it's Ellie! Woo hoo!
"What are you doing here," I say, not surprised, not happy, just feeling pissed. I'll admit she looked great, her hair all wavy and wearing makeup instead of a coating of human blood.
"Please Alex, I just need a minute. I promise I won't bother you anymore." She seems fairly sincere, but she always did.
"I thought you were leaving the country," I replied, looking around the mall for prying eyes.
"It's been delayed a few days. Something's come up. Something I could use your help with."
"Right. Don't you work for the bad guys? Why the hell should I listen to you? Why should I believe a single word you say?"
She grips my arm with a firm grasp, and looks directly at me. "Alex. I understand that you're feeling a little betrayed right now. I would feel the same way. But this is a matter of life and death, not for just you, but for millions of people."
I grimace a bit. "Come on, Ellie. I told you I don't want to be involved anymore. You said you would be doing the investigating from now on. I'm out." I snatch my arm away.
She reaches into her handbag for a moment. Part of me half expects her to pull out a gun but she just retrieves some papers.
"Just look at these, Alex. Not here, somewhere private. If you think there's nothing to it, then just burn the paper and you're out. However if you think there's something to it, then there's a number on the back where I can be reached. Don't call from your home or cell, those could be bugged. Go buy a prepaid cell and throw it out after the call. There's a couple twenties in there to pay for it."
She pushes the papers into my hands and turns to leave. I watch her walk off, admiring her lithe figure in her tight-fitting pants. I catch myself, realizing that I really need to use my head. Whatever we had was a myth, a false relationship. Fuck, she could have faked everything. That would really suck.
I drive for a little and find a quiet place in Golden Gate Park, not too far from the Infinitae offices. I extract the money and throw it into my wallet. Hell, I paid the goddamn rent and utilities, I deserve some payback. I should bill the goddamn Chinese Government for all of it. Whatever. I unfold the pages. The first one looks like a blueprint. At the top it reads, "Infinitae Building Four Redesign".
Yeah right. I study the page for a moment. It looks like half the interior of the building has been removed. Now some kind of large spherical device four floors high sits in there, surrounded by all kinds power and computing equipment. Could this be the fingerprinting device that can scan the unique fingerprint of every object in the world? Can it also transmit fingerprints and cause people to see or do things?
I look at another page which seems to be a deployment schedule:
"GMCEX Project: Operational test 2007-12-28T18:00:00"
What does that mean? Something's going to happen this Wednesday? Then I see more:
Influence Object: Money
Objective: Create a mass rush on banks from people seeking cash
Now I see why Ellie came to me. If every person in Beijing suddenly decided to cash in their life savings, the resulting economic disaster could be so severe that China could lose next summer's Olympics.
I look through the other pages that contain some more detailed schematics of Building Four and a list of other possible targets. North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Russia...it looks like an American plot at this point. I have to admit that I get really curious about all this. These pages are the most evidence I've seen so far about the plot. I think about running to the store for a phone but then I hesitate. I've been set up so many times already. What if this is all crap again? It's really detailed, but so is a Hollywood movie set. I resist the urge to call Carrie as well. This stuff will really make her go off the deep end.
I drive by Building Four, trying to penetrate its brick facade with my eyes. It's hard to imagine that it contains something so strange and powerful. I keep driving, and end up at my apartment.
I try to put it out of my mind. I end up watching game shows and sports recaps. I hear a knock on my door and cringe. I should have just stayed at the cabin until I get an interview. It's Marcia of all people.
"Hey Alex, I was able to get away for a minute, and I thought we'd 'catch up'."
Great. "How's Brad?"
"Oh, fine. He can get around on his own a little bit. We'll be heading back to DC in a few days once he's fit to fly."
"So? What's up?"
She sits on my couch and indicates that I should join her. "Well, Alex, your friend has caused me no end of trouble. All those people who attacked us have just...disappeared. As if nothing ever happened. We have no clue who they are or what they wanted. Alex, I can't help you if I have nothing to go on."
"I have no idea myself. Ellie's her own person, and she doesn't tell me anything. I was just glad to be alive, and she left when it all was over. I haven't heard from her since. I told you she's leaving the country." I don't know why I still lie for her. I don't know why I have any loyalty to her at all.
"Well Alex, if you have any way of contacting her, you might want to do it. We're facing a situation here, and let me tell you this is classified so it doesn't leave this room." She pulls out some papers from her purse. Why do I suddenly have a sense of deja vu?
I look at the papers. They're exactly the same ones Ellie gave to me. Well almost. I look at them carefully. On the schedule I notice one important difference. Instead of Beijing, it says Boston. It also mentions other US and European cities as potential targets.
"What do you think it means," I ask her carefully.
Marcia shrugs. "That's why I'm here. You've had the most exposure to the work here."
I look at her for a moment then I remember something. "I thought you were in Building Four once? I saw you leave Building Four."
"Yeah, No. I got a tip about meeting an informant under Building Four. Corporate Security let me in. I wait half an hour but no one showed up. Then I got a call that the informant was at Stanford. Once again, nothing, then the whole lab blows up. You were there, remember?"
I nod. "An informant? Did you ever figure out who it was?"
She shakes her head. "We think it came from inside Infinitae but we can't be sure. At first I thought someone might be after me, or even after you, but now we have no idea what it was all about. We've questioned people about that building, and they all tell us that it's just servers. I've been meaning to go verify that, but you and your crazy antics are getting me sidetracked, and now with Brad the way he is...I just can't get away."
Marcia puts a hand on my arm and I almost jump out of my skin. I've got deja vu up my wazoo today. "Alex. If China is planning some kind of attack, we need to use whatever channels we have to try to deter them. Any attack on US soil will be considered an act of war. We will be forced to raid Building Four, and any damage to our infrastructure or civilians will be answered in kind. We've already raised our secret threat level. Now I think I got to know Elena a little bit this weekend. I don't think she wants this any more that I do. I think she might be reasonable."
I'm speechless for a moment. I'm thinking that the Chinese must be up in arms as well. A few sheets of paper could be the start of World War III. "Listen, Marcia, I would be really hesitant to act on any of this. I don't know how much this information can be trusted. Times, dates, capabilities, without proof you just need to be careful."
"That's where you come in. We need you to find out what you can. Whatever contacts you have, whoever you can trust, just give me some information. And you'll need to contact Galistina and make her understand that we're taking this threat seriously."
I lie on the couch after Marcia leaves in disbelief. It's all a setup, I can feel it. But for what? And why?
Like I said, this thing's not over. And if I read these dates correctly, things are about to explode. I'm just going to sleep on it at this point.
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