09 May 2011

Page 21

Lieutenant Jones was 48-years-old and looked 30. He had never been sick a day in his life, and never passed up the opportunity to say so. He loved being in control. Every day he rose at precisely 5:30 AM and immediately started the coffee maker. Then he drank 8 ounces of water chilled to exactly 40 degrees F. At 6:00 AM, he drank the coffee, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth, used the bathroom, dressed for work, and checked off everything he’d done so far on a list.

He also loved lists, especially the making of and checking off parts. When he did something that was not on a list, he added it to the list and checked it off. At the end of every day he collected all the lists and added them to The List…an on-going database that detailed his life’s history to such exquisite detail that he planned on bequeathing it to Maurice’s next door neighbor as a torture device should the need ever arise.

He departed his townhouse at 6:35 AM. 6:50 AM found him parking in spot 5A of the Z-Tech parking lot and 6:59 AM found him primed, prepped, and prepared for people-monitoring, power-mongering, and list-making activities.

Lieutenant Jones puzzled over how the man escaped. ‘What kind of electrical disturbance could cause the drone to break down?’ He wondered if the Velkladdaur knew he hadn’t quite told the truth in the matter. Truthfully, it had to be an electrical disturbance. There was no other explanation.

30 days.

* * *

“We downloaded the video and see the unchipper in the plaza,” explained Quinton Verbosity, Jones’ lead programmer. “The best we can figure out is the tramp stood directly in the line of sight between the drone and Mr. No-chip while the video was running…sort of like the moon during a solar eclipse. See right here at 17’00”35.6…and then as we go to 17’00”42.7.”

Here the technician fast-forwarded the downloaded video.

“Here we see the plaza empty except for these two.”

“You didn’t get a video of the unchipper’s face?”

“Nope. Strangest thing. All the video shows is the back of his head. When he turned around facing the camera, there either was somebody directly in front of him, or else the video just went blank. It’s prolly just an electrical surge in the wiring induced by the latest Call.”

Jones put his face in his hands, and then said. “Get me a picture of the unchipper anyways. The best you can come up with…a close-up. I want to see what the man was wearing. What brand of watch he wears. His hairstyle. I want to know know the cologne type on his skin. Whether he was sunburnt on this day. Things…things I can put on a list and analyze and ponder. The Velkladdeur seems to think it important to find this guy.”

The technician whistled. “What for?”

“Not certain. But know this. When the Velkladdeur wants his man, that man has something worth taking.”

* * *

“Here you go Lieutenant” The technician laid a digitally-enhanced photo on Jones’ desk. “Abercrombie and Fitch khaki pants and looks like size 32-34 waist. Light blue long-sleeved shirt with partially rolled-up sleeves. The shoes appear to be size 11 black Adidas hiking boots.”

“Thank you. That only narrows it down to about…3,000 different people in this city.”

Lieutenant Jones stared at the picture. The digitally-enhanced photo reminded him of one of the scientists in the other drone-making divisions. Tap…tap…tap…went his fingers.

Maurice. That’s his name.

He called the secretary’s office at the alien-tracking division and got a Ms. Skipper.

“Nope. Sorry Mr. Jones. Maurice isn’t working today.”

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