WHO: Evan and Leah WHAT: Evan has snooped and does not like what he found, so he must tell his co-conspirator, Leah. WHERE: The old ramshackle Americana Inn, where they met up before. WHEN: 12/28, before all the hell of drama. RATING: Medium for language. STATUS: In progress
Of all the things that Evan had expected to find on Internet Guy's laptop, this was not one of them.
He'd gone out to one of the little tech shops and found one of those boot disks that bypasses the password on the start-up screen, but still keeps all the files (something he remembered having to do for Olivia's computer when it got some kind of weird virus and he'd spent nine hundred hours on the phone with technical support), and had easily bypassed whatever security Internet Guy had in place. And when he'd started digging, at first, he realized that Internet Guy? Was boring. Games, movies... not even any porn on here. Just geek things that a geek would do to keep their geek mind occupied.
But then, while going through the guy's old emails, he found something.
A self-sent email, saved to a folder called "Reminder" and starred. At first, he'd considered it just some kind of silly little personal reminder, and he just wanted to read it to placate his nosiness. But when he started reading? His expression changed from neutrality to shock and from shock to absolute horror.
It was a reminder, all right. A personal journal; a letter to himself, stored in his email.
I'm only thirty, but I've made some mistakes. Big ones. Big ones that may have possibly affected the entire world, and not just me. When Dr. Marler approached me after I was fired from Pharmacorps, I should've said no. I should've turned around, kept walking and gone home to Massachusetts. My father was willing to send me to college so that I could get a job at a better company, not overseas and not as sketchy. So, I should've turned him down. But didn't. I was determined not to lose; determined not to run back to my parents with my tail between my legs.
And it might have had part in dooming the whole world.
When Dr. Marler's work started, I felt like something was amiss. Nothing felt right. Everything was way too hush-hush, and I was programming security for things that I wasn't even allowed to see. When I fixed their computers, they wiped everything to portable hard drives and I never had any idea what was going on. I should have taken that as a hint to get the hell out; to tell the authorities what was going on. But I didn't.
It wasn't until the first dead rat that I realized something was truly wrong. The rat wasn't... just dead. It looked like another rat had eaten it. I know now what it was, but back then, I was naïve, even for a geek, and firmly believed that shit like that was only science fiction.
When it all went to hell, I should've told someone. As far as I know, only three people survived and I have no idea where the other two are. It didn't occur to me until too late that the right thing to do, the good thing to do, would have been to speak up. And the threatening emails I was getting from Marler's assistant Amelia weren't helping my conscience do the right thing, either. Marler was dead, she told me. I spoke up, my sister and I both died, she told me. Naturally, I stayed quiet.
And the world went further and further to shit.
I spend most of my days trying to pretend that my involvement in the way the world is today doesn't exist. But I could have made any number of decisions to stop this from happening. And I didn't. If I have to spend the rest of my life atoning for what I've done, I'll do it. I write this self-email as a reminder. Just in case I ever forget. And I'll set a notification on my computer to read it once a year. I could have saved the world, but instead, it's doomed.
I have to live with that, forever. And if anyone finds out, I'll likely be killed.
It was the hundredth time he'd read it. And it got no less horrifying.
And if he was this shocked? Leah was going to be livid. He'd have to remind her that they needed him alive. Because this? Oh, this was exactly the leverage they needed.