Effects – part 3 

“Is it done?” I asked setting down his bag of food and drink on the table.

“No.” Manny shook his head and looked at me. The crease of his forehead meant he was concerned. “Celia, what have you gotten into?”

The use of my name and not my nickname, Cee, meant it had to be serious. Everything I’d learned so far with the scientists’ death and the contents of the envelope had yet to add up in my mind. For now, it was a mystery, but I didn’t consider myself involved.

“What do you mean?” I sat down in the chair next to his workstation and propped my feet on the arm of his chair. Usually he would comment about the smell of my toes, but he wasn’t in a playful mood. What was wrong?

“I mean, I tried to remove the worm and it’s like it triggered something.” I looked at him puzzled. Normally, Manny sounded sure of himself, his tone caught me off guard. “I know it sounds weird. I even called some of my buddies to tell me if they’ve seen anything like it and they haven’t.”

“Spit it out, Manny. What happened?”

He scratched his head as if he was still trying to make sense of it. “Once I had it quarantined, it multiplied, broke quarantine, and reinfected your computer. This is too sophisticated for your everyday hacker.”

“So what do I do?”

“Honestly, your computer is a loss, but I think that’s the least of your concern.”

“What do you mean?”

“Whoever did this knows where you live. At least they don’t know what you look like, but that’s easily fixed with lease records and drivers license database. What did you do to catch their interest?”

“I don’t know.”

My phone rang. I read the name and didn’t want to answer it, but I did anyway. Rolling my eyes, I accepted the call and brought my headset to my ear.

“Hello?”

“Celia, what the hell happened to our apartment?”

“What?”

“You heard me?” I brought my feet to the ground and sat up in my chair. My distaste for my roommate was increasing with her incriminating tone. I didn’t know what happened, but her choice of words led me to believe she thought I had something to do with it. “What happened here?”

“If you think someone broke in, you should be calling the police. I don’t know what happened, but I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

She hung up the phone.

“Wait!” Manny yelled when I walked to the door. I turned around a shrugged. What was he yelling for? “You still have those security cameras set up in your apartment?”

I nodded and he started typing to access them. I sat down next to him and waited for him to cue the last few hours since I left the apartment and came here. We installed them mostly to make sure my roommate didn’t do anything crazy while I was gone. Not that she had taken anything, but something about her was off ever since her “nice” came off. She’d said enough to convince me to lease the place with her, but a month in and she became a totally different person. I didn’t trust her and Manny recommended the cameras for “just in case.” We never accessed the feed until now.

My mouth dropped and I couldn’t believe what was happening on the screen. Two men dressed in suits opened the door. With no obvious damage to the frame or lock, they must have picked it. They searched everything. Both of our rooms were a mess. I didn’t put any cameras in her room, but she already confirmed it was turned upside down like mine.

“What did they download onto my laptop?”

“Probably the same worm on your desktop.” We continued to watch them finish and calmly leave the apartment. They weren’t in a hurry and they didn’t take anything. “They weren’t there to rob your house.”

“What kind of robber wears a suit to break into a house?” I stood up and then quickly sat down. The puzzles of the situation were coming together and I didn’t like the picture. I could here Manny clicking away behind me.

“This doesn’t look good, Cee.”

“What?”

He held up the freshly printed paper for me to read. These men in suits weren’t matched with anyone in any criminal databases so Manny searched others. He found these two in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I added the FBI to the list of three letter agencies interested in me, but why? What would the EPA and the FBI want with me?

by Angelique Grey

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