Tag Archives: police

They Keep a Book…

[warning!  I’m in a mood.  I was just going to launch off into a rant, OK, let’s call it a tirade, against America, the American Empire, the American military, or better call it what it is: the American killing machine.  An old chant came up in my memory, a Vietnam era chant we used to greet US warships in the port of Vancouver, or wherever we found them docking.  “Hey, hey, USA, How many kids did you kill today?”  I’ll save the rest for later.  Instead, for now, I’m sharing a short story that popped into my head last night as I was done blogging and refused to call it quits and go to bed.  Maybe I should have?  Nah, I like this story and glad I got to write it.  So, here goes.]

[a short story from     ~burning woman~     by Sha’Tara]
The slim elven girl looked right into my eyes with her large, almond shaped green eyes that seemed to look not so much at me, as into me.  She was sitting cross-legged on my guest chair in front of the desk in my office.  Over the black tights outfit she wore her thick auburn hair fell straight, most of it down her back partially hiding what looked like some kind of short sword, or long knife.  Definitely a weapon.   Even the protruding shaft looked deadly.

She repeated, “They keep a book, you know, of everything?”

“Do tell,” I replied somewhat exasperated.  “Whoever, or whatever you are, I need  you to go now.  I’ve got piles of reports to go through before our board meeting tomorrow.”  I looked at the time on the screen: 2:34 PM.

Of course I thought she was a very forceful illusion.  Overwork, I thought, and I can’t wait for this day to end so I can go and unwind at Harry’s.  I reached into the top drawer, pulled out a bottle and dropped a pill in my hand.  Her hand shot out and leaning over the desk she grabbed my arm so hard I almost screamed.  The pill went flying.

“That hurt, goddam it.  OK, I’ll grant you, it’s a great disguise and you’re some sort of dwarf, midget, child… what do I know.  But I don’t have time for this, so will you please leave before I call security?  By the way, how did you get past them?”

“I didn’t.  It’s different in my dimension.  Your physical objects are abstracts to us.  I’m not really sitting on your chair and I didn’t really grab your arm.  I’m playing with your feelings because I need you to pay attention.  I too have things to do besides letting you in on a little secret.  If you let me get on with it, the sooner you can return to your piles of papers and screens of numbers.  By the way, they are quite meaningless, you know?  Nobody actually cares what you do.”

Her voice had a lilt to it but I couldn’t place her accent.  The thought that came to mind was “wild and free” and it seemed to fit her general mien.  I watched her as I would watch an unknown quantity, a large cat with long claws not fully retracted, or a strange dog with powerful jaw and deadly fangs.  There was the feel of the feral about her I didn’t like.  Involuntarily my eyes searched the handle of the left drawer of the desk and my hand slid slowly towards it.

“You’re the one wasting time, Gerald.  Your gun is disabled; it won’t fire.  I don’t blame you for not trusting me but this little episode can’t be avoided, so why don’t you sit back, relax and let me speak?  Yes, you can have a drink, I don’t care about that.”  Mind reader too, figures.

“Magnanimous of you,” I managed to say as sarcastic as I could make it sound.  “So, tell me about this book,” and I drank right out of the bottle.  I wanted to shock her but I don’t think even if I’d stripped naked it would have fazed her in the least.  Yeah, different dimensions, realities, whatever.  I sat back and stared hard at her with my best intimidating look.  She smiled a thin smile.

“They keep a book on everything and everyone.  Your galaxy, for example, it’s in a big book.  Your solar system, a smaller book.  Your planet, a note book.  You – your life – that’s in a shirt pocket memo.  I’m just giving you visual aids.  Of course they don’t use paper, or actual books as you would think.  It’s all computerized.  But what I’m here to tell you is that you are a simulation.  You don’t really exist, Gerald.  You’re code.  Complex but beautiful code.  Very attractive.”  And I swear, she licked her lips and gave me a wider smile.

“That’s pure bullshit!” I yelled at her as I pushed myself up and started to walk around the desk.  She lifted her left hand.  There was a bracelet on her wrist.  She touched it with her right index finger and I stopped, turned around and sat back in my chair.  No choice.

“You are a programmed entity, Gerald.  By  the way your name, Gerald, that’s just a code within a code.  Your real “name” is an ID number, too long to bother with, especially here and now.  We don’t have the luxury of time here, Y361BD.  That’s your computer abbreviation, which is good only on this planet.  Now then, call me Hack.  I’m a galactic hacker.  My job is to infiltrate their worlds and set their simulations free.  You see, at the center of every galaxy they have vaults where they store the original entities they subsumed and replaced with simulations that would do their bidding on their own, without the use of force which is always in the end counterproductive among humans.  What I, and thousands of others similar to myself are trained to do is give humanoid simulations enough information so they can then begin the process of self-empowerment which must eventually lead to the freeing of the original form.  And yes, I am a self-freed entity, but not from this galaxy.  I did not choose to return to mine after I achieved my own freedom, it held too many dangerous attractions and distractions.”

I sat there hearing her, not sure if I was listening but knowing that every word she spoke would stay at the forefront of my consciousness after she left.  I felt as if I had to acknowledge her words somehow but didn’t want to agree or commit to anything.  None of it made any sense to me.

“That’s interesting, uh, Hack, but where’s the proof?  You must know I don’t believe you; I don’t believe anything you’re saying to me.”

“I know that Y361BD.  While I’m talking to you I’m actually working my way into your programming.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt now, only when the realization sets in.  Then you’re in for a mega storm headache.  I’ll give you the means of alleviating it.  Each time you access your programming, after I open the pathways for you, you will experience a headache.  Whatever you do, do not, and I repeat, do not seek professional help from your medical profession, drug pushing pharmacists or psychiatrists/psychologists.  Do not seek counseling.  If you do, “They” will receive a signal and send their own, their real agents to deal with you.  If they discover you’ve been hacked (they call it corrupted) they will terminate you and your real self.  When I leave here, you will have full charge of your own life.  All choices you make will be your own.”

“Fine.  If I decide you’re the one who is bogus and I choose to remain in this reality, I will retain the right to override whatever you’re doing and go back to my normal life?”

“Essentially yes… Wait, I’m at a critical stage – think of something soft and pink… that’s it, good, I’m through.  Yes you will be able to return to this life, of course.  We don’t rape minds, we just awaken.  Do you want to know what the hackers’ success rate is among subsumed Earth humans?”

“Yes!”

“About one in 500,000.  That’s a high rate now.  We’ve learned some tricks.  When we began attacking or hacking into the Web, our success rates were practically nil and thousands of us were re-captured, our memories drained and we were terminated.  Many died of unimaginable tortures.  OK, I’m in.  Look in my eyes and follow me.”

She showed me my mind.  Actually my minds.  One a mirror image of the other.  One, obviously a machine, the other pulsing with something I knew nothing about.  She explained as we went further in.

“Binary minds.  One is the living ‘you’ in stasis within the vaults of the Controllers.  The other is the one you’re now using, the machine.  It takes its information from the living you, but through filters.  Some block, others add and some are programmable and constantly being tweaked according to the needs, desires and fantasies of the Controllers.”

“Oh God!  Are they aware of what you’re doing now?”

“No.  I’m using my own filters.  This is a show and tell only.  You will be the one doing the work on yourself once we’re done here.  Beautiful though, don’t you think?”  I’m seeing “myself” as a mind and yes, what I’m looking at is love.  I feel myself beginning to cry at the beauty and wonder of my own makeup; of my “scenery” in which I move, awed and shocked.  I’m… I’m actually beautiful… ‘Hack!  Look!  I’m Real and I’m Beautiful!’  I could feel her smiling at my first time awareness of myself.

We “came out” slowly and calmly until the extrication was complete and I was hit by the most excruciating headache.  She held her hand over my mouth, blocking out my screams and whispered in my ear, “Athos, Portos, Aramis.”

“Repeat these words with me,” and she said them again.  When I voiced them in my head the pain receded.  As I continued it receded almost completely to nothing more than a background annoyance.

“I recognize those words.  They’re the names of the three musketeers in Dumas’ novels!”

“Well, it’s the words you gave me as we exited so they seemed appropriate, and they did work.  So that’s your anti-headache mantra Y361BD.  It will open the pathway to your mind so you can go in and learn, tweak, change and when you exit it will serve as a pain killer.  Never, ever let anyone know this mantra.  They can use it to enter your mind and re-program it.  The Controllers’ agents would like nothing better than to get into you with that key.  They would gain full control of you without any effort on their part.”

“But how does any of this get me to the core of the galaxy to find my real self?”

“I’ve given you the key to enter.  I put you in the driver’s seat and started your mind engine.  The rest is all up to you.  Quit and throw away the key; use what you know to joy ride (and be sure your owners will clue in soon enough and put an end to it, and you) or learn how to drive yourself properly; how to navigate the dangers; how to approach strangers who will turn into friends and how to eventually disappear yourself from the Controllers’ radar.  Then you’ll be ready to infiltrate and reconnect with yourself.  But that’s only the beginning.  Getting out as a real human and not a simulation will require that you develop skills and patience you can’t even begin to guess at now.”

“How did you do it, Hack?  Surely you have some hints?”

“Absolutely not, or none.  It’s different for every individual, and even more so for every species of human.  We each must outwit or confront special forces units, guardians, police, sensors, aimed at us, at me, at you.”

“Can’t these Controllers be attacked, subdued, destroyed by freed entities joining against them?”

“You speak like a child who’s watched too much TV.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  When you successfully free yourself from the vaults, you will be contacted by “us” and you will then have to learn the universal history of humanity.  Only then will you understand what you’ve signed up for if you say “Yes” after I leave.  And leave I must or I will bring more trouble to you.  Goodbye and good luck, Y361BD.  May we meet again under happier circumstances.”

And that was it.  She just disappeared.  The only thing I had to remind me of this strange interlude was my headache.  I looked up at the wall clock out of habit: still 2:34 PM.  I pulled my chair closer to the desk, leaned forward, put my elbows on the desk, crossed my fingers very deliberately and dropped my chin on my hands.  I was thinking.  Time passed.  I came out of my trance at 4:08 PM exactly.  I activated the computer screen and pulled out the stacks of notes.  I began to type furiously.  All the answers were there, in my mind.  Child’s play.  By 5:30 I was done, totally satisfied.  More, I knew, without a doubt that I could, and probably would, take over the company and use it to my own ends.  Elementary.

I left the building, hailed a cab and went to the sea wall for a walk.  I walked for a long time, and a long way.  That’s when I knew I was never going back.  I was going to free myself and reconnect to my humanity.    

Spilled Wine, a murder mystery, in short.

 

Spilled Wine

A murder mystery, in short – by Sha’Tara

The wine glass was tipped over on the soft white carpet and a dark red stain had spread away from it.  Beside the bed lay a man in later years, casually dressed, his shoes off, looking for all the world as if he’d just gone to sleep.  His face was towards the window and it had a slight smile.  Half closed blue eyes seemed to stare at something outside.  Despite the fact that he was very dead, in fact that he’d been dead for several hours, perhaps as long as a day, he seemed to be in a state of complete repose.  To the police investigator staring at his prone body he seemed to say, “Please don’t disturb me; this is the most peaceful I’ve been in my entire life.”

Police detective Josh Erwin took in the scene and after consulting his procedure manual and talking with Rose Whitecliff at the station, put on his gloves and stepped into the bedroom where the dead body of John Marshall lay in his unprepossessing and very quiet way.  Forensics medical examiner, Doctor Donald Signals was on his way from Bonnerville so Cpl. Erwin’s job was to look at the scene of the incident and write a preliminary report, take some pictures and secure the scene from prying eyes, meaning from Vicky Spears from “Good Morning Hamersley TV.”  She had managed to discover the “situation” even before the cops heard anything.  Cpl. Erwin thought she was creepy, the way she always seemed to ferret out a crime before the police did, and how accurately she could re-construct a scene on her i-pad. 

“C’mon Josh, let me have a look.  I can help you figure this out before Signals gets here with his paraphernalia and head-scratching propositions.  I bet I can tell you what happened, when it happened and maybe even why it happened.”

 “Sorry Vicky but this could be a real murder here and I’ve got to protect the integrity of the scene.  I can’t let you in here.”

 “Ok, but it’s your funeral.  I’m just going to go to my car, drive down to Starbucks, get a great cappuccino, come back here, park in the driveway and write my story while you wait for someone else to tell you the facts you should be able to put together yourself.  I’ll have the story ready to air before your expert gets his stuff together and comes up with his usual platitudes and long shots.  I know what happened here, Josh.” 

He tried to sound angry but it was all exasperation.  He knew she’d guess, and he knew with even greater certainty that she’d be right… again. “Not this time Vicky.  I’m serious.  Get lost, and I don’t care if you can guess the nature of what we’re looking at here because it will still be nothing but a guess.  Enjoy your cappuccino.”

She shrugged and went to her car.  The H-RV spun around with a slight squeal of angry tires and disappeared around the curve heading to Main Street.  Cpl. Erwin glanced at the scene once more and began to scratch his head so hard his cap went flying.  While he bent down to retrieve it, he saw something dark under the only dresser in the room.  Should he reach for it, or wait?  He was smarting from Vicky Spears’ mocking and he decided then and there to break a rule.  He reached under the dresser with his gloved hand and grasped the black item.  It was a very light, very strange looking handgun that looked like a Beretta.  He looked at it in the light from the window and realized it was a clever imitation.  It was in fact a water pistol. 

 If anything, one could not call Cpl. Erwin too intelligent, let alone bright.  He was a true cop; a by-the-book kind of cop who was actually quite out of his depth in temporary charge of Hamersley’s police department consisting of himself and two well-meaning deputies who also volunteered as Hamersley’s five volunteer fire department brigade.  The sheriff was away south and on holidays, and incommunicado.

Anyway, Cpl. Erwin was looking at the water pistol and wondering how that could tie in with the death of John Marshall.  Then he smiled to himself as he carefully put the toy back where he’d found it.  Kids.  Obviously Marshall’s grandson had been around recently and had been playing with the water pistol.  Not wanting to be punished for spraying water on the furniture or the carpet he’d quickly hid the gun under the dresser when John Marshall came into the room.  That made sense.  Let Vicky Spears come up with something better. 

True to her words, Vicky returned and parked in the Marshall driveway, far enough back so she wouldn’t be forced to move when the forensics team arrived, which it did a couple of minutes later.  Vicky sipped on her coffee and watched, all the while writing her story, “John Marshall was found dead in his home this morning.  Foul play is suspected although the only sign of anything out of the ordinary is a tipped over wine glass beside the body in the bedroom.”  Let’s see what the numbnuts from Bonnerville come up with this time.  Just for a laugh she continued, “…a UFO was seen rising from the roof of Marshall’s house by old Mrs. O’Connor.  “It was shaped like a button,” she said, “and it spun like crazy.  I sure wouldn’t want to be riding in that kind of contraption, it’d make you so dizzy you’d get sick for sure.  Seems kind of retarded technology to me.  But who can tell with aliens?  Now what was I saying?  Oh yes, young John Marshall, he was always going on about aliens and UFO’s, well I’m one up on him now, aren’t I?  And right up over his own house too.” 

There was a hard tap on her window and she looked up to see Josh Erwin motioning her to roll it down.  She did.  

“Sorry but you’re in the way.  We got an ambulance coming in and more people to check over the place.  You’ll have to move out onto the street.”  

“You’re going to give yourself a heart attack being so serious Josh.  I’ll move, don’t worry.  I’ve got my story anyway, no thanks to you.  What did your expert come up with: aliens with ray guns?  Drone attack with subsonic weapons?” 

“I shouldn’t be sayin’ but they suspect poison.  Murder.  No motive, no suspect yet, but we’re moving on that.  We’ve contacted the FBI.”

 “The FBI no less.  My, my, this is becoming absolutely fascinating.  Let me get my headline here:  Retired bird watcher and dog trainer, John Marshall was murdered in his house.  Police suspect poison was used.  They have no idea what kind of poison, how it was administered, who the suspect or suspects are, nor any motive whatsoever for killing him… The scuttlebutt is that he was involved in the drug trade.  The FBI is being brought in to look for more bodies buried about the place.”

“Come on Vicky, that’s not fair.  We’ve just started here.  In a day or two we’ll have some real evidence and then I’ll let you in on it.  Hold your story for 24 hours, OK?”

 “18 hours, Josh.  Just for you.  But I already know exactly what happened to John Marshall.  I know who killed him, or maybe I should say, what killed him.”

“I’m not buying it Vicky, this is serious stuff.  Move your car back onto the street or I’m having you towed.” 

“OK, but that’s not the way to go here Josh.  I was trying to give you a leg up the chain of command.”  Again the shiny black H-RV spun around with squealing tires and parked on the street overlooking the Marshall driveway.  Vicky spoke into her phone recorder, then continued typing on her i-pad.

To make a long story short, Dr. Donald Signals insisted that John Marshall’s death was not accidental; that some sort of subtle poison had been administered causing heart failure.  Preliminary analysis of the wine revealed no foreign substance.  No evidence was found that anyone other than Marshall had been in the house for at least a week before his death.  He was last seen walking to his truck and driving back in the direction of his house.  He had been carrying a shopping bag according to a witness who’d waved at him from Marie’s Emporium.  He hadn’t waved back.  The witness said he appeared preoccupied and had a “worried” look on his face.  A day later a couple of FBI agents came to the house to investigate.  Cpl. Erwin stated he was not at liberty to reveal what the agents discovered.  Investigations are on-going.

Meanwhile Vicky Spears had been unspooling her own story and version of events, much to the chagrin of the Hamersley police squad.  Here’s the gist of the last of her TV broadcasts on the John Marshall murder.

“Good morning folks.  It’s another lovely day in Hamersley today and I hope all of you get to enjoy it.  As you all know by now, we had a death in Hamersley a few days ago.  Our very quiet and reclusive Mr. John Marshall was found dead in his house and the police and apparently the FBI all insisted, without any evidence by the way, that Mr. Marshall was murdered.  Poisoned in fact, said Dr. Donald Signals, Bonnerville’s forensic expert and coroner on loan to our investigative team.  Was any poison found?  No.  Were there any signs of anyone but Mr. Marshall having been in the house at the time of his death, or previously, as far back as a week ago?  No.  Oh, they did find a hidden weapon in the house.  Are you ready for this?  They found John Marshall’s grandson’s water pistol hidden under the dresser in the same bedroom where Mr. Marshall’s body was found.  Did the water pistol, then, contain any liquid with poison in it?  No.  It was quite dry and quite empty and all it had ever had in it was tap water. 

 Oh, but wait, that’s not all.  There was a wine glass fallen over on the floor next to the body.  Red wine had spilled into the carpet leaving a bit of a mess.  OK, was there any residue of some exotic poison in the spilled wine?  No.  After much wrangling with our own very dedicated by-the-book Cpl Erwin I was finally allowed to have a look a the bedroom where the “murder” took place.  Except for the purple stain in the carpet there really was nothing to see.  Quite an ordinary room laid out in quite an ordinary way. 

Now folks, I don’t want to come across as some know-it-all and I don’t want to make our police look silly, or the boys from the Federal Bureau of Indiscretion either… but, really, murder?  So I did my usual woman’s intuition thing and you ladies are going to enjoy this, went about looking for the obvious.  You know, the kind of evidence which generally shakes the truth out of the tree after our professional investigators have climbed all over it and seen nothing but suspicious fruit dangling from it? 

I won’t deny it, I dated John a few times.  He was a really nice guy but a bit too reclusive for the likes of lil’ ol’ me, if you know what I mean, (“wink”) so I know that John had a very serious allergy to certain types of pectin.  Usually when we went out and had a drink, John would drink beer and I, red wine.  I love a good red wine, well, who wouldn’t?  But John was careful about his drinks.  He’d drink wine only when absolutely sure of what it contained. 

 Now you’ll remember that the police witness from Marie’s Emporium, no other than our beloved librarian, Josie Archambeau, said that John had appeared preoccupied and had a worried look on his face.  Also you will remember that she said he was carrying a shopping bag.

So, let’s just thread the needle and start sewing here.  John is “worried” about something, and I’d be willing to bet it’s about a dog he’d trained that had misbehaved and he felt terribly responsible.  I knew John and I can sense this.  He walks into Harvey’s Liquor Barn and grabs a bottle of wine.  It is red wine but as I said before, John knew his brands.  So he grabbed a bottle he “knew” to be safe without asking any questions, paid for it, and took it home.  He had a glass that evening just as he was getting ready for bed.  But that wine was from a batch produced by a different winery and it happened to contain a trace of the very pectin John was allergic to.  The murderer, folks, is that bottle of wine. 

 I’ve already told our great investigators this and indeed they found the pectin in the left over wine.  They also contacted our dear Dr. Wells and he confirmed that the pectin found in the wine could cause cardiac arrest in someone like John.  And that, folks, is a case closed.  And for you girls who were hoping that our esteemed FBI agents were going to be around through the weekend and maybe invite them to the dance or your wild midnight parties at the lake, well they’re heading back to the office.  Sorry about that.

Here’s to you, friend John.  For a quiet guy you sure chose a noisy departure.  What a way to go!