I start slamming the steering wheel. "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! AAAAAAGH!"
I am so angry I can't see straight. All this time. "How?! How the fuck did she do it?! How did she get everyone to believe as this crap?! How did she kill all those people? Fuck me ten times sideways!"
Ellie puts a weak hand on my arm as she tries not to scream in pain as I drive like a madman towards the address Ellie gave me. "She's loaded. She took that insurance settlement and made a fortune day trading. She's worth more than I am. She must have used that wealth to hire a bunch of hitmen and mercenaries. They never knew who they worked for."
"But she lives in a dump! She doesn't even fucking bathe! She drives a goddamn death trap!"
"She paid for that whole datacenter. Did you know her previous job was at a brokerage? She knew financial systems inside and out. She knew how to change my account somehow, because when I checked with the bank, they don't have any records of any transactions, and restored my balance. It was all faked."
"Aagh! What the fuck! We have to get her, Ellie. We have to make her pay for all this. I want her dead. I want to go back and kill her."
"No. We're screwed, like she said. She's a genius. I believe her when she says she's planted evidence. We've got to get out of here, once I'm patched up. She may be the only person in the world who can clear us. The only way out of this is to get her to confess, and even that may not be enough."
"Fuck!" I'm silent for a moment. Could there be a way to turn this around? "Do you have a phone?"
Ellie points at her purse on the floor. I fumble around and retrieve it. I dial up a number.
"Elena?" says the voice on the other end.
"No it's me. Do not believe any of it. I had nothing to do with it. I tried to stop her."
"Alex," says Marcia on the other line. "You have to come in. You can't fight this one. We'll protect you."
"Ellie's been badly hurt," I tell her. Besides, I know that even Marcia can't hold off the people who would want my head. "I'm going to get her treatment. Listen. It's Carrie Park. She's the mastermind behind all of this. She hired the men at the cabin, and she blew up Infinitae. You have to believe me."
"Sure, Alex. I believe you. Just let me know where you are and we'll make sure Ellie is taken care of."
"Carrie Park," I say one more time, and then hang up. I flip the phone out the window. I know Marcia won't believe me, but I have a plan, and she's a key piece of it. It's a long shot, because Carrie's not stupid. But I am. And maybe I can use that to my advantage.
I don't have much time to think about that. We arrive at a gated residence. I push the button on the intercom.
"Who's there," demands a heavily accented voice.
"It's Alex Ross and Elena Galistina. She's been badly hurt. Please, she needs help."
The let me in and I pull up to the door. I'm instantly surrounded by men with guns, all shouting at me. I put my hands out the window. They literally drag me out the window and press me down on the ground, their knees in my back. I see under the car that they've brought a stretcher out for Ellie. I think she's passed out because she's not moving or making a sound, but they check her pulse and eyes and don't seem too concerned.
After they carry her inside, they drag me to a small room and throw me in there with only a bottle of water and some cold rice. I collapse in the corner.
After a while the door opens, and General Tam walks in.
"I'll tell you everything," I shout. "Just don't bring that thing in again."
"Ssh, shh, it's okay, Mr. Ross. I apologize profusely over my indiscreet use of that terrible device. I promise you I will never use it's kind again. I'm not here to question you. I simply need to find out what happened."
I fill him in on the details. He makes notes in Chinese in a small black book. "How's Ellie," I ask him.
"She lost a lot of blood, but the fracture in her leg is clean and won't require surgery. She's resting comfortably. She wants you to get some rest."
"What's going on? What are people saying about the explosion?"
"They're saying it's a natural gas leak. An employee ran in to warn people and barely made it out alive. Fortunately no one died."
I breathe a sigh of relief. They're sure to find the detonator and explosives at some point. Maybe Carrie lined a gas line with explosives to make it look like an accident. Or maybe Tam is lying through his teeth. He leaves me after a cot is brought in. I try to sleep, but I toss and turn, replaying the last month's events over and over in my head.
Carrie just knows me so well. She knows exactly what buttons to push, and how to string me along. I had thought god was playing a trick on me, but the answer was much more mundane. She must have prepared this for months. She must have discovered Ellie's secret.
Early in the morning, Ellie calls for me. She lies in bed with an IV, a large bandage wrapped around her head, and her leg in a cast. This cast I know is real. I hold her hand and she squeezes it.
"I must be a mess," she says.
"You're not so bad. I'd still choose you over half the women in this house." I wink.
She smiles wanly. "Things will work out. We'll find a way to clear your name."
"Tam says the TV is calling me a hero, but I don't believe that. It's only a matter of time before they find the stuff Carrie planted."
"We think we may know where she's hiding out. She's good, but everyone leaves a trail of some sort."
"I want to deal with her. I may need your team's help, but I want to get her to clear my name."
"You want to trap her?"
"Not exactly." I explain my plan to her. Ellie nods.
"We'll set it up for Thursday night."
I'm still going to have to leave the country. Things will get ugly. But not as ugly at they're going to get for Carrie.