Chapter twenty two
It didn’t take them long to reach the Bounder district, five, maybe nine minutes at the most. Paul pulled the car to the edge of the sidewalk across the street from the abandoned building where Derek and Sam had hung out.
Paul and Gargantuan got out of the car. Derek followed suit cautiously, the pick-up truck, the two men and the police captain still very fresh memories in his mind. He looked both ways down the street and scanned the buildings in front of and behind him but all looked deserted.
“Ok what?” Derek replied. He still wasn’t clear about what the man wanted from him.
“Show me what happened.”
“Where do you want me to start?” Derek asked, realizing that if the two of them were going to communicate then one of them had to make gaining clarity a goal.
“What were you doing just before it happened?”
“We were leaving.”
“Were you inside or outside?”
“We were at the door on the inside. I realized that I had forgotten to turn off the computer so I went back in and Sam went outside to wait for me.”
“Walk me through it.” Paul instructed.
Derek unlocked the door to the abandoned building. Paul went in first with a gun he had taken from his glove box. Derek followed and Gargantuan went in behind him keeping an eye through the small window at the top of the door to make sure no one followed.
Everything in the computer room was just as Derek had left it.
“What’s in there?” Paul demanded, nodding toward the discs and equipment on the table.
“Nothing.” Derek said. “I mean everything has been erased. But I’ve thought about it over and over and there is nothing here worth killing anyone over.”
Paul questioned him at length about the information they had on the drives and where they had hacked into. Derek told him everything that they had done in the past two years since they had been set up there; The countless times they hacked Derek’s school, six or seven times they hacked the utility companies, many various entertainment sites, Hugh Heffner’s personal address book, countless other harmless programs and Derek even told him about the White House, but neither one of them could think of anything that would have made Derek a target and absolutely nothing that would have made anyone target his mother.
“Maybe they want that Decoding Disc.” Paul said.
“But no one knows about it.”
“Maybe they do. Maybe someone caught onto your hacking and they’ve been tracking you all this time.”
Derek thought about it for a moment. It was possible except for, with the introduction to Spyware, there were five million other decoding programs out there. His was effective sure but there was nothing unique about, nothing that made it any different than any others out there. And the thing that kept him from getting caught hacking wasn’t the decoding disc it was his ability to reroute the trace on the other end and that ability was in his head killing him would defeat the purpose.
“No that doesn’t make sense either, these types of discs are too easy to come by.”
Derek walked Paul down the hall towards the door explaining the sounds that he had heard from the inside. When they reached the door Paul opened it and went outside to where Sam would have been standing waiting for Derek. Derek watched him walk around the street with a flash light looking for clues as to who the men were. He stopped at the street in front of the stairs and looked at something then bent down and ran his fingers over the black top.
“What is it?” Derek asked stepping closer. He looked down to where Paul was running his fingers there were three scuff-like marks about the size of Derek’s pinky finger all about an inch apart from each other.
“Ricochet marks. Three of them.” Paul answered.
“They shot Sam?” Derek asked.
“No. My guess is they fired at the ground by his feet to scare him into going out into the middle of the road so that they could make it look like an accident.”
Paul walked over to where Sam’s body had been. In the glow of the street light Derek could see Paul’s fists clench as he looked down at the black top.
Derek stayed behind where he was. While Paul gazed at the blood splattered street where his only nephew had taken his last breath Derek stared at the three finger-like burns on the road. Sam must have been terrified, Derek thought.
Derek knew what this was, it was survivor’s guilt. He also knew that he had no way of knowing that any of this was going to happen. But, rational or not, the fact that he hadn’t been there when his friend and his mother had needed him was something that had sunk down deep inside his soul and took hold - and it felt as cold as the steel slabs their bodies were laying on.