socialnetwork.gov

The city was asleep. It was a weekday, and most everybody had to work in the morning. There were some spots however that only seemed to wake as the world outside grew quiet. Club Zero was a just such a spot. A man could be lost in a sea of people but remain nameless and isolated. James Spurlow, a tall and well dressed young man, made his way through that sea of anonymity, pulsing the the waves of the overbearing music. He looked the bartender in the face, and the bartender just stared back through his purple tinged glasses, waiting.
“Well? What do you want?” The bartender practically screamed while motioning to the crowd around with both arms.
“Beer.” James mouthed back, raising one finger.
The bartender reached below the bar and brought up a beer. James grabbed for
it, but the bartender did not release.
James raised an eyebrow to him.
“Don’t give me that look pal. Your the one without your glasses, I can’t charge you! Here just scan your phone!” The bartender said. He pulled out a scanner from under the bar with his other hand and blew the dust off of it.
James looked down at his wrist, where his phone was strapped, just like the
bartender’s phone, except, James’ was out of battery life. James made a show of checking his pockets for cash, which he knew he didn’t have. Nobody had cash anymore, at least nobody carried it. Well, he did, usually, but was out at the moment. He looked around, not sure what to do.
“Jimmy! Hey, Jimmy!” James looked about, saw his acquaintance Doug, and snatched the beer from the bartender.
“Doug will get this one!” James smiled as Doug scanned his own phone to
bartender’s scanner.
“And while your at it, can you check me in? My glasses are broke at home, and my phone is dead. I wouldn’t ask, but you know, the Public Protection Act and all. Who are they protecting anyway?” James asked.
“No problem Jimmy, but you gotta get that stuff fixed, this is the fourth time I’ve
checked you in in the past two weeks, man.” Doug replied, only half concerned.
“Besides, what are they going to do anyway?” James responded.
James and Doug proceeded to drink the night away, Doug buying all the beer,
and James soaking in human interaction without the hassle of letting anybody truly in.

***

“Thank you for calling Viseron Services, this is Eric, how can I help you?” Eric repeated the chant, for probably the 100th time today. It was almost quitting time, just about midnight, and despite the fact that Eric had missed the nice, warm, sunny part of the day, he could not wait to get outside, for however briefly while he made his way home. But for now he was still stuck in this building, and on another routine phone call.
“I don’t know whats wrong, I can scan all the clothes I want, and I see the preview of how they look on me on my phone, but for some reason I don’t have the option to display them actually on me unless I pay a charge per outfit, well the good outfits anyway. I get the everyday ones for free. I thought I had unlimited scanning on my account?” The young female voice on the other end of the line complained.
“I will be happy to help you with this. I see on your account that you do have unlimited scanning. That allows you to scan and preview all the clothes you would like, however only certain outfits are free. The premium, new, and trendy outfits do have a cost.” Eric said with a soft tone.
“Oh. Well that’s no good. What am I paying for this for if I cant get all the outfits I want?” The young woman on the other end responded.
“Well I do have a solution for you. You can upgrade to our FashionScan Plus, and you will never have to pay for another outfit. If you see someone on the street wearing an outfit you want, just scan them and the outfit is yours. Of course it works better if you have them stand still. It is available to you for only fifty dollars per month. Would you like me to add this to your account?” Eric hated putting on his salesman shoes.
“Well, fifty dollars is pretty reasonable, I do like to stay trendy. What if the person I scan is only displaying a scanned outfit themselves? Will it still work?” The young lady asked.
“Yes, it will with everything but specialty designer outfits, unfortunately some designers like their lines to be very exclusive.” James answered.
“Do you think its worth it?” She asked.
“I subscribe to it myself. The best part, to me anyway, is that you can mix and match different items of clothing from different outfits to create your own unique fashion statement.” All Viseron employees had the latest products and services that it offered. Eric figured it was in order to be better salesmen. This time, it worked.
“Well, ok! I’ll take it!” The lady responded enthusiastically.
“Thanks for choosing Viseron, where we make your world better!”
God, how he hated saying that line. Eric did not like Viseron, the largest of three
government sanctioned Enhanced-Glasses corporations, even though it was where Eric called home five days a week. Sure it had its perks; the pay was good, the job was easy, and he was lucky enough to work downtown. Plus he knew the ins and outs of the enhanced glasses better than most people. Still, Eric yearned for something more, something important. Well at least something that wasn’t so boring.

***

James stumbled out of the bar. Doug left with a woman several drinks ago, but James found some new acquaintances who kept buying him drinks. James was sociable, and likable when he needed to be. He always found people to buy his drinks.
He started heading south on Burbank to catch a train, and he instinctively looked down at his phone on his left wrist, to check the time and train schedule. Fuck, he thought. James forgot that his phone had died, he couldn’t check the time, and he realized that he couldn’t even pay for a train if he got to one, he still had no cash.
“I guess I’ll have to walk.” James said to no one in particular. There wasn’t anybody around to hear him anyway.
Maybe one of his new friends from the bar would help him out. James turned back around, still halfway stumbling. By the time he was back in front of the bar, nobody remained. James almost checked his phone again for the time, but this time remembered his dilemma. He figured it was probably about 2:30 AM, since the bar would’ve closed around 2:00 AM. This wouldn’t be the first time he walked home from a bar, but never this late, and never alone.
About halfway home, still heading north on Burbank, James tripped, fell, and scraped his knuckle on the cement sidewalk, in front of an alleyway. As he was getting back on his feet he heard some noises from the alleyway.
The noises stopped. Damn, thought James.
“HELP ME!” A man’s deep voice screamed. James did not know what to do. Then he heard running footsteps getting closer. He saw a man pop out of the shadows right in front of him, and James threw out his fist, instinctively. His fist made contact with a face. James was relieved, he had never punched anyone before, and he just knocked a guy down.
While James was congratulating himself, he felt a kick in the stomach, and doubled over. The person who James had punched stood up, and pulled out a knife. James looked up and saw a smirk on the mans face.
“Give me your phone,” the man said in a raspy voice, “or I’ll stab you!” His smirk grew into a smile, revealing crooked yellow teeth.
James quickly unhooked his phone from his wrist and tossed it to the ground in front of the man.
“Thanks,” the man said laughing, “but I’m gunna’ cut you anyway! Come here!” He snarled.
James could hardly breath, let alone move. If he had had his glasses, they would’ve sent out a distress signal, and by now the cops would be here. The man was making his way toward James, readying his knife.
“Hey! He’s getting away!” Said another voice back in the alley. “Come on!” the voice echoed through the alley.
“You got lucky.” The raspy voiced man said, as he picked up James’ phone and started running back down the alley.
“That was a close call.” James said to himself.
James finished walking home, without further incident. He half heartedly debated calling the authorities, but quickly pushed that thought out of his mind. It was a good thing that his door lock was finger print encoded, since he didn’t have his glasses or his phone. Once inside, he was able to check in on his PC, and then fell into his bed. It had been a long night.

***

Eric woke in the morning, refreshed. Despite working late last night, he had to be
back to the office this morning. He did not mind though, it was a beautiful day, and he was going to walk. Before leaving his apartment, he strapped on his phone, and grabbed his pale-blue tinted company issued Viseron enhanced glasses; the latest model of course. He never left home without them, then again, nobody left home without their glasses. Eric took the elevator down from his 23rd floor apartment, walked through the lobby and out to the street.
Eric walked a relatively direct path to work. As he got closer to downtown, more people were walking too. His glasses identified a couple of his friends in the new bar-restaurant, Fizzles!, across the street. It looks like Melina is having a salad, and Timothy was having the signature Fizzles Five-Alarm Burger, which he just described as “Hot, but delicious!”
Well, thought Eric, if Tim likes it, I probably would too. Eric did not have time to stop in right now, not even to say hello, but he did take his time to comment on Tim’s review saying “I am going to have to try this place!” Of course, besides Tim and Melina, it looked like 94 of Eric’s friends have stopped in, and 89 of them “Like” the place, only two “Dislike,” and the other three seemed to not care one way or the other.
Eric continued his walk to work. Suddenly a voice sounded in his head, and he saw what looked like a shadow come over his field of vision.
“Nero, the next step in our technological evolution,” he heard the voice say. An ad, he thought, another damn ad. These are coming way too frequently, and of course, its my damn companies ad. There was nothing he could do to stop this ad, he just had to wait it out. “Nero will merge the technological with the biological. Direct interface between Viseron E-Glasses and your own neurons, with only a low risk surgical procedure. Nero can turn anybody into an emergency paramedic. Nero, brought to you by Viseron, we will make the world safer for all of us.” Despite working for Viseron, Eric had very little information about Nero beyond what he has heard in those ads. It would supposedly change the world, but then again each new technology claimed to change the world. This will be no different, thought Eric.
By the end of the ad he found himself in front of the office. Walking up to the building Eric was always delighted to see the trees out in front. There were hardly any left in the city, but Viseron made sure to keep some. Through his enhanced glasses Eric could tell that these trees are all maple trees. The one on his right showed it was 100 years old. The saplings by its side did not have a virtual presence yet; it was usually at least a couple of years before one was created for the saplings. Almost everything had an interactive virtual presence, the could be viewed through Enhanced Glasses, even if it was in no way electronic. All the data from this maple tree was housed in the cloud; how fast it was growing, how old it was, who planted the tree, who has interacted with the tree, and many other things. Eric left a little note for whoever looked at this tree next, just a poem he pulled up online, but he felt it was appropriate. It was nice, and how people interacted with their environment before, without access to this knowledge, Eric did not understand. How could a person be a part of this world without access to knowledge of everything within.
On the 7th floor, Eric made his way to his desk. The first thing he did everyday at his desk was un-sync his glasses from his phone, and sync them directly to his workstation. As soon as he clocked in, the first call of the day came right on through. It was a home phone, thats strange, nobody used their home phone anymore.
“Thank you for calling Viseron Services, this is Eric, how can I help you?”
“Eric? Yeah this is James. James Spurlow. My glasses are broke, I need some help with them.” James said.
“OK, I will be happy to help. First I will need to know what kind of glasses they are.” Eric inquired.
“Uhh, Viseron?” James responded, honestly unsure.
Ugh, its going to be this kind of phone call. “Yes, Viseron, but what model?”
“Oh, oh, they are the, uhh, SpectreVision E-100, with a green tint.”
“OK, thank you, and whats to serial number on those glasses, it will be on the left hand side, near the port to hook your phone up.” Eric said.
“Let me see, is it SV12E-100x35697w?”
“That sounds about right, I am going to try and take control of it from here, do you have it charged?”
“No.” Replied James.
“Can you put it on the charger please?” Asked Eric, getting a little fed up.
“Ok, its on the charger now.”
“Alright, while that starts charging, I am going to try to remote into the glasses to see what I can do. While I do that, can you explain to me how you think they are broke, or what exactly is wrong with the glasses?”
“They are busted in half.” James said flatly.
You’ve got to be kidding me! Why couldn’t he just say that from the get go! “Oh, well I guess you are just going to have to purchase a new pair. Would you like me to order a pair for you? The newest model is the SpectreVisio-Plus E-500X. They cost 400 dollars brand new.” Eric tried to sound cheerful about it.
“Well I need a new pair, would I be able to pay cash? Hold on a second someones knocking at my door. Strange. Nobody knocks anymore.” James did not wait for a reply, just set the phone down.
Eric waited on the phone. He heard some mumbling in the background, but could not make out any words. After about a minute or two of waiting James came back to the phone, he sounded different, he sounded scared.
“Hey Eric, the new glasses will have to wait. I have to go now.”
James did not hang up the phone, he just set it down. Eric could still hear, though muffled, what was happening in James’ apartment. And apparently James’ glasses could still charge, because now Eric could see into the apartment as well. Through the cracked screen he could make out the ID of everyone there, and except for James, they all appeared to be be cops.

***

After the surprise of the knock at the door, James put down the phone and walked over, and quickly looked through the peep hole in the door. All he saw was a badge. He nervously opened the door to a short police officer, wearing a brown trench coat and a dark brown bucket hat; which almost covered his small black beady eyes, and his brown scarred face.
“H-Hello?” James nervously stuttered after a long moment.
“My name is Chim. Chim Richolds. Detective Chim Richolds to be precise. Are you James Spurlow?” The man asked, with a soft, but intimidating voice.
“Uhh, yes. Wh-what are you doing here?” James stumbled over the words.
“We recovered this last night at a crime scene. It belongs to you, doesn’t it?” The detective asked, almost polite.
“Yes, it does, and you even charged it for me, thanks.” James went to grab his phone. Detective Richolds quickly moved it out of James’ reach.
“Not so fast! You are going to have to answer a few questions before we give this back to you.” The detective almost shouted. Then took a moment to breath and calm down before asking, “May we come in?” This guy had some anger issues, but it seemed he was at least aware of them.
“Please, come in.” James walked over to where he left his home phone and glasses.
“Hey Eric, the new glasses will have to wait. I have to go now.”
James set the phone back down without waiting for an answer, and then picked up and fiddled with his glasses for a moment, then set them down as well.
“Please, sit.” He motioned to his couches, Detective Richolds, and his three associates sat down. “I would offer you guys something to drink, but…” James gestured frustratingly at his phone in the detective’s hand, “but without that, I have no idea what you fellas would like.” James said, calmly, he seemed to be not so nervous now.
“We need nothing, now tell me, what happened to you last night?”
“Well, after work I went to Club Zero to hang out and have a few drinks. I was there pretty late. I left by myself and started walking home. I fell down, and then a guy kicked me, and took my phone. He had a knife, then he ran away. I am glad you found my phone, can I have it back now please?” He had tried to sound as casual as possible about it, but he wasn’t sure if that came across.
“What time did you get to the bar?” Asked the detective.
“I dunno, around nine or so.” James responded, again trying to sound casual.
“We see that you checked into Club Zero at 9:20 PM.” Chim stated.
James paused, he looked a little confused, “If you know when I checked in, then why are you asking when I got there?”
“Because you weren’t actually there!” Detective Richolds said with what James couldn’t tell was a smile or a scowl. “Your friend checked you in!”
“Since when is that illegal?”
“It isn’t… yet.” James knew he was referring to Amendment B to the Public Protection Act, which would make it illegal for anybody to check anybody else in , currently being debated by the High City Council.
The detective went on. “But it still reveals certain things. You have a pattern, Mr. Spurlow. You have been checked in by somebody else…” He motioned for one of his goons, who stood up and made a swiping motion from a tablet in his hands to the Detective’s phone on his wrist. He promptly scrolled through the document that was sent and even pointed as he showed James his phone, “Let’s see here. Seventeen times. Seventeen times in the past month! And each of those times, you have not paid for anything! Were you even there? Any of those times? Or did you just have friends check you in for cover? You know who does that? Criminals!” The detective seemed to be getting a little bit angry again, this time he did not calm himself down with a breath. James was starting to feel uneasy.
“All of those times, my phone was dead, I don’t get home much to charge it, and my glasses have been on the fritz lately, even before they got busted.” He motioned to his glasses, and tried to stay calm. “Besides, I was at all of those places. Anybody that checked me in is on my friend list, I am sure you’ve seen that.”
“Yes. We have. We also noticed that you did not check out last night. The friend who checked you in, Doug Carson, left at around midnight, looks like with some lady. When did you leave? Why didn’t you check out?” The detective seemed to be turning this into an interrogation.
“Umm, I didn’t check out because my phone was dead, my glasses were broke, and my friend was gone. I left around 2:30 in the morning I think. It was a little after closing time.” James did not understand why the detective had such a hard time with this.
“So what did you do for two and a half hours after your friend left? Drank alone at a busy club? Unlikely.” The detective dismissed that thought with a wave of his hand.
“Unlikely is right. I made friends with a few people, and hung out with them for the rest of the night.” James was getting a little frustrated, and confused. He had no idea where the detective was taking this.
“Friends? We didn’t see any friends added last night. You understand how suspicious this looks.” Detective Richolds had apparently calmed himself down.
James stood up in frustration. “I didn’t have my phone on, so how could I have added friends! You cops are useless!” He was practically yelling.
“Sit down. What were your friends names? Maybe they added you, and you just haven’t accepted yet.”
“There was Debbie, and Steve, and I think, Melissa? No, Melinda, yes Melinda.”
“Do you have last names?” The detective was not smiling any longer. He signaled to his goons. They started to slowly move in on James, who did not notice. He was practically ranting now.
“Last names? Last names? Do you really get the last names of strangers at the bar? Last names, you have got to be kidding me!” James said loudly and with growing frustration.
“And you left the bar, drunk, knowing you couldn’t be tracked. You ran into a bum on the way home. You tried to rob him or maybe he looked at you the wrong way. Whatever the case, your obvious anger issues took over.” Detective Richolds smiled as he attributed his own flaws to James. “And you killed him.”
“I would never kill anybody.” James said calmly and then tried to explain what actually happened.
The Detective though just continued to grill him on is friends and checking in. Over and over they went back and forth, the Detective keeping his anger in check, and James trying to drown his frustration with logic. It eventually boiled over.
“But it was no bum you killed!” The detective went on. “That was Alex Camden. Son of Ward Camden. Do you know who that is?”
“No.” James said again, this time meekly. Though it was not a response, but a realization. He very well knew; everybody did.
“Ward Camden is the CEO of Viseron. A very powerful, and rich man. You killed his son.”
“No.” James repeated.
“And he wants justice.” The detective smiled.
“NO!” James shouted.
The detective’s men were surrounding him by this point.
“We takin’ him to the camps or to jail, boss?” One of them asked.
“NO! NO! NO!”
“No boys, we are taking him somewhere different. Camden has something special in mind for this one.” The detective answered.
“NO! NO! N-”
Fuck, thought James as the biggest goon punched him in the head, and knocked him right out.

***

Eric could not believe what he just saw and heard. If it were true, and James were a murderer, he should be taken to jail and await trial, not be taken to Ward Camden. If it weren’t true, and James did not kill anybody, then this is kidnapping, and who knew what could happen from here. Either way, what he just witnessed was wrong. The police should never do that. In fact the police are supposed to record everything they do. If they had been recording that, more police would have showed up and arrested the detective and his men. What is going on here?
At that point, Eric made a decision. Even if those were police officers, it could not have been official police work, or else it had would have been recorded. However he could not take this to the police, who knew how far up this went if Ward Camden were involved. Eric also could not take this to his boss. All managers in Viseron were intensely loyal to Camden and his family.
Eric quickly disconnected his glasses from the computer; the file would not be downloaded onto Viseron’s internal network until the call was disconnected from the other end. So now one of the two records of what just took place were in his hands. The other was still in the apartment, hopefully Detective Chim Richolds and his men wont have realized that James’ glasses had been on and, possibly, recording.
James, he thought, I have to help James. He was not sure how he was going to do it, but Eric decided that the first thing that he needed to do was get to James’ apartment and retrieve those glasses, if they were still there. Eric couldn’t risk looking up James’ address on the company network, at least from his workstation. He also wanted to find out some information on Detective Richolds. Eric was sure he would be on the company database, if he were a real detective, as well; Viseron supplied all policemen with the latest glasses. Eric knew exactly who he needed to see. He hadn’t talked to Lisa in years. He knew though that she was the only one with access to the information he needed who was more loyal to him than to the Camden family. He knew right where to find her.

***

Though he hadn’t seen her in years, he was still friends with Lisa online. She tried to keep a relatively low presence on the net, and thats why she hung out at places a little off the grid. I like to be hidden in plain sight is what she used to say. He headed to Huntington’s Brewpub, a nice little place, though slightly pricey. He sat down at the bar, and made sure to check in. He took the rest of the off of work, and needed to establish that he was actually busy. He ordered a beer, and drank it rather quickly. Eric wished he had had a little more time to appreciate it because it was rather good, but today he was on a mission.
“I’ll take two more of these, spread ’em out a little if you could.” Eric said as he made sure to leave a rather large tip directly to the bartenders account, while the bartender charged the beers to Eric’s. The bartender nodded; he knew the drill.
Eric left through the back entrance, which let out onto a small alleyway. There were a couple of bums. There weren’t many in the city, they were mostly shipped out to the camps to work, and to have steady food and a roof over their heads. The ones who remained in the city avoided authority at all costs, they liked their freedom, whatever that was worth. Though it definitely meant if anybody official came asking about him, nobody would say a word.
There was an indent about halfway down the alley where two buildings met. It was dark and dirty, but if you looked closely you could make out a door. Upon closer inspection Eric was relieved to see the numbers “3-2” right above the people. It hasn’t changed, thank goodness he thought. There was no handle on the door, but that was ok, it had been a while, but Eric still remembered the secret knock. He took a breath, and hummed a tune just to refresh his memory, while taking off his glasses.
Knock, knock, knock… Knock, knock. Then he waited, for what seemed like five minutes, but was probably closer to 30 seconds. A gruff, but familiar, voice sounded through the door.
“Got the scratch?”
“I got what you need right here.” Eric said as he pulled the requisite Thirty Two dollars out of his pocket.
He handed the money to the doorman. “Long time no see, come on in,” the door man said in that gruff and friendly voice. Eric was surprised but not overly shocked that they remembered him; he did spend quite a bit of time here even if it was years ago. He had to walk past the short, mean looking, old door man, down five steps into a short, dim hallway, and he had to pass through one more door.
As he opened the door, memories of late nights and drunken fights came flooding back. The smell of cigarettes, whiskey, sweat, and dirt rushed through the doorway, up his nostrils, and right down memory lane. No sooner than he walked him, his eyes hardly adjusted to the dim lighting, Eric heard the familiar voice from across the room.
“Eric Dewitt, you son of a bitch, how the hell are you?!” A short, thin, blond woman yelled, then slammed a shot quickly made her way through the bar and gave him a quick embrace.
“What brings you to the old 3-2, ya miss us?” She asked, still almost yelling. Others around the bar that Eric recognized greeted him with a wave or shout too.
“Its nice to see you too Lisa. A-and everyone else, of course.” He said waving back at the others. “But what brings me here is… well business I guess. I need your help Lisa.” Eric said, though he did not mean to sound so serious, maybe this meant more to him than he thought.
Lisa frowned a little, but then smiled, “Whatever you need, Eric, but before all that I demand a drink, you owe me at least one the last time I checked!” She winked at him, and then dragged him by the arm over to a seat at the bar and ordered them both a beer, and a shot of whiskey. Eric went to swipe his phone to pay, but quickly remembered that this was a cash only bar when the bartender gave him a stern look. They sat together, drank and talked for while, reminiscing before they started to talk about James, and what Eric saw earlier that day. After that they left the bar, Eric followed Lisa, like so many times before, but this time they were on a mission.

***

The drive was longer than most in the city, but no more than an hour up the coast. Once they got out of the city, it was actually a pleasant drive. Since they were driving up the coast, they did not have to see all the labor camps; it was nice to leave the city without seeing those damn camps, too many bad memories. But this drive, it almost made him forget the awful mission he was on. There was silence most of the way up here, but his cargo in the trunk had obviously woken up, and was making plenty of noise.
Chim Richolds had done some terrible things in his life; putting people away who didn’t deserve it, scamming money from local shops as protection money for police work, but something about this trip somehow felt wrong. Maybe it was because he had no idea what was going to happen to James once he dropped him off with Ward Camden. Maybe it was because he wasn’t quite convinced himself that James was the one who killed Alex Camden. Hell, he wasn’t even sure if Alex was dead. He really couldn’t voice his opinion though. Not to Camden, not on this issue. He just had to suck it up, and make himself believe that this was the correct course of action, no matter how hard that seemed. He endured worse situations in his life, many in those damn labor camps; so he could endue this.
The detective and his three men pulled up to an isolated property along the coast. This was no normal property, it was the Camden family rural estate. There was a large house, a mansion really, a forest north of the house, and farmland to the south. Chim was’t sure how far the property went out, but there were no close neighbors, that was for sure.
They pulled up in front of the house. Awaiting their arrival was Ward Camden, a large, but not fat, black-haired man. He looked younger than his 68 years, and with better health than most his age. Standing next to Ward was his butler William, a tall, thin, and balding, old man.
“Welcome to Camden Estate, Detective” greeted the butler.
“Quite a place you g-”
“Enough small talk Chim, do you have him? Do you have James Spurlow?” Interrupted Ward in quick, but not desperate, words.
The detective motioned to his goons, and they grabbed James out of the trunk. He was weak, could hardly stand, but his eyes were alert, and tinged with a hint of recognition. Must’ve wore himself out making all that noise, thought Chim.
Ward walked over to James, who was slumped between two of the goons. “Trying to remember where you’ve seen my face before? I thought surely you would know me from the headlines, Andrew. I’m sorry, its James now, right?” He paused for a moment and looked, almost studied, James’ face. “You haven’t done much with your life, with your potential. I spent too much money on you to be such a waste.” James finally recognized Ward as the mystery donor. The man who funded his education. Why would he bring James here like this?
“And now through some unfortunate circumstances,” Ward continued “I can finally have some return on my investment.”
“What do you want with me?” James asked.
“What I have wanted from you all along. You had some great ideas back at the University. Your wrote the book on Neural-Digital Interface. Why didn’t you do anything with it? I thought for sure you would come work for Viseron when you graduated. I was preparing to offer you a career, but you dropped out only months before graduating. Dropped out, and dropped off the map. Why?” He was genuinely interested in an answer.
Detective Richolds stood by, not quite sure what was going on, but he was damn sure he didn’t like it. This didn’t sound like a conversation a man would have his son’s murderer. He didn’t like it, but at the moment he could do nothing about it. These goons, though they worked with Chim, were loyal to Camden.
“Why? Because the ideas I had, the projects I was working on, I realized that they wouldn’t be used for good. they couldn’t be used for good!” James said, almost yelling. “Everything was about control! Not about progress! When I realized that, I couldn’t do it anymore. And I am not about to do it again, especially not for you. I have seen how Viseron has grown, in bed with the government, and I don’t like it. I am not going to help you!” With that James spit in Ward’s face, and got punched in the stomach by one of the men holding him up.
Surprisingly, Camden stopped the next blow from landing, and as he was wiping the spit off of his face, he responded calmly “Well you are right about one thing, it is about control. But you are wrong about helping me. You have no choice. Did you think you were the only young, brilliant scientist that I groomed? Far from it, and the others have had some good ideas too, though none were quite as sharp or as elegant as yours.” Ward smiled at James, an evil little smile, and then continued.
“But you dropped off the face of the Earth, changed your public identity and have utterly avoided all recognition for your work at University.”
“I wanted to be as far away from that work as possible. Not only didn’t I want the recognition, but I didn’t want to be coerced, persuaded, blackmailed, or bribed into continuing my work. How did you find me?” James responded.
“I thought a genius like you would have figured it out by now. Lets just say I have a great deal of influence over the High City Council. The Public Protection Act makes it illegal to not check in whenever you go anywhere, though the penalties aren’t as stiff as I would have liked. It also gives law enforcement access to location history for every individual, so they can track patterns and see when someone is varying from their normal pattern. And it makes all of this admissible, even mandatory information in a court of law.”
James stayed silent. Ward continued.
“This law was made specifically to find you James, but it didn’t work. However, one small back door provision was added right before it became law though, and it wasn’t even me who thought of it. I love that Council of ours, they think of everything. They made it mandatory that every phone, no matter what the public identity was assigned to it, always contained the users true identity as well. As luck would have it, last night your phone fell into my lap. Andrew… James… your name “doesn’t matter, but your mind does. I have plans for you.” He turned to his men “Take him to the back room and get started, I want this done today if possible, we have a deadline to meet.”
The butler and Wards thugs dragged James inside, and Ward was about to make his way inside as well. But Detective Richolds stopped him.
This doesn’t sit right with me, Ward. I can’t let this happen, is what he wanted to say. But what came out was “Sir, is there… is there anything else you need me to do?” Why am I so frightened?
“Yes, I need you to forget about this Detective. But first, I need you to go back into the city, start the missing persons investigation on our friend James here, but clean up his apartment first. Make sure nothing leads back to me. Once you have everything started, I need you to come back here. I have… something I need you to see.” Ward finished softly.
The detective nodded at Camden, and quickly drove off. He did not like the evil smirk that Ward gave to James, and especially did not like that Ward gave him the same smirk right then either. There was no way he was coming back here, no way he would come back here alone at least.

***

Her office was not on the main Viseron campus downtown. It wasn’t really an office at all, but a lab. Lisa was a scientist, an experimental engineer is what she called herself. She took ideas and designs from other scientists, and it was her job to both combine those designs and ideas, while at the same time finding a practical application. More important to Eric though, she also had access to the Viseron customer database.
“OK, so what do we know?” Lisa asked Eric.
“We know his name is James Spurlow, lets start there.” Eric replied.
“The computer pulled up 27 Spurlows, 3 of which are named James, in the city. Do we have any coordinates from the phone call?” Lisa asked.
“Not exactly, if I had let the call download on to the network we would know exactly since he was calling from a home phone. But when his glasses were able to provide a feed, I was able to pick up his general area. He was somewhere in midtown, between 5th and 7th. Probably on Burbank.” Eric deduced.
“Nope, can’t be. No James on Burbank.”
“Hmm, maybe try searching for… Jim or Jimmy?”
“Yes! There is a Jimmy right on Burbank! Block 14-B, apartment 518. What do we do now?” Lisa looked a little excited.
“We? I am going to his apartment, and getting those glasses. You… you dont have to do anything further. You have helped me more than plenty.” Eric replied.
“Really. Really, Eric? You ask me to play phone book for you? I don’t think so pal. You wanted my help, now you got it the whole way through, buddy. Even though we may be helping a murderer.” James could tell Lisa had made up her mind. She was patronizing him with the slew of nicknames she used to call him when she was annoyed.
Eric took a moment to think and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know Lisa, he just didn’t seem like a murderer.”
“Ha! What would you know about murderers? Alright, chief, I’ll trust your instinct. Lets go get those glasses. The faster we are in and out, the better. But first, I have to show you what I have been working on. It may come in handy.” Lisa responded with a sly little smile.
“What is it?” Eric asked.
“I call it ‘The ghost in the machine’ come, take a look.”

***

At first, he was just driving. Back to the city, yes, but to nowhere in particular. The detective was in a daze, thinking about what had just happened, and what, if anything, he would do about it. He came out of his daze when he realized where he drove; on Burbank in front of a familiar apartment building.
“How did I end up here?” Chim asked himself out loud.
He parked his car on the street, and walked into the building. He decided he might as well go back to the apartment in order to see if there was anything he left behind, or anything that could tell the detective a little more about this James Spurlow. After showing his badge to the doorman, the detective went to the elevator, and took it up to the fifth floor.

***

“How are we going to get by the doorman?” Eric asked Lisa.
“This is no high security place Eric. This will be easy, just let me do the talking.” Lisa replied casually.
She walked up to the doorman, with Eric following behind. Lisa adjusted her glasses, and pulled up her phone to show to the doorman. “Excuse me? Sir? Hi, can you point me in the direction of apartment 507? My friend is having a small get together, see?” She showed the doorman an event page on her phone. “Just a few of us, but the thing is, I have never been here before, and wanted to surprise her a little. She would be so excited to see me, and I don’t want to ruin it by calling her for directions.” She spoke in higher pitched and slightly innocent voice. Eric heard her do this voice dozens of times, including speaking to him. Nobody could deny her in this voice.
The doorman was not impressed though, but he didn’t seem to care much either, and just pointed down the hall to the elevator.
“I’m impressed. What other tricks do you have up your sleeve?”
“Just wait and see.” Lisa answered with another smile.

***

What was that? The detective thought, as he looked to the door. He could have sworn he heard the door handle turn. He shrugged, and picked up the broken pair of glasses on the table. He looked around the room to see if there was anything else he missed. The pillows, the table cloth, the vase that was on the floor, everything was as if he and his squad of goons was never here. Good, he though, now I can at least rel-!
“creeaaak”
He definitely heard something this time, but the door handle didn’t move. The detective was on alert, looking at the door. Something moved in the left corner of his eye, but nothing was there except a lamp, and he would’ve seen anybody come in through the door, or through the open bedroom door.
What the hell is going on?
He turned around, even though there was no way for someone to be behind him, he had to check. Still nobody.
And there it was, when he turned back around to the door, there was a young man standing there, with an orange shirt and blue glasses.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” The detective asked in hushed tones.
The man put his hands up, and started walking toward the detective, not saying a word.
“Stop right there.” The detective said calmly, as his glasses identified the man.
He didn’t stop.
“I said STOP!” The detective said with some more force.
He kept coming. Three steps away, two.
The Detective decided to act, he rushed the man, but instead of feeling the impact of a body on his shoulder, he felt the wall. With his head.
***

“Well, what do we do with him now?” Eric asked while rubbing his knuckles. The two of them had just finished tying up the detective.
“I guess we wait for him to wake up, and find out where he took James.” Lisa replied. “What did you think of the Ghost in the Machine?”
“Well, I guess I don’t quite understand how it works. And how well can it work without sound emanating from the ghost?” Eric asked.
“The ghost, as you put it, is just a digital clone projected in the local area. It will be picked up by any glasses or digital cameras locally. Its not actually in the cloud, so there are no conflicts with the tracking technology installed in all glasses. As of right now, the ghost has to remain within certain range from the user. The sound… well, I am still working that out. I haven’t found a good way to have sound projected from the same area. It would be nice to hear footsteps as well as voice. I am sure the science is there, I just cant find the way to make it work.”
“The hell…” Lisa and Eric turned when they heard the detective’s soft voice.
“Well, you bumped your head a little. I’m sure you’ll be f-”
“What are you doing here? Who are you?” The detective shook off the haze as he cut Eric off.
“Friends of James.” Eric replied.
“Bullshit. I have scoured James’s friend list, neither of you are on here, Eric Dewitt and Lisa Young. Tell me, what are you really doing here?” The detective spat the words at them.
“Listen bud, you are the one tied up here, we will be asking the questions. Eric turn off your glasses. Better yet, turn off his glasses, this guy is gathering info on us as we speak.” Lisa commanded, and continued. “Where did you take him? Why does Camden want this guy?”
“You guys sure know a lot here, too much really.” The detective said, not really answering either question. A resigned look then took control of the detective’s face. “OK, I will tell you guys what you want to know, at least as far as I know.” He then sighed.
Eric and Lisa exchanged a suspicious glance, but neither said a thing, not wanting to change the detective’s new demeanor.
“Late last night, Ward Camden’s son was murdered in the streets. Nobody knew what he was doing in that part of town, or why he was alone. But your pal James, in a drunken episode ran into and killed him in cold blood. Ward wanted revenge, but didn’t want James stuck in a prison cell somewhere, or out in the labor camps, where he wouldn’t be able to get a hold of him. So we took him right to Ward.” He fumbled with his hands a little bit, and sighed. “If you guys aren’t going to untie me for this, will one of you reach in my pocket and grab out one of my cigarettes?” He finished.
Lisa reached into his trench-coat pocket, grabbed two cigarettes, handed one to the detective, and asked, “Do you mind?” As she put one in her mouth and raised her eyebrow.
He didn’t answer.
Lisa lit her own and then the detective’s cigarette. They both took a long drag, while Eric just sat there. Then Lisa spoke up again.
“Well? Go on?” She urged.
“Ok, Ok. So we took him right to Ward. My job isn’t to ask questions, but something seemed off. Ward didn’t have the look you would think to see on a man looking at his son’s murderer. Camden, he, he knew him! They had some kind of history, I don’t know what though. I don’t think James killed his son. I don’t even know if his son is dead. I was the the Detective on the scene, but CSI already cleaned everything up. I don’t know what Camden plans on doing with James, but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.” He finished softly.
Chim looked down to his feet, and the three of them sat in silence a moment before Eric chimed in.
“So, what now?” Eric asked.
“Well now I am supposed to clean up the apartment, make sure no trace of myself or the others were ever here. Then I am to start a missing persons investigation on James. It will go nowhere of course. Then I return to Camden’s estate, though I have no intent on doing any of that.” The detective replied, with the cigarette hanging in his lips.
Lisa raised her eyebrow. “What would you do right now if we untied you and let you leave?”
“Lisa, no!” Eric interjected quickly.
“Trust me, Eric.” Lisa responded as she walked behind the detective and untied his constraints.
The detective stretched out his arms, took another drag of the cigarette, and smiled.
“Thanks for that. I am not going anywhere, at least not yet. Ward Camden wants me back at his estate. He has something in mind for me, something sinister, I can feel it. He may try to publicly pin James’ disappearance on me, or he may trap me at the farm. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. All I know is that he wants to use James in some way. I am not sure what their history is, but from what I gather, Camden groomed James to work with him at Viseron, paid for his college maybe, but James, he spurned Camden. Walked away from him, fell off the face of the earth really. He at least fell off of Camden’s radar. Until his glasses showed up. I don’t know what he is going to do with James, but I know it is going to be bad, and secret. We have to do something about it.” He looked up at the both of them, his eyes confident.
Then Detective Richolds finished his cigarette, and put the butt out on his shoe. Lisa and Eric were more than a little shocked at this revelation. They had so many questions.
“Where’s the estate?” Lisa asked.
“We have to do something?” Eric asked before he could answer Lisa. “Why are you going to help James? You work for Camden.” He said flatly.
“So do you!” The detective shot back. “Both of you work for him, for Viseron.” The detective pointed at his glasses to explain.
“Look, if I go back to the estate, I don’t know what he is going to do with me, but it wont be good. But if I don’t, he is going to track me down unless I leave the city, and this city is my home. I am not leaving. The only option I have is to get James back, and expose Camden, expose him for the truly evil man that he is. Publicly expose him. That is my only way out of this.”
There was a moment of silence between the three of them. They were talking about taking down one of the most powerful men in the city. Not just taking him down, but taking him down to protect a stranger, possibly a murderer.
“This is madness. Do you really think you, or we, could take down Camden?” Lisa asked, though she was not expecting an answer.
“We would have to find something huge, something concrete, something too big to ignore, too big to cover up. Camden may be an egotistical, controlling freak, but he is not stupid, and he is not hated by the people of this city. He covers his tracks, and greases the right wheels. We are going to have a hard time exposing Camden. A very hard time.” Lisa answered her own question.
Another silence took the room.
“Whatever the case, I am getting James out of there. We are getting James out of there. We are the only ones that can, so that means we are the ones with the responsibility. Lets do this.” Eric said forcefully.
“Alright. Lets get James free. We need a plan. A good plan.” The detective said.
A wicked little smile formed on Eric’s face.
“Detective, those are some nice threads. Stand still a minute wont you?”

***

Eric and Lisa parked a shorty distance from the house and, as stealthily as they could, walked the rest of the way. The Detective however drove right on up to the house, the same spot he parked earlier.
Hiding behind a bush a short distance away, Eric and Lisa made sure they had a good view of the front door. Lisa turned to Eric.
“Are you ready for this?” She asked.
He shrugged. “As ready as Im going to be.”
“You know, if we get caught here, theres no going back. No restarting at a save point. We are about to cross the point of no return.” She stated.
“I said I’m ready, didn’t I?” Eric said back to her.
She persisted. “All for a man you don’t even know. A man you spoke to once. On the phone. For tech support.”
Eric kept his attention on the door. “So are you.”
“No, Eric, I’m doing this for you. I made my choice. I guess you did too.”
“I didn’t ask you to, you know? Regardless, I know what I am here to do. I’m the only one who could have done anything. Don’t you see, I have no choice. Besides, what have I got to lose? A good job? Sure, but whats that matter? Life’s an adventure. Its not like I have a woman at home who would wail if I never returned.” He smiled at her. “Or parents who would grieve for the loss of a son. All I have is here, here,” He pointed to his head then his heart. “And, well, here.” He said as he turned towards Lisa, and gave her a little smile.
Lisa blushed, and paused.
“Why did you leave us Eric? Five years ago you disappeared from the 3-2, from the lifestyle. From me.”
“I-” He started.
“You left us high and dry, with no warning. For what? A nice apartment and a steady job at Viseron of all places?” She cut him off.
“You work for the evil masters too, you know?” He tried to cut her sudden and unexpected anger with a little humor.
“You know as well as I, for someone like me Viseron is the only game in town. If I went to InSight, or any of the other ones, Camden’s goons would tear my lab down within a month. Why did you leave me, Eric?” She pleaded.
“I couldn’t leave someone I didn’t have, Lisa.” He said bluntly. She looked hurt/
“Why did I leave the old crew at the 3-2? Lisa, it got boring. I needed a change. I needed you, more than just the occasional romp. You wouldn’t be with me the way I needed you to be. All we did in that club was talk. And drink. It was fun for a while, but I needed a change Lisa. We didn’t do anything. We never took any action to stand behind our ideals. I just needed… needed something new, ya know?”
“Stop.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long, I didn’t expect it to be-”
“No, Eric. Stop talking. He’s there. This is it.” She said and they both turned to face the door, still concealed behind the large bush.

***

The Detective stood at the door, only a little nervous. He knew what could, and likely would, happen to him and his companions if this all went south. Richolds quickly put that though out of his mind and went forth with the plan.
‘Knock! knock! knock!’
He stood and waited, but not for long. The tall, thin, balding butler answered the door, but did not say a word. He had almost a little smirk on his face, adjusted his green tinted glasses, and disappeared.
The Detective stood there for a brief moment before another face appeared. This one with with blue glasses, Ward Camden.
“You look a little surprised to see me Ward. Going to invite me in? I could use a drink.” Richolds said, seemingly relaxed.
“Yes, a drink. Please come in Detective, I just did not expect you back… so soon that is.” Ward replied with a plastic smile on his face.
The Detective strode into the house, and Camden closed the door behind him. They got no more than five steps into the house when there came another knock on the door.
“See to that, will you?” Camden seemingly asked to no one, however the butler stepped out of the shadows. He nodded to Camden and went to the door while Camden and Richolds continued into the house. They were soon joined in the hall by three of Camden’s henchmen.
The group was about to head into the lounge for that drink when the butler reappeared.
“It was nobody, sir.” The butler said bluntly.
Camden gave a curious look towards the Detective, who shrugged. Camden gestured to a henchman to open the door to the lounge when they heard another knock at the door and the whole party, save the butler paused. The Detective put his hands on his hips. The butler’s footsteps were quick and deliberate. The creek of the door sounded through the house, and the butler came running back.
“Sir,” He said out of breath, “Its… its him!”
“Its who, damn it!” Camden demanded.
“Him!” He pointed, “The Detective!”
All eyes went to the Detective, and the whole room paused again. The Detective couldn’t do anything but shrug again. Camden sprung into action.
“You, take this one back with the other!” He pointed to his man in the red glasses.
“You two, with me!” He commanded the others.
Richolds saw Camden and his two men stride away, then all went black.

***

It was time. Eric was at the door to the house. The Detective was just taken inside and he had to act now.
Its now or never, thought Eric.
He looked to his left, then to his right, knocked on the door, and ran quickly to hide behind the bush with Lisa again. She handed him a brown bucket hat and a brown trench coat, which he promptly threw on.
“Alright, if this works, you will just need to locate the Detective by tracking his phone. Hopefully it wont be hard to find James once inside.” Eric told Lisa.
“I just hope they haven’t taken him too far into the house for his Ghost to activate. Look theres the door.” Lisa replied and they both looked.
The butler opened the door and was confused that no one was around. He quickly scanned the area with a scowl on his face and shut the door.
“Go. Now.” Lisa told him and Eric ran back to the door and quickly knocked again. Within a moment a figure materialized right in front of him,bucket hat, trench coat and all. His glasses immediately identified this figure as Detective Chim Richolds. Just then the door opened and Eric jumped out of sight. The butler did a double take, looking from the Ghost to back over his shoulder. He then rubbed his eyes. Eric supposed he would be confused as well if he were seeing double. The butler almost immediately turned on his heels and hurriedly walked back into the house leaving the door open.
This is where it would get a little tricky. The Ghost of the Detective disappeared, so if Eric activated his Ghost, or if Camden and his men got a good look at him, though he was dressed as the Detective, their glasses would be able to identify Eric easily. He supposed it did not much matter who they thought they were chasing, as long as they actually did give chase.
Eric heard several footsteps running towards the door. He started running himself, towards the woods. If he made it past the open space into the woods, he may have an advantage even though Caden and his men surely knew the woods better than himself. He heard shouts as he was running, they spotted him and were running to catch him.
The plan is working! Thought Eric.
Fifty yard from the woods. Forty.
BANG! BANG!
Shit! They weren’t wasting time, they already started to fire on him.
Twenty yards. Almost there!
Ten yards and three more shots, all wide.
Five yards, and then he was in. He stole a glance over his shoulder. There were three men chasing him and one he recognized as Ward Camden himself. This was as good as they could have hoped for. With plenty of cover in the woods, Eric slowed down,and when his three pursuers reached the woods,they split up.
***

They left the door wide open. It was almost too perfect. So Lisa walked right up to the door and right on in. Stepping into this house was almost like stepping back in time. Hardwood floors, a grand staircase with decorative bannisters and a great crystal chandelier above. Unfortunately Lisa did not have time to admire her surroundings. She started searching the house, quickly, but methodically. She started to the right to a large sitting room, several couches, and a fireplace, but no people. She moved on to a small informal dining room, no people here either, and everything was covered in dust, it hadn’t been used in quite some time. The next room in the right hallway was the kitchen. This had been used recently, but again no body was here. On the other side of the kitchen was a large formal dining room, no one here either, but the dining room opened up on the far wall into a lounge or sitting room. She heard movement. Slowly she crept through the room, thankful the wood flooring was not too creaky.
She poked her head through the large opening. There was a billiard table, a fireplace and a couple of small cocktail tables, with a smattering of empty and half empty cocktail glasses and a couple of heavy vases and an antique telephone. The butler was cleaning up it seemed. She noticed two doors, one to her left behind the butler that lead back out to the hallway, and the other door was opened, and it appeared to be hidden in the bookcase, if it was closed that is.
Thats got to be it! Lisa thought.
Ring! Ring!
Lisa ducked her head back behind the wall. Her heart pounded; she thought she had been seen.
“Hello. I’m glad you called back.” Lisa heard the words clearly.
“We have an opportunity here sir, to make some moves earlier than planned.” There was a pause. The butler continued.
“No, I understand. This isn’t how we wanted it. But I think our hand is being forced here. It could be good.” Another pause.
“We have what we need. Some other assets have presented themselves as well. I’ve forwarded you the details, as you can see, this is a great opportunity for now and the future.” A last, short pause.
“Yes. I am glad you see it that way. I will do what must be done. Trust me, Al. You wont regret this.” Lisa heard the phone hang up and the butler leave the room.
After what seemed an eternity, Lisa calmed her breathing and slowed her heart rate back to a reasonable level. She took one last deep breath and stuck her head back out around the corner.
The butler had gone. Through the hallway door she deduced, in no small part to the sound of footsteps out the door. There were still some glasses around the room, so she knew he would be back, and probably soon. She confidently walked across the room, and picked up a cue stick from the billiard table and into the bookcase doorway.
It was a short dimly lit hallway. There was one door at the end of the hall. Lisa walked right up to up it, took another deep breath and opened the door.
There was a large back toward her, bending over something. He must have heard Lisa enter the door because he started to turn around. Without thinking, Lisa raised the cue and as the large man turned around she smashed him across the face. He fell to the ground, and Lisa jumped over him. The Detective was slouched in a chair. Camden’s man was about to strap him in, but did not get the chance before Lisa happened on him. The Detective was blacked out and limp.
“Wake up! Wake up Damn it!” She shook him, but he wouldn’t open his eyes.
Lisa heard the man on the ground stirring. Apparently she hadn’t struck him hard enough. She turned to face him, and he was struggling to stand up. Stunned, the only thing she could think of was to hit him again with the cue stick. She raised it high over her head, and swung down.
Still on his knees, his hand shot up and caught the cue as it came down. He easily tore it from her grip, and stood to his full height. He towered over her, and if she wasn’t afraid enough, he snapped the cue stick in two on his knee.
CRASH!
The large man seemed to smile for a moment, and then soon crumpled to his knees and fell on his face. Behind him stood the butler, with a scowl on his face, and pieces of a broken vase at his feet.
“I will give you what your looking for, Lisa, and let you both go. You must promise me two things.” The butler stated. Lisa was at a loss for words, so she just nodded.
“First, the Detective stays behind. Second, the Camdens promise not to pursue you, or your friend Eric, as long as you always answer my call Lisa. You owe me nothing now, but everything in the future. There’s no time to lose Lisa. Go, there. Now. And when I call, you answer.” He pointed, and she fled.

***

The woods were thick, and it was hard to see. Harder yet to run. Eric’s three chasers split up shortly after hitting the woods. They gained an advantage, but lost another. They could cover more ground now, but Eric thought it would be easier to out-maneuver one at a time, rather than the group together. Thy also may know the woods better, but they had no idea what Eric was up to.
Eric heard some leaves rustle to his left. He stood still behind a tree. They were clear footsteps, and sounded a little rushed. Too quickly a henchman was on top of him, right on the other side of the tree.In one quick motion Eric swopped down grabbed a stick and threw it one way then ran the other.
It worked, though it only bought him an extra moment. It was enough time to get skew line of sight. He was definitely being chased now though. It was difficult to run at all in the woods, but Eric followed a small clearing on the bank of a small stream.
The henchman wasn’t far behind though. Eric took a chance and glanced over his shoulder. The mans pistol was out, but wasn’t taking aim. He shouted then though.
“North along the stream!” Came the words.
Shit! Thought Eric. He is driving me right into another one! He deduced. He was correct. His glasses just picked up Camden up ahead, less than fifty yards.
Eric suddenly bolted to his right, into the thick of the woods. They may have picked up his identity as well, if he was close enough to see Camden. Eric adjusted his bet, and kept on moving.

***

Around the corner she came to a man strapped to a chair. He was thin and his head was drooping. Lisa knew she was short on time, but she was fascinated by the scene. The man was surrounded by monitors and readouts, of both his health,and what seemed like his brain. She walked around to a desk to the mans side and there was a stack of paper. She looked at it, and then looked back at him.
“No way. Nero?” she said to nobody.
Lisa then noticed a cord that she assumed went from his phone to his glasses,but he wasn’t wearing a phone. He wasn’t wearing glasses either. The cord was plugged on one end into a computer and the other end was plugged into his temple. She was horrified.
She stood in front of him.
“James.” She said in a soft soothing voice.
“James, wake up, I am getting you out of here.” She continued.
After a moment James lifted his head, and had a look of confusion on his face.
“Get up, we have to go.” Lisa demanded, still in a soothing tone.
“Wh- who are you?” James said. Lisa was relieved he was aware.
“A friend.” Lisa said with a smile.
James was still confused, but attempted to stand up. Lisa unstrapped his arms and legs. He struggled, but with a little help from Lisa was able to get to his feet. He took the he cord out of his head, and took off several other stuck on monitors over his body.
“Did that hurt?” Lisa asked, pointing to his temple. She thought it was a stupid question, but had to ask.
“This? No, this will be a standard procedure in a year, if these guys have their way. Without me though, I don’t think its possible.” James replied.
“I don’t think they need you anymore James. Look around. This is Nero, designed specifically to get into your brain. They pulled out any information they needed. Your Andrew Craft, aren’t you?” Lisa motioned to the room.
“A lifetime ago, yes. Call me James though. Lisa if this is Nero, they didn’t pull any information from me.” He looked around for a few minutes. “I don’t recall it but I solved their interface problem. See? These notes are in my hand. They will be able to deliver Nero to the masses now, if they transferred this data to their network. If not though…”
James began knocking the machines over. Lisa joined in. When everything was thoroughly destroyed, Lisa motioned for them to go.
“James, if they put this on their network…”
“I know. I don’t think Camden would risk putting this information on even Viseron’s private network. At least, we have to hope so. How do we get out of here?” James asked.
“Follow me.”

***

Camden and his large lackey had him trapped. They were in a small clearing in the woods. Both had there pistols out and pointed at Eric.
“You make a good impression of our favorite detective, very clever. We have you on both sides now. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.” Camden said boastfully.
He waited for a moment expecting a reply from the man in the Detectives outfit. Eric did not comply however, he just stood there. Camden and his man both took a step closer, closing in.
“Eric Dewitt. Twentynine year old single male. How did you get involved in this? I know, and own, most of the Detective’s contacts, though it would be silly of me to think he had none of his own.” He paused a moment, looking up information on the man he viewed through his glasses.
“Technology is a wonderful thing. Through these glasses, I see you. The real you. Not just your face, but your name, your family, your history. I know everything about you with a simple search.” They took another step closer.
“I was wrong, it seems I own you too Eric. Nice job you have there at Viseron? Well no longer. You are fired. Don’t worry, we will pack your desk for you. Not that you’ll have much need for anything there any longer. You should have known better Mr. Dewitt.”
Eric took a slow step backward, toward the henchman.
“Don’t move another step, Mr. Dewitt.” Camden commanded.
Out of nowhere they all heard a sound, to the east. Both Camden’s and his henchman’s head turned, just for a moment, but when the refocused on Eric he was in sprint straight toward Camden.
“Stop!” Camden shouted.
Eric leapt toward Camden.
BANG! BANG!
Two shots sunk into Eric’s back. He just smiled, then disappeared. The henchman couldn’t believe his eyes. He took off his glasses and realized what he had done.
Camden lay on the ground, two bullet wounds deep in his chest.
Eric moved swiftly, but not as cautiously, back through the woods to the house. He saw Lisa struggling to support someone on her shoulder. He quickly moved to the mans other side and gave his support as well.
“Lets get out of here, quick. Camden is dead. Where’s the Detective?” Eric asked.
“He’s right behind us. Come on, lets go.”Lisa answered, lowering her head.

***

“Last week the whole city was rocked by the news of Viseron’s CEO Ward Camden’s murder at his families farm house, just outside city limits. The Silver lining to this tragedy is that Alex Camden, presumed murder the previous to his father’s death, has resurfaced and come public to guide Viseron and the city through this trying time. Here he is live downtown at Viseron headquarters.”
“I will not rest until the man who did this has been found guilty. I urge the cities judges to expedite the trial of Detective Chim Richolds. It was this Detective who oversaw the investigation of the murder in the alley of some poor man who was thought to be myself. This Detective had a history of violence and corruption and held a grudge against my father, who found out this dirty cop. My father was going to turn him into the Chief of Police, but wanted to hear him out before turning him in. My father, may he rest in peace, always gave people the benefit of the doubt, and it turned out to be his undoing. He invited this detective to our home, and the detective murdered him in cold blood. And now he awaits trial in a mid level security labor camp.
This man, this monster, set out to ruin my family and our business. But I assure the people of this city and our loyal Viseron shareholders that we will not waver. Viseron will be better and stronger. To prove this, I am promising a launch date for Nero one month sooner than our previous goal. With the launch of this revolutionary new technology, we can make the world a safer place to live.”
“You heard it here first. This is Kim Delaney from Channel 4 News, and now onto Bert Merlin with our weather, Bert?”
“We should should have gone back in for him. Who knows what they are going to do with him now.” Eric stated, as he turned his attention away from the TV in the bar.
“Eric, I know you feel bad since the Detective helped us, but remember, he was a bad man. One act of justice doesn’t make up for lifetime of crime and corruption, does it?”
Lisa replied with a tinge of aggression.
“Maybe it does.” Eric sounded a little sad.
“Look Eric, Think of it this way. Without the Detective I would have never been in the situation to begin with, and wouldn’t have needed rescuing. Have I thanked you for that lately? Barkeep, another round!” James chimed in.
“You may be right, but it just feels wrong. Well… how bad could a labor camp be anyway?”

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