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  • Gummybear
    started a topic [Incomplete] Keeping secrets

    Keeping secrets

    OK, I know I've been lazy, so hopefully posting in smaller parts like this will force me to actually keep writing. Bear in mind that I might make changes to already posted stuff based on comments, critiques and if I simply need to change things to make the rest of the story work.

    Keeping Secrets




    I look out the window at the rain pouring down. The clouds are as grey as lead over a city where life is equally bleak. The only light in my office is from the desk lamp. The bottle of whiskey next to it makes reflections that I'd probably find interesting if I was the artistic type. But I'm not. I study the bottle. It's almost empty; two, maybe three shots left. It's a good thing I have six more in my gun. And if I'm really lucky, I won't have to use them all tonight.

    There's barely a hint of movement outside the frosted window on the door before it opens and she walks in. I lean back to take in the whole package. The long, blonde hair, short dress and legs that go on for miles scream out 'trophy wife' but the sunglasses big enough to hide a serious shiner and the long-sleeved coat despite the weather hints at something darker.

    "Ms. Bullit?"

    "That's my name, doll."

    "Excuse me?" she says, indignation obvious in her voice.

    "Oh shit, you're real. One moment." Tracy quickly focused on the top right of her field of view to switch off the AR. Colour flooded back into the world, washing away the image of a 1940s office with a significantly more modern one. Tracy reached back behind her right ear to eject the small chip.

    "I'm sorry about that. I wasn't expecting anybody to actually be here." Tracy put the chip in the open desk drawer and rose. "Can I get you a drink? Coffee? Tea?" This was the first client for more than a week and she couldn't afford to lose her. Not with the rent being due in only a few days.

    "Um, no thanks," the woman said, seeming a little off balance at Tracy's sudden change in demeanour. She sat down in the chair in front of the desk. Tracy sat back down again and placed her phone on the desk between them.

    "Do you mind if I record this, Ms…?" Tracy looked expectantly at the woman.

    "Uh, Smith," she said, obviously lying.

    Tracy sighed. "Look, Ms. 'Smith'," she said calmly. "I track down information or people for a living, and I happen to be pretty good at it. So unless whatever you want me to find out isn't related to you at all and you're planning on paying me with cash, asking your name is more of a formality than anything else." Tracy didn't add 'or if you didn't turn your phone completely off before entering my office, or took a taxi here and didn't pay with cash, or got caught on the surveillance cameras in the shop next door', or any of the five other ways she could find Ms. Smith's name out in less than ten minutes. After all, there was no point in scaring her off.

    The woman seemed to deflate a little as she sank back in her chair. "Devereux. Camille Devereux."

    Tracy restarted the recording on her phone, erasing the last twenty seconds. "So, Ms Devereux, do you mind if I record this? It'll make it easier for me to write up my reports for you later and you have my word that whatever you say will be one hundred percent confidential." That last bit wasn't entirely true, but 'one hundred percent' sounded more reassuring than 'mostly'.

    Ms Devereux sat down opposite Tracy, resting her handbag on her lap. If it wasn't for her clothes, she could have been ripped straight from Tracy's 1940's AR. "It's my husband," she said after a couple of seconds.

    Of course it is. Tracy leaned forward, trying to seem interested although she wasn't expecting to hear anything she hadn't heard a hundred times before.

    "I think he's having an affair," Ms. Devereux blurted out. She seemed almost relieved after getting that off her chest.

    God, what I wouldn't do for an interesting case. It wouldn't even have to be anything serious.

    "What makes you think that?" Tracy pulled a notepad and pencil out of her desk drawer. Audio recordings were all well and good, but sometimes you wanted notes that you could set fire to and be sure that they were irrevocably destroyed.

    "I'm not sure exactly when it started. Dennis has always been a little secretive about his work."

    "So what is his job?"

    "He works for an investment firm. Smith & Smythe. The second one is with a 'y' and an 'e'," Ms. Devereux said, anticipating Tracy's question. "Nothing big or important. He always says he's just moving papers and making sure all the t's are dotted and all the i's are crossed." Tracy looked up from the doodles in the margin of her notepad and raised an eyebrow.

    "I know," Ms. Devereux said, "but that's how he says it."

    Tracy nodded.

    "Usually he's as regular as clockwork. Leaving for work at eight and back every day just after six."

    "Mm-hmm." There still wasn't anything that told Tracy that this case would be anything out of the ordinary.

    Ms Devereux continued. "Every other Saturday is date night and... and..." She sighed. "I know it sounds boring, but I love him."

    "And what changed?" Tracy asked. "What makes you think he's cheating on you?"

    "He started coming home late, or not at all. Forgetting things. And then there are weird charges on the credit card. It just isn't like him."

    "What kind of charges?"

    "I don't know. They were all to those anonymised online services. You know, like wemovemoney4u.com. I tried to find out where the money was going, but I couldn't even get access to their login page."

    "I'm not surprised. You usually have to use a single, specific device connected to your account there."

    "So I'd need his phone or computer?"

    "Yeah." Tracy sucked her teeth and stroked her chin. "You do realise that all of this doesn't necessarily mean he's having an affair, right?"

    "I know, but we've even stopped..." Ms. Devereux hesitated awkwardly. "You know..."

    "Ah."

    "I just need to know." Ms. Devereux sniffed She looked like she was about to cry.

    Tracy decided that a distraction was called for, so she put down her notepad. "So, just out of curiosity, what made you come here. My ad says pretty clearly that I specialise in online stuff." Tracy briefly touched the plastic port behind her right ear for emphasis, trying to make it look like an absent-minded gesture.

    Ms. Devereux smiled sheepishly. "Dennis isn't really what you'd call charming if you meet him in person so I figured that whatever he's doing, it's going to be online. That's how we met. He's so different online. Caring and funny and…" Her voice trailed off.

    "OK," Tracy said, "I'll see what I can find out. But you might not like what I find. You have to be prepared for that."

    "Oh, whatever it is, I'm sure we can work it out."

    Riiiiiiight. Like I haven't heard that one before. I'm going to find him fucking your sister or something, and you're going to 'work it out'. Oh well, at least it'll pay the bills.

    Tracy spent the next half hour getting all the details she felt she needed about Dennis Devereux from his wife. Then, after transferring the initial fee and Tracy promising to let her know as soon as she had something, Ms. Devereux left.

    Tracy transferred the audio file on her phone to a speech-to-text program and read through the transcript before saving it. Next she double-checked the information Ms. Devereux had given her. It wasn't that she didn't trust her, but Tracy didn't want any surprises. It all checked out though.

    Luckily, Smith & Smythe wasn't the only company in their building, so Tracy didn't have any trouble finding someone who had time to see her the same day.

    It was still three hours until Mr. Devereux would be done at work, so Tracy went over her equipment, making sure all the batteries were fully charged and all the memory chips were empty. The only thing she needed to do was to fill the tank of the car and she could do that on the way.

    As she lugged the two heavy suitcases down the stairs, she cursed the landlord for not fixing the elevator and she cursed herself for picking an office on the fourth floor, even if the view was nice. Once she was on the ground floor, the suitcases became more manageable although the little wheels would find every little crack and bump as they rolled along the floor. Tracy managed to block the closing door with her butt and backed out onto the sidewalk. It was like walking into a wall of heat. The heat had already dried most of the rain, leaving just a rank smell and air that felt almost sticky. Beads of sweat immediately began to form on Tracy's forehead. She looked quickly up and down the street before walking briskly across it, eager to reach the shadow of the parking garage on the other side.

    The old security guard at the entrance looked up from his newspaper when she came closer. "Hi Jamal", Tracy said cheerfully. "What's new?"

    Jamal ran his hand over his grey hair. "Not much," he said. "The world is still going to hell, politicians are still lying and athletes are still cheating." He smacked his paper for emphasis.

    Tracy wasn't sure exactly how old Jamal was, but it had to be at least eighty. He had been working the security booth in the garage when she moved in to her office four years earlier and he always seemed to be there. Tracy suspected he lived in one of the cars. He was also the only person she knew that still only read newspapers on paper instead of just using a tablet.

    "Maybe you should switch to books instead. At least the plot makes sense in them."

    Jamal snorted softly. "Work?" he asked and nodded to the suitcases.

    "Well, a girl's got to eat, you know." Tracy smiled and ducked around the barrier blocking the exit.

    "Just be careful then."

    "Stop worrying Jamal, You know I don't go anywhere near trouble. That's what I have my little friends for." She patted the suitcases.

    Tracy made her way down the ramp, trying to ignore the smell rising from the lower levels. She stopped at her van: a greyish-beige, medium-sized one that was about as non-descript as possible. After deactivating both alarms, she opened the side door and loaded in both the suitcases and the small backpack she was wearing. Then she got in and started the engine.

    OK, first the petrol station and then Smith & Smythe.
    Last edited by Gummybear; 12-31-2018, 05:08:10 PM. Reason: Made some clarifications

  • Gummybear
    replied
    Originally posted by mh5 View Post
    VERY WELL WRITTEN. THE VR is a nice touch.I have never read any 'stories' that used anything close to it. You did a good job of putting the story in a 3D story like. easy to imagine.
    Thank you. It's nice to hear that you liked it. It was a really tricky part to write.

    Leave a comment:


  • mh5
    replied
    VERY WELL WRITTEN. THE VR is a nice touch.I have never read any 'stories' that used anything close to it. You did a good job of putting the story in a 3D story like. easy to imagine.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gummybear
    replied
    Tracy reached down and touched the smooth plastic covering the diaper. This was certainly not what she had expected. But what had she really expected? Other than some harem fantasy, of course. She inspected herself, and gave a mental sigh of relief when she found that she still had the grown-up avatar body, despite her clothes, or lack thereof.

    At least he doesn't seem to be into kids. Thank god.

    Tracy turned to her side and awkwardly got to her feet. The floor felt wobbly and the big diaper forced her legs apart, so the few steps to the huge chair in front of her became a clumsy waddle. Tracy almost fell, but managed to grab the arm rest of the chair before falling. Taking another step, she came close enough to stand up straight, albeit in a very broad-legged stance. Tracy adjusted the unfamiliar bulk between her legs. There was a slight crinkling sound. The detective in her couldn't help cataloguing everything.

    The level of detail here is amazing. It must have taken ages to program. Sound, balance…

    Tracy took a deep breath…

    …and smell.

    "That'th thome theriouth…" Tracy paused. "Thilly Thammy thingth wude thongth." She rolled her eyes a little.

    Oh that's cute.

    She wasn't sure whether she should be impressed or worried with the level of detail that whoever programmed this had included. Focusing on the lower left of her field of vision brought up the terminal window, showing her tracking program hard at work. All she had to do, was to make sure she wasn't kicked until it was done.

    Tracy dismissed the window and looked around the room. Other than everything being three times too big, it looked quite normal. There was a double bed with a night stand on either side, a dressing table with a mirror, the chair Tracy was still holding on to, and a wardrobe that looked big enough to drive an eighteen-wheeler to Narnia through. The one thing that was missing though, was other people.

    OK, so if this is a solo kind of VR, maybe he's not having an affair.

    The door knob was too high up for Tracy to reach, so she started looking around for something to stand on. She let go of the chair and waddled over to the bed to look under it. After just a couple of steps however, the floor decided to tilt sharply to one side and Tracy fell. Twisting desperately, she managed to avoid falling face first, but the impact still knocked the breath out of her. Tracy rolled over on her back and tried to get her breath back and that's when it happened. There was the slightest twinge of pressure and then she felt a rush of warmth spread across her crotch and down between her legs. She was peeing. And she hadn't even felt that she needed to go to the bathroom. Tracy rolled over on her side and got up on her hands and knees, not wanting to sit on the wet diaper, and crawled towards the bed. The floor felt more stable that way. However, with every step the slowly swelling diapers would rub against her like a velvet hand. Tracy felt conflicted. On the one hand, the diapers felt really good. But on the other hand, they were diapers. And wet ones at that. She knew she was supposed to feel… disgusted? Ashamed? Anything other than horny? She tried rationalising.

    It's not like they're real. It's all just a computer simulation. And this place is probably programmed to make me feel this…

    There was another rush of pee, this time it felt different. Better. The swollen diapers spread the liquid warmth much faster this time. Tracy's entire crotch felt like it was enveloped in a tingling wave of pleasure.

    …way.

    She froze, everything else forgotten as she came.

    Tracy sat down. The resulting wet squish triggering another massive orgasm. She closed her eyes and let out an involuntary squeal as it washed over her like a tidal wave. It was unlike anything Tracy had ever felt before. She was so lost in her extacy that she almost missed the sound of the door opening. Forcing her eyes open, Tracy saw a giant woman standing in the doorway.

    "So this is where you're hiding," she said. "I thought I heard something." She bent down and scooped Tracy up as if she weighed nothing.

    "Wha…" Tracy protested weakly and tried to get away. "Lemme go."

    "Shh-shh-shh, little princess," the giant said. "Mommy's here." She produced a large pacifier and pushed it into Tracy's mouth. Tracy almost reflexively began sucking on it. "That's better, isn't it?" She rocked Tracy gently and stroked her back with a hand the size of a frying pan. A warm feeling of complete and utter comfort filled Tracy. It was like her entire world turned into a warm, fluffy, cotton cloud. All she wanted to do was to snuggle closer.

    The giant woman gave Tracy's butt a little squeeze. "Does mommy's little princess need a new diaper?"

    Tracy only managed a weak moan before burying her face in the woman's chest. She felt herself being carried, but couldn't be bothered to look up. Then all of a sudden she was laid down on her back and the feeling went away. Tracy instinctively reached out for the woman, wanting that feeling of warmth and comfort to come back. Looking around, she saw she was lying on a changing table as big as her van. That's when a something occurred to her.

    How do I know that everything is really bigger and it's not just me that is smaller?

    The thought didn't bounce around her brain for long though. The giant woman began undoing Tracy's diaper. Tracy squirmed, but the woman easily held her down with one hand while removing the diaper with the other.

    "Now stop fussing princess." The woman used a washcloth to clean Tracy before applying enough baby powder to make Tony Montana pay attention. Tracy sneezed as some of the white cloud got in her nose. Then all of a sudden she was lifted up by her legs while the woman slipped a new diaper in under her butt. She lowered Tracy onto it and pulled it up between her legs to fasten it. The new diaper didn't feel anywhere as good as the old one. Tracy couldn't quite put her finger on it. It felt stiff and scratchy and… dry, Tracy realised.

    The woman picked Tracy up again and the wonderful feeling of warmth and comfort returned. She found herself not really wanting to do anything. The woman carried Tracy back to the bedroom and sat down in the armchair, letting Tracy lie against her chest. All she wanted to do was just lie there and listen to the woman's breath and heartbeat. There was really only one thing missing.

    Tracy closed her eyes and tried to relax the right muscles, which was an odd thought since the muscles in question weren't even real. In no time at all, she felt the now already familiar warmth spreading down between her legs. The combination of the comfort of being held and the sudden orgasmic rush of the wet diaper was so overpowering that Tracy only managed a happy little whimper around the pacifier still stuck in her mouth.

    Tracy wasn't sure how much time had passed, but she noticed a small, flashing, blue light down and to the left. She forced herself to focus on it, opening a small window that announced that the tracking program had found the information it had been looking for and had shut down after making a copy.

    For a brief moment, Tracy thought about logging out and getting away, but she felt just so unbelievably comfortable that her work ethic was easily overpowered. Besides, Tracy told herself, she had paid for an hour and it'd just be stupid to waste the money. So she snuggled closer, feeling like she didn't have a care in the world, and closed her eyes again.

    After what felt like only minutes, Tracy found herself floating in front of the login page, having been unceremoniously kicked when her prepaid time ran out. It took all of her willpower not to blow the rest of the money on the Kuznetsova debit card for another hour. Tracy opened the terminal window and confirmed that Dennis was still logged in.

    Good. That should give me time to get out of here before he has a chance to see my car again.

    Tracy used the admin-privileges that her backdoor gave her and erased all traces of her connecting to the network. Then she reached for the mental off-switch and disconnected. As her consciousness rushed back into her body, Tracy realised something was very wrong.

    The first thing that hit her was the smell: A pungent aroma that had become all too familiar over the last week. At first, Tracy thought she had left one of the windows open, but then she realised she was sitting in a puddle of urine.

    "What the hell?!?" Tracy put the keyboard away and carefully eased herself out of the beanbag, making sure the urine stayed in the depression made by her butt. She had never been more happy about the vinyl cover. Grimacing with disgust, Tracy peeled off the soaked jeans and underwear and put them in a plastic bag. She looked through the overnight bag that she kept under the front seat for for a towel to dry herself off, then cleaned herself as best as she could with the hand wipes she still had left. After pulling on a pair of old sweatpants from the overnight bag, Tracy opened the side door of the van and carefully eased the beanbag out, letting the urine pour down on the pavement. She quickly wiped the beanbag off with the towel and threw it in the bag with her wet jeans before tying it shut.

    A quick glance at the screen showed Tracy that Dennis' computer was still connected to the network, so she got in behind the wheel, opened all the windows and left the parking lot. Heading back home, Tracy debated whether to clean the car first, but personal hygiene won out. She left the bag of wet clothes in the car and hurried inside. After a long shower and a change of clothes, she found some other dirty laundry and headed for her usual 24-hour laundromat.

    While sitting in the laundromat, Tracy had time to think. Why had she wet herself? When she went into a VR or remote controlled her drones, her body was paralysed. That was a normal safety feature so you wouldn't flail around and hurt yourself. And she had never wet herself before. It wasn't like she had been drinking a lot either. She had even checked if the energy drinks and bars contained any diuretics. They didn't. Lots of other unhealthy chemicals though; including, to Tracy's disgust, something that was made from the anal secretions of beavers. So the only explanation was that it had something to do with the site itself. She would have to look over the log-files.

    A little over an hour later, she walked out with a bag full of clean clothes. Now, all she needed to do was to clean the car, and all traces of her 'little accident' would be gone. Tracy drove to a car wash and spent the better part of an hour cleaning the back of the car, including the beanbag. When she was done, she was feeling absolutely beat. Thankfully, the drive home was short, but by the time she parked the car and stumbled out of the parking garage, she was so tired that Jamal actually offered to abandon his post and help her across the street. Thankfully the landlord had fixed the elevator, so Tracy didn't have to use the stairs. Once she was inside, Tracy left the suitcase by the door and shuffled to the bedroom, falling face first onto the bed. She pulled the pillow down over her head to drown out the loud party next door and passed out.

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  • Gummybear
    replied
    Tracy woke up with a pounding headache and a tongue that felt and tasted like she had been licking a dirty carpet. She carefully opened her eyes and surveilled her surroundings. She was in her underwear on the sofa in Jessie and Diego's tiny living room. Outside the window the sun was rising over a pile wrecked cars in a display that would probably be quite artistic if it was a photo or a painting. But right now it was just glaringly painful. Tracy picked what she hoped was a bit of lint out of the corner of her mouth. The previous evening was a bit of a blur. She remembered using a camera drone to film almost four hours of footage of Jessie and Diego driving recklessly. Jessie had been true to her word and although there had been a couple of cases of her flashing random pedestrians or other drivers, she had stayed dressed most of the time.

    While Jessie and Diego had 'blown off some steam' afterwards, Tracy and Kat had had a chance to geek out. It turned out that they shared an interest in what Tracy liked to call 'circumventing computer security systems'. After that, they had ended up watching playlists of hacking scenes from old movies and drinking whenever there was bullshit hacking on the screen.

    After a particularly bad movie, they had taken a little break to look for snacks. Kat had gone on a little rant in which Tracy learned that she hadn't actually programmed digital drugs, but rather designed the chips themselves, making sure that they'd burn out after one use to keep people coming back for more.

    When they had gone back to their drinking game, the playlist had reached Hackers. Tracy could remember the first twenty minutes. Vaguely. After that, everything was worryingly blank. She was about to get up when her feet bumped into Kat lying under a blanket on the floor next to the sofa. She groaned and opened her eyes to peer up at Tracy.

    "You look like I feel," she croaked.

    "Mm-hmm," was all Tracy managed.

    Kat pushed the blanket aside and got up, revealing that she was completely naked. She left the blanket on the floor and shuffled towards the bathroom, giving Tracy a full view of the circuit board-pattern tattooed across her entire back.

    Tracy's brain slowly began adding two and two together, constantly getting to five. "Kat?" she asked in a hoarse whisper.

    Kat stopped and looked back at her.

    "We didn't…" Tracy paused. "Did we?"

    "Don't think so," Kat replied, not sounding entirely sure. "You're not really my type."

    With Kat out of the room, Tracy looked around for her clothes, finding her jeans bundled up next to the sofa and her t-shirt stuck halfway down between two of the cushions. She dressed as quickly as she managed and tried to sneak out.

    "Well, well, well. Doing the walk of shame, are we?" Tracy stopped, just standing there, still holding her shoes. She had forgotten that Jessie was one of the earliest risers she had ever known. It had made sleepovers really annoying when they were girls.

    "I…"

    "I mean, you two looked so cute all snuggled up together last night," Jessie continued

    Tracy felt a blush creep up her cheeks.

    "I… We… We didn't…"

    Jessie laughed. "I know. I'm just fucking with you. You were passed out across her lap while she was yelling at the screen. Wanna see the pictures?" Jessie held up her phone to show Tracy a picture of her and Kat on the sofa. Thankfully they were both dressed, although Kat's shirt was fully unbuttoned.

    "I hate you." Tracy sat down on a crate to put her shoes on.

    "I know," Jessie replied, still grinning. "I guess I should have warned you that Kat likes to be naked. And I don't mean just when she sleeps. Diego's parents lived in this weirdo, nudist, hippie commune in Brazil. His sister still does."

    "Uh-huh." Tracy tied her shoes and stood.

    "Anyway, are you staying for breakfast?"

    Tracy thought about it, but quickly came to the conclusion that it'd just be too awkward. "Thanks for the offer, but I have to get back to the office."

    "Duty calls, huh?"

    Tracy smiled and shrugged. "You know, I need money for my toys."

    "Speaking of toys, Kat said that the suitcase'll be ready on Tuesday or Wednesday."

    "Good. I think I might need it again soon." Tracy dug her keys out of her pocket and got in the car. "See you in a couple of days then. Oh, and make sure you don't use my name in the credits of your movie. I really don't need any job offers like last time."

    Tracy's drive back to the office was uneventful and when she pulled into the parking garage, Jamal was on duty as always.

    "Anyone looking for me?" Tracy asked.

    Jamal stopped biting the tip of his pencil and looked up from his crossword puzzle. "Not that I've noticed. Eight letters, 'state', ends with 'O, blank, A'?"

    "Paranoia?" Tracy suggested.

    "Very funny." Jamal raised the barrier and Tracy rolled past him and down the slope. Just as she rolled up the window, she heard him exclaim "Oklahoma!".

    When Tracy opened the door to her office, she was greeted with a gust of warm, stuffy air.

    Oh great. The air conditioning is on the fritz. Again.

    She kicked off her shoes and dropped her jacket on a chair as she crossed the room to her tiny apartment which made up the rest of her office space. She gave the air conditioning a whack, hoping it'd turn back on, but no luck. After leaving a message with her landlord about the air conditioning, Tracy opened a window and went to take a shower.

    Twenty minutes later, Tracy was sitting at her desk wearing nothing but a towel. Despite the shower, she was already almost as sweaty as the bottle of water in her hand. The desk fan was blowing across a tray full of ice cubes, creating a slightly cooler breeze, but it was fighting a losing battle against the heat.

    She checked her email, deleting the spam that made it past her filters. When that was done, there were only three left. One of them was for Alexandra Pavlova. Event Horizon had some additional details from their meeting. Tracy ignored that one. The other two were more interesting. One was from Michael Hunt, a friend of hers. He had a straight-forward surveillance job that he didn't have time for, so he wondered if she wanted it. Mike had three big problems: He didn't see how his name made it hard for people to take him seriously. Tracy had told him several times that he ought to change it. He also loved gambling, although he wasn't very good at it, and he always fell for married women. That meant he spent a lot of time hiding from bookies and angry husbands. Tracy wasn't sure which one it was now, but Mike was a decent guy so she replied and set up a meeting early the next morning.

    The last email was from Mrs. Devereux, asking if there was any new information. Tracy tried to keep her answer as vague as possible, in case her husband read the email. She said that some of her suspicions seemed valid but that she didn't have any solid proof yet. She added that she would let her know as soon as there were any major developments.

    Tracy pulled up the GPS tracker which showed her that Dennis' car hadn't moved since she had checked the previous day.

    I guess the Linwood incident gave him pause.

    Tracy figured that in order to catch Dennis, she would have to go undercover, so the rest of the day was spent creating a new online profile. She decided to make this one a 21-year-old foreign exchange student recently arrived from Turkmenistan. That'd be obscure enough that on-the-spot background questions would be easier to bluff her way through. Also, Tracy had a Russian translation program that should do a good job with the language. After doing a few searches for common Russian names, she settled on Ivana Kuznetova, literally translating to Jane Smith. Tracy smiled a little at that.

    When she was finally done, the sun was setting and the temperature was finally dropping to a more comfortable level. Tracy shut down her laptop and stood. A thought bubbled to the surface of her mind: The memory of Kat walking naked and unashamed across the room in Jessie and Diego's living room. She had seemed really relaxed.

    I wonder…

    Tracy looked at the windows to make sure the blinds were closed. Then she undid the towel. It felt strange to be naked like this outside her bathroom or bedroom. Tracy walked across the office to her kitchen to throw the empty bottle in the recycling bin. It didn't really feel liberating or relaxed. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she had felt so self-conscious. Getting dressed, Tracy soon felt more comfortable.

    I guess I'm not moving to a weirdo, nudist, hippie commune any time soon.

    Knowing that she would have to stay close to Dennis' computer to keep an eye on his activity, Tracy realised she would need some supplies. Half an hour later, her van was fully stocked for an extended stakeout. A box of energy bars, half a dozen bottles of water, another half dozen bottles of Wrath, an industrial-strength energy drink, and a big bag of ice for the cooler. The only thing missing was her remote control rig. Hopefully she wouldn't need it.


    ~~~


    The meeting next morning turned out to be a waste of time. It had taken Tracy less than ten minutes to find out that the client was a stalker with a restraining order. Tracy found it a little odd since Mike usually vetted his clients better than this. After leaving a message about it for Mike, Tracy left to do some stalking of her own.

    Tracy parked in the same alley as the last time and used a suction-cup mount to set up a small dish antenna on the roof of the car. Turning on the computer, she started looking through the numerous Wi-Fi-networks available. It didn't take long to find the one belonging to Smith & Smythe, and it took even less time to connect to it.

    They really should take their cyber security more seriously.

    Only minutes later, the blue dot representing Dennis' car moved in from the edge of the map. It pulled into the parking garage and stopped. Tracy kept an eye on the computers connected to the network and a little while later, his computer appeared on the list. She set up a terminal window to display the websites it connected to and sat back to wait.

    Now, let's see how careless you are.

    Several hours later, Tracy concluded that Dennis was indeed a very careful man. His computer hadn't visited anything even remotely suspicious. He had even worked through the lunch break. Tracy fumbled with the funnel as she squatted over a bottle in the back of the van. Sometimes she envied men, peeing on stakeouts was a lot easier for them. She put the cap back on the bottle and pulled her pants back up. Then she opened the door and looked both ways before tossing the bottle into one of the containers along the wall. Based on the smell in the alley, she wasn't the first to relieve herself there, but she refused to pee out in the open. There were limits to what she was willing to do, even when on a stakeout.

    Dennis worked late and didn't shut down his computer until almost six o'clock. When he did, he went straight home, only stopping at a convenience store.

    The next days passed in the same way and Tracy found that her tolerance for boredom was nearing its limit. But at least she was getting a lot of practice with the funnel. She spent the days reading, only looking up every time her computer dinged to indicate that Dennis visited a new site.

    It was nearing the end of work on Friday afternoon, and Tracy was almost done with 'The Long Goodbye'. Her stomach rumbled and she looked at the remaining energy bars with loathing. She swore that once she was done with this job, she was not eating another one of those for a long time. Tracy was still debating whether to ignore the hunger or force down one more of the grainy abominations. Before she could make up her mind, however, her computer indicated that Dennis had disconnected from the network. Tracy got up and quickly took down the antenna from the roof before getting in behind the wheel and waiting for Dennis's car to start moving. It only took a few minutes before the blue dot moved out onto the street. Following at a safe distance, Tracy's heart jumped as Dennis took an unexpected turn, not heading home.

    "Finally," Tracy said to the GPS. "It certainly took you long enough."

    Dennis drove for a while longer before pulling in to the parking lot next to a nondescript brick building. Tracy knew exactly what kind of place this was. It was another place like the Linwood. The big difference was that she had been part of the team that had set up the security system there. Hopefully, the back door into their system would still work. While Dennis made his way inside, Tracy lay back in the beanbag and grabbed the keyboard. She plugged a thumb drive with her fake personal information into the slot and connected to the hotel's network. She didn't have to wait long before she saw Dennis' computer connect too. She even recognised the address he was going to.

    "Okay Dennis, let's see what you're hiding from your wife." Tracy reached for the fat spiral wire and plugged it into her skull. Then she copied the address and hit enter. There was the annoying tingle of an incoming signal and Tracy closed her eyes, letting her body grow heavy and numb.

    She found herself floating in a featureless darkness. No, not even floating; there was an absence of sensation so she wasn't really doing anything. The only sensory input was a slowly pulsing 'Connecting' in front of her. Then the darkness unfolded itself into what looked like a giant patchwork quilt. Two of patches said 'Log in' and 'New user' in softly glowing letters.

    Well, I'll give them points for retro chic. I haven't seen that kind of login page in ages.

    Tracy reached out and touched the 'New user'-button. It morphed into a form already filled out with the personal information of Ivana Kuznetsova. She noticed all options to display personal information were off by default.

    Discreet too. Nice touch.

    The payment options were next. It was either pay per hour or a monthly subscription. That was a no-brainer for Tracy who prepaid for an hour with the debit card she had attached to the profile. It took a second for the form to process the payment, but soon enough, an avatar builder appeared. These were standardised across most VR websites, so Tracy just opted to use the avatar she had already made and stored on the thumb drive and pressed the 'Enter site' button. It flashed red and made a buzzing sound, but nothing else happened. Then Tracy noticed an entry that hadn't been filled out, asking 'small' or 'large'.

    Going through this many servers is bound to slow things down. A low-poly avatar is probably faster.

    Tracy checked the 'small' box which promptly expanded into 'Option 1' and 'Option 2'. There was no explanation what the difference between the two were, but Tracy figured that the first option was the baseline experience. Since she just needed to gain access to the site to snoop around, she decided to go with that. Tracy started the tracking program in a small terminal window, and saw it was poised to leap into action as soon as she was inside. Then she pressed 'Enter site' again. This time the quilt leapt at her, enveloping her in a warm darkness.

    When the darkness lifted, Tracy found herself sitting on the floor in a bedroom. A very oversized bedroom. Looking down, she saw she was wearing just a t-shirt and a big, puffy diaper.

    "What the hell?!?"
    Last edited by Gummybear; 02-15-2019, 01:51:42 PM. Reason: Deleted a repeated word

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  • Gummybear
    replied
    Tracy found a spot in the parking garage that didn't seem to be covered by the surveillance cameras and waited for what felt like an eternity, her heart jumping to her throat every time she heard a car. Places like Hotel Linwood took their promise of confidentiality very seriously and any security breach could kill their reputation, so they would be highly motivated to find Tracy. They also had the finances to do so quickly.

    To try to keep her mind from going to some very dark places, Tracy put her little drone back in the suitcase and packed everything else that she could get loose without tools. The screen was completely dead, but everything else seemed to work. Once there was nothing left to pack, she put on some plastic gloves from the first aid kit under the seat and began wiping down every surface she could conceivably have touched.

    When Diego and Jessie rolled up in a dark blue van, Tracy had already put the suitcases outside the car and was wiping down the doors and door frames.

    "Doing some spring cleaning?" Jessie asked. For someone who crashed cars for a living, she was obnoxiously good-looking: Long, blonde hair, curves to die for, an all-over tan and no scars. The latter two, Tracy could personally attest to after having helped her and Diego film a weird porn where they had been having sex in a car while it crashed.

    Jessie got out of the car and gave Tracy a hug. Tracy wasn't quite sure if the butt-grope she got was accidental or intentional. "So, girlfriend, who the hell did you get yourself mixed up with this time? A jealous husband? Psychotic dominatrix?"

    "Hotel Linwood."

    Jessie's grin evaporated. "Shit."

    "Yeah." Tracy handed Jessie one of the two suitcases and they put them in the back of Jessie's car while Diego started loosening the bolts holding the big remote control rig to the wall. As the different modules came loose, Jessie and Tracy wrapped them in blankets and put them in the car as well, taking care that none of the fragile components were crushed.

    It took just under ten minutes and before getting in the car, Tracy rolled down the driver's side window of the van and put the keys in the ignition, making sure they could easily be seen from the outside. Whoever stole the car would hopefully lead the Linwood guys on a wild goose chase before the car was sold for parts to some chop shop.

    "So, do you want to wait outside to see how long before somebody steals it? I give it half an hour," Jessie grinned as she grabbed the beanbag and the cooler before kicking the car door closed.

    "You haven't been keeping up with things here Jessie. It'll be ten minutes. Fifteen tops." Tracy climbed in the back of Jessie's van. "But I think it's best not to hang around."

    When they arrived at the salvage yard that Jessie and Diego called home, Tracy expected they'd spend the next couple of hours getting the remote control rig bolted in place, but Diego had a different idea.

    "What if we put it all in a…" he snapped his fingers repeatedly while searching for the right word. He looked at Jessie. "Aargh, ein Koffer?"

    "A suitcase," she helped.

    "Ja, ein suitcase. It should fit if we leave out the power supply, and we could just put that in your the car."

    "OK?" Tracy said cautiously, seeing the costs ballooning. "But I don't think I can afford something like that."

    "Pfft." Diego waved a hand dismissively. "It would probably be cheaper than putting it in the car. More practical too. You could plug it in the wall. And you would not have to leave the car here for a day or two."

    "But can you use one of these?" Tracy gestured to her two suitcases.

    Diego studied them. "Perhaps." He turned and shouted, "Kati! Komm raus!"

    After a few seconds, the door to the small shack next to Jessie and Diego's house/workshop/office opened. What came out could most accurately be described as an anti-Diego. Whereas Diego had an immaculately clean jumpsuit, this girl had worn, baggy jeans and a rumpled, a plaid flannel shirt and her blonde rat's nest which was held up with numerous pencils, a sharp contrast to Diego's well-kept, short black hair. They immediately began a heated discussion in German.

    Tracy caught the name Dieter and a few computer-related terms in between what sounded like a rapid-fire exchange of numbers, insults and threats, but nowhere near enough for her to understand what they were saying. She turned to Jessie.

    "Who…" she began.

    Jessie looked at her and looked like she suddenly realised something. "Hey D. Time out."

    The two of them stopped and looked at Jessie who in turn nodded towards Tracy. "English please?"

    Diego suddenly got a somewhat sheepish look. "Sorry," he said. "Kati, this is Tracy. Jessie's friend. Tracy, Katarina, my niece."

    "Kat. Please." Her voice having only the slightest hint of a German accent; also a contrast to Diego's heavy accent and occasional lapse into his mother tongue.

    Tracy looked at Kat. She looked like she was in her early 20s. Not much younger than Tracy herself. She turned to Diego. "How old are you?"

    "Ha. Ha. Ha. My big sister is a lot older than me. Anyway, Kati-"

    "Kat," Kat interrupted.

    "Fine. Kat was saying that if your setup was properly optimised, you could get rid of a third of the hardware and then it would probably fit inside one of those cases."

    "Oh it'll fit; trust me. Fuck, if I had enough money, I could build a rig that could fit in a briefcase. With that stone-age tech you're using, the biggest challenge's going to be finding spare parts."

    "It's not that old," Tracy muttered, almost feeling like somebody had insulted her pet.

    "Anyway," Diego said, "Kat's going to do this for free as a favour-"

    "What?!? No way."

    "…As a favour for her favourite uncle who lets her hide out here until the heat dies down back home."

    "Fine." Kat blew a stray lock of hair away, walked over to the van and started looking through the parts.

    "So, what kind of trouble did she manage to get into?" Tracy asked Diego.

    "You know, 'she' can hear you," Kat said without looking up.

    Diego rolled his eyes a little. "Kati is a triple-D."

    Tracy made a show of studying Kat for a few seconds. "I don’t know. I'd say she's an A-cup, maybe a B if I'm being generous."

    Diego stared at Tracy for a moment before the joke sank in. He gave a small chuckle.

    "Digital drug designer," Kat said, turning around and leaning against the van. "Instead of those silly AR-chips that some people use, my chips'd give you a what feels like a two-minute orgasm, or a cocaine high."

    "I know what digital drugs are. We call them BTL's. I've just never thought about people actually programming them.

    "BTL's?"

    "Don't ask. Apparently it's from some old science fiction thing."

    "Uh-huh." Kat probed a hard drive with a pen-like device before tossing it over her shoulder. Tracy barely had time to catch it before it hit the ground.

    "Hey! Be careful."

    "Don't bother," Kat said, barely looking up. "It's fried."

    Jessie put an arm around Tracy's shoulder and gently steered her away. "Oh, just let her work. We need to discuss Saturday."
    Last edited by Gummybear; 02-03-2019, 05:17:48 PM.

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  • Cute-Kitten
    replied
    Just finished up the first entry. Detective stories are fun; I like the tone of this one.

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  • Gummybear
    replied
    Tracy got out of the van and looked up at Hotel Linwood. As she watched, the lights behind one of the frosted windows on the third floor came on. She kept watching and saw a shadow moving inside the room. None of the other rooms changed so she was pretty sure she had found Dennis' room. She opened the side door of the van and got in.

    The back of Tracy's van looked like a 1970s shag mobile decided to become a police surveillance van. While it still had an orange shag carpet and a huge, red beanbag, there were big screens hanging on one of the side walls and on the opposite wall were numerous panels with so many knobs and blinking lights that you'd think several radios had been sacrificed to some elder god. Propped up against the plastic wall separating the back of the van from the front were the suitcases and a low folding table. There was also a cooler which was empty at the moment.

    Tracy closed the door and turned on the screens before kneeling next to the suitcases to open them up. She carefully pried a tiny quadcopter from its foam housing. It was so small that it easily fit in the palm of her hand, but despite looking like a toy, it had cost almost as much as the van. Tracy turned the tiny drone on and put it on top of the suitcase. Next, she lay back in the beanbag and reached back to the panel behind her to grab a bright yellow spiral cord that she plugged into the socket behind her right ear. Tracy let her head fall back and closed her eyes. There was a tingling sensation as her body grew numb and heavy. Then, suddenly, everything changed.

    She found herself in the middle of what looked like the roof of a dark bluish grey high-rise building. Tracy wiggled her fingers, feeling her rotors adjust. Next she looked around until she saw herself lying in the beanbag. With a simple twitch of her buttocks, Tracy's rotors began spinning and she rose from the suitcase with a high-pitched buzz. Drifting a little from side to side and back and forth, Tracy adjusted the trim. Then she headed for the cracked window. A quick flick with her left rotors and she sailed through the gap with only millimetres to spare.

    The parking lot looked quite different to Tracy now that she was so small. A gust of wind almost made her hit the side mirror of the car next to the van and Tracy had to struggle to regain control. It was like walking on the deck of a boat in the middle of a storm. She had to constantly compensate to stay in control. Suddenly, a styrofoam cup appeared out of nowhere. Tracy dove to dodge it, and barely managed to pull back up before hitting the ground. She clenched her fists, sending all four rotors into overdrive and making her shoot straight up. Above the cars, the wind was a lot more predictable and there was a lot less debris so Tracy didn't have too much trouble locating the window she suspected hid her target and heading towards it.

    When she drew closer, Tracy unfurled a pair of tiny pincers and grabbed the narrow vent above the window. Moving hand-over-hand, or rather claw-over-claw, to the right edge of the vent, Tracy scrutinised the fine metal mesh, looking for a weakness. Not finding any, she moved back to the middle to examine the left side. At the left edge, Tracy found a tear in the mesh. It was only a couple of millimetres wide, but that was enough. She locked the claws, leaving the drone hanging in place, and activated what made it so expensive. Extending from the rear of the drone was a thin tentacle with a camera at the tip. The Penis-cam, as Tracy liked to refer to it. She wound the tentacle through the gap and was soon rewarded with a view of the room on the other side of the glass.

    Sitting in an armchair right under the window was someone who could be Dennis Devereux. It was just hard to tell when all you could see was the top of his head. There was a wire going from a plug behind his ear, just like Tracy had, to a laptop computer on the table next to the chair. If he was plugged in, he'd be more or less dead to the world, so it was safe to move in a little closer. Tracy focused on the computer. It was a sleek-looking thing with a familiar-looking logo.

    Oh please let it be…

    Tracy zoomed in as much as the camera allowed, which wasn't much.

    Yesssss! A Colonial/Nexus 500-series.

    Tracy had to catch herself to stop the tentacle from doing a little celebratory wave. The C/N 500-series computers were known for being powerful, pretty and notoriously hard to change the default security settings on.

    One of the downsides of being made in an authoritarian police state, I suppose.

    Using the tentacle as an antenna, Tracy began probing the security systems of the laptop. She was almost disappointed when it took her less than five tries to find the right code. A small terminal window opened in Tracy's lower right-hand field of vision. She opened her eyes, pausing the software controlling the drone and its tentacle and bringing sensation flooding back to her body. The big screen on the wall in front of her showed the slightly grainy feed from the penis-cam, minus a fist-sized spot of dead pixels halfway up on the left side.

    I really need to get that fixed. And get one of those coffee mugs with velcro on the bottom so it doesn't happen again.

    Tracy reached for the keyboard and began typing. She had to be careful since Dennis was still plugged into the computer and might notice her. She managed to extract the address of the site that he was visiting fairly easily and started the painfully slow upload of a tracking program. It would alert her the next time he went to that particular site. She would have to talk to Ms.Devereux to see if she could get her to install some more sophisticated trackers on the computer when her husband wasn't using it. They'd be too noticeable to install right now.

    Tracy was looking for the key file that would let her take a look at the credit card charges when she noticed some movement on the screen. Dennis was stirring. She quickly closed the terminal, hoping he hadn't seen it, and tossed the keyboard aside. Closing her eyes reactivated the connection with the drone.

    "Come on, come on, comeoncomeoncomeon…" Tracy hissed through clenched teeth as her body grew numb and heavy again, albeit far too slowly. The system was designed to turn off quickly, in case of emergencies, but re-starting it took precious seconds; especially when done at a distance.

    Finally, the darkness behind her eyelids lifted and she was treated to a view of the top of Dennis' head. He was yawning and stretching, his hand headed straight for the camera. Tracy retracted the tentacle as quickly as she could, hearing the metal brush against the mesh in the vent. Dennis heard it too and looked up, maybe catching sight of the tentacle as it disappeared through the vent. Tracy didn't wait to find out. The moment the tentacle was fully retracted, she let go of the vent and shot away from the building. She fell almost an entire storey before regaining control and when she did, she had to fight a headwind going back to the car. Just as she was aiming for the cracked window, everything went black.

    "What the fuck?" Tracy swore as her body woke up again. The screen in front of her was off and so were all the blinking lights behind her. "Oh shit, they finally got one of those." Tracy rolled out of the beanbag, opened the door and peered out. All the hotel windows were dark. As were most of the neighbouring buildings and a couple of the street lights. She spotted the drone on the roof of the car next to hers and quickly snatched it up before getting in behind the wheel. Parking the drone in the unused ashtray, Tracy started the engine and peeled out the parking lot just as she saw a group of large, armed men exit the hotel

    "OK, note to self: The Linwood has a baby-EMP now. And they saw my car." Tracy wasn't too worried about the van being traced back to her, but it could still be tracked through traffic cameras since the surveillance cameras in the area around the Linwood had no doubt caught that. Tracy dug her phone out of her pocket and pressed the call button. She breathed a sigh of relief as the screen lit up.

    "Call Jessie." The phone beeped in acknowledgement. Jessie and Tracy had met in second grade and had been friends ever since. She had even played around with the idea of going into business with Tracy, but she just didn't have the patience required. She was also an incurable adrenaline junkie so her current job as a demolition derby racer was perfect. Especially since her husband was a mechanic.

    "Yeah?" Tracy couldn't hear cars in the background, so Jessie probably wasn't working, at least not yet.

    "Hey Jessie, I need a favour."

    "What did you do this time?" Tracy could almost hear the smirk on Jessie's face.

    "I'm in some serious trouble and I need to clean out my van. Do you guys still have that big truck?

    "Come on, you know D runs a full-service shop. We can get you a new van. Friends-and-family discount."

    "You're a lousy used car salesman and you know it."

    "What are you talking about?" Jessie said with mock indignation. "The previous owner was a little, old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays."

    "Meaning you won it in the last race and Diego's been fixing it up." Tracy sighed, knowing that she probably wouldn't get a better deal on an untraceable car. "I can't afford to pay you for another week or two though."

    "That's OK, you can pay me back by doing some camera work for me next Saturday."

    "You're making another one of those car crash pornos?" Tracy suppressed a cringe.

    "No nudity. I promise."

    Tracy weighed the pros and cons. She'd lose a day's work, but it was Saturday, so Mr.Devereux was less likely to sneak off for some online hanky panky.

    "OK," she finally said. "But I'm in the middle of a case and if things start moving on it, I'm going to have to get on that."

    "Fair enough. So, where are you?"

    Tracy thought for a moment. "The parking garage just down the street from St.Catherine's Church. How soon can you get there?"

    "Twenty minutes, maybe half an hour."

    "Great. And bring some tools."
    Last edited by Gummybear; 01-09-2019, 06:04:13 PM.

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  • Gummybear
    replied
    Forty-five minutes later, Tracy pulled up to the security booth of the underground parking garage of the building where Smith & Smythe had their offices. It wasn't in the most expensive part of the downtown area, but an office here would still cost twenty times what she currently paid, so she immediately felt that her van stuck out like a sore thumb among the shiny, non-dented, new cars.

    "It must be nice to have this kind of money," she murmured while ogling a red sportscar that could probably jump-start a ten year old boy into puberty.

    Unlike Jamal, the security guard in the booth had a crisp, grey uniform and looked like he was barely out of school. When he rose, Tracy saw that he had a utility belt that would have put Batman to shame. In addition to a gun and extra ammunition, he had a flashlight that was big enough to double as a baton hanging right next to a telescoping baton and maybe half a dozen zip-tie handcuffs.

    Compensating much? Looks like somebody didn't get in to the police academy.

    Tracy rolled down her window. The blast of heat ruined all the hard work the air-conditioning had done.

    "Good afternoon," Tracy said cheerfully. "I have a 3:30 appointment with Event Horizon."

    "Name?" the security guard said brusquely, obviously trying to sound tough and businesslike, but not quite pulling it off.

    "Alexandra Pavlova. Just like the cake." Tracy pulled a big, multicoloured handbag from between the seats and started rummaging through it. "I have my driver's licence in here, somewhere." She knew exactly where it was, but wanted to give the guard the impression of a ditzy blonde. Out of the corner of her eye, Tracy saw the guard shift his weight from one foot to the other.

    Already? You need to learn some patience, little boy.

    Just as the guard was about to speak, she triumphantly pulled the fake driver's licence from her bag. "There it is," she said and handed it over. "Now don't mind the hair on the picture. I just dyed it so people wouldn't think I was some kind of dumb blonde."

    Good god. All I'm missing is the chewing gum and the hair twirling.

    The guard made a show of checking the licence, but Tracy wasn't worried. She paid good money for her fake IDs so there was no way he'd be able to tell it wasn't real. He then checked his tablet, no doubt checking if Alexandra Pavlova actually had an appointment, which she did.

    "Okay, it's on the seventh floor." He returned Tracy's fake licence and she stuffed it back in the bag.

    "Thanks…" Tracy made a show of reading the guard's name tag, "…Daryl." She gave him a wink as he returned to his air-conditioned booth to raise the barrier.

    Tracy slowly drove down the ramp and into the garage itself. It took her almost five minutes to find Devereux's car. When she did, she parked as close as she could; only four cars away.

    For the next ten seconds Tracy just listened. No engine sounds and no footsteps; only the hum from the fluorescent lights and the barely audible traffic outside. Tracy grabbed the handbag and slipped out of the van. She quietly pushed the door closed and looked around. The only camera she could see was above the elevator doors. Making sure she kept cars between herself and the camera, Tracy made her way to Devereux's car. Being rather tall and gangly didn't exactly help when you tried to avoid detection, nor did carrying a handbag big enough to smuggle a small baby in. Just before she reached the car, Tracy stopped and looked around one more time, just to make sure there weren't any ninjas in wool socks sneaking around, but she was still alone.

    Tracy knelt next to the driver's side door of the car, peering through the window. She couldn't see any signs of extra alarm systems. If I parked my car right next to all these other ones, I guess I wouldn't be too worried about it being stolen either.

    Tracy pulled what looked like a slightly oversized phone out of the handbag. When she turned it on, the screen showed a list of car manufacturers. She tapped 'Honda' and the screen changed to ask model and year. The latter one was a bit tricky, but Tracy figured the car couldn't be more than six or seven years old, so she entered 'Accord' and '2026'. The screen went blank except for a progress bar. Tracy checked her watch: One minute and five seconds. While the device continued working, she pulled a small metal box out of her bag and opened it. She had to struggle a little to get the magnetic, coin-sized disk loose from the inside lid. It attached to the underside of the car with a quiet metallic click.

    OK, that should let me track the car.

    Tracy checked the watch again. Ninety seconds. The door unlocked with a thunk as her gadget found the right frequency. She gritted her teeth and opened the door, ready for a secondary alarm, but there was only silence. Quickly peeling a small, dark grey plastic bead off a strip of tape in the metal box, Tracy stuck it halfway up the seat back where it would easily transfer to the driver's back.

    …And that should bug him too.

    Tracy closed the door and locked it before putting everything back in her bag. She hurried back to her car and made sure the camera saw her as she came around the back of it, looking like she was searching for something in her bag. Pulling out a chapstick, she used the rear window of the van as a mirror before heading for the elevator. Tracy resisted the urge to smile and wave to the camera. That would be overdoing it.

    Just over half an hour later, Tracy returned to the parking garage. The visit to the party planner hadn't resulted in anything other than a few vague assurances about getting back to them about what, if anything, the bosses in her company decided on. Of course, there was no boss, so there wouldn't be any further contact. The whole thing had just been a pretext for her to gain access to the parking garage where Mr.Devereux parked his car. Although some of the party ideas had sounded like a lot of fun.

    Tracy drove out of the parking garage, giving Daryl the security guard a little wave before turning right and joining the traffic on the street. She didn't drive far however. She circled halfway around the block and pulled into an alley. Then she got out of the car and stood in the open side door to attach a couple of small antennas to the roof. Back inside the car, Tracy turned the air conditioning up, hoping the air filters would eliminate the stench of sun-cooked garbage coming from the outside, and turned on her GPS. The screen zoomed in to show a map with her car in the middle and a blinking purple dot to her south-west.

    "Okay Dennis. Your move," Tracy said. She dug out her tablet and sat back to read a book. She scrolled through the list of books she was in the middle of before settling on 'The Third Man'

    It was almost an hour later and the Soviets had just tried to abduct Anna when a soft beeping from the GPS made Tracy look up. Dennis was on the move. The purple dot moved onto the street and turned left. Tracy started the car and followed, staying so far back that there was no chance he'd spot her. She lost the signal when he entered a tunnel, but there weren't a lot of places he could go there so he showed up just where she expected when he came back out again.

    "Where are you going Dennis? That isn't the way home."

    Tracy looked at the map and suddenly realised where she was headed.

    "Nononononono. Keep going, keep going," she urged the little purple dot. But it turned left into a parking lot and stopped. The purple dot turned into a stationary blue dot and a moving red one as Dennis got out of the car and walked into the building next to the lot and vanished. Tracy swore. Of course he had to come here. She glared up at the five-storey building as she parked at the opposite end of the lot.

    Hotel Linwood was a the digital equivalent of a no-tell motel. If you wanted to do something shady online, that was the place. Each room electromagnetically shielded and the internet connection was run through so many proxy servers around the world that it was practically impossible to trace your location. And adding military-grade encryption on top of this made places like the Linwood a nightmare for people like Tracy. As long as he was in there, there was just no way she was going to be able to trace Dennis' computer.

    "Right. Time to get creative."
    Last edited by Gummybear; 02-03-2019, 05:09:47 PM. Reason: Added a comma

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  • TheOneWhoSees
    replied
    I like the premise. I wish there were more classic detective stories here. So much potential.

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