This night felt like the longest one Globe had ever experienced. In his brain resided a constant storm and no drink quenched his thirst. He needed answers, not alcohol. The waiting was impossible, his eyes glued to the phone, to the cameras. Why was Joaquin so impossible to find? In a world photographed and videotaped every second, how did he remain gone? The failed experiment with Kristoff and Peter was stabilized but recovering the lost data would take weeks. Globe desperately needed Joaquin. He sat cross-legged in front of Bree and helped her braid a doll’s hair, but he was clumsy having never had a daughter to practice on. He was lost in thought.
“You’re doing it wrong.” Bree flashed him a stare that told him to take away his numb fingers from the doll’s blond hair.
“Bree, can I ask you something?” His breath stank of whiskey, but Bree seemed unimpressed by that and awarded him with silence. Globe took his chance in the settling quiet.
“Do you think you can find Joaquin? Remember him, the boy with the impervious skin? The one from the cabin in the forest?”
The little purple comb wedged into a particularly messy snarl, and Bree paused. She tilted one way, then the other, and continued to work out the faulty braid so she could start a new one. Globe was about to give up and leave when she finally spoke.
“People sometimes don’t want to be found. They get lost on purpose to try and find something they think they’ve really lost. It’s their destiny to be there, and it’s their destiny to come back when they are ready.”
Bree’s words ricocheted in Globe’s head. “All I want to do is give this world back to who it belongs to. People like you, Bree. I want to awaken humanity from the lethargy it has been comfortably sitting in for centuries, reinvigorate it. But to do that I need to remove all that is left of the old. I need to strengthen the DNA, rewrite what made humans so special all these eons ago. I want to bring us all into a new century of supers. Nature culls the weak and rewards the strong.” Globe had heard that phrase somewhere, but he couldn’t recall where. He furrowed his brows suddenly aware that he was speaking honestly to Bree and not understanding why he did it. Bree remained inactive in their conversation turned monolog. Globe backed out of the room rubbing sweaty hands on his pants. If Joaquin wanted to stay hidden because of some destiny, there was no rule saying that his resurface couldn’t be forced. He rode the elevator to another floor of the underground compound and walked the circular white corridor to a locked door. He put his eye against the scanner and allowed the blue beam to scan his retina. He blinked away the gathered tear and went through the door delving into the cold darkness of the room, stepping over cables without incident. He had gotten used to their pattern, solid red, black and yellow snakes crawling down the walls and pooling on the floor.
“You reached out to me. Have you found Joaquin?”
Globe stood beside the chair of his pet hacker Sindi drumming his fingers on the red leather. Her words came with her usual pauses, her voice was synchronized with the computer. Globe often wondered whether she even opened her mouth to speak or was it all a trick of the surround system. “Someone…found…the videos,” she declared.
That was not the answer he had expected. Globe loosened his tie. It was too hot near the super computer. “That was the point, remember?”
“Someone…found…they were…fake,” Sindi replied.
Globe circled the chair and lowered himself to be at eye level. He had insisted she remain at her workplace until Massey was found and then until Joaquin was found but the exercise had taken a toll on the poor girl. Her face was pale, her eyes glass-like inside the dark rings. She was malnourished. Perhaps he had gone too far keeping her immobile to the real world and active only in her specialty of ones and zeroes. Globe’s eyes traced the thick cables running into her skin, bulging and pulsating like artificial veins inside her neck and her arms. Sindi did excellent work, but the process of connecting and unplugging her was messy. Until he figured out how to improve the process, he had to compromise. That was the price she had to pay for her power. A child of the new age. The entry points oozed pink puss now and then. Globe pulled out a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and dabbed at the exposed socket on her neck.
“How is that possible?” he asked, “We took extra care so no one would know they were fake.”
On a previously blank screen, code formed ones and zeroes into an image, and the image cleared adding color. It showed through her digital eyes what she’d seen in her transcendental explorations of the sphere. A young man was staring at his computer screen in sheer disbelief. He spoke to someone to his right but Globe couldn’t see who. When he opened a file, Sindi had tossed at him like bait his machine malfunctioned. An explosion followed, and the screen returned to black.
“Who is he?”
“Database says…Andy Kitz…creator of the SuperHub.”
Globe stood up to his full height. His mind calculated the possibilities, the connections, the chances.
“Did…I…do…good?” Sindi asked again.
“Yes, yes. You’ve eliminated the problem. But make sure that after the FBI receives the files, there should be a media leak. No one can compromise the videos, not now. Now play me that video again. Can you extract audio? I want to listen.”
Her eyes closed and her mind worked its magic. The screen reversed the explosion back to the beginning of when the room on the other side of the screen was still there and the man Andy Kitz was still gawking at the screen.
Just as Globe was about to sit down, his phone buzzed.
Next: Literature Detective