Federal Bureau of Investigations Criminal Profiler Laura Weatherby had been with the Agency for twenty-nine years, 2 months and 6 days; not that she was counting. Still a spitfire of a woman at 56 years of age, when she hit that magical number, thirty years, she was going to retire. Having joined in 1990, she had witnessed every major incident the US had faced in the last three decades, first hand. Desert Storm, the World Trade Center, Oklahoma City, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the New York, LA and DC bombings…she had had her fill of psychotics. But she wasn’t done. Her boss had placed a file on her desk a number of weeks ago and she was now just finding the time to get to it.
The FBI had changed a lot over the years, and the worst change had been their funding. Every spare dollar was filtered to the ongoing fight against terrorism. It seemed that there were minor attacks every few weeks, so no one in the Agency had much time to divert to issues that were ‘home-grown’. Most of that workload had been given over to the state or local police. Laura figured her boss wanted to give her an ‘easy’ send-off, and frankly, she welcomed the change.
At first glance, this appeared to be your normal, run of the mill crazy, but something about the electrocutions nagged at her. She guessed that was why the State Police had solicited the Agency in the first place. So she decided to read over the report once again; maybe give the lead detective a call and see if he could shed any light on the case. Maybe there was something missing from the report. Heck, she thought, it might be solved by now. The report was almost a month old.
“He got another one Sammy,” said Jeff as he popped his head into his friend’s office.
“Yeah, I heard Jeff. That makes eleven now.”
“Yes it does. What details do you have so far?”
“Glen Adams, 60, Ripley again; works as a night stocker for the local grocery store. Walks home every night. He lives in an apartment complex about a mile from the store. He was last seen two nights ago, leaving for home after work. One of his co-workers stopped by his apartment to see if he was okay after he was a no show at work. The apartment was closed up tight.”
“How did they know he’s ‘missing’?”
“The friend knows where the spare key is, so he went in. The house smelled; rotten food in the trash, the dog was starving as it hadn’t been fed, and it had messed all over the apartment. His friend said that was nothing like Adams, who was sort of a neat freak.”
“So we have another victim. I take it this Adams wasn’t in the best of shape?”
“Nope. He fits the pattern. Here’s a photo.”
Detective Grosling took a look at the photo. Glen Adams was maybe a buck twenty-five soaking wet. Average height, slim, to the point of being too thin, graying; between his physical appearance and his age, he definitely fit the demographic preferred by their killer.
“Yep, he fits the bill; so now what?”
“I’ve no idea. I was really hoping for help from the Agency by now.”
“When was the last time you contacted them?”
“I resubmitted a request shortly after the Simpson woman was found.”
“That was over a month ago. Can’t they hurry it up a bit?”
“I just don’t get it. How can they ignore something like this? We’ve had ten murders in ten months, and we now have an eleventh victim missing. How can they turn their backs on Americans like that?”
“Come on Sam, you know they aren’t turning their backs on us; they just have more than they can handle with all the terrorists nowadays. This isn’t the same world you and I grew up in anymore.”
Shaking his head in disgust, “I know Jeff…I know. It’s just frustrating. Here we are in ‘Middle America’, and the residents are being terrorized by some local whack-job. How is that any different than a terrorist from another country?”
“I know what you’re saying Sam. I really do. But, we’ll figure it out. We always do. Maybe try giving the Feds a call; bring that infamous ‘Sam-Mitch’ charm to bear on the situation.”
“Yeah, I was considering that when you walked in. I’m just not too sure how much charm this old dog has left.”
Glen Adams had awaken to find himself bound, gagged and in a small, dugout room. Scared senseless, he cowered in the corner of the room and looked out, through the wrought iron grate, at the white room beyond. A clean shaven young man sat at a desk in front of a bank of computer terminals soldering some sort of small device. From that distance, it looked to be one of those new wrist terminals that were all the rage. A fully functioning computer network, these devices had replaced the use of tablets as the newest technological craze. With a simple touch of your wrist, you could control your home security, start your car, surf the internet, make a holographic call and any of a thousand other functions. Sleek of design, people had bought them in droves, as they made the owner finally feel like they were living the “Jetsons” life. As it was 2020 and no one was yet driving that ‘space car’ everyone had grown up thinking they were going to be driving, this new device had changed the way people functioned day to day; more so than when the tablets and smartphones had been introduced. The ability of these wrist terminals so far surpassed those predecessors that the users felt they were living in space.
Little did Glen Adams know that his captor was the individual responsible for developing that technology. And now, as that individual worked on the latest update to his device, Glen Adams struggled against the duct tape around his wrists; he had to try to escape. He knew that he had been abducted by ‘The Electro-Killer’, as the news outlets had named him.
When the ‘The Electro-Killer’ finally noticed that his captive was awake and struggling, he removed the protective goggles he was wearing, set the soldering iron down and picked up the taser gun that had been sitting on the desk. When he walked to the wrought iron grate, he crouched down and addressed his captive.
“If you speak to me, I’ll kill you; simple as that. I don’t want to hear a word out of you. Don’t beg, don’t plead, and don’t scream out. I don’t want to hear anything about you. I don’t want to know your name or where you’re from. Got it?”
When Glen shook his head yes, his captor said, “Good. Now if you crawl over here I’ll remove some of that tape, okay?”
Glen nodded and worked his way over to the grate. His captor moved the stun gun out of reach, took a quick glance at the locks on the grate to make sure he hadn’t missed anything and then took a pocket knife out of his pants pocket. When Glen saw the knife he started to scooch back.
“Come now, how can I remove the tape without a knife?” asked his captor. “Come on back. I’m not going to cut you.”
When Glen moved back, his captor reached in and grabbed Glen’s legs. With a quick slice, he cut the tape, but didn’t remove it. He then pushed Glen down and grabbed at his arms that had been bound behind his back. Repeating the slice, he let Glen squirm out of the tape as he picked up the taser gun and stood up.
Kicking his legs frantically, the tape loosened up enough that his legs were free. He then repeated the process with his arms. Painfully ripping the tape from his wrists, Glen then grabbed the tape over his mouth. With one quick jerk, the tape came away, taking with it chunks of the short beard Glen wore. “Please man, let me out. I won’t tell anyone. I promise…” was all Glen could get out before his captor shot him again with the taser gun. Glen’s body arched backwards in pain, as the modified taser gun delivered between .06 – .08 amps of energy throughout his body. His captor, turned his back on Glen saying, “I told you not to speak. Consider that my only warning.”
Special Agent Weatherby was intrigued. So much so that she was suggesting to her boss that she make the trip to Clayton and help the local detectives investigate the case. She had just got off the phone with the detective in charge, Samuel Mitchim. From what he said, there was another person missing that fit the profile for all the other victims.
“What makes this one so special that I should send you off to investigate instead of keeping you here where I need you?” asked her boss, the Deputy Director for the Mid-West Region.
“Josh, you know as well as I do that this is more serious than the run of the mill wacko. This individual knows his way around security…”
“What do you mean by that?”
“They have nothing on any surveillance cameras…anywhere. You know as well as I do that no one can take a leak anymore without some camera somewhere capturing you going into the john.”
“True, but that is sort of an ‘out of the way’ location; are you sure they have that sort of technology?”
Laura gave him a withering look, as if he knew better than to ask such a simple question. But she humored him, as he was her boss, even though she had years more experience than he had, “Yes Josh, they have the technology. The local detective checked out every video feed for all the traffic stops, convenience stores, gas stations, banks, personal home security systems…”
“Alright, I get it. He did his homework, and they have the technology. That still doesn’t answer the question of why I should send you there.”
Laura stood up to pace around while she talked; she worked better on her feet. “Something about this nags at me; call it a hunch. The lack of any video, the systematic approach, the thoroughness of the execution; this killer is very intelligent. He’s been at this for almost a year now and they have next to nothing by way of evidence. It’s just too clean. That’s why I need to go. It’s like we have ourselves a good ‘old fashioned’ serial killer with access to all the current technology of the day.”
Josh Baxter, a seasoned investigator in his own right, knew not to ignore Laura’s advice. She was legendary in her area. Not many people had the arrest record she had, and that was one of the reasons it was so hard to let her go. They needed her here. But he also knew that the local cops wouldn’t have the experience she had. They needed her. Reluctantly he agreed. “Alright; take a few days and head out there. But as soon as some break in the case happens, give it back to them. They keep control of the investigation. You’re just there as an advisor. Got it?”
“Advisor…got it. I’ll leave tomorrow morning.”
With that she headed for the door, but before she opened it, Josh said, “Hey Laura…just be careful. I think you’re right; this isn’t your ordinary wacko. I’d hate to lose you before you get a chance to retire.”
With that, he turned back to his computer monitor and she left the room.
Glen Adams stared at his captor through the bars of his cell. Just outside his reach, if he could reach, as his hands had once again been bound behind him, was a table with some fruit, a bottle of water, and a sandwich; it looked to be turkey on wheat. Sitting behind the table was the man that had been his captor for at least seven, maybe eight days now. Glen could no longer remember. Everything was such a blur. All he knew was that every time he spoke the man staring back at him would stun him with the gun. And now, the man was trying to get Glen to speak. Glen was just confused, tired and hungry. He didn’t understand what was going on. He just wanted to get home to his dog. And the way the man was just staring at Glen was unnerving. He had just asked Glen if he was willing to answer a few questions in exchange for some food and water. Glen, having learned the hard way, that speaking got him stunned, was reluctant to test his captor, but he was extremely hungry.
Sighing aloud, the captor repeated himself, once again, “Listen; I would like to ask you a few questions. If you respond to just the questions I ask, nothing more, I will give you this food and water. And I know what’s going through your mind. I’ve told you not to talk before. Well, that has changed for now. I need this information and only this information. Give it to me, and you eat. Give me more and you get zapped. Once we are done, you need to go back to not speaking, Okay? Do we understand each other? Do you want to eat?”
Every bone in his body was screaming at him to just remain quiet, but Glen’s stomach and primal needs were taking control. Reluctantly he gave a quick nod of agreement.
“Good…very good; now turn around and I will cut the duct tape on your wrists, okay? But remember, no talking until I ask you questions.”
Glen nodded again, as the man stood and walked the few steps to the cell. “Turn around,” he directed Glen. When Glen turned, he felt the man grab his wrists with one hand and felt the slight jerk as the pocket knife he used slipped through the tape. Glen pulled his hands apart as his captor returned to his chair and sat. Turning back around, Glen removed the tape over his mouth after he had finished freeing himself of the wrist constraints. Reaching through the cell towards the food, Glen watched as the man moved the food farther away, but still on the table.
“Now, now,” admonished the man, “You need to answer the questions first.” Glen nodded agreement.
“Okay, first off, I do NOT want to know your name, understand?”
When Glen nodded in response, his captor said, “Good. Okay, first question, what is your address…number and street only?”
Glen’s voice, having not spoken in a couple of days, was scratchy, but he replied, “1623 Arbor Dr.”
“And your date of birth?”
“November 13th, 1960.”
Jotting that information down on a piece of paper, his captor looked up and asked “What bank do you use?”
“Good, and what is your ATM passcode?”
“But…” started Glen, but quickly stopped when his captor drew the gun from behind his back.
“Just answer the questions. I don’t want your money. It’s safe. I just need this information for other reasons…I promise.”
Reluctantly Glen nodded, “The passcode is 8824.”
His captor jotted that down and looked over his paper once more. He finally asked, “What is your password to your health benefits site login?”
“Huh,” replied Glen, as if taken aback by the question.
“Your health benefits through your work. There is a website that you can log onto to check your claims. What is the password for that sight?”
Even more confused by the seemingly random questions, Glen responded “Gladam1960”.
His captor ‘tsked’ at him and said, “That is a terrible password. Your first and last name smashed together with your year of birth…terrible. Okay, one more question for now. Who was your second grade teacher?”
Even more perplexed, Adams responded “Mrs. Swartz.”
“Excellent,” said the man as he made more notes with his mechanical pencil. So engrossed in pouring over the information he had written down, it took in a moment to realize that his captive had his hand raised, to ask a question as if in class.
“May I ask a question sir?” asked Glen tentatively.
Looking up to the ceiling, as if weighing whether or not to allow a question, the man finally said, “Sure, why not.”
Again, tentatively with his eyes downcast, Glen asked, “Those were some very random questions, what do you need it for?”
Placing the taser gun on the table, just out of Glen’s reach, the captor stood and looked as if he were going to walk away. But instead he turned around and had a smile on his face; the smile was maniacal and scared the crap out of Glen. “You’re a smart one aren’t you Glen? I knew that as soon as I first zapped you. I could tell by the quality of the info transfer that you had a higher intelligence than my other test cases.
“So you think those are random, and you’d be correct. I could have asked you any number of questions about you, but those were the first that I jotted down from the last time I zapped you.”
“What do you mean by ‘zapped’ me?” asked Glen, forgetting for a moment that he should have asked permission before speaking.
Also forgetting the slight in protocol, his captor continued his narrative. “Do you remember when I wake you, grab your arm and you feel a jolt, or a shock?”
Nodding, Glen replied “Yes.”
“Good; each time I have done that, have you, by chance, noticed what I had on my wrist?”
With a little more courage, thinking if he could keep this guy talking he might let him go, Glen responded, “Um…you always wear the same sort of outfit; black slacks, black tie down shoes, and a short sleeved dress shirt…”
As the image of the last time he was ‘zapped’ flashed into his mind, it dawned on him. He knew who his captor was. “You had one of those Wrist Networks on; you’re that guy. The one that invented them, aren’t you?”
His captor almost jumped with joy at the comment. He clapped his hands and threw his head back with a hearty laugh, “I knew it. You are smart. Yes, that’s me. Miles Olsen…the inventor of the Wrist Network…disgraced former employee and co-founder of Miles-Gemmen Corp. Yes, I invented the Wrist Network and then the upper management framed me, disgraced me and got rid of me.”
Shaking himself before the madness returned, Miles asked his captive, “So tell me Glen, how did you know that?”
“I read it on IT Weekly; I love techie stuff like that. You know my name? How, I haven’t told you that? You haven’t asked me that.”
Picking up the piece of paper he had been making notes on, Olsen showed it to Glen.
“You see Glen, I know everything about you. I’ve made a few minor adjustments to the Wrist Network. Each time I’ve touched you, it sends an electrical impulse into your nervous system, up into your brain, where it converts your memories into digital impulses. That information then returns to the source and reverts back into information that I can download later. It also has the ability to send most of that information directly to my mind. So, I can, almost immediately, know what’s on your mind. Isn’t that brilliant?”
Glen stammered, “Oh my…”
“I know, your speechless, right? What I was doing was just verifying, randomly, well as randomly as possible without a random number generator, some of the information I obtained from your last zap. Now all I need to do is make some final tweeks on the voltage.”
Taking a step back, Glen asked, “What for?”
Olsen was dead serious in a split second. He responded, “Once I tweek it so it feels nothing more than a common static discharge, there isn’t any information I can’t obtain from anyone I can get my hands on. Do you realize the power I’ll wield with this new device? Can you imagine the look on their faces when I topple those bastards at MGC for what they did to me…You may go back to not speaking now.”
Turning, without waiting for his captive to respond, Miles grabbed the taser gun and walked back towards his laboratory. Glen looked once more at the piece of paper he had been handed, then dropped it as he desparately tried to reach the food and water still on the table.