Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gideon's Chip, Part Six


Gideon's Chip, Part Six


***

   The city glittered silently at my back. The young lady guarding the door
tensed, frowned, as thin curls of cigarette rose through the cool air of the
room. I rubbed one hand against my leg as I stared at the carpeting. And the
mysterious benefactor smiled.
   "Excellent," he said. "Your file did not mention that we your a sensible
man, but I knew that you were."
   I did not answer. Smoke was still rising out of the ashtray.
   The man reached down into it to retrieve his cigarette. He tapped ash off
of it. "Let's get down to business then. I am going to set up a double blind
account with the company, something that you'll safely be able to withdraw
from and that won't lead every two bit hacker back to me. And I am going to
assign security personnel. I want them with you at all times."
   He waited for me to reply.
   Finally, I nodded.
   "Good. I'll have whatever equipment you'd like sent over as well. However,
Mr. O'Neil, this is not Christmas. Ask only for what you need. Take only what
you need. I don't want to find you've gotten greedy. Or taken advantage of me
and left town."
   There was a question rattling around inside of me. I asked it. "Who are
you?"
   He did not answer directly. Instead, he moved on with his verbal agenda.
"Once you're setup, one of your bodyguards will be contacted with certain Net
addresses and...other information. When you have that, I expect you to get to
work finding these thieves."
   I asked again when he paused. I whispered, "Who are you?"
   "Mr. O'Neil, I am your benefactor. That is all you need to know about me."
   "Why is this data so important to you? Why not just reconstruct it?"
   He smiled. Again. "That's the kind of question a person who has never been
involved internally with megacorporations asks."
   "How can I help you if I don't know who you are? Or what company you
represent."
   The mysterious benefactor shook his head. "You've been out of the game for
a long time to be asking questions like these. Think back to when you were
running and remember that these sort of things are what get people killed."
   "I want to know who you are," I said.
   "Ms. Jordan will see you out."
   He stood. I did too.
   Ms. Jordan opened the door for me and I crossed over to it.
   "Thomas," he said to me as I was leaving. I stopped and turned back. "I
don't want you to think I was unnecessarily harsh here. I did what I thought
was best. Sometimes when people get older, their ideals about the world
change and I just can't afford to have a Robin Hood running around in my
organization."
   I left him without answering. There was no answer.
   Ms. Jordan lead me efficiently through the quiet halls and out to the
driveway. She opened the limo door for me and before shutting it, pressed
something small into my hand. It stung. I uncurled my fingers and found a
lapel pin sitting in my hand.
   I looked at Ms. Jordan as we pulled away. Her expression was pensive, her
back straight, as she watched us go. I thought I could see her looking back
at me, but the windows were made of mirrored glassed.
   Then I examined the pin. It was a golden. When I turned it over in my
palm, I could see a tiny smear of my blood on its face. It was a stylized
corporate logo, a swirl of thick lines shaped like a lower case cursive "a".
   I squeezed my eyes shut.
   I cried on the way home.

***

   There were important people in the dream. There was someone important
missing.
   Instead of opening my front door into the messy interior of my apartment,
there was my parent's living room. Stained carpet ran from the door to the
far wall, folding itself under a television stand, weathered couch, and a
pair of recliners. Overly dark wood panelling reflected the glow of the loud
television dully.
   I stepped inside. And the door behind me disappeared.
   My mother walked into the room from the kitchen, a glass in one hand,
plate in the other.
   "Tommy!" she said. "What are you doing here?"
   I thought about that. I was dreaming, I knew. Wasn't I? Yes. Dreaming. So
why would I be in my parent's home? Their old home. They hadn't lived here
since the riots ten years ago. When I knew the answer, I asked, "Is Dad
home?"
   "He's in the other room." My mother, sitting down the couch, called out to
him. "Bill! Bill, Tom is here."
   "Just a minute!"
   The television spilled a flickering blue light. The house settled around
us.
   My father entered from the hall. He had a book tucked under one arm and
his slippers in the other. He rubbed my hair as he past and sat down in his
chair, his favorite, usual chair. "What brings you in, son?" he asked as he
slipped off his shoes.
   "I need help, Dad."
   He put on one slipper. "Shoot."
   "I'm in trouble. I don't know what to do. People are...after me."
   "Have you gone to the police?" He worked the other slipper over his heel
with a crooked finger.
   "I can't."
   "What does Anna say?" my mother asked.
   "Mom, Anna is dead."
   There was a red light sweeping at the edges of the blue the television
gave off.
   "Honey," she said, taking a bite of a cookie, "Anna was just here."
   There was red light in the room. It poured out of the far wall, falling
through a window that shouldn't have been there. Everything had a strange
cast. My father's face was a mask of shadows and red light, a red flickering
light...
   A neon light.
   I could see the sign through the new window.
   I woke up with a start.
   One of the pair of my bodyguards was staring at me. She had her leg up
over her head as she did yoga exercises on the floor next to my mattress. Her
name was Lily. It was the kind of name solos chose for themselves.
   "Hey there, lover boy," she said, her foot by her ear. "We just got those
addresses. It's time for you to start earning your pay."

***


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